First full boil - questions regarding strength of boil, hop utilization, hot break
I recently picked up a new SS pot that let's me do a full 5 gallon boil. Feeling pretty confident as a new brewer with 3 whopping good extract-based brews under my belt with partial boils, I set off to brew AHS' Blue Moon clone this evening as a full boil. AHS' instructions only have a 30 minute boil specified (unless I read the instructions wrong) - 2 hop additions, one at 30 minutes and one at 5 minutes. First, my observations, then questions:
* It took a while to get to 155 degrees to steep the specialty grains on my gas stovetop with 2.5 gallons, even on my "power burner"
* It took forever to get to a boil after steeping the specialty grains to the point where I could add the LME
* It took an obscene amount of time to return to a boil after adding LME
* I never got a rapid boil - just a gentle, light rolling boil
* I never had a major boil flare up when adding hops or anything - is that normal with this high volume of wort and light boil?
* Is a rapid/hard boil critical to the "hot break" occurring?
* Is a rapid/hard boil critical to hop utilization?
* I actually boiled 5.5 gallons and ended with about 4.5 - I topped off slowly and took gravity readings while topping off - I hit the target gravity at just shy of 5 gallons - where the recipe called for topping off to 5.25 gallons - is this an artifact of the full boil? I left it at just under 5 gallons.
* Next time I'm using my turkey fryer burner outside
* wort chillers are amazing - I picked up a 20 foot coil, which looks pretty meager, but it still managed to cool the wort in about 15 minutes - winning!
* This brew already smells and tastes awesome!
* Nucleation boil-overs (from adding hops, etc) are certainly more common with hard boils, but you should still watch out for them.
* So long as you are seeing the surface turn over to facilitate gas exchange, a hard boil is not necessary. Hot break is significantly less visible with extract than with all grain, but in any case you don't need a hard boil to get hot break. Liquid water will not go above the boiling point where you are, so a hard boil is no hotter than soft boil. Hops utilization will not generally be impacted one way or another (though if your boil is _really_ soft, you'll want to stir periodically).
* Don't trust your gravity readings while topping off. No matter how much you thought you were mixing, it wasn't enough. Topped off extract batches give false gravity readings the majority of the time. If it's extract, using the proper amount of water will pretty much guarantee you hit your OG numbers.
I have been looking for a good blue moon clone!!! You should link me your recipe : ) and keep us posted on it!!
I bottled mine last weekend and it tasted good going into the bottles, can't wait to drink it once it's carb'ed up.
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