1984FXSE I have no intentions of scaling past 12 or 24 bottles so just things like stable heating/cooling/bottling are factors in what equipment I’d like to buy.
When you say “bottles”, do you mean pint/~500ml bottles? If so, personally I think you have the faff built in to that small quantity, especially if you are making 6 litre batches. Beer takes time. You start a batch, and you will only get to drink it in a few weeks (minimum). Cleaning, sanitising, brewing will take the same time for a 6 litre or a 5 gallon (20-23 litre) batch. For me, it makes more sense to use the small pot you already have to make a 5 gallon extract batch than to make a 6 litre all-grain batch.
Personally I usually do 2 X 5 gallon batches back to back. This gives me ~80 bottles (40 litres) of beer which lasts me for a long time. If I was limited to 6 litre batches I would need to brew all the time and it would hardly be worth the effort in my opinion.
My method has no syphoning and no faff (I think). I use an 8-10 litre pot to boil ~6 litres of water. If I do a mini-mash, I steep grains in at about 65C for 30-60 mins. I then do hop additions to the pot as the recipe calls. When done - the pot goes into the sink with cold water and maybe some ice to cool (it’s a small quantity, so I don’t need any cooling device). I strain that wort to a plastic bucket fermenter, top up with water, add the yeast and let it ferment. I don’t have any temp control for fermenting (maybe in the future). Instead I just do it in moderate seasons when the temp in the house is about right (18-20C). Once fermentation is done, I put in some hop pellets in a hop bag for dry hopping.
To bottle, I put the fermenter on the kitchen counter, connect a hose to the tap, put a second bucket (which also has a tap) on the floor and move the beer from the fermenter to the second bucket, leaving the sediment behind in the fermenter. I add carbonating sugar, put the second bucket on the counter and use a bottling stick to bottle (a simple pin at the bottom of the stick opens when pushed against with the bottom of the bottle, which is very convenient). Crown caps and a simple capper to finish off and that’s it.
1984FXSE Have you guys played with water treatments?
Not really. I use tap water. I add a campden tablet because I have it, but I don’t know if it’s necessary. It is meant to get rid of chlorine, but I don’t smell/taste chlorine in my tap water. I sometimes use 5 litres of Ashbeck to reduce minerals a little, but to be honest - I don’t know if it’s improving anything. This is another something that I may be looking at in the future, but have neglected for a long time.