The standard size when getting a kit for home brewing is usually 5 gallons. This is pretty good except that buying materials for 5 gallons can start to get costly, especially when we are talking about Mead. In fact, I would actually suggest that when starting out in your home brewing endeavors, you should consider trying 1 gallon batches first.
When you are starting out in home brewing, I would say the hardest thing is establishing your systems. This is the most important thing to get down, and if you don’t have your systems in place, it’s possible that you could be wasting your time with a ruined batch. What I mean by systems is you want to have in place all the different steps you go through for making your own brew. Not only have the steps in place, but actually how to execute those steps, and having it be second nature to you are all very important.
I’ve found that when you are working with just 1 gallon, it’s so much easier to integrate your brewing systems into your mind and have it become second nature than if you were working with 5 gallons. Not only is it easier, but when first starting out you can begin to implement those systems for a lot less money. So if you do screw something up along the way, at least you won’t be in the hole for 60 dollars worth of honey. You’ll also feel a lot better about letting a gallon go down the drain than you will about having 5 gallons of precious brew go down the drain.
Once you have all your systems in place and well integrated into your mind, it’s much easier to then scale up recipes to 5 gallons. Making 5 gallons is also more cost effective and time effective. Even though it’s more expensive for the materials up front, once the product is finished you will have a lot more brew to drink, which will save you a lot of time. If you are going through the process to make your own brew, it’s about the same amount of time to make 5 gallons as it is to make 1 gallon. So if you are confident in your skills, go nuts and do 5 gallons.
To sum up, here’s the pros and cons of each.
5 Gallon batches
-Cost effective, making more saves money in the end.
-Readily available kits come in 5 gallon size.
-Saves time by making more brew for the same amount of time.
-More risk in wasting money if you ruin a batch.
-Harder to move around.
1 Gallon batches
-Little up front costs makes it the easiest way to get in the game.
-Less risk when a newbie or experimenting with new brewing methods or recipes.
-Easy to carry 1 gallon of brew for anyone.
-Small yield per time worked on making it
-Hard to find recipes geared for 1 gallon batches. See my 1 Gallon Spiced Cyser
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