BROUPON # 1: Mike's question and an answer. Small boils, late malt addtions, etc.

Here's our first BROUPON question and an answer.  Congrats Mike!
Mike said... 
What is a reasonable amount of water for steeping grains and boiling hops?

I'm going to be doing my first non-Mr Beer brew, but still using the 2.14 gallon fermenter. My plan was to use 1 gallon of water to steep some specialty grains and do a 60 minute hop boil. Then at the end of the boil I plan to add 3.3lb of LME.

I want to use the gallon so I don't lose a ton of water during the boil.

Should I be aware of any grain:water ratios or any other concerns?

Bonus question: is it OK to add more water during the boil if you notice you're losing a lot to steam?

Friday, March 04, 2011 
nonconFERMist response...

Thanks for stopping by. You're the first taker! You also presented a couple of very good (read tricky) questions.   Two things to note.  I haven't used a Mr. Beer and I haven't done a hop boil with 1 gallon of water.

First, since you are adding the extract (most of your fermentables) at the end of the boil, this low gravity wort will affect your hop utilization. The same amount of hops in low gravity wort produces more bitterness. That means you might want to back off the bittering hops. How much? I've heard 25% less for an hour boil is a good guess. If you want to get more specific, here are some resources.
  • Second, Beersmith has options for calculating IBUs based up boil time and late malt additions. I use it for this when making 5 and 10 gallon batches. 
The answer to your bonus question may also require some calculations.
With such a small wort you are right to worry about boil off. Especially over an hour. There might be nothing left! There are many different ways to approach this. Here's one approach I would try.
  1. Start with more water 1.5 gallons or add small amount of hot water during the boil.
  2. Download BeerSmith
    (there's a free 30 day trial) or Email me your recipe and I'll calculate it for you.
  3. Enter your recipe
  4. Select late malt addition
  5. Shorten your boil to 30 minutes to lessen boil off.
  6. See what your IBUs are.
  7. Reduce hops in recipe to reduce IBUs to what your shooting for
Not a complete answer, but, hopefully I've pointed you in the right direction. Post or email your recipe and I can tell you what BeerSmith calculates.  I created a test recipe for a 2.15 gal. batch of American IPA with 1 oz of bittering hops and .25 lbs of crystal malt for steeping.  When adding 3 lbs of malt extract at the beginning of boil the IBUs were ~45.  When specifying late malt additions after the boil IBUs increased to ~70.



Matt Hendry said...

For small batch brewing its just as easy to do all grain as it is to do extract brewing with the Brew in a Bag technique.


And for brewing software check out BrewMate or Beer Calculus .Brewmate is great for scaling recipies down from 5 Gallons ,


Adam said...

Thanks Matt. Excellent advice.

Mike said...

Hey thanks for the link to that Brew in a Bag technique, Matt. That looks cool. I'll have to look into it.