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Old 11-18-2008, 05:47 PM   #1
AirRageous
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Default High Altitude Brewing

I live at 5000 foot elevation and noticed when I boiled my first (and so far only) batch, it boiled at only 203 deg F. Even at full flame on my kitchen stove, the pot only got up to 206 F with 2.5 gallons of wort.

So the questions are:

1. Would cooler boiling cause a problem?
2. Do I need to get a propane turkey fryer burner to get up to 212F?
3. Any other high altitude concerns?
4. Or should I just relax and drink a cold one?

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Old 11-18-2008, 05:49 PM   #2
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Another high altitude brewer here, don't worry too much about it. You lose some IBUs due to the lower heat, but not too much. A bigger burner wouldn't get it to a higher temp, it will be the same 203 you are getting now, it will just boil quicker.

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Old 11-18-2008, 05:51 PM   #3
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if you have a good "rolling" boil you are fine RDWHAHB.

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Old 11-18-2008, 06:01 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wikipedia, "boiling"
Boiling (also called ebullition), a type of phase transition, is the rapid vaporization of a liquid, which typically occurs when a liquid is heated to its boiling point, the temperature at which the vapor pressure of the liquid is equal to the pressure exerted on the liquid by the surrounding environmental pressure. Thus, a liquid may also boil when the pressure of the surrounding atmosphere is sufficiently reduced, such as the use of a vacuum pump or at high altitudes.
Boiling doesn't have that much to do with temperature, but a lot to do with pressure. when you're at a higher altitude the pressure is lower, and so a lower temperature is required. like Parker36 said, you'll lose a little utilization from your hops, but you're still boiling away. nothing you do, short of pressurizing your kettle, will enable you to boil water much higher than 204F at that altitude.
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Old 11-18-2008, 06:38 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by SenorWanderer View Post
Boiling doesn't have that much to do with temperature, but a lot to do with pressure. when you're at a higher altitude the pressure is lower, and so a lower temperature is required. like Parker36 said, you'll lose a little utilization from your hops, but you're still boiling away. nothing you do, short of pressurizing your kettle, will enable you to boil water much higher than 204F at that altitude.
And pressurizing your kettle would be a bad idea.
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Old 11-18-2008, 08:00 PM   #6
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Thanks everyone.

I realize that water will boil at a lower temp the higher the altitude is due to lower atmospheric pressure. But I'm sure that when a recipe calls for "boiling" it is assumed that it is at sea level and the temp will be 212F. I just wanted to make sure that the slightly lower temp I achieved was still OK in beer making. Many baking products include "high altitude instructions" for usually over 3500' elevation.

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Old 11-18-2008, 08:14 PM   #7
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I've made plenty of beer at 5000+ feet. Not a problem.

The bigger thing you may find is that altitude + dry climate = lots of boil-off. You'll probably end up having to top off until you figure out how much water you lose in an hour's boil.

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Old 11-19-2008, 03:33 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by jds View Post
I've made plenty of beer at 5000+ feet. Not a problem.

The bigger thing you may find is that altitude + dry climate = lots of boil-off. You'll probably end up having to top off until you figure out how much water you lose in an hour's boil.
~3,000 ft here and I notice my boil-off is a lot higher than when I was at 500 ft.
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Old 11-19-2008, 01:56 PM   #9
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The slightly lower boiling point at 5000 feet will reduce the conversion rate for bittering hops, but not enough to be a problem.

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Old 11-19-2008, 02:40 PM   #10
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my temp never went over 202 this weekend, no matter what i did.
humidity was low, and i lost over a gallon inthe first 30 mins, i lowered temp to slow evap when hops were added.

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