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-   -   High Altitude Changes (http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f39/high-altitude-changes-35715/)

PastorJasonHarris 08-06-2007 08:18 PM

High Altitude Changes
I was just reading a posted recipe that called for about 7 gallons of water to be boiled for 90 minutes, yielding 5.5 gallons. That had me thinking, "duh, boiling water does evaporate."

Then I thought, "I am at a high elevation (about 5000 feet). Water boils faster and at a considerably lower temp (in the 190s)."

So I thought I would ask...In general, how should you alter beer recipes for high altitudes?

RichBrewer 08-06-2007 09:56 PM

I've never adjusted my brews for altitude. For some reason I don't get as MUCH boil off as I think I will. I'm pretty sure it has something to do with the flame setting on my cooker.
I have never heard of recipes being adjusted for altitude either. The best thing I can suggest is to go with a recipe as is and take notes on your volumes after the boil. Then adjust your boil times as needed.

Hercules Rockefeller 08-06-2007 10:07 PM

I've also never adjusted my recipes for altitude. The way I figure it, boil off rate should be a function of humity, not altitude. the altitude certainly would make water evaporate faster at a given temperature, but the boiling temperature is lower also. if you could actually get it up to 212 degrees, then the boil off should be higher. but I'm no expert in physics, that is just my educated guess. if anyone here has more specific knowledge, feel free to correct me/ smack me around / call me dirty names, etc

malkore 08-06-2007 11:50 PM

beer recipes don't have to be altered like, say, a recipe for bread or cake for the sake of altitude. you're just 'lucky' that things boil more readily at a higher elevation.

Yuri_Rage 08-06-2007 11:58 PM

I live at 4,000' MSL, and I never adjust a thing when it comes to beer.

Bread's a completely different story.

SoCalBrewing 08-07-2007 12:12 AM

I used to live in Big Bear, at around 7000ft. I brewed my beers exactly the same as the recipe called for, and all of mine turned out fine. Just like Malkore said, your baking a cake, so I dont think altitude is really relavent.

IowaStateFan 08-07-2007 05:25 PM

The lower boiling temps have a significant affect on hops utilization. I found a formula online that can be used to calculate the effects of boil temp on utilization. I'm at work right now so I'm not sure where I got it, but I'll look when I get home. Anyway, I live at 9,100' and according to the formula my utilization is about 25% less.

Before I found the formula, I didn't adjust the recipes except for doing late addition of my extract. The lower gravity boosted the utilization over what the recipe was expecting so they balanced each other. I did do one kit from AHS and followed the directions exactly (ie. partial boil of all extract rather than late addition of 1/2, no changes to the hopping schedule) and it came out sickly sweet. It was a low IBU Munich Helles, so the difference was very pronounced.

As for evaporation, you will get more evaporation at altitude, mostly because the relative humidity is so low. If I get too much evaporation from my boil, I just top of the fermenter to get the volume I want.

feedthebear 08-08-2007 02:05 AM

I'm at 5500 ft. I don't adjust mine either.

RichBrewer 08-08-2007 02:11 AM

Here's a question that has always bugged me.
Can you get water temperature to go above the point at which it boils? My opinion is that you can not unless you use a pressure cooker or something. I believe that what happens is that the more heat you add the faster the water boils off without going above the set boil temp. If you added 10000 degree heat to water it would just flash off as steam.

So what is the truth?

EDIT: The above paragraph was composed with opinion and conjecture. No facts or research were wasted in it's construction.:mug:

SoCalBrewing 08-08-2007 03:00 AM

The truth is Yes you can bring water above boil temperatures if there is enough pressure. They discovered fissures at the bottom of the ocean that have water around 800 degrees.

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