When I can find the time, I like to #homebrew beer. I've followed a fairly typical progression from a beginners kit1 to just enough stuff to do all grain brewing2. Along with all grain brewing comes a number of pros and cons.
- More control over the beer
- Higher possibility of saving money by purchasing ingredients in bulk
- It feels a little more exciting than boiling extract and specialty grains
- Expense, I did have to buy some more equipment
- Takes longer
- Higher likelihood of screwing something up
As a father of three small children, the point about all grain taking more time means it's less likely I'll have an opportunity to brew (at least until my kiddos are old enough to help). The first time did an all grain batch was on my birthday, as a present to me my wife took the kids all day for activities and stuff while I stumbled my way through the process. Even then it took longer than I had hoped. So in order to try and tighten up my schedule I've got a plan.
- Make an actual checklist and schedule
- Experiment with splitting the brew day into two day
On the first point I've done what homebrewers have been doing for ages and ages, well at least in the age of computers, and make a spreadsheet. There is really no need to make your own spreadsheet, there are dozens, if not hundreds, of excellent ones out there on the internet already. But I made my own as part of the process of learning. Reading the formulae for what temperature your strike water needs to be, thinking about exactly what steps need to be followed through mashing and sparging and finally the boil and chilling. The spreadsheet is not there to dictate what I do while I blindly follow it. It's going to be there to remind me of what I already (hopefully) know.
On the second point, it sounds feasible to perform the mash in the evening, and then the sparge and boil the next morning. I'm not sure if my cooler (mash tun) will hold a temperature above 130º overnight, but maybe I could do the morning/evening thing the first time and keep an eye on the temperature. That way if it starts to fall I can just finish it off without ruining a batch. The total amount of time it takes to brew is one concern, but having a contiguous block of time is really the harder part for me. This method might add some much needed flexibility.