Extract brewing with all water boil vs. top off in fermenter

Folks!

I have a question. My kettle is unfortunately 20gal. I need to brew an extract kit (Plinian Legacy Double IPA Kit) today and I would like to do this with around 8~9 gallons of wort instead of boiling 2.5 gal and topping off the rest in the fermenter.

Does anyone have a reason why I shouldn’t do that?

I do 5 gallon batches and start with 6 gallons of water. I generally end up right around 5 gallons when I’m done, in the winter I will have to top off with a 1/4 gallon or so. I figure I have the kettle space and burner to do it, why not. I haven’t brewed any other way I guess. My original train of thought when I started brewing was, with more water in the kettle less chance of scorching the extract when pouring it in.

A full water boil is actually the best thing for your extract kit! Partial boils are fine for darker beers where you don’t care about color or deep caramel malt flavors, however often times you’ll want to brew a lighter beer. The full boil helps you keep the extract beer as light in color as possible with as little odd caramel as possible. Full boil also helps with hop utilization, if you are adding any hops. In many ways you are very fortunate to have a nice big kettle!

See also the attached for more tricks that will make your extract beer as awesome as possible.

[quote=“mainestig”]Folks!

I have a question. My kettle is unfortunately 20gal. I need to brew an extract kit (Plinian Legacy Double IPA Kit) today and I would like to do this with around 8~9 gallons of wort instead of boiling 2.5 gal and topping off the rest in the fermenter.

Does anyone have a reason why I shouldn’t do that?[/quote]

Do you have any idea what the boil off rate of your kettle is? Your goal should be to get 5 gallons into the fermenter. Starting with 8 gallons means you want to boil off 3 gallons during the 90 minute boil (I believe this recipe calls for a 90min boil but could be wrong). That seems a bit high. Most kettles boil off around 1 to 1.5gal/hr (depending on kettle geometry, quality of boil, atmospheric conditions, etc.). This is a good stat to know about your system as it will allow you to easily predict how much water you need to start with and make adjustments on the fly.

One thing I will say, and this was a mistake I made when i first went to full boils as an extract brewer, be sure to compensate for the volume of the extract you will be adding. Adding 12lbs of extract can take up quite a bit of space in the kettle and could cause some issues if you weren’t planning for it. With a 20 gallon kettle you probably don’t have to worry about boil-overs though.

This ipa calls for 6 gallons in the fermenter. I guess I’ll do 7 gallons and top off to 6 if i come up short.

I really appreciate everyone’s input here. You guys rock!

Now off to brew! :slight_smile:

[quote=“mainestig”]This ipa calls for 6 gallons in the fermenter. I guess I’ll do 7 gallons and top off to 6 if i come up short.

I really appreciate everyone’s input here. You guys rock!

Now off to brew! :slight_smile: [/quote]

Make sure you take good volume readings before and after so you have a good idea of what your boil-off is for your system.

Also keep in mind that you will lose some volume due to hop absorption (unless you just dump the whole thing into your fermenter without straining). I didn’t realize the recipe was for 6 gallons into the fermenter so 7.5 to 8 gallons sounds like a good starting point.

With a Pliny beer you are going to lose a huge volume to hop absorption. Yeah, go with like 8 gallons.

[quote=“dmtaylo2”]A full water boil is actually the best thing for your extract kit! Partial boils are fine for darker beers where you don’t care about color or deep caramel malt flavors, however often times you’ll want to brew a lighter beer. The full boil helps you keep the extract beer as light in color as possible with as little odd caramel as possible. Full boil also helps with hop utilization, if you are adding any hops. In many ways you are very fortunate to have a nice big kettle!

See also the attached for more tricks that will make your extract beer as awesome as possible.

[/quote]

I looked at the chart and notice it says to use DI water for extract brewing. I have always used spring water from the store. Should I really be using DI water?

[quote=“TH3180”]

I looked at the chart and notice it says to use DI water for extract brewing. I have always used spring water from the store. Should I really be using DI water?[/quote]

I’m definitely no expert here, but I had the same question. My first dozen brews or so I used spring water and then I was doing some research. When they make extract, all the proper minerals are already in there from the brewing process, so it is beneficial to start with as close to pure water as possible. Now I use distilled water. No reason to add anything. For me it definitely made a difference, but not something extremely noticeable. There seems to be a little bit better flavor, and maybe better head retention.

With IPA it might not matter because the extra minerals add more sharpness, which is appropriate to that style of beer. But for most other styles, you may find it very beneficial to use distilled water as your base with extract beers.