Brewing processes and methods. How to brew using extract, partial or all-grain. Tips and tricks.
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Hey, first time reader/message post... I've been reading about various boil lengths. Anyone with an opinion or experience with long boils (2-3 hrs)? While some sources say long boiling time will dissolve hot-break and result in fuller, smoother brews, others say the result is greater tannin extraction and over-caramelization resulting in harsh flavors. Thoughts?
Most sources state ~90 min. for mash and ~60 for extract. Longer boils will produce a "smoother" beer, more protiens get "broken down" resulting in a clearer beer, but you do need some protiens in your beer for yeast health and head retention (FOAM). Longer boils will also make your beer darker, and increase the caramel flavor, but overdoing it leads to burnt flavors. As far as tannin extraction goes, I don't really know, but if I had to guess I would say that it really shouldn't matter as long as your wort is clear (i.e. no husk material). Longer boils could actually precipitate out more tannis, that is dissolve them with the break and they end up in the goo in the bottom of your kettle and not your wort. Decoction mashing involves boiling portions of the mash and tannins have never been a problem for me when I do decoction. It all really depends on what you want to do. Some beers, flavor wise could benefit from longer boils-dark beers,heavier beers, beer where you want to accent caramel flavors, or beers that are/were made with decoction mashes (German styles) where you want to simulate the flavors or decoction mashing without actually doing a decoction. (hmmm...Bock maybe). But don't over do it because you'll end up with very little/no head retention. How long is overdoing it? I don't know, but it is probably not too safe to go much longer than 60 min. on an extract brew, extract in a sense has already been boiled (not really boiled but cooked) you can probably play around more with all gain worts. Another thing you have to consider is that the longer you boil the more flavor you lose, this may or may not be a big deal, the flavor lost might only amount to two tears in a bucket. You've also got to keep in mind your hops. Longer, harder boils will extract more bitterness, and you will lose more flavor from them as well. Something I'm planning to do on my next batch is a longer but softer boil or simmer, I've heard that this produces a softer, rounder hop bitterness. I don't know if this is true, but I'm gonna try it and see.