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Old 11-02-2007, 09:05 PM   #1
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Default Adding wort/water during the boil?

I should have a keggle soon so this will be a moot point for me personally, but I wanted to ask about it anyway because I've always wondered.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't see anything particularly wrong with adding some water during the boil, if for example you notice your boiloff rate is much faster than usual, like on dry and/or windy day if you're doing AG outdoors.

This can be even more important to extract brewers doing partial boils - if you start with only 2 or 3 gallons of wort, having a half gallon or a gallon boil off on you during the boil can very significantly increase the gravity of the boiling wort, which is just going to lead to excess caramelization. So it seems that it would make sense to boil up some water in a smaller pan alongside it, and add it in as needed to keep the wort topped off during the duration of the boil. I just couldn't stand seeing all that empty space in my brew pot when I knew how important it was to have the wort as dilute as possible during the partial boil.

I ask this mainly because it has always made sense to me to do so, but I don't think I've ever heard anyone else suggest it - for that matter, I don't recall ever seeing it mentioned at all.

And, for those of us who do AG and use turkey fryer pots which are JUST big enough for a 5 gallon batch, it doesn't seem like a huge problem to me if I can't quite fit all of my wort in the kettle initially, and I simply let it boil down a bit (or at least let it get past the big initial hot break) before adding the last of it. After I add the last bit, it seems to have another (much smaller) hot break as expected, and then continues as usual.

Now, of course it's best to let your wort boil for the full 60 minutes, but it doesn't seem to me to cause any huge issues if 10% of my wort (or so) only boils for 45 minutes or so.

So... are there any glaring issues with either of these practices that I've somehow missed?

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Old 11-02-2007, 09:08 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Funkenjäger
I should have a keggle soon so this will be a moot point for me personally, but I wanted to ask about it anyway because I've always wondered.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't see anything particularly wrong with adding some water during the boil, if for example you notice your boiloff rate is much faster than usual, like on dry and/or windy day if you're doing AG outdoors.

Now, of course it's best to let your wort boil for the full 60 minutes, but it doesn't seem to me to cause any huge issues if 10% of my wort (or so) only boils for 45 minutes or so.

So... are there any glaring issues with either of these practices that I've somehow missed?
You just need to be careful not to drastically change the hop utilization. Longer boils (because you added more water) will extract more bitterness. Shorter boils (because your volume was going down too quick) will leave the beer maltier.

The time of the boil isn’t dictated by the malts, it’s dictated by the hop bitterness extraction.
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Old 11-02-2007, 09:29 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Funkenjäger
Now, of course it's best to let your wort boil for the full 60 minutes, but it doesn't seem to me to cause any huge issues if 10% of my wort (or so) only boils for 45 minutes or so.
Theoretically, this shouldn't even be an issue. If you don't have enough space to boil all of your wort in the standard size kettle (30qt or 7.5 gallons), boil that first 7 down to 6, add a gallon and repeat. Then, once you have all the wort in, which should still be back to 7+ or whatever gallons now, start your 60 minutes.
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Old 11-02-2007, 09:51 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by BierMuncher
You just need to be careful not to drastically change the hop utilization.
Yeah, I figured that keeping the wort topped up to around the starting volume should keep the hop utilization up, but then again the recipes you would be using should have already taken boiloff into account, and it might not be easy to compensate for the top-offs in brewing software, so I guess that's one fair reason against the idea.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BierMuncher
Longer boils (because you added more water) will extract more bitterness. Shorter boils (because your volume was going down too quick) will leave the beer maltier.
I've always stopped my boils based on time, never on the wort volume, since I'm more concerned about following the hop schedule of the recipe than in hitting a specific wort volume post-boil.

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Originally Posted by BierMuncher
The time of the boil isn’t dictated by the malts, it’s dictated by the hop bitterness extraction.
I know that that's the main factor, but I've heard a fair amount of talk of necessary processes that occur during the boil such as coagulating proteins, etc. But, I don't know how long of a boil is 'long enough' for that particular aspect.
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