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Old 01-02-2010, 05:25 PM   #1
xinunix
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Default Extract Process Improvements for 2010

I have been reading a lot lately in search of my next process improvement. I have a couple of questions about what I have been reading and would like to get some thoughts from others.

I have been brewing for about a year now (and reading this forum all along the way!), I am on my 10th brew, all extract with partial boils. Per the advice of many of the experts on this forum I have been very process focused, over the past 10 months I have been slowly tweaking and improving my process one step at a time.

So far I have done the following:

1. Learned the value of patience, not only as a virtue but as a solution to most homebrewing "problems", I moved from 1 to 3 weeks in Primary, secondary only if I am really striving for clarity and a minimum of 3 weeks in the bottle at 70 degrees
2. Switched from One Step to Star San
3. Bought a chest freezer and Johnson Controls controller to manage fermentation temps, best investment I have made to date
4. Started doing late extract additions adding 1/3rd to 1/2 of my extract up front (1 pound per gallon) and the rest with 15 minutes left in the boil
5. Upped my boil volume from what the recipe suggested to as much as my pot can handle (approx 3.5 to 4 gallons)

Here are some of the things I am thinking about for 2010 and would like some advice on (Note I have no interest or intent of going AG at this time so please consider that in your responses.):

1. Wort Chiller - Right now I am doing ice baths, it takes me 50 minutes plus to get 3.5 gallons of boiling wort down to pitching temps. I fully understand the value of cooling down rapidly (protein fallout, etc.). I am thinking based on the things I have done to this point, this is the next obvious step I should take to improve my process, do others agree? If I stick with a partial boil, do I need a 2 stage IC, is that overkill? Here are the two I am looking at: Super IC - Regular IC

2. Boil Volumes - I can boil 3.5 to 4 gallons now, I have read and fully understand the value of a full boil as it relates to hop utilization and reduced probability of caramelization. But my question is, if I don't plan to go to AG, if I am only using DME are there really any other benefits to a full volume boil that might justify the cost of upgrading to a larger brew pot? I am really leaning towards sticking with partial boils based on what I have read so far...

3. Moving from pre-packaged kits to DIY recipes - My LHBS has GREAT kits with very fresh ingredients so I have been able to make some great beers, but I think it is time to get a copy of BeerSmith and venture into the artistic side of this hobby.

Any other suggestions on what I can do to improve the brewing process and quality of my extract brews beyond the things I have done so far or am considering at this point?



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Old 01-02-2010, 05:39 PM   #2
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Use ice instead of water when topping up. To avoid sanitation concerns, you'll have to plan ahead a bit. Boil as much top up water as you expect to use. Freeze it in covered containers. Kitchen canisters or other cylinder-shaped containers should make it easy to get the ice out and into your wort. That should vastly improve your chilling time without adding a bunch of expensive equipment.



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Old 01-02-2010, 06:27 PM   #3
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Before I got a wort chiller I chilled 2 gallons of 'Spring Water' in my keezer. The partial boil (abt 2 gallons) went in an ice bath for + or -15 min. I poured the 2 gallons of chilled water in the carboy and then poured in the wort when it was around 100 degrees. The 100 degree met the 40 degree and made 70 degree wort. Top off with a little room temperature spring water and pitch. Worked fine for me up until I upgraded my BK (size not quality).

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Old 01-02-2010, 07:00 PM   #4
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I will say that with an immersion chiller (the standard kind) I get my wort to pitching temp in less than 5 minutes. I stir while doing so and it helps introduce air as well (instead of an airstone or the like). I've never incurred contamination, and it really reduces the time after a boil to get the beer in the fermenter.

I will say, I'm not sure how much effort difference it is, because cleaning up the IC is probably every bit as much of a pain in the ass as boiling water then freezing/cooling it.

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Old 01-02-2010, 10:55 PM   #5
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cleaning the IC has got to be the easiest thing in the world.

Remove from kettle spray off with hot water. Hang upside down to dry.

At the 5g size I doubt your need a super chiller. I can have a full AG batch cooled to 70 in less than 15min no ice or other steps. It actually takes longer to chill my starters. Luckilly I can throw the flask right into ice bath.

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Old 01-03-2010, 12:53 AM   #6
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Definately go with the BeerSmith purchase, go with full boils, and possibly consider purchasing a winpak and going "no chill". I'm going to do a "no chill" with my next batch and others have had GREAT results.



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