I recently moved into a smaller apartment and no longer have the space for my 6.5 and 5 gallon carboys. Do people sell smaller carboys than this? I know Mr. Beer would be small enough, but I'd rather have something a bit bigger. Also, most extract kits come in 5 gallon recipes. I imagine I can half everything and brew 2.5 gallons at a time. Is there any downsides to this, or anything special I should look out for?
There are no concerns over going to a smaller batch size. 3 gallon carboys and buckets are easily found. Check out USplastics.com they have all sorts of funky food grade buckets and things.
The other great thing about doing say 2.5 gallon batch is that you can start passing up on starters. Just pitch an entire tube of White labs and you are definitely good to go.
However, a 3 gallon bucket is still going to take up almost as much space as a 5 gallon bucket. You can save on storage space by putting stuff in your bucket if that helps?
As far as halving a kit goes that's tough. I'd invest in some brewing software and set all your defaults to the new brewing batch size of 2.5 gallons. Then start scaling good recipes from reliable sources down to that size and go from there. Building your ingredient lists from scratch is probably better than halving kits. At the least you should take good notes on whats in your favorite kit. Then next time you can just buy half the ingredients separately.
I use 3 gallon better bottles for small batches. Available at many brew shops, including Northern Brewer.
Regarding halving recipes, you can indeed literally halve your recipe and get very similar results to the full recipe.
If you want to continue to use kits, you'll probably end up wasting money over time.
I would suggest buying the ingredients separately and building your own kits. Don't worry! This is very easy. If you don't want to formulate recipes yourself, you can find them in many places online, including places like Northern Brewer who list their ingredients out:
Check out their Phat Tyre Ale: [Sorry, I can't link it because my rep isn't high enough. Search for "Phat Tyre Extract" at the site I linked above]
Down near the bottom is a Kit Inventory Sheet: [Sorry, I can't link it because my rep isn't high enough. Search for "Phat Tyre Extract" at the site I linked above]
SPECIALTY GRAIN -- 0.5 lbs Victory Malt -- 0.5 lbs Briess Caramel 60
FERMENTABLES -- 1 lb Pilsen dry malt extract (60 min) -- 6 lbs Amber malt syrup late addition (15 min)
HOPS & FLAVORINGS -- 1 oz Perle (60 min) -- 1 oz Hersbrucker (15 min)
Halve all of those ingredients and you'll have a lovely brew.:
SPECIALTY GRAIN -- 0.25 lbs Victory Malt -- 0.25 lbs Briess Caramel 60
FERMENTABLES -- 0.5 lb Pilsen dry malt extract (60 min) -- 3 lbs Amber malt syrup late addition (15 min)
HOPS & FLAVORINGS -- 0.5 oz Perle (60 min) -- 0.5 oz Hersbrucker (15 min)
Northern Brewer has 3 gallon carboys in both glass and plastic. And you can get 3 gallon kegs, as well.
If you can halve all of the ingredients in a kit, I can't think of any problems with brewing that way. My concern would be trying to split a jug of LME into halves. You'd probably need a scale to do it accurately.