I have been making extract recipes with steeped specialty grains. Most of the recipes I have read online or found at the local brew shop have the brewer start with approximately 3 gallons of water and then, after chilling to about 100F, bringing up the volume to 5 gallons with regular cold tap water (with an end result of getting the wort to 65-70F for pitching). This has always made me wonder a few things, and because of these unanswered questions of mine, I have been initiating my brewing with 5 - 6 gallons and then topping off my chilled wort to 5 gals with previously boiled and cooled tap water. I have a wort chiller and typically get my wort chilled to 70F in 15-20 mins. From my experience, rapid cooling is the only reason to start with a smaller volume. But, I can be wrong and hope someone here can set me straight. Here are my questions:
- Does the starting volume have any effect on the flavor profile or overall 'success' of the brew? One recipe I found noted that the starting volume was very important!
- Am I being contamination paranoid when I am not willing to toss REGULAR tap water into my cooled wort? I have great sterile technique and it makes my head spin when I read those instructions!
Thanks in advance for the input. Prost!