Max water in brew pot for extract brewing - Newbie ?

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Max water in brew pot for extract brewing - Newbie ?

Postby woody4abrew » Wed Jan 24, 2007 10:03 am

I am very green to brewing in general and starting with extract kits to understand before moving to all grain. I've got all the equipment to start mashing (1/2 barrel's) but setup for 5-10 gal batches. Most of the extract kits start with just a couple gals of water and assumed there was no reason I could not start with the full 5 gal of water in the brew pot and top off when in the carboy. I've looked on many boards and have not found out whether I have to stick to the instructions or deviate as to the amount of water. I should know the answer in about 3 weeks but getting ready to brew a couple more receipes. Is there a downside/upside to doing this?
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Welcome, Woody ...

Postby billvelek » Wed Jan 24, 2007 2:43 pm

I see that that was your first post, so welcome to this great forum and to a wonderful craft.

You mention kits but not bulk extract brewing, so let me explain a difference in that regard, and then try to answer your question about all grain water volumes. "Kits" always consist, to my knowledge, of pre-hopped extracts, and all you are doing is boiling to mix the extract with the extra water you are adding; in fact, there are actually 'no boil' kits which I guess you just heat long enough to mix the extract with water (never used one). In both instances, your initial and final kettle volumes are unimportant, and you just top off your fermenter with water. With bulk extract and all grain, on the other hand, the extract is not yet hopped, so your boil volume (and length of boil) involves a factor that you needn't be concerned with when using kits -- hop utilization. I don't have the time (or probably the knowledge) to give a real good explanation here, but mainly want to make you aware of that consideration so that you can do some research and reading on your own. But in a nutshell, the gravity of your wort ... and the time you boil it ... affect how much alpha acid will be released by the hops, and that, in turn, affects the bitterness of your beer. There are a lot of chemical reactions that take place during a boil, as well, which are also affected by gravity, time of boil, and vigor of boil. So to get to the bottom line, concentrated boils produce different beer -- all other factors being the same -- than full boils. This is not to say that you won't get good beer from a concentrated boil, but just know that it will be affected, and that might matter more if you are trying to clone a beer or follow someone else's recipe. You should boil, ideally, for 90 minutes -- a good 'rolling' boil -- so you need to allow for evaporation, too. Generally, I boil with an evaporation rate of about nine to ten percent per hour, so to end woth 5 gallons, for example, I start my boil with about 6 gallons because I also have a small loss in the bottom of the kettle due to absorption by hops.

I realize that you are new to all of this, but let me encourage you to take a look at BeerToolsPro software. I have absolutely no affiliation with this website or the software, but it is an excellent program that will figure out all of your water additions, etc. If you intend to get into all grain, you will definitely find this a very worthwhile investment.

Cheers, and good luck.

Bill Velek
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Re: Max water in brew pot for extract brewing - Newbie ?

Postby Speyedr » Thu Jan 25, 2007 1:21 pm

woody4abrew wrote:I am very green to brewing in general and starting with extract kits to understand before moving to all grain. I've got all the equipment to start mashing (1/2 barrel's) but setup for 5-10 gal batches. Most of the extract kits start with just a couple gals of water and assumed there was no reason I could not start with the full 5 gal of water in the brew pot and top off when in the carboy. I've looked on many boards and have not found out whether I have to stick to the instructions or deviate as to the amount of water. I should know the answer in about 3 weeks but getting ready to brew a couple more receipes. Is there a downside/upside to doing this?


Where are your kits from? Are they canned, or are they from a Homebrew store or website in a box with a little grain, etc.? Do they have hops included, or are they hopped like Bill said?
If they include hops, and come from a reputable shop, they should be able to tell you how much to change your hop addition by (this is the "Bittering" addition, or the one you put in with about 60 min. left in the boil). This is the factor that would be affected by the change in boil volume.
That said, you're just starting out and trying to brew good beer, not award winning beer, right? If that's the case I'd say follow most of the directions including the hop additions, but instead, boil the full amount of water like Bill said. Start with 6 gallons and boil for 90min with a rolling, but not violent boil.
Of course, if you want to follow the instructions to the letter that won't hurt either.

Just my 2 cents...

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Postby woody4abrew » Thu Jan 25, 2007 8:27 pm

Thanks for the help from both replies. One of the first things I did before getting on the forum was a buy a copy of beertools and hope it helps me down the road real soon. Have a friend that got me started who also suggested brewing the 60 minutes with 6 gal instead of "watering down the concentrate in the carboy". Most of the kits and even some of the extract receipes include to steep some grain and add the malt extracts for a 60 min boil with hops added at different times. With a 90 minute boil, do I stagger everything by an additional 30 min. Bittering hops at 30 minutes of boil instead of the start of the boil and flavoring hops at the x min before the end of the boil?
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Boil times

Postby billvelek » Thu Jan 25, 2007 10:08 pm

First, a 90 minute boil is a 'rule of thumb' that is not particularly rigid. The more strict times are the time for your hop additions, which you make after your hot break (coagulation of proteins, I think) has finished. It probably takes about 90 minutes for my boil, but let me explain and be more specific. I don't add my bittering hops until I'm satisified that all hot break formation has ceased, and that my level of wort is about right; I'm not positive that it takes 30 minutes because I've never timed it. When you bring your wort to a boil, it will soon begin to form a foam on the top. Some people stir it back into the wort, although I don't really know how they do that or how effective it is. I, on the other hand, use a skimmer to scoop the foam off of the top and shake it off into a bowl for discarding. When my boil initially starts, I watch over it carefully and keep skimming until the formation of foam stops. It might take 30 minutes, or maybe just 15 minutes; I suspect it depends upon gravity, the type of malts you've used, and the extent (vigor) of your boil. My next concern is the level of my wort; if I happened to have sparged a little too much, i.e., I need to boil away a bit of wort, then I wait to pitch hops and continue accordingly. You need to learn your kettle; I know exactly (or pretty darn close) where my wort level needs to be in my kettle before I pitch hops. You can 'calibrate' your kettle volume and mark it, but I can 'eyeball' mine pretty close in relation to the rivets that hold the handles in place. Anyway, when I'm confident that all foaming from hot break has ended (several minutes of boiling without any noticeable accumulation of foam), and that no 'boiling off' is needed, then I pitch my bittering hops and start my timer for a 60 minute boil with bittering hops (that time might vary with your recipe). Then at the appropriate time I'll add flavoring hops -- usually about 5 or 6 minutes before the end of the boil, but that, again, depends on the recipe. Finally, most recipes call for adding the aroma hops addition at one minute or so before the end of the boil; personally, I prefer to add those hops just as I cut off the gas to my burner, and then I carry my kettle into the kitchen where I cool it as quick as possible with my chiller. I always figure that my boils are very close to 90 minutes, total, but I'm not sure that an eighty minute boil using the same hopping schedule is really going to show any noticable difference. Heck, in cold weather and an excess sparge, I might be boiling for a LOT longer than 90 minutes; I've never really paid attention, though. I just drink beer and chill out until the important timing comes into play -- the hops additions.

Cheers.

Bill Velek
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Let me qualify my last answer ...

Postby billvelek » Thu Jan 25, 2007 10:27 pm

Let me add that there are some things happening during the boil -- pre-hopping -- other than just the formation of hot break. I read somewhere on a profession brewery site (don't have the link anymore) that the expansion of steam bubbles helps to stretch amino acids over the surface of the bubble, sort of like kneeding dough, and that takes time. Also, the chemicals that form DMS (giving beer a sort of 'corn' flavor/aroma) are dissipated during a prolonged boil (90 minutes or more). There may be other things going on, as well. So ... if I were brewing a special beer, e.g., for a competition, I would boil for at least 90 minutes. Hope that helps clarify some things.

Cheers.

Bill Velek
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Follow the kit instructions

Postby bzwrxbz » Fri Jan 26, 2007 3:38 am

I would tend to think that you need to follow the directions exactly, for the bittering values are calculated for someone following it,

If you use more or less water in the boil, the bitterness will be less or more so.

Having a beer calculation program will allow you to scale the hops as you scale the boiling water.

I guess my advice is to just follow the instructions on the kit, and start worrying about these things only when you are constructing your own recipes or purchasing your ingredients separately (outside of a kit)

As far as your friend telling you that you should not water down the concentrate in the carboy... I do not see why doing this is a problem. I think most extract recipes would assume that you are doing a partial boil, and this is taken into account in the creation of the kit (hop-wise).

cheers!
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