Boil Times

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Boil Times

Postby jeffjm » Mon Mar 17, 2014 9:24 am

As Paul subtly reminded us, a thread about soda making is probably not the best place for discussion of boil times :)

Bob pointed out, correctly, that there are many valid reasons for an extended boil. However, I'm not convinced that they all apply when making hoppy beers from extract, which is nothing more than pre-boiled, concentrated wort.

Bob Brews wrote:Boiling for less than one hour risks under-utilization of hop acids, so the bitterness level may be lower than expected. In addition, the head may not be as well formed due to improper extraction of isohumulones from the hops. A good rolling boil for one hour is necessary to bind hop compounds to polypeptides, forming colloids that remain in the beer and help form a good stable head. An open, rolling boil aids in the removal of undesired volatile compounds, such as some harsh hop compounds, esters, and sulfur compounds. It is important to boil wort uncovered so that these substances do not condense back into the wort.


There is definitely less hop utilization with a short boil. The solution is to add more hops, as pointed out in the article I linked to. Regarding head stability, I hopburst my APA and IPA, adding all my hops at twenty minutes or less. Those beers have no head issues at all, and based on how they've done in competition, don't have problems with harsh hop compounds, either. If brewing from extract, it's been boiled already, so doesn't that remove the concerns with sulfur compounds? And aren't esters actually a fermentation byproduct, not something created in the kettle?


Bob Brews wrote: Clarity will be also be affected by not using at least a full hour rolling boil, as there will not be a adequate hot break to remove the undesired proteins. This will also affect shelf life of the bottled beer, since the proteins will over time promote bacterial growth even in properly sanitized beer bottles. The preservative qualities of hops will also suffer greatly if the wort is not boiled for one hour, as the extraction of the needed compounds will be impaired.


Again, the extract has already been boiled - so doesn't that take care of the hot break? Regarding shelf life, my homebrew will be always be stored cold in a keg and in any event isn't likely to last that long. It certainly won't have the shipping, heat, and light stress that many commercial beers encounter. There's a good chance I'll dry hop a beer that's all 15-minute additions or less, and if I do, I'm already diminishing clarity.

Bob Brews wrote:Boiling wort will also lower the pH of the wort slightly. Having the proper pH to begin the boil is not normally a problem, but if it is below 5.2, protein precipitation will be retarded and carbonate salt should be used to increase the alkalinity. The pH will drop during the boil and at the conclusion should be 5.2-5.5 in order for proper cold break to form and fermentation to proceed normally. Incorrect wort pH during the boil may result in clarity or fermentation problems.


There might be something to this. I'd guess that the wort was around the proper pH when it was concentrated into extract, but have no clue what happens when it's reconstituted. I'm sure it depends largely on the water source.

Bob Brews wrote:The effects of boiling on the wort should match the intended style. It is often desirable to form melanoidins which are compounds produced by heat acting on amino acids and sugars. These add a darker color and a maltier flavor to beer. When desired, an insufficient boil will not form enough melanoidins for the style. Boiling the initial runnings of high gravity wort will quickly caramelize the sugars in the wort. This is desired in Scottish ales, but would be inappropriate in light lagers.


I'm not quite sure how caramelizing the first runnings comes into play here. Regarding melanoiden formation, this is 100% correct. I wouldn't expect malt-forward beers, even from extract, to do well with a short boil. (Of course, we don't know how long the extract maker boiled...there may be differences between brands, and some may do better than others in terms of melanoiden content.)

Bob Brews wrote:Vigorously boiling wort uncovered will evaporate water from the wort at a rate of about one gallon (four liters) per hour, depending the brewing setup. In order to create a beer with the appropriate target original gravity, changes in the wort volume must be taken into account. Longer boil times or additions of sterilized water may be required to hit the target gravity.


I agree 100%. Your pre-boil volume will be less than if you do a sixty minute boil. I believe this may have been mentioned in the article I linked as well.

Bob Brews wrote:So the main problems I would see is that you could have clarity problems, you would need to increase your hop quantities due to lower utilization, increase your malt volume due to lack of concentration, and run the risk of off flavors/aromas from volatile compounds. I guess that is why nearly every commercial brewery in the world boils for at least an hour, even when profits are at stake.


How many of those commercial breweries are using extract? Not many. Most of the reasons for a longer boil given above seem to apply to those brewing from grain, except for hop utilization, which can be worked around with an extra couple of bucks worth of hops. Other than maybe the kettle pH issue, I don't see any major concerns in shortening the boil time of an extract, hop-forward beer. I'm not claiming that it will be magnificent, but I also don't think it will be terrible, either.
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Re: Boil Times

Postby Bob Brews » Mon Mar 17, 2014 3:27 pm

I am not trying to create an argument on boiling. I just wanted to point out some possible consequences of not boiling your wort. Being a beer judge, I have tasted "experimental" beers that range from fantastic to a waste of a bottlecap. Plus having brewed beer for 20+ years, I have also tried many of these ideas myself.

You stated that extract is boiled. That is incorrect. Then it would not be extract but rather concentrated "sweet wort". Extract is concentrated wort (the runnings from the sparge of the grains). This is then dehydrated to either Liquid or dry malt extract. If it is boiled, it is done so in a vacuum at lower temperatures to concentrate. I have brewed many an extract beer and will tell you that you will get hot break from an all extract brew. This may or may not contribute to a hazy beer, depending on a number of factors including but not limited to the extract you use (which can vary from year to year and brand to brand).

I also know that off flavors and aromas are significantly less in my beers when I do a 60 to 90 minute boil and I do it with the lid off. I have tried shorter boils myself and found my beers were better with the longer boil.

Why not do an experiment and brew the same beer with the same yeast but boil one for an hour and one for 15 minutes and have a blind test.

My personal policy is that when I brew a beer, I try not to cut corners and have a beer that could potentially be marinade. If I am worried about 45 minutes of my brew day, I postpone until I have more time to brew. Till then, I buy good beer.
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Re: Boil Times

Postby jeffjm » Sat Mar 22, 2014 8:47 am

Yep - I agree a blind test is a good idea.

Between Champion of the Pint, Microfest, brewing for Heritage Festival, NHC, 2-3 brews already planned, etc. my beer-related time is pretty well spoken for the next few months. I'll do the two beers side-by-side sometime over the summer, and will bring both to a future meeting, assuming the powers that be are OK with it.
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Re: Boil Times

Postby rsc3da » Sun Mar 23, 2014 6:45 pm

Why bother making extract beers? Unless you are a beginner and are just getting into brewing. All-grain is the way to go in every case, it's the way to make beer.
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Re: Boil Times

Postby JE » Thu Mar 27, 2014 8:10 am

rsc3da wrote:Why bother making extract beers? Unless you are a beginner and are just getting into brewing. All-grain is the way to go in every case, it's the way to make beer.


There are some brewers who don't have the ability to store the extra gear for all-grain, or the desire to buy the extra equipment. Extract beers, if brewed properly, can still be pretty excellent.

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Re: Boil Times

Postby JoeHPhil » Mon Apr 21, 2014 11:39 am

Ryan must be trolling here but...

As nearly everything in life, there is not a black/white difference between all grain and extract. A literalist might say that the "All" in all-grain means there are no additional sugars in the beer besides those added by grain. The reality as you know is far different.

I stayed an extract brewer for over 10 years before going to all grain for a number of reasons. Time being the biggest reason, especially since my beers were medalling and as good as most all-grain beers I tasted. That said, I did a full boil, used fresh hops and liquid yeast, used a good bit of steeping grains (enough that you could really call what I was doing a partial mash), and managed my pitch temp and fermentation temps.

To the original point, extract-made beer did have a significant hot break and did have the ability for DMS and other items caused by a reduced boil time. I can't say there are not pre-boiled extracts or if all of these issues are purely caused by malt and not partially by hops. I can only say that with the standard variety of extract I needed the 60-90 minute boil.
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Re: Boil Times

Postby jeffjm » Sun Aug 31, 2014 6:48 pm

It's been a while, but I have both 15-minute-boil and 60-minute-boil extract beers kegged, carbed, and ready to pour for the tech topic at Thursday's meeting.

There were some things that surprised me about these beers but I won't say anything more until everyone's done the triangle test :wink:
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Re: Boil Times

Postby rex » Thu Sep 04, 2014 1:46 pm

Strictly speaking, melanoidins do not have either flavor or aroma. It is lower molecular weight Maillard reaction products that account for these.
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Re: Boil Times

Postby blksabbath » Thu Sep 04, 2014 11:06 pm

The taste test was a pretty interesting experiment. Thanks for doing that

Rex, you need to come out to a meeting at some point.
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Re: Boil Times

Postby JoeHPhil » Fri Sep 05, 2014 8:48 am

Curious - What were the differences noted?
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Re: Boil Times

Postby jeffjm » Fri Sep 05, 2014 11:37 am

For those who couldn't make it:

We had three beers, 'A', 'B', and 'C'. 'A' and 'B' were from the same 15-minute boil. 'C' was a 60-minute boil. I used my volume at 15 minutes remaining in the 60-minute boil to caculate the starting volume for the shortened-boil batch. Both had the same amount of DME, the same amount of crystal 40 steeped for 30 minutes, the same hopping schedule, and the same OG. Both were fermented side-by-side with US-05.

I got 48 evaluation sheets back. Of them:

18 said 'A' was the unique beer.
14 said 'B' was the unique beer.
16 said 'C' was the unique beer.

That's almost exactly what you'd expect from random guessing. From that alone,
I'd say we can conclude that the shortened boil had no perceptible impact.

Of the people who correctly identified 'C':

* Most (about a 2:1 ratio) said C's head retention was worse than the other two.
* Most (again about a 2:1 ratio) said C was smoother.
* Half said 'C' had about the same level of esters. The other half said it had less.
* Two thirds said 'C' had about the same amount of sulfur. The rest were about
evenly split as to whether it had more or less
* About two thirds said there was no clarity difference between 'C' and the
others. Most of the other third said it was hazier.
* About a third said there was more caramel flavor in 'C' than the others. Another
third said there was more, and another third said there was less.
* A slight majority said 'C' had the same amount of melanoidens as the other
two. Most of the rest said it had more.
* About two thirds said 'C' was less bitter. The other third was more or less
evenly split as to whether it was more bitter or about the same.
* A slight majority liked 'C' less than the other two. Almost everyone else
liked it more, with one person expressing no preference.

There were some general comments:

* One person said 'C' had a longer aftertaste. Another said it had more malt
complexity.
* Two people said the hops in 'C' were smoother. On the other hand, two others
said 'C' was too harsh.
* Another person said 'C' was too hoppy.
* Still another said that 'A' and 'B' were drier. This is interesting because
they finished a point higher than 'C' - 1.013 vs. 1.012.
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Re: Boil Times

Postby TCochran » Fri Sep 05, 2014 5:01 pm

jeffjm wrote:For those who couldn't make it:

We had three beers, 'A', 'B', and 'C'. 'A' and 'B' were from the same 15-minute boil. 'C' was a 60-minute boil. I used my volume at 15 minutes remaining in the 60-minute boil to caculate the starting volume for the shortened-boil batch. Both had the same amount of DME, the same amount of crystal 40 steeped for 30 minutes, the same hopping schedule, and the same OG. Both were fermented side-by-side with US-05.

I got 48 evaluation sheets back. Of them:

18 said 'A' was the unique beer.
14 said 'B' was the unique beer.
16 said 'C' was the unique beer.

That's almost exactly what you'd expect from random guessing. From that alone,
I'd say we can conclude that the shortened boil had no perceptible impact.

Of the people who correctly identified 'C':

* Most (about a 2:1 ratio) said C's head retention was worse than the other two.
* Most (again about a 2:1 ratio) said C was smoother.
* Half said 'C' had about the same level of esters. The other half said it had less.
* Two thirds said 'C' had about the same amount of sulfur. The rest were about
evenly split as to whether it had more or less
* About two thirds said there was no clarity difference between 'C' and the
others. Most of the other third said it was hazier.
* About a third said there was more caramel flavor in 'C' than the others. Another
third said there was more, and another third said there was less.
* A slight majority said 'C' had the same amount of melanoidens as the other
two. Most of the rest said it had more.
* About two thirds said 'C' was less bitter. The other third was more or less
evenly split as to whether it was more bitter or about the same.
* A slight majority liked 'C' less than the other two. Almost everyone else
liked it more, with one person expressing no preference.

There were some general comments:

* One person said 'C' had a longer aftertaste. Another said it had more malt
complexity.
* Two people said the hops in 'C' were smoother. On the other hand, two others
said 'C' was too harsh.
* Another person said 'C' was too hoppy.
* Still another said that 'A' and 'B' were drier. This is interesting because
they finished a point higher than 'C' - 1.013 vs. 1.012.


Great job on this! Thanks for putting it together.
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Re: Boil Times

Postby StLBeer » Mon Sep 08, 2014 9:39 am

This would be a great article for BYO or AHA magazine.

Jeff, I think you could get published with this.

Great job by the way. It's nice to know I was in the majority?

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Re: Boil Times

Postby jeffjm » Mon Sep 15, 2014 8:14 pm

I just recorded an interview with James Spencer from Basic Brewing about this experiment. It should post Wednesday night or Thursday.

http://www.basicbrewing.com/index.php?page=radio
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Re: Boil Times

Postby erniew » Wed Sep 17, 2014 3:06 pm

I just listened to the interview. Good job Jeff and thank you for taking the time to bring this test to the club.
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