How to Brew Like An Extremely Efficient (Lazy) Person

By Brian Smith

It seems like almost every day someone stops me in the street to ask me how I brew. This isn’t much of a surprise because I think that most Crescent City Homebrewers club members would agree that I am the best brewer here (here meaning at my house); but many people are surprised when I give them my answer which is “get away from me!” The truth is all of my brewing processes are focused on one thing:  (laziness) efficiency.

Making beer can be extremely easy.  Anyone who says otherwise is trying to sell you something.  In fact, it’s so easy that I often do a lot of it in my sleep, and I encourage anyone who is tired of devoting billable hours to brewing to do the same.  The good thing about (lazy) efficient brewing is that any system can be optimized for maximum (laziness) efficiency.  The most important thing is to know your system.  When I say system I am referring to both your equipment and your processes.  It doesn’t matter if you’re using an Anvil Foundry all-in-one, a homemade 3 tier system, or like me, a kitty litter bucket and a stick with a shoe on the end of it for a mash paddle, knowing your system will help you make the beer you want.  The following is my process. I use a pretty rudimentary system with a couple of little time saving devices and quirks thrown in.

My brew day starts at about 8 pm (that’s right; at night).  I heat up my strike water and adjust the pH down a little (although sometimes I forget to adjust the pH).  Then I pour my strike water into my Coleman mash tun and dump in the crushed grain.  Before I go to bed, I set up my sous vide to heat up my sparge water (I add about 10% more water than I need because I will lose some to evaporation).  I use a cheap Anova® sous vide, and it does the job, but I wouldn’t recommend it because I had a bad experience with their customer service a few years ago.  I set my alarm clock for some ungodly hour unsuitable for human activity, like 5 am.  When the alarm goes off, I get up and start the sparge.  I adjust my sparge to be sloooooow . . . like 4 hours for a 5 gallon batch.  Then I reset the alarm for a reasonable hour and go back to bed.

With the alarm I wake up, my sparge is done, and the wort is ready to start boiling. Once I get the burner going, I make breakfast and dress up in some nice clothes.  By then my wort is boiling or close to boiling.  I add my hops and what-have-you and take 20 to 30 selfies to post on Instagram. It’s really important that when you take selfies for Instagram you are dressed nicely.  Make sure to pay attention to the angles as you don’t want anyone to know how fat you are and how unkempt and disgusting your garage is. Always hold a nearly full glass of beer and smile like everything is alright.  I try to portray a version of myself that hasn’t been traumatized by adult life.  That part of me can focus on matters clearly without being overwhelmed by analysis and can love deeply without worrying about reciprocation.  Just love things for what they are, not for what they can do for you; I’m sure you understand.  I like to think that one of my 46 followers on Instagram will see those pictures of me – healthy, happy, indulging in a fun hobby, and they’ll think “this guy really has it figured out.”   

Be sure to put your wort chiller in the boil for at least a few minutes to sanitize it.  I use quick hose connects on all of my hoses and nozzles and everything else around my house so It’s easy to set up the wort chiller or a lawn sprinkler.  After that it’s as simple as transferring the wort to the fermenter (I use a ¾” ID tube and a mesh bag to collect any large particulate), pitching your yeast, and applying your airlock.

Here are a couple of little things that I think make life a little easier:

a) Clean as you go: it’s nice to finish my boil and only have to clean my boil pot and wort chiller.

b) Don’t use carboys; buckets are much easier to move and to clean.

III) Organize your equipment and materials by function; for example keep your Irish moss with the rest of your boiling equipment because that’s when you use it.

4) Try things out; make notes on what works and what doesn’t.  Just because something works for me doesn’t mean it will for you, and vice-versa.

I hope that I’ve inspired you to be (lazier) efficienter and that you can use some of these techniques and tips next time you brew up a batch of beer.  If you have any questions, feel free to seek the advice of someone else as I’m trying to conserve energy while reducing my carbon footprint.

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