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Topping Up Concentration Limit

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birdy12211

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Is there a limit to how concentrated a wort one can boil before adding water to top up the fermenter to the desired OG? It's obvious one cannot use a teaspoon of water and top up to 5 gallons after the boil, but it's also widely known that one doesn't have to boil the entire 5 gallons worth. Sorry if this is a widely discussed topic. Maybe I can't find this because "topping up" isn't the right name.

Thanks, y'all.
 

duboman

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In reality, not really but as you boil more you change the profile flavor of the beer and there is the possibility of burning or caramelizing the wort to the point of harsh flavors.

Decoction is a brewing method where a percentage of runnings are boiled down and then added back to the mash. This method changes the complexity of the beer and adds flavors.
 

RedOktoberfest

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duboman said:
In reality, not really but as you boil more you change the profile flavor of the beer and there is the possibility of burning or caramelizing the wort to the point of harsh flavors.
+1

You also reduce hop utilization.

How low are you trying to get down to?
 
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birdy12211

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Because I don't have a large enough pot, I boiled 1.5 gallons of wort for a 5 gallon batch. It was 6 lb Light DME, 1 lb Crystal 60, and a total of 4 oz of hops. It was difficult to get the DME to dissolve, but as the wort approached boiling temp, and with enough stirring (a lot), it fully dissolved. I guess I was wondering if doing this, even if all the sugars look like they get dissolved, does it change the profile of the beer? At that concentration, will the extraction from the hops be the same? Does anyone have any figures on saturation levels?
 

duboman

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Because I don't have a large enough pot, I boiled 1.5 gallons of wort for a 5 gallon batch. It was 6 lb Light DME, 1 lb Crystal 60, and a total of 4 oz of hops. It was difficult to get the DME to dissolve, but as the wort approached boiling temp, and with enough stirring (a lot), it fully dissolved. I guess I was wondering if doing this, even if all the sugars look like they get dissolved, does it change the profile of the beer? At that concentration, will the extraction from the hops be the same? Does anyone have any figures on saturation levels?
I think it best you list the recipe and process at this point as only a 1.5 gallon boil for a 5 gallon batch is really quite small. How much water did you use to steep the grains as well? How long did you actually boil for? Most set ups will lose at least a gallon to boil off over 60 minutes which would mean you had only 1/2 gallon of wort at the end. If you did not boil for the 60 minutes then how did you add hops? Utilization of the hops would be almost non-existent.

Again, please list recipe and process...........
 

Johnnyhitch1

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Steep some grain in a small glass of water, taste, now pour that tinture into 64oz of water, taste again.

This emulates the strength at a full boil, over that of topping up 2-3-4 gallons.

Flavors get muted, you loose almost all mouthfeel and your hop utilization gets killed.
Boil as much as you can, atleast 3 if not more.
 

Jdslep

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Johnnyhitch1 said:
Steep some grain in a small glass of water, taste, now pour that tinture into 64oz of water, taste again.

This emulates the strength at a full boil, over that of topping up 2-3-4 gallons.

Flavors get muted, you loose almost all mouthfeel and your hop utilization gets killed.
Boil as much as you can, atleast 3 if not more.
This is not a good analogy, and I think everybody can see why. I think only the hop utilization is an issue, but just get a super AA% hop and take care of it easily.
 

RedOktoberfest

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Jdslep said:
This is not a good analogy, and I think everybody can see why. I think only the hop utilization is an issue, but just get a super AA% hop and take care of it easily.
+1 on the hops.

Just know that you will have to guard against burning and over-caramelization, use more hops, and keep in mind you are pushing the limit and that the "pale" part of any recipe you make, won't be.

You can use a free calculator like brewtoad to nail the hop adjustment. It will also help to add your extract late in the boil.

Oh and get a bigger pot! :ban:
 

erikpete18

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Welcome to the site! Nothing at all wrong with topping up in general, but it will be different. Definitely look into "late extract additions" if you decide to do a full 60-min boil in the future, but since you're just doing a 15 min, that shouldn't be necessary. The short boil time should also reduce the amount of caramelization you can get from boiling concentrated wort, so I wouldn't worry about that either.

The only problem I could see is the hop additions. Even adding what the recipe calls for, since I can't tell if the recipe was written for a concentrated boil or not, its hard to tell what you'll get for IBUs without doing the calculations. If you've got an extra $25 or so laying around, I'd definitely suggest getting Beersmith, which could then calculate the IBUs you can expect from a concentrated boil and let you know if you'd need to increase it in the future. If you'd rather try it out in a free program, there are some online sites that work pretty well, or you can download the program Brewtarget and give it a run. Its possible that with the concentrated wort you won't get as many IBUs as you expect, but I'd wager it will still turn out to be a tasty brew.
 
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