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Musketear 06-25-2009 04:10 AM

High altitude brewing?
I have spend my entire brewing life on the east coast, basically at sea level. but I am moving to the mountains and will be living at about 9,000 feet. I know this effects the temperature that water will boil, so will this change the way I need to brew?

Yankeehillbrewer 06-25-2009 04:32 AM

Wow 9000ft? Where you moving to? just curious. Anyway, the only thing I can think of is that you should boil at about 194*(1 degree for every 500ft), so take that into account if you use boiling water to calibrate your therms. Not sure if oxygen levels would have bearing on your brews. Boil off rate might be different. I find this interesting, curious to see what you find out.:mug:

david_42 06-25-2009 01:56 PM

The lower boiling temperature will impact utilization, the isomerization process is slower. Not by much though. Simply boiling your bittering hops an extra 10 minutes will cover.

malkore 06-25-2009 10:35 PM

Mountain air is often kind of dry...might affect evaporation rate too by a bit.

Parker36 06-25-2009 10:40 PM

As a high altitude brewer, the things I need to look out for:
1) Evaporation Rate - Don't know where you will be exactly, but here combined with the lower boiling temp and dry air, the boil off rate is pretty fast.
2) Hop Utilization - As outlined by david 42, a few extra minutes of the bittering hops (or a little extra, either in quantity or IBUs). This is just something you have to figure out by yourself with experience for the most part
3) Carbonation Levels. I need to use extra priming sugar when bottling to get the appropriate carbonation level. Not such a big deal if you keg. Another thing experience will help with, but there is a thread or two in the "Brew Science" forum that go into it more indepth.

Hope this helps. Welcome to the rarified air!

leboeuf 06-25-2009 10:51 PM

Watch out if you go on any long hikes :P
9000ft is pretty high up there. I'm at 7000ft down here in the desert...

dr_finklestein 06-27-2009 05:25 AM


Originally Posted by leboeuf (Post 1400057)
Watch out if you go on any long hikes :P
9000ft is pretty high up there. I'm at 7000ft down here in the desert...

7000ft? Whoa! Do you live in the Heights?

AZ_IPA 06-27-2009 05:39 AM

I'm at 7,000 feet as well - lower temp on the boil, but I haven't noticed anything else much different. I did have a carb issue that I thought was altitude related (competition beers at 1,200 feet and sea level were over carbed), but have come sense to realize I just added too much priming sugar.

Interesting comments about hop utilization - thanks for that info - I had an IPA that scored pretty low and the judges thought it may have been more appropriate as an APA even though it was was supposed to be ~65-70 IBUs

RayInUT 06-27-2009 06:39 AM

I'm at 6,250. We should start a group of high altitude brewers and call it the mile hile club. Anyway, I never brewed before I lived where I do so I don't know if it would be different. I can't see where having a lower boiling temp would make a difference. I do have a high boil off rate. I lose about 1.25 to 1.75 gallons per hour depending on the humidity or lack thereof.

Beernik 06-27-2009 11:54 PM

I've heard a lot of stories about beers being under or over carbed if consumed at a greatly different elevation that they were brewed at.

I'm at 5500 ft and I haven't had any problems. Actually, the lower boiling temp is kind of nice. But I do tend to loose a lot of wort to evaporation. Maybe keep a gallon or two of bottled spring water available for make-up, just in case you come up short at the end.

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