Originally Posted by bernardsmith
Total beginner beer maker. Have been doing some reading about the no-chill method and so here is my first question: Assuming that no chill works for small batches (say 5 gallons), many of the basic recipes suggest that the DME and any specialty grains are boiled and brewed in 2- 3 gallons of water, the additional water being added to the fermenter cold. Does that mean that I can usefully buy a small container of about 3 gallons to accept the boiled wort? Why do brewers refer to 5 and 6 gallon containers? Would mixing the now cool wort with the remainder of the water create a problem before I pitch the yeast?
The other question is this: My understanding is that the isomerization of hops is inhibited in higher gravity wort. Does this mean that it makes more sense to boil the hops in the water I am not going to use to steep the grains or boil the malt? Does it mean that despite the recipes I should be boiling my hops in 5 gallons of the wort rather than the 3 (and so I need to buy myself a 6 gallon kettle)?
For a 5 gallon batch, you need more than a 5 gallon vessel (to account for krausen).
Regarding hops utilization - couple things.
First, my understanding is that you need some sugar in the water to get good utilization. However, some have posted good results my boiling in plain water. I've never tried.
Second, I have always heard that gravity affects utilization. I have also heard that it is a myth and while it may have some effect, it is greatly exaggerated and the mechanism is not understood. I don't know where I stand on this one...
Finally, I do believe that there is point of saturation of hop oils in wort at around 90-100IBU. So if you put a bunch of hops in 2.5 gallons and get the IBUs to 100, then dilute to 5 gallons you will have 50 IBU. This is true, even if you put in enough hops to have 5 gallons of 100 IBU beer. That is the best reason (in my mind) to do full boils.