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Old 09-13-2012, 01:55 PM   #1
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Default First Batch Question - Full Boil

Hello all,

I will finally have all of my equipment rounded up by this weekend and I am looking to being my adventure with an extract kit, Northern Brewer: The Inkeeper. The instructions call for steeping the specialty grains in 2.5 gallons of water, 20 min @170F. After they want to begin the boil.

If I want to do a full boil (finished wort @ 5gal) can I just calculate the preboil volume for the grain bill and LME/DME in beersmith? I think I would have a ton of boil off in a 10gallon kettle. Or should I steep the grains in 2.5 gallons, add more water then boil?

Also, when they talk about bottle conditioning, can I just keg condition? I own everything I need to fully temperature control this process, so it should not be an issue.

For reference I am using a 10 gallon Spike Brewing Kettle and an outdoor Blichmann burner.

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Old 09-13-2012, 02:14 PM   #2
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I am a newbie and can't answer your question but you should double check that steeping temperature, as I understand it at 170F the grain husks will release tannins giving your beer off flavors.

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Old 09-13-2012, 02:18 PM   #3
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Honestly, if this is your first batch, follow the instructions. Learn the basic process before you try to branch out so you understand what those steps mean and what you are doing when you steep, boil, cool, and whatnot throughout the process of brewing. You could do a full boil, but doing a full boil using a recipe not designed for a full boil will result in some different flavors. Your hops will be utilized differently if you use the amount in the recipe. Really, for your first batch I'd stick to the instructions.

As for keg conditioning, yes you can condition in the keg, I have a keg setup and do it all the time. I let the beer ferment for 1-2 months in the primary, transfer to the keg and pressurize it at serving pressure for about a week and then the beer is ready to drink.

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Old 09-13-2012, 02:18 PM   #4
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The first thing I would suggest is to find out exactly how much boil off you will have. Fill your kettle with 7 gallons of water. Boil it for an hour. Measure how much is left. Then you can figure out your rate of evaporation and plug that number into BeerSmith.

I suggest using the entire volume of water that you plan to boil to soak your grains in. Once the grains are removed and you reach a boil, turn off the heat source and slowly start to add your LME/DME while stiring it in. Be careful. You will get a lot of foaming and the wort will try to climb out of the pot.

Once all the LME/DME is added, bring it back to a boil. You may want to consider some Fermcap or similar anti-foam agent to reduce the chance of boil overs.

You will get a reaction from the boiling wort for each addition of hops. Pay attention.

You can keg condition in bulk. You can also carbonate in the keg with CO2. Good luck

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Old 09-13-2012, 02:22 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by menerdari View Post
I am a newbie and can't answer your question but you should double check that steeping temperature, as I understand it at 170F the grain husks will release tannins giving your beer off flavors.
OP, he is right. If you read the instructions its steep for 20 minutes or UNTIL the water reaches 170 degrees. At least in my experience with other recipes like this, you usually steep around 150-155 degrees for the desired time and then pour a small amount of 170 degree water over the grain bag. My technique may be different as I usually purchased my extract kits from Austin Homebrew, but that is usually what they said to do in their directions.
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Old 09-13-2012, 02:25 PM   #6
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You will still want to steep the grain in 2.5 gallons of water, due to pH issues that may arise from steeping in a full volume.

What you could do is simply steep the grain for 20 minutes at no higher than 170, then lift out the grainbag when the time is over. Pour a gallon of water over the grains to "rinse" them, and then throw the grains away. Then top up to 6 gallons (or whatever your boil volume will be) and proceed to bring that up to a boil.

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Old 09-13-2012, 02:32 PM   #7
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You will have some water that stays with the spent grains, so if you are going to strictly calculate volumes take that into account. I take the easy way out. I have marks on my stirring paddle in .5 gallon increments, so I just add a little top up water to my boil kettle whenever I need it (up until 15 minutes from flameout that is). I go all grain, so my top up water is only to account for any significant boil off.

I would steep the grains in 2 gallons or so at 160F, rinse/squeeze the bag after that is complete. Add your top up water to 5-5.5 gallons total before the boil starts. You can check into the late LME additions here to see how people avoid some of the carmelization and darkening of the wort by adding a significant portion of the liquid extract with 5-10 minutes from flameout. One more thing, do you have a wort chiller of some type? Eventually you will want one if you do full boils. Otherwise plan on 1-2 hours for chilling down to yeast pitching temps (target low end).

If you have kegging equipment, you can certainly skip the bottling. You have a choice of either priming with 3-4 oz of priming sugar into a corny keg, purging, and waiting 3 weeks prior to chilling. Or chill and set the CO2 to 13 psi and leave in the fridge for 2 weeks. I usally prime with sugar as I like the extra conditioning time, it saves half the CO2 to force carb and dispense a batch, and it frees up fridge space. But for lagers I usually force carb.

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Old 09-13-2012, 02:33 PM   #8
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170 is the top of what's considered "safe" for steeping grains. Tannin extraction actually requires a combination of temperature and pH, so there's no hard and fast rule. In fact, a lot of traditional German recipes call for a decoction where a portion of the mash is boiled and no tannins are released.

If you want to get the most bang for your buck with the specialty grains, I'd suggest steeping in a relatively small volume of water, then rinsing the bag with more hot water while filling the kettle. Sort of like the brew-in-a-bag method. As for boil off, I lose about 1 gallon per hour using a 10 gallon stockpot, so I'd fill it up to 6 gallons and see how you do. I usually check the level every 15 minutes through and adjust the heat depending on the actual boil off rate. Keep in mind that you want a decent rolling boil going, but you don't have to crank it to 11. Think chicken soup, not pasta water.

And finally, of course you can keg condition. It's really just one big bottle. You can either add priming sugar (about half what you would do if you were bottling), or just put it under CO2. The latter method is called "force carbonation." There's a couple of different methods, but there should be a sticky for it in the kegging section that will explain it all.

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Old 09-13-2012, 05:10 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fennis View Post
Honestly, if this is your first batch, follow the instructions. Learn the basic process before you try to branch out so you understand what those steps mean and what you are doing when you steep, boil, cool, and whatnot throughout the process of brewing. You could do a full boil, but doing a full boil using a recipe not designed for a full boil will result in some different flavors. Your hops will be utilized differently if you use the amount in the recipe. Really, for your first batch I'd stick to the instructions.

As for keg conditioning, yes you can condition in the keg, I have a keg setup and do it all the time. I let the beer ferment for 1-2 months in the primary, transfer to the keg and pressurize it at serving pressure for about a week and then the beer is ready to drink.
I appreciate your advice. I have read 3 books on brewing process and the underlying science and I understand the fundamentals of the starch-sugar conversion (PH-Temperature). I have just never understood the point of "watering down" the wort post-boil. I understand that the flavor will change a bit...

Anyway, I will take your advice and just go with the 2.5 gallons it calls for and go by the process. I need to just get some hands on with this equipment for the time being!
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Old 09-13-2012, 05:22 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by muhteeus View Post
I appreciate your advice. I have read 3 books on brewing process and the underlying science and I understand the fundamentals of the starch-sugar conversion (PH-Temperature). I have just never understood the point of "watering down" the wort post-boil. I understand that the flavor will change a bit...

Anyway, I will take your advice and just go with the 2.5 gallons it calls for and go by the process. I need to just get some hands on with this equipment for the time being!
Like you, I read through this forum and books before I even started brewing. And while they all provide a lot of information, at least for me, it felt entirely different actually going through the process myself.

The watering down post-boil basically has to do with the fact that with your recipe, you are basically creating a concentrated sugar/hops mixture. Left alone, its sugar content is very high and concentrated. By adding in top-off water, you are diluting it down--all of this I am sure you have come across before. I think the reason a lot of extract recipes use this method is because most people starting out don't have 10 gallon brew pots and all the other equipment ready to go to take on the larger 7+ gallon full boils. Extract kits produce amazing beer, but they are also the most simplified way to brew. So, most kits are set up so you can do it on the stove in your kitchen with a 5 gallon pot which most of us have for whatever reason.

Full boils will produce, in my opinion, a better overall beer. Still, following the kit's instructions that you have will produce an excellent beer. I am not saying you don't go off track in the future, but if this is truly your first brew, keep it simple. You can read all the books and forums out there, but actually doing it is entirely different, there are a lot of little things to remember and pay attention to throughout the brew day, and it is important to get that down and following the recipe the first time around is probably a good thing.
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