Small Boil Conversions

Brewing processes and methods. How to brew using extract, partial or all-grain. Tips and tricks.

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Small Boil Conversions

Postby Jlsfro » Wed Apr 11, 2007 1:55 pm

Hey Guys!

I'm your basic newbie stovetop brewer. My gas burners are pretty wimpy, so the maximum I'm able to boil is usually about 3 gallons (If that :x ). I was wondering, what sort of adjustments should I make to make to convert a 5 or 3 gallon recipe into a manageable boil size? I was thinking 1.5-2 gallons. For instance, I know that boil size can alter hop utilization - does this mean I need to add more hops? Is there anything else I should know?I appreciate any advice you can give me, and thanks for all your help :)
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Postby slothrob » Wed Apr 11, 2007 2:45 pm

If I understand you correctly... Your recipe size will depend on how mich water you boil off. 1 gallon/hr might be a good guess, so a 3 gallon boil would give you a 2 gallon final volume. Pick your ingredients based on 2 gallons, if that boil-off is correct for you, and base your hop additions on the gravity and volume, Beertools or BeerTools Pro has calculators to allow you to adjust hop additions based on OG and volume to hit the target IBUs.

If you are talking about then diluting to 5 gallons, you need to consider the lower hop utilization rate in the denser boil, the lower volume, the fact that the IBUs will be diluted as well, and the theoretical utilization limit that maxes IBUs at about 110. This last limit means that the most IBUs you can have, after you dilute 2 gallons to 5 gallons, is 44, so no big hoppy IPAs.
110 IBU x 2 gal / 5 gal = 44 IBU
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Hmmmm

Postby Jlsfro » Wed Apr 11, 2007 3:07 pm

So is there really nothing I can do if I want to up the IBUs? There has to be a way...Please help!
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Postby slothrob » Wed Apr 11, 2007 4:19 pm

Larger boil size or smaller batch sizes are your only choices, as far as I can tell.

If you are using extract, you can up the utilization somwhat by adding some or most of the extract at the end of the boil. That will allow you to use less hops, but it won't allow you to get over that ~110IBU limit, so 2 gallons will always give you a limit of ~44IBU in a 5 gallon batch.

You can make 2 gallon batches or get a bigger pot. I can still make 3.5-3.75 gallon batches on my stove by boiling ~4.25 gallons in a pot slightly larger than 5 gallons. I could probably boil 5 gallons down to 4, with the power of my stove and a larger pot. I'd advise getting an 8+ gallon pot and a turkey fryer burner if you want to make 5 gallons of high IBU beer.
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Re: Small Boil Conversions

Postby billvelek » Fri Apr 13, 2007 10:39 am

Jlsfro wrote:Hey Guys!

I'm your basic newbie stovetop brewer. My gas burners are pretty wimpy, so the maximum I'm able to boil is usually about 3 gallons (If that :x ). I was wondering, what sort of adjustments should I make to make to convert a 5 or 3 gallon recipe into a manageable boil size? I was thinking 1.5-2 gallons. For instance, I know that boil size can alter hop utilization - does this mean I need to add more hops? Is there anything else I should know?I appreciate any advice you can give me, and thanks for all your help :)
When you say that you know that "boil size can alter hop utilization", I assume that you mean if you do a concentrated boil or else are unable to achieve a satisfactory boiling rate. Other than that, I know of no reason why kettle volume would affect utilization rate.

Assuming that you have a 5 gallon carboy, and since you can boil about 3 gallons on a burner, you could consider dividing your brew into two pots and using two burners to still do a full-sized batch; if you don't have two large pots, you should be able to get a second one on the cheap at the dollar store or Good Will, etc. Alternatively, boil half a batch, put in your carboy, and then immediately boil another identical half batch to add to it later. Not 'ideal' in either case, but workable; just be careful to evenly divide your ingredients. If you use just one pot, scale your recipe accordingly rather than trying a 'concentrated boil' (one where you boil at high gravity and then dilute). By doing any of the above, you should be able to make the same brews as anyone else, including high IBUs. The main thing you need to be concerned with when using a low BTU burner is to keep your kettle size and volume down low enough that you can still manage to get a "vigorous" boil -- I think it ought to have an evaporation rate of at least 8% per hour, although I always aim for 10%. Boiling for a longer period of time at a lower rate doesn't really have the same effect. Anyway, since you can barely boil 3 gallons, the boil rate for 2.75 gallons might not improve much over the 3 gallon rate, but if it works well enough, you will end with about 2.5 gallons to make half of a 5 gallon recipe. And then get a propane turkey fryer as soon as you can; that's what I use, and there is a world of difference from a stove. Good luck.

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7.5 gallon turkey fryers are adequate in size for 5 gallons

Postby billvelek » Fri Apr 13, 2007 1:43 pm

slothrob wrote:Snip ... I'd advise getting an 8+ gallon pot and a turkey fryer burner if you want to make 5 gallons of high IBU beer.
I think that the pots that come with the turkey fryer kits are generally a little smaller (about 7.5 gallons), but they work just fine. I say this not to contradict you, but so that Jlsfro won't knock himself out trying to locate a kit with an 8+ gallon pot or feel the need to buy an additional pot.

Jlsfro, when you're ready to buy a fryer (the kits come with pot, burner, tank, regulator, and items for frying stuff), I'd compare BTU capacity, price, and quality of construction first, and then worry about pot size so long as it has a listed capacity of at least approximately 7.5 gallons.

I have two kits. One came with an aluminum pot rated at 7.5 gallons, but it actually measures 7.6 gallons; the other is stainless steel, also rated at 7.5 gallons, but it only actually measures out to 7.4 gallons. Both are adequate to boil 5 gallon batches without boiling over so long as you don't let the hot break foam over. I also skim the break material as the wort approaches boiling, so I've never had a problem. I prefer the aluminum pot for a number of reasons, and you don't need to worry about things like risk of alzheimers disease or metallic taste, etc.; aluminum does just fine and transfers heat better than stainless. The tradeoff is that the aluminum pot is a bit harder to clean than the stainless, but I like it because it measures just about _EXACTLY_ 2 inches per gallon for checking volume with a ruler for a dipstick, which is very convenient. It's inside diameter is 12-1/8", as close as I can measure it, which calculates out to 230.9316 cubic inches for 2 inches of depth whereas a gallon contains 231 cubic inches -- talk about being close. I have also confirmed the volume by using a measuring cup and ruler. It has an inside depth of 15-1/4", so when it is filled with 6 gallons, it still has 3.25" of remaining height to the brim. Because it is also slightly shorter than my stainless pot, it fits under the faucet in the bathtub without having to tilt it like with my stainless pot, so I can just put it there and do something else while it fills. Both kits have similar burners; I can't recall the BTU capacity, but I can boil wort faster than I need to even in cold weather and wind (although I do use a windbreak when needed, in order to conserve propane).

Just thought you might find a little info about turkey fryers useful. By the way, I also fry turkeys in them, which are great, and I haven't had any problems with my beer; you just need to clean them out VERY well afterward to get rid of all of the oil in the pot.

Cheers.

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Postby slothrob » Fri Apr 13, 2007 2:58 pm

I could get away with 7.5 gallons.

The volume depends on the dimensions of the pot, I guess. With my boil-off rate, which may be high because my pot is wider than most. I tend to collect about 6.75 gallons to get about 5.25 gallons post boil, which amounts to just over 5 gallons of actual beer, usually. Because my pot is broad, that 1.25 gallons (to 8) brings me a comfortable distance from the top. I could still fit in 7.5 g pot, and the turkey fryer pots are usually narrower and taller than my pot, which gives you a little more depth, but the 8 g gives me a little more elbow room. Don't let a 7.5 gallon pot keep you from going with that set-up, as Bill says.

I also use an aluminum pot. It was a lot cheaper than a SS pot and it transfers heat better. The first SS pot I had was thin, to make it cheap, and it ended up splitting near the top edge. The aluminum pot I have is heavy duty and should last a long time. As far as cleaning, you want to build up a bit of oxidation on the aluminum, so don't bother scrubbing it. I just rinse it out, wipe it down with a soft cloth or paper towels, and give it one last rinse. That seems more than sufficient and requires little effort.
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Postby ColoradoBrewer » Sat Apr 14, 2007 7:50 am

While 7.5 gallons pots seem to be the norm for turkey fryers, there are larger pots out there if you shop around. My BK is from a turkey fryer and is 34 quarts. It's stainless and, as slothrob pointed out, the quality isn't the greatest, but I've had it for a couple of years and it probably has a few more years left in it.
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Postby slothrob » Sat Apr 14, 2007 9:40 am

Yeah, I don't mean to disparage Stainless pots either. They're both good and have their advantages. I'd consider the advantages of a larger pot to be more significant than the material used to make the pot.
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As it's said: "Bigger is better"

Postby billvelek » Sat Apr 14, 2007 12:30 pm

ColoradoBrewer wrote:While 7.5 gallons pots seem to be the norm for turkey fryers, there are larger pots out there if you shop around. My BK is from a turkey fryer and is 34 quarts. It's stainless and, as slothrob pointed out, the quality isn't the greatest, but I've had it for a couple of years and it probably has a few more years left in it.
There is no doubt that bigger is better. Not only does it give you a nice safety margin when boiling wort, you can also cook more in it. Turkey fryers are used for more than just turkeys, and an extra gallon or more capacity means more crawdads, etc. Yummm. In any event, my plans are to switch over to a keg conversion, and yesterday I asked the guy at the metal scap yard to keep an eye out for a keg for me; I know him somewhat, so we got into a conversation about why I wanted a keg and that I brew beer. He seems real interested, so I told him I'd drop off some samples of homebrew the next time I'm in the area. He said that he will hold me to that, because he knows where I live. Maybe I'll get a nice keg on the cheap and recruit a new homebrewer, too.

Cheers.

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