Since this is just a hop trial I'm not really worried about hitting my numbers dead-on. This isn't so much about producing a repeatable product. You just want your batches to be close enough that you can compare one batch to another. This means I don't bother with gravity readings. These are extract batches so there's no reason to be worrying about efficiency.
Also, even though I design my recipe by weight, I measure the extract by volume. I weigh out the first batch for the day in a measuring cup, then I just scoop out my extract for the remaining batches. This is much easier than having to break out the scale for each batch. Hops always get measured out on my gram scale, though. I try to weigh the hops at the beginning of the process so I'm not messing around with that once I hit a good rhythm.
So here's the basic flow of things:
- One gallon of water goes in my boil kettle and the burner gets turned on
- I start to add & dissolve my extract in the water. I don't wait until the water heats up. It may take a little longer to dissolve the extract this way but there's less risk of scorching (if you keep stirring).
- Once all the extract is dissolved I add my FWH.
- Once it hits a boil, I set my timer for 15 minutes.
- After 15 minutes, I kill the heat. As soon as all boiling activity stops I add my flameout hops and stir them in for a minute or two.
- At this point I pour the hot wort into a second pot and begin to chill it in that vessel. I rinse out my kettle, then it goes back on the burner.
- Repeat steps 1-4
- Once batch two hits a boil I return my attention to batch one. At this point it should be cool enough to transfer to the fermenter (usually a 1-gallon jug). Don't worry about the trub, just dump it all in. It doesn't have to be all the way down to pitching temp, just cool enough where you're not going to damage the fermenter or burn yourself.
- Rinse the chill vessel. Repeat steps 5-9 for as many batches as you're brewing.
- I move all the fermenters into a tub of cold water to get them down the rest of the way to pitching temp.
- Pitch about 2-2.5 grams of dry yeast into each fermenter.
- Ferment at cool ale temps (low-mid 60's). Add dry hops after 7-10 days.
- Bottle about 7 days after adding dry hops.
I can get 6-8 batches done in the time it normally takes for one all-grain brewday. To me, that's what makes the effort worthwhile. I'd be hesitant to waste a full brewday just to try out one new hop. But if I can get a whole series of brews done at once, then it's much easier to justify to myself.
So, now that I've shared the method to my hop madness, it's time to move onto the fruits of my labor - my tasting notes. The majority of these are from test batches I've brewed over the past year or two and were initially posted on the AHA forums. Be sure to check the comments section as I'll be keeping things updated as I use these hops more and more often.