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Old 02-01-2011, 03:41 PM   #11
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I went to Northern Brewers site and picked an extract kit that was a high gravity recipe. In that kind of kit they are using 2.5 gallons of water at the boil and adding back distilled water at the end in order to bring the entire recipe up to five gallons.

The recipe I picked had 9 pounds of LME. So in terms of weight and volume they are using twice as much water as LME. Seems like you have a pretty thick wort on your hands.

I'm not familiar with the Mr. Beer primary, but you really should be giving your pot an ice bath to cool down the wort to 70 or so.

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Old 02-01-2011, 04:36 PM   #12
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Thanks guys. My suspicions were correct. I think I need to decide if I'm going to try a full boil and cool it afterwards, which I was hoping to avoid, or try adding half the dme much later. I may get a better pot, but I don't think that will make a huge difference. And as for a shorter boil... I don't know, I still think I'll be burning some on every boil... plus I do a lot of IPAs, so hop schedules are important to me.

I guess I'll read up on crash cooling and late-addition extracts and see what I think.

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Old 02-01-2011, 04:53 PM   #13
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My guess is that you are trying to use the Mr. Beer fermenter and at two gallons it is really limiting what you can do. Most recipes and/or kits you find will be for five gallons even if you are only doing a 2.5 gallon boils. I think you would have much better luck with a five gallon pot and some basic equipment that would allow for five gallon brews by topping off your wort with distilled water. I think you could get all of that plus an extract kit for under a $100.00. You might also find it useful to pick up a recipe program like Beersmith. This would allow you to play around with different volumes of water, hops, boil length, etc to predict your end result.

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Old 02-01-2011, 05:09 PM   #14
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Like I said, I decided against full 5gal batches. I'm one person getting up and down a spiral staircase, I'm trying to limit the space I take up, etc etc. I know it would solve these problems, but right now I just want to solve the case of the small batch burning.

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Old 02-01-2011, 05:26 PM   #15
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There is nothing wrong with doing small batches. I've done a million of them and it works fine.

Here are the main things I can think of regarding the "burning":

1. Start thinking about the relative amounts of extract and hops you are adding to your beers. There are several online tools for designing recipes that will give you style guidelines to follow. USE THEM. They will let you scale recipes to 2 or 2.5 gallons. 5 lbs of DME and 3oz of your average American hops in a 2 gallon batch is HUGE. You are talking about IIIIPA territory.

2. 5 lbs DME != 5 lbs LME. DME is higher gravity per pound.
3. If you are adding DME/LME and then dumping water on top of it, you are likely getting the extract stuck to the bottom of your pot. The easiest way to do DME in my opinion is to add it in small amounts at a time to COLD WATER while stirring in between, THEN heat it up. If you try adding it to hot water you will get crazy clumps that are very difficult to dissolve.
4. Even if you don't use cold water, when you add the extract, TURN OFF THE HEAT. And stir like crazy. Do NOT turn the heat back on until all extract is completely dissolved.
5. Your wort will naturally darken throughout a boil. If you are boiling over or getting crap on the sides of your pot, you are going to smell burning smells because wort is sticky and sweet and when it burns it smells bad.

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Old 02-01-2011, 07:12 PM   #16
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I also brew in small batches, use a Mr Beer keg as a fermentor, and I agree with weirdboy's advice, especially point #1. I've never had an issue with wort burning because of a scaled-down recipe. There's likely something amiss in your procedure that you'll be able to fix for future brew sessions.

What water volume are you using for your boil?

With 5+ lbs of extract in a half-batch, you're attempting a pretty huge beer, you might need to step up to a full boil.

You don't want to shorten your boil, because it will dramatically affect your hop utilization. The solution to your problem lies somewhere else.

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Old 02-01-2011, 08:42 PM   #17
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The water volume has varied some because I keep modifying. One issue is that I've always been steeping grain for half an hour, then just adding to that. In theory, I could be mixing the dme in separate cold water, then add that to the steeped hotter water. But yeah, normally the water is at least steeping temp when I add.

I'm still not so sure mixing is my problem though. I've been mixing the crap out of it.

As for using 5#, I've read plenty of threads that say just cutting a recipe in half isn't wildly innacurate... and I've found a ton of half-batch recipes that use 5# or more and they say it turns out fine. I'm not to the point where I'm calculating OG and all, but still, I don't think 5# should be the reason I'm burning it. Not if done right.

And I know boiling does darken the beer and result in a little bit of crispiness, but I know I'm going beyond that. My first batch was nothing like this, but I had a large boil and a very hot primary that time.

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Old 02-01-2011, 09:07 PM   #18
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Maybe try adding the extract off the boil and stir stir stir. Not only can you burn your pot and wort, but it can also be very dangerous if enough heat and pressure build up under some sticky wort.

If you're brewing inside, you must observe strict safety though. Make sure that extract isn't pooling up and the bottom of the kettle or it could be very dangerous.

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Old 02-01-2011, 10:23 PM   #19
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Quote:
As for using 5#, I've read plenty of threads that say just cutting a recipe in half isn't wildly innacurate... and I've found a ton of half-batch recipes that use 5# or more and they say it turns out fine. I'm not to the point where I'm calculating OG and all, but still, I don't think 5# should be the reason I'm burning it. Not if done right.
Where is this recipe you're making that uses 10 pounds of DME for a 5 gallon batch of IPA?
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Old 02-01-2011, 10:45 PM   #20
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As for the 5# are you sure you are not reading an all-grain recipe for 5 gallons that says 10# pale malt? If you are substitute DME/LME one for one with pale malt then you are using WAY too much. I've never done a 5 gallon batch with more then 8# of LME and most of mine (around 5% ABV) use 5# of DME.

I can't comment on the rest of your post, because its very difficult to understand. What is this extract/water ratio you are talking about? Put simply, how much water are you boiling and how much are you topping off with?

On second thought, when you say you cut the recipe in half did you cut down the amount of water to steep in down from 2.5 gallons to 1.25gallons? That's likely not enough for a 60 minute boil, since a boil off rate can get up to 1-gallon of water lost per hour. Meaning at the end of your boil you have a very concentrated wort on your hands.

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