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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > All Grain & Partial Mash Brewing > People talk about "caramelizing" during a boil, is this even possible?
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Old 01-18-2014, 07:57 PM   #1
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Default People talk about "caramelizing" during a boil, is this even possible?

I have read where people say you boil longer to caramelize the sugars, I don't know how this is possible in a boil. I would think that the highest temperature during a boil would be 212°, and the sugar that will caramelize at the lowest temperature is fructose @ 230° while most of the sugars are around 320°.

If you have ever done some plumbing, and tried to sweat a copper joint with a pipe that has some water in it you know that the pipe will not get hot enough to melt the solder.

Is caramelization taking place or is something else like concentration happening.

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Old 01-18-2014, 08:06 PM   #2
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It's definitely possible. It's not the temp that does it, but rather the time. Do a web search on Maillard reaction.

For some styles, like a Scottish ale, it's common to pull out a gallon or so of wort, boil it down to a quart or so, then toss it back in, topping off with water to replace that which was boiled off. This is a way to get a very complex flavor profile with a very simple grain bill.

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Old 01-18-2014, 08:07 PM   #3
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Remember that 212 is the temp that water boils but concentrated wort will reach carmelization temps

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Old 01-18-2014, 08:14 PM   #4
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Thats interesting, I always assumed that when my wort was boiling, that is was at 212, and I have never put my thermometer into it. What temperature does it get to? I will have to measure next time I am boiling.

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Old 01-18-2014, 08:42 PM   #5
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Though I'm sure someone out there on HBT will have a more accurate explanation. This is whats happening in my head.

Even though the liquid is boiling and really unable to raise above 212 F due to released energy, the bottom on the pot is still going to be well over 212. So the overall volume will be one temperature, but any liquid in direct contact with the bottom of the pot will be in contact with a much higher temperature. Even if only for a very short duration. (thinking nano seconds)

So if the sugar chains end up in contact with the bottom of the pot I would think there is a very good chance for some caramelization, but it would be very minimal because of the duration of the sugars experiencing the excessive heat. Of course then length of the boil would also be a factor.

Just my two cents.

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Old 01-18-2014, 11:48 PM   #6
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Normal wort is close to 212. When you concentrate the first runnings you get a higher sugar content and carmelization temps.

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Old 01-19-2014, 12:13 AM   #7
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Wort boils at around 215 °F or 103 °C (due to the boiling point elevation from the dissolved solids). The exact temperature depends on the gravity of your wort and barometric pressure.
Caramelization does not happen in the "open" wort, because the temperatures required for it aren't reached. It can occur at the bottom of your kettle, especially if you add sugar or malt extract and blobs of not-quite-dissolved extract sit on the bottom.
In the open wort, Maillard reactions — browning reactions between reducing sugars and amino acids — do occur. Informally, any type of browning reactions is sometimes called caramelization, even when true caramelization — a pyrolysis of sugars — is not occurring.


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Old 01-19-2014, 06:56 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VikingChrisColby View Post
Wort boils at around 215 °F or 103 °C (due to the boiling point elevation from the dissolved solids). The exact temperature depends on the gravity of your wort and barometric pressure.
Caramelization does not happen in the "open" wort, because the temperatures required for it aren't reached. It can occur at the bottom of your kettle, especially if you add sugar or malt extract and blobs of not-quite-dissolved extract sit on the bottom.
In the open wort, Maillard reactions — browning reactions between reducing sugars and amino acids — do occur. Informally, any type of browning reactions is sometimes called caramelization, even when true caramelization — a pyrolysis of sugars — is not occurring.


Chris Colby
Editor
beerandwinejournal.com
I agree. I think that Maillard reactions are taking place, not caramelization, and that the term "caramelization" is used loosely.
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Old 01-19-2014, 08:45 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VikingChrisColby View Post
Wort boils at around 215 °F or 103 °C (due to the boiling point elevation from the dissolved solids).
Thats interesting. During my boil yesterday I dropped a digital thermometer in and it read 215 deg. I was thinking the calibration was off.
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