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Old 10-03-2007, 08:29 PM   #1
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Default Some Boil / Kettle questions

I've got a few all-grain batches under my belt and have been going through my process to refine and make things a little smoother and consistent. This is the first in probably a line of questions...

When boiling, are you boiling with the burner on full flame? I have a converted keg and a camp chef cooker and do 5 gallon batches (usually boiling 8 gal or so to start to end up with 6 or so...I siphon and plan to leave a half gallon or so in the kettle). If I boil at full on flame, uncovered kettle, I boil off 2 gallons per hour. Does this seem right? I've seen the estimates for 10% per hour and I am way over that amount. For the boil, should I be backing things off just enough to keep it rolling?

I understand the importance of a good vigorous boil (hop utilization, hot breaks, DMS boiloff, etc...) but at the same time, I’d like to be a little more refined (and perhaps squeeze an additional batch out of my propane tank). Ultimately, I suppose the answer is that it doesn't matter as long as I do it the same each time.

Second, I would be interested in hearing how others measure the wort volume during the boil? I've got a calibrated "dip stick" but with the rolling boil, steam and then an immersion chiller for the last 20 minutes my measurements are more like guesses. I’d prefer to keep things lean and not install a sight glass. I’ve thought of etching (with a Dremel?) the inside of the kettle but I think it would be just as hard to see those marks as well.

Any thoughts would be welcome. Thanks!

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Old 10-03-2007, 09:46 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by weetodd
I've got a few all-grain batches under my belt and have been going through my process to refine and make things a little smoother and consistent. This is the first in probably a line of questions...

When boiling, are you boiling with the burner on full flame? I have a converted keg and a camp chef cooker and do 5 gallon batches (usually boiling 8 gal or so to start to end up with 6 or so...I siphon and plan to leave a half gallon or so in the kettle). If I boil at full on flame, uncovered kettle, I boil off 2 gallons per hour. Does this seem right? I've seen the estimates for 10% per hour and I am way over that amount. For the boil, should I be backing things off just enough to keep it rolling?


I understand the importance of a good vigorous boil (hop utilization, hot breaks, DMS boiloff, etc...) but at the same time, I’d like to be a little more refined (and perhaps squeeze an additional batch out of my propane tank). Ultimately, I suppose the answer is that it doesn't matter as long as I do it the same each time.

Second, I would be interested in hearing how others measure the wort volume during the boil? I've got a calibrated "dip stick" but with the rolling boil, steam and then an immersion chiller for the last 20 minutes my measurements are more like guesses. I’d prefer to keep things lean and not install a sight glass. I’ve thought of etching (with a Dremel?) the inside of the kettle but I think it would be just as hard to see those marks as well.

Any thoughts would be welcome. Thanks!
Here's my high tech measuring method.

keggle_4.jpg

I always keep the boil just slightly more violent than "barely rolling". I adjust, based on how fast my volume appears to be going down compared to the time I need for hops additions.

Plus, I do 125-13 gallon boils in a 15 gallon kettle so too much heat and I’m boiling over. As long as you have a decent rolling boil, you should be fine.
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Old 10-04-2007, 04:26 PM   #4
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Old 10-04-2007, 06:43 PM   #5
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If you're boiling off 2 gallons per hour, you are running too much flame. You only need a rolling boil to get a good break and hop utilization. Any more than that, and you are just wasting fuel and water.

For measuring kettle volume, the dipstick method or BierMuncher's Star Trek tech method are the way to go. Marking on the inside of your kettle doesn't do you much good unless you cut the fire. Often steam, the boil, and crud that sticks to the side of your kettle will obstruct your view of marks inside.


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