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Why We Love Small Batches

We have nothing against pints… usually. But sixteen ounces can be a lot of beer in certain situations (don’t get us started on the boot, which is larger than Erica’s head and heavier than a newborn). We just happen to like things on the smaller side. That’s why when we started teaching people how to make beer, we did it on the one gallon scale instead of the ubiquitous five gallon setup.

At breweries and bars we line up as many tasting glasses as the table will hold. It’s not uncommon to spot us huddled over a dozen four-ounce glasses sticking our noses in each one before every sip. We love variety; we love surprises. So it’s not an actual surprise that when we created our own beer making kit we decided to go small too. For us, brewing small and drinking small means sharing and appreciating more. And to clarify small doesn’t mean less. Small means you can try that weird sour beer from Flanders or that beer you’ve been hearing about from some fifteen-barrel brewery out of Red Hook (just imagine you weren’t reading this on their website and already in love with them).

Not all beer is for everyone. A full pint of your favorite Imperial Stout or Rauchbier might be enough to drive your not-so-beer-loving friend back to gin and tonics for the night. It could be weeks before you convince him or her to give good beer another go. With half-pints or tasters, ask your friend what’s good or bad about the beer, and move on to the next one. It can be mere minutes before the right style is discovered (as long as you’re willing to finish a few ounces of beer on your friend’s behalf).

Now that you have a new beer-loving-friend thanks to small pours, it’s time to get the two of you brewing. And there too, we say go small. When brewing on a small scale, you can use the same ingredients you’ll find in your favorite breweries. You can start with grain and skip using extracts and powders altogether. On a small scale, brewing feels more like cooking. You’re using the same pots and spoons you would use to make pasta or oatmeal. You can totally geek out, or you can steer clear of the science of brewing as if you were cooking (How many times do you really reference the Maillard reaction when grilling steak? Or is non-enzymatic browning your thing?).

Brewing small batches means brewing more beers. A stove with multiple burners means brew day yields multiple batches. This is great for testing (Q: How many juniper berries should go into a gin inspired beer? A: After extensive testing, we learned one teaspoon crushed per gallon is perfect.). It’s ideal for emboldening your ingredient list (lobster shells are great, cedar not so much). And it’s great for variety. And while we love brewing five-gallon batches, having fifty bottles of your favorite beer may quickly result in its not being your favorite beer for long. Variety keeps every beer fresh. And what’s better than a fresh beer?

Erica Shea & Stephen Valand are the Co-Founders of Brooklyn Brew Shop and author’s of Brooklyn Brew Shop’s Beer Making Book: 52 Seasonal Recipes for Small Batches.

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  • Siren Sounds CMJ Showcase at Arlene's Grocery
    7:00pm October 25, 2014
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    Siren Sounds + Willow Wood Music bring you a night of up and coming talent from around the world! Join us for music & great beer specials provided by Brooklyn's own Sixpoint Brewery! Also sponsored by the wonderfully creative Lomography! Don't forget to RSVP via DoNYC: http://cmj.donyc.com/sirensoundswillowwood With performances by: Darling Din The Britanys Teen Mom DC The Peach Kings HIGHS Shark Week Young Buffalo Simian Ghost Wannabe Jalva
    Arlene's Grocery, 95 Stanton Street, New, York, NY
  • A Brief History of Beer Drinkeractive Comedy Show
    6:30pm October 26, 2014
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    We are proud to be the official beer of the "Brief History of Beer" - a drinkeractive comedy which will take place on the last Sunday of every month from now until next summer. But don't wait! Come see it this Sunday! Drink-a-long through time in the Quantum Pint Machine! After success at the Edinburgh, US, and Adelaide Fringes, Wish brings you this docudramedy based on the life and times of the humble beer. Recommended by FringeReview Edinburgh, and 4.5/5 Rip It Up Adelaide, InDaily says "A Brief History of Beer is an opportunity to learn, to be amazed, and to imbibe! A Brief History of Beer is a on- hour drinkeractive comedy where the audience travels through time with William Glenn and Trish Parry, all the way back to Ancient Sumeria, through to today, on a mission to save beer from a mysterious nefarious person! Written and performed by Will and Trish, and directed by Jeffrey Mayhew (Theatre of the Damned, London). Wish Experience has been touring A Brief History of Beer to audiences in pubs and theatres around the world since 2013, and most recently played to sold out audiences at Cincy Fringe 2014 and in Tampa, Florida. A Brief History of Beer is the first in a series of works set inside the Quantum Pint Machine; look out for the sequel, Beer Wars. Click here for tickets! https://www.vendini.com/ticketLine/ITL/?t=tix&p=41ce0f4902cab8201fbfc0ad9d24b027
    Fridge New York at Horse Trade Theatre Group, 85 East 4th Street, NY, NY
  • Pint Night @ Mean Eyed Cat
    7:00pm October 27, 2014
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    Pint Night @ Mean Eyed Cat for Austin Beer Week. Come get a free pint glass with a delicious Sensi Harvest Ale.
    Mean Eyed Cat, 1621 W 5th St, Austin, TX 78703, United States