So I broke into my first batch this past week and also had a contact at a local brewery run a sample through their testing process. I brewed the Midwest Supplies Irish Red Ale kit. Since I'm using a friend's keggle, I did the steep in 6.5 gallons (rather than the 1.5-2 recommended) and boiled down to about 4.75 that went into the fermenter. What I got back was this:
VDK: 47.3 ppb (happy, healthy yeast!)
I'm pretty happy with everything except that the color is far too dark and the IBUs are too high. I assume that the full-volume boil is to blame for the higher IBU. Not a huge deal. I've since purchased BeerSmith and will recalculate my hop schedules going forward for full volume boils.
I'm guessing that the color has to do with a full volume steep and carmelization of the extract.
I'm preparing for my second batch and wanted to make some adjustments to my process. I have a Belgian IPA on deck so a little bit higher hop utilization won't be as noticeable. I would like, however, to keep the darkening and carmel character down. That said, what is the minimum amount of LME I should add before starting the boil? I know that adding late in the boil (around 15 minutes) can reduce browning, but how much do I HAVE to start the boil with?
Thanks in advance! My third batch will be all grain so in a sense these types of questions won't matter as much. Since all my volumes will be taken into account when designing the beer, I hope to have more consistent performance.