water ratio for boiling (topping up or not)?
I do only have 1 hme brew done so far, and followed the instructions exactly. Obviously I barely even needed a boil, and only mixed the hme with a little bit of water, adding water to reach the desired gallons..
With that in mind, I want to migrate to extract, and I've been reading a lot. I understand I need to use dme/lme instead of hme, not a problem. I also know that I need to get hops and do a full 60 minute boil, utilizing the hops at different times to get bittering/flavor/aroma from them.
The part that gets me is how much water to boil with the malts and hops. As of now, I only have a mr. beer 2.5g primary available (3 5g carboys are still in use :drunk:). So, if I may ask, what are the differences and effects of the followings:
- Boil a gallon of water with dme/lme and add hops at times, top up with water
- Boil 2.5+ gallons (boil-off) with dme/lme and add hops at times, no top up needed
*Also can it be expanded to 5g+, as in boil 2+g and top up, etc...?
Will the first one result in "thinned/watered down" as the hops don't boil with all the water? Or do they pretty much equal out in the end?
In your case I would go with what we would call a "full boil"—for most beginning brewers this would mean boiling about 6-7 gallons down to a finished batch of 5-5.5 gallons depending on the evaporation rate (usually around 1 gallon per hour).
You will be limited, however, by the volume your kettle/brewpot can hold. Most brewers start by doing "partial" boils (i.e. boiling 1-3 gallons and "topping up" with water to 5 gallons.) until they get a larger pot that accomodates enough headspace to do a "full boil."
In terms of the quality of homebrew you'll be able to produce, doing a full boil is far better than doing a partial boil. The main reasons for this are as follows:
My advice is, buy the biggest stainless pot you can afford. (9+ gallons). This will allow you to do full 5 gallon boils once you free up those other fermenters. For this batch, boil 3.5 gallons or so down to 2.5 (don't top up) and add that to the fermenter.
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