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Extract Kit Brew day Questions

Hello all:

I’ve been homebrewing for the past few years and have primarily made 5 gallon extract kits and I’ve come up with a few questions with the process.

At what temperature do you steep the grains to?
Is there a reason that during the boil, only 2.5 gallons are used then later diluted with the other 2.5 gallons? Or is that for cooling purposes?

During the boil, is there a max temperature to avoid?

Also, I recently attended a beer making class and the teacher put his wort chiller into his stock pot about 10 minutes before the boil was done. Is that normal practice?

Is it practical to use a yeast starter for lower abv beers?

I appreciate all the tips or advice.


Back when I was extract brewing, I typically steeped my grains in the mid 150’s for about 20 minutes before adding to the boil kettle. Most of the extract recipes advise 2.5 gallons with top-off water after the boil because many times, people will not have a kettle large enough to do a full boil of 6+ gallons to account for boiloff. If you have a big enough kettle, go for the full boil and see how you like it.

Water boils at 212 degrees at sea level so it is not possible to go too high on temp because the liquid will simply evaporate. You want a good rolling boil but not a volcano in your kettle. The reason your instructor put the wort chiller into the kettle with 10 minutes before the end of the boil was to sanitize it, this is fairly common practice with an immersion chiller.

You can use a yeast starter for any beer you want. You only need a half a teaspoon of Wyeast which is roughly $2.50 for 9-10 batches worth of nutrient. I use it it every beer I brew.


Me always make a starter for all beers i do. Boil wise. I do 6 gallons. Boil. No need to add more water on the end. I do lose about. 10% during the boil. So end up bit more than 5 gallon. Now started to do mini mash. As well during extract brewing. Means i add more grains. About a pound more. Hold the water about. 152. For 50 min. Take a grav reading. And this to the boiling water. Works perfect.

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Another benefit of putting your copper IC in the boil is it provides zinc for the yeast which is a much needed nutrient. BUT, BUT, BUT, before you go dumping zinc nutrients in, understand that too much (reportedly .6mg/l) can INHIBIT yeast growth.

I would nicely suggest to the instructor that he explain why the chiller goes in 10 min before flame out. It’s tough to remember everything to say so no fault of his. Also keep in mind that if there is water left in the IC and there usually is, it may shoot out when placed in boiling wort.

Another reason for 2.5 gallons and top off water is not having the ability to chill five gallons of wort like using the chiller. An ice bath for the smaller size kettle and topping up with cold water works well without extra equipment.

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