Full or partial boil?

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Soc

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I am planning on brewing a batch of beer today from ingredients I bought from homebrew.com. In the package it tells me to just do a 2 gallon boil and then add 3 gallons of water at the end. If I have the capability of boiling all 5 gallons at once would it be better to do it that way or should i do it the way they suggest and just boil 2 gallons then add the 3?
 

kaptk2

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Having just done this by accident (doing a full boil when a partial one was called for). I can tell you that the hops are way more prevalent in a full boil to the point of being almost over powering for me.

I don't know how to correct it and being just a n00b I try to stick to directions for now :D
 

DeathBrewer

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a 5 gallon boil compared to a 3 will give you better utilization, so you may wish to cut down on your hops.

i would stick to the recipe, as it was formulated to be brewed with that system in mind. I've never brewing a recipe from homebrew.com, though.

using a partial boil has it's benefits...it's faster to cool and you don't have to use large equipment. doing a full boil means less waste and could produce a better result depending on what water you use and what you top off with.

it's up to you...the main thing will be accounting for increased hop utilization.
 

goplayoutside

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Doing a full boil (or adding the extract late) makes for a "thinner" (less sugary) wort in the boil pot and helps to avoid caramelization. Caramelization leads to darkening and residual sweetness in extract-based beers -- while this is a flaw in certain styles, other styles may even be complimented by it. In lighter style beers (pale ales etc) with original gravities below about 1.050, a full boil or late extract addition can noticeably improve the beer's taste. In bigger, darker beers the effect is harder to notice because of all the malty roasty flavors masking it.

As observed by kaptk2, thinner boils also increasing the rate at which hop acids diffuse into the wort, resulting in a more hoppy-tasting beer.

A good kit recipe should be designed around the boil size recommended in its instructions so I'd go with what they call for in order to achieve the advertised results. If, in the future, you decide you want to modify kit recipes to achieve lighter color or a dryer, cleaner taste, or you want to save money on hops, switching to a full boil or late extract addition technique might be a good idea. It's true that this requires making some changes to the amounts of ingredients you are using -- the easiest way is with Beersmith which is a great twenty bucks spent if you want to keep going with designing and brewing your own recipes.

As many of us move forward with brewing, we find that we end up working to develop a replicable and enjoyable brew process (some people do bigger boils, some smaller). Once we have brewed a few batches and our process settles down, we start gaining experience with formulating recipes that will make the beer we want!
 

beretta

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If you plan to do a full boil, keep in mind:

1. Beer wort foams like crazy when boiled for the first 5 minutes or so... you'll want at least a brew kettle that can handle 7-8 gallons to avoid boil overs (a big mess)

2. Most kitchen stoves can't put out enough heat to boil 4-5 gallons. *Maybe* some gas stoves can.

3. You'll want to cool your wort as fast as you can. 5 gallons of boiling wort will take much longer to cool than boiling 2 gallons and adding 3 gallons of cold water. How do you plan to cool your wort?

4. If your kit has you adding hops seperately, a full 5 gallon boil will "stretch" your hops better, and you'll get a better hoppy taste in your beer. If you're using cans of hopped wort, it won't matter much... just do a 2 gallon boil.

If you do plan on doing a partial boil, then use spring water that's been bottled. It's is sterile, and will not add any nasties to compete with your yeast. Nor will it add chlorine, like your tap water might. Try not to use chlorinated water (municipal tap water), or well water. Well water is chlorine free, but harbors TONS of bacteria.

If you use well water or municipal tap water, boil the 3 gallons for 15-20 minutes to kill off the bacteria and drive off the chlorine. Let it cool overnight, away from drafts, or dust.

cheers!
 
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