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How to Brew with Kids

How to Brew with Kids

Here you are, you’ve found a fulfilling hobby, your friends and family are benefitting from the quality beverages you have been making, but you wonder if you’re going to be able to continue with children. Maybe, you’ve taken a break from brewing since having kids due to the time commitment. In this article, I would like to share my recommendations on how to brew with kids.

Brewing with Kids

My Experience

I’d first like to start out with my current position that way you’re able to understand where I’m coming from later on!

I started brewing while I was in PA school. At the time, I was married with no children and living in a rental home. At the time, I felt like I was very busy, but as you parents know, I had all the time in the world back then!

A couple years later when we found out my wife was pregnant with our first boy, I worried if I was going to be able to continue brewing beer. Brew days can take 4-6 hours, and with the near-constant attention that young children require, I knew this would be tough.

Tough, but not impossible!

As of this writing, we currently have a 1 and a 2 year-old. I’ve been able to continue brewing to some degree since they were born.

Stovetop brewing with each of the boys when they were about 1 month old!

My advice will be limited regarding older children. I know that older kids come with their own sets of challenges that I haven’t had the opportunity to handle yet!

Given this limitation, I’d like to dive more into my advice on how to brew with kids!

Brew Smaller Batches

My biggest advice to new or experienced parents is to brew smaller batches. I know this advice likely seems biased (you know, given the title of my website), but having kids was the main reason I decided to start brewing smaller batches.

Brewing large batches, even 5 gallons, takes time. Brew days can be especially long when brewing in the all-grain style. Many people who have been brewing all-grain for a number of years, do not want to sacrifice the control they’ve had over the years by brewing extracts again.

This is where BIAB (brew-in-a-bag) can come in! Brewing a 1-2 gallon BIAB batch on the stovetop can allow you to maintain the same control over water chemistry, pH, mash temperatures, grain bill, etc. as you would brewing a larger all-grain batch.

The benefit, though, is that you can get 1-2 gallons heated and cooled much faster than you could with a larger batch.

Brew During Naps

For younger children, brewing during their naps can be extremely valuable.

If you are brewing a small extract batch, you can get nearly the whole brew day completed during a 1.5-2 hour nap. For BIAB, I prefer to save the more ‘active’ parts of brewing for the nap time. Do your cleaning and start the mash while the kid(s) are still awake, then perform the sparge and your boil while they are sleeping.

If you’re looking for more information on improving napping schedules, click here!

If you’re able to prepare as much as you can the night before while they are sleeping, it can make the brew day itself much easier!

You could also perform your brew day once they go to bed at night. This never appealed to me as I’m generally pretty worn out after a day spent with the young children, but everyone is different!

30 Minute Boils

There are several styles of beer where a 30 minute boil vs a 60 minute boil suffices just fine. You will have to adjust hop schedules and amounts slightly, as hop utilization will be lower.

You will boil off less wort during the short boil, so make sure to account for this as well.

However, besides these downsides, anything that you can do to shorten your brew day when you have children is very welcomed in my opinion!

Brew More Extract Batches

If you’re looking for the shortest possible brew day, while still putting out quality beer, look no further than returning to extract brewing.

Being able to skip the mash and sparge steps completely cuts down on time significantly.

I recently brewed a pale ale with extract and a 30 minute boil. The entire brew day, including cleaning, cooling, pitching yeast, etc. only took 69 minutes. Best of all, this beer turned out great! Point being here, if you’re able to combine extract brewing with a 30 minute boil, you may have just found your combo for the shortest brew day yet!

If you’re interested in the full recipe and instructions for the aforementioned beer, click here. It was a single hop brew featuring the amazing Sabro hop!

Involve the Kids in the Brewing Process

I haven’t gotten to personally take advantage of this to a great extent yet due to the boys’ ages. However, many brewing parents recommend involving the kids in the brewing process as much as you can. Whether that be stirring the mash, retrieving ingredients/supplies, or adding hops, kids love being a part of the process!

The more the whole family enjoys the brew day, the more likely it is to happen again soon!

Adjust Expectations

Finally, I don’t feel that this article is complete without mentioning the need to adjust your expectations when brewing with kids.

If you have children, especially young ones, unfortunately you’re simply not going to have the same amount of free-time that you used to!

As nice as it would be to perform a complete 6-hour all-grain brew day, this may not be as realistic. Adjusting your expectations of volumes of beer brewed each month or even amount of brew days, I think is very important to maintain contentedness with the hobby.

Fortunately, there are ways to continue the brewing hobby. However, brewing may just not look exactly like it used to for a little while.

Brewing with both boys last year

In summary, brewing with kids is doable. Ways to make brewing with kids easier is by brewing smaller batches, brewing during naps, performing 30 minute boils, brewing more extract or BIAB batches, and finally adjusting your expectations!

Benefits of Brewing with Kids

Though this article has mostly been focused on how to maintain your brewing hobby with children, I feel that it is worth mentioning the benefits of doing so.

Kids love sharing a mutual interest. Just as you can bond over playing sports or with a dollhouse, you can share the science experiment that is brewing!

You responsibly brewing and drinking the produced beverages can teach a valuable lesson. Depending on where you live, alcohol may either not be talked about entirely or perhaps demonized. I feel that it is beneficial for children to see that alcohol (like many things in life) is not entirely good or bad. I believe children seeing the responsible consumption of alcohol will decrease risky alcohol use for them in the future.

Life skills and knowledge can be learned from brewing. Brewing parents say that their children have learned to tell time (hop additions) and even the basics of metabolism (fermentation by yeast) through taking part in the process.

Patience for both yourself and your kids can be improved! Unlike many things these days, the production of beer is not instant gratification. It takes time for fermentation to proceed and for bottle conditioning to complete. Brewing can be a functional way for kids to learn the value of delayed gratification. For the parents, a brew day with kids often does not go quite as smoothly as it would brewing alone. Practicing patience and flexibility is extremely beneficial in life, especially with children!

Thank you for stopping by!

As always, if you have any specific questions, please contact me!

I am on both Instagram and Facebook as Mr. Small Batch Brewer.

For more information on how to brew in the extract style, please click here.

If you would like to dive into brew-in-a-bag, click here!