For the Brewer with Multiple Personalities or the Perpetually Bored Beer Drinker

Are you tired of drinking five gallons of the same delicious imperial stout you brewed last month? Ready to taste the difference between an IPA dry hopped with Centennial or Pacific Jade? Do you want to try making a chili-pepper, vanilla, coffee, chocolate and bologna porter? The best way to do all of these things is to split your batches into multiple smaller fermenting vessels.

When we start our brewing careers, it is often under the guidance of an experienced home brewer or by following a pre-built recipe kit. In either case, each batch of beer we make is usually based on a single recipe to produce a single finished beer. While this practice fosters consistency and establishes solid habits on brewday, it can be limiting.

Split batches allow brewers to quickly learn what effects different ingredients have on a beer. Next time you are brewing an IPA or Pale Ale, consider splitting the batch into multiple fermenters after cooling, then dry-hopping each one differently. Because dry-hopping has a dramatic effect on the hop flavor and aroma present in a beer, the differences between each fermenter will be very noticeable. If you are curious about the flavor profile from one yeast strain versus another, split your batch, keep all other ingredients constant, then pitch different strains into each vessel. Not only will this practice help you learn the characteristics of different yeasts or hops, but splitting batches keeps things fresh and exciting. Instead of one batch of beer to drink, you now have multiple unique beers.

In addition to learning the unique characteristics of different hop or yeast varieties, splitting batches allows for extensive creativity and flexibility. Consider making a basic stout, then splitting the batch into multiple vessels. Each vessel receives a different ingredient or combination of ingredients. Chocolate, coffee, vanilla beans, chili peppers, and lactose are all popular options, and oak chips and liquor aging are also common. Whenever you’re splitting batches, it’s a good idea to keep one vessel unaltered to serve as a control batch.

If you are curious about trying a split batch, now is a great time. Cold weather is perfect for brewing, and brew days are wonderful opportunities to spend time with friends or family. Use one of your favorite recipes or one of the recipes below. Swing by the growler to stock up or ask questions, then get brewing! Remember, home-brewed beer makes a great gift!