Full Boil Extract Brewing

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Jan 11, 2018
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Hey all, new to this form and homebrewing. I got brewing equiptment as a gift. It came with an 8gal kettle and outdoor burner-at some point I'll switch to AG. I have read John Palmers how to brew book cover to cover and made a 1 gal batch that I'm planning to bottle this weekend.
I understand that getting the right color with extracts is a bit harder and with a full volume boil hop utilization increases by a lot.
Does anyone have any suggestions or experience on doing a full boil while keeping the IBUs on the lowerside (for darker beers) and getting a normal color?
Palmer's book makes it seem like color will not be an issue with a full boil.

Thank You!
Since you are the head brewer you get to choose the amount of bitterness. One way is to choose the hop for bittering so that it can give the right amount with a 60 minute boil. You make the choice based on the percent of alpha acid listed on the hop package. Each hop variety will be different and it will change from year to year as growing conditions change.

The other way to get the bitterness you want is how long you boil the hops as it takes time boiling to isomerize the hop oils. This is a bit more difficult as the rate of isomerizing isn't strictly linear as it is estimated that the hops give up 90% of their bittering in the first 30 minutes of boil. You'll have to experiment with each hop you want to use and see what the bitterness level is.
It was a kit, so unfortunately the hops were pre-selected. They are fairly low in A.A - 5%. As of now, the two options I can think of are:
A) Don't add all the hops
B) Add all the hops and see what happens.

I don't have a scale so cutting back on the hops would be a shot in the dark as far as weight added and "calculated IBU's" go. I just want to make sure the beer comes out with a balanced profile. I'd like to keep it a brown ale, not ready for a Brown IPA yet haha.

I do like your idea of changing boil times, that might be the best route so far.

The recipe is designed for a partial boil, however doing a full volume boil seemed easier, I've read it makes the beer taste a bit better and really I get to play with my big pot and burner haha.

I'll look into those and compare, after calculating them out by hand I found this one; https://www.brewersfriend.com/ibu-calculator/ and yielded a full boil of 45-50 IBU and partial boil was around 30. It's not a huge difference, but for a brown ale I feel like 50 IBU's is pretty high for a brown ale. It doesn't help that the hops in the kit are pellets which further increases the utilization.

If I add them at 45, 25, and 5 instead of 60, 45 and 15 I can get the IBU's down to around 35 and not have any hop pellets left over which is good, but would that be too much hop aroma for a brown?

Or if I use 0.75oz at the 60, 45 and 15 I'll be around the 35 IBU mark as well, I just don't have a scale and would not know what to do with the left over hops. I can't brew as much as I'd like and I'd be a bit paranoid about them keeping well.

Thanks for the links!
Another option would be to do a partial boil as the recipe calls for. You would loose some of the full boil advantage, but it would be a simple fix. Later, when you have a scale, you can weigh out the hops. Then do a full boil and fine tune the bitterness.
I had the same question several month back... I was given the consensus that there is no need to adjust the hop schedule. I have since done at least 7-8 batches this way with never feeling anything was over bittered / hopped. I am not a hop head either, so my bitterness threshold is low.
AHA! I knew someone out there would do full volume extract batches.

I do really appreciate everyone's thoughts on this matter though. It will definitely be something I play around with as I brew more and gain experience and figure out how my system works.

Thank you!
The calculators are great for predicting pretty much everything. If all else fails, just document how you do it this time, take notes after conditioning, then do plan B and take notes on that. See what tickles your fancy more. I typically tweak things after I try making one I like...if I don't like it all that much, it goes on the blacklist for ones I never intend to revive or brew again.
Does anyone have any suggestions or experience on doing a full boil while keeping the IBUs on the lowerside (for darker beers) and getting a normal color?

If you are following some of the bloggers who offer their techniques, tips, and tricks for making great extract beers, you're most of the way to being able to get color that is "in range" for most styles. Full boil (or "wort a / b" from "How To Brew", 4th edition) is likely to provide better results than partial boils with all the DME/LME at the start of the boil.

Light (or Pilsen) DME is often preferred when color matters. LME darkens over time: http://blog.brewingwithbriess.com/secrets-to-keeping-your-liquid-extracts-fresh/ .

Late extract additions help lighten the color (but will also impact IBUs): http://menuinprogress.com/2007/08/on-importance-of-late-extract-addition.html

One piece of information that I came across recently is that color (SRM) can go up as gravity (OG) increases: https://www.homebrewersassociation.org/forum/index.php?topic=29885.msg392903#msg392903 .

I have seen, in my extract recipes, that shorter boils also help lighten the color. At the moment, 30 minute (vs 45 or 60) seem to be the 'sweet spot' - 30 minutes seems to be long enough to boil off the the aroma and flavor characteristics of the bittering hops, yet short enough to help lighten the color. (Note that I have no experience with the various 15 minute boil recipes that are available).

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