Boil size vs. hop efficiency - Home Brew Forums
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Old 08-09-2012, 11:53 PM   #1
kevinb
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Sorry if this is a repeat, but I can't find my answer by searching.

I am brewing an extract kit. The instructions call for a boil size of only 1.5 gallons. I think I have heard that the larger the boil size, the better the beer will turn out. If I keep the recipe the same, but boil 3 gallons instead will the flavor of the beer change significantly (more bitter, stronger hop flavor?)


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Old 08-10-2012, 12:00 AM   #2
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I know hop utilization will be different when boiling a larger amount but not sure how to correct it. Hopefully someone will chime in with the answer.



 
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Old 08-10-2012, 12:13 AM   #3
SilverZero
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If you're just going to top it off for a full batch anyway, might as well boil it all up front. You will get increased hop utilization, which may be a good thing or a bad thing depending on how the recipe was designed. If it was written for 1.5 gallons and you boil 3 gallons, and get some extra IBUs, you may end up with more bitterness than you want.

 
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Old 08-10-2012, 12:25 AM   #4
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The hops utilization between a 1.5 gallon boil and 3 gallon boil is insignificant. boil as much as you can, and the beer will be better for it.
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Old 08-10-2012, 12:19 PM   #5
kevinb
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Yooper, will do, sounds like good advice. Can you explain to a noobie how the beer improves with a large boil size? Is bigger always better? I think my brew pot is large enough that I can boil 4 gallons, should I go for it?
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Old 08-10-2012, 12:31 PM   #6
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The gravity of your boil GREATLY effects your hop utilization.

So we'll assume you're adding, let's say, 6lbs of DME and doing a 1.5 gallon boil - the gravity of your wort is VERY high. By doing a slightly larger boil you're increasing hop utilization because your gravity is lower.

Doing the most simple math possible, here's an example..

A 1.5 gallon boil including 6 lbs Light DME, 1 oz Willamette (4.5% AA) @ 60 mins and you'd end up with about 5 IBUs total

The same amount of DME and hops in a 3 gallon boil would bring it to 10 IBUs because your starting gravity is much lower, thereby increasing your hop utilization.


And no, lowering the gravity of your boil won't change your final, target gravity.
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Old 08-10-2012, 12:36 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kevinb View Post
I think my brew pot is large enough that I can boil 4 gallons, should I go for it?
I would go for it, but your beer will be fine either way.
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Old 08-10-2012, 12:45 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnnyNeurotic View Post
The gravity of your boil GREATLY effects your hop utilization.
This is not true. While the boil gravity affects hop utilization, it doesn't have a dramatic impact. Here's a discussion on the topic at Stack Exchange.

 
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Old 08-10-2012, 12:51 PM   #9
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This is a matter of some debate. There are a couple different estimates for hop utilization but honestly, almost nobody pays for a true IBU test to see if their brewing method is hitting the projected marks.

Just based on personal experience, the bitterness taste of my brews got a lot closer to their commercial counterparts for full volume boils. Using the formulas/calculators that account for gravity differences got partial boils closer, but the bittering didn't seem as smooth. The partial boils weren't "bad" (at least once I figured out what I was doing. ) they just had a little sharper edge.

 
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Old 08-10-2012, 12:58 PM   #10
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Isn't there something to be said about steeping grains too here? Conceptually it's right on par with the hops utilization. The more water the grains have to steep in, the less saturated with sugars it will already be and the more willing it will give up its sugars to the liquid. Again, you're probably not talking huge differences here as your steeping grains are typically only a pound or two. However, pair that with the increased hops utilization and IMO you'll strike a pretty close balance between the two and you can forget about either effecting the final outcome in a negative fashion.



 
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