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noob boil question

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astrivian:
I am  new to homebrewing (about a year and 11 batches). I use a mini-mash with extract so that the extract makes up about 50% of my bill. I am into higher gravity beers (over 10% ABV), and use about 6 pounds of grain with 8 lbs of liquid extract (of various colors).

Anyway, my question is about procedure. After i sparge i tend to have about 8 gallons of wort, which i boil down to 5. I do not add hops or the extract during this boil until it reaches 5 gallons (i have a measuring stick and it can take 3 or 4 hours depending on the wind). Once it hits 5 gallons and i add hops, i start the 60 minute boil timer and top off the wort as needed.

What do you all think of this procedure? I didn't read anywhere that i should do this, i just started doing it. Am i hurting flavor by boiling for so long?

a10t2:
You probably aren't hurting anything, although you might have trouble making very pale beers (due to darkening in the long boil) or beers with little malt character (due to the formation of Maillard products).

Offhand, I would say you probably aren't gaining anything by boiling for 3-4 hours instead of 1-2, so I would sparge less. Also, you might as well start measuring your boiloff volume per hour, so you know when to start the 60 minutes. Topping off is just a waste of gas/electricity IMHO.

hokerer:

--- Quote from: astrivian on June 07, 2010, 08:08:27 PM ---Anyway, my question is about procedure. After i sparge i tend to have about 8 gallons of wort, which i boil down to 5. I do not add hops or the extract during this boil until it reaches 5 gallons (i have a measuring stick and it can take 3 or 4 hours depending on the wind). Once it hits 5 gallons and i add hops, i start the 60 minute boil timer and top off the wort as needed. 

--- End quote ---

Getting 8 gallons of wort out of 6 pounds of grains sounds like over-sparging to me.  Try doing the calculations so that you get about 1/2 your pre-boil volume from your sparge.  The other 1/2 would be water plus extract.  It may take a few sessions to dial in your variables (deadspace, absorption, boil-off, etc.) but once you do, you'll be set.
Start your boil and as soon as you're past the hot break, start your 60 minute timer.  You'll also save a lot of propane.

bonjour:

--- Quote from: hokerer on June 08, 2010, 08:41:12 AM ---Getting 8 gallons of wort out of 6 pounds of grains sounds like over-sparging to me. 

--- End quote ---
That's a nice catch,  +1

How much over 10%  what styles and what are your gravities. 
Going over 10% your mash starts to become critical, even more so with extract.  Your FG is a major factor in what your final beer will be.

Fred

astrivian:
Thanks all!

I probably am over-sparging. My FGs tend to be in the 1.020 range where the OG is around 1.120 (or so).

I should actually clarify something. I boil down to 4 gallons then pitch a 1 gallon yeast starter made with a pound of LME (calculated into the recipe, not additional).

Also, i just read the article on producing BIG beers and that helped a lot, and i do use up to 15% sugar in most of my beers, which is probably why i get such attenuation.

Next time i will sparge a bit less, aiming for the 1 1/2x recommended here. You know, and you help clarify something for me: preboil gravity. I always thought it was taken after you sparged, so it never calculated correctly. Now i know why: you take it of the mash before you mix it with the sparged water. oh well. :)

Thanks!

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