Extract Brews In Coopers Fermenter (noob question help)

Discussion in 'General Brewing Discussions' started by Vheissu, May 19, 2016.

  1. Vheissu

    Vheissu New Member

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    Hi guys,

    I have messed around with Brewer's Friend quite a bit and it is really nice. I used to use Beersmith 2, but found it looked a little outdated even if it is a nice application. I prefer web applications myself. Anyway, I have some questions I am hoping someone can help clear up.

    I have a Cooper's plastic fermenting vessel which can do 23l brews (oh, yeah, I'm dealing with metric as well because I am from Australia). I have started moving away from pre-hopped tins and going extract, with hopes of going all-grain by the end of the year.

    To do a 23l brew, I have some questions as to what values I should put into the editor. Admittedly, I am a noob when it comes to extract brewing. So forgive me if these questions have obvious answers.

    For batch size, what do I put here if I want to do brews of a maximum 23l? I occasionally do 21 litre brews and sometimes even small batches as well. Does this value take into account that you will be topping up the fermenter with water alongside the boiled wort? So if I am doing a 21 liter IPA, (combined total of wort and top up water) I put in a batch size of 21 liters?

    Then my final question is boil size. I am not sure what the general rule of thumb is here for boiling. I have a 20l stock pot, so I can probably do a maximum of 15l in it to account for any boil over, maybe ideally around the 12 liter mark to be honest. How am I supposed to know the boil size or does it not matter? I notice that the boil size affects the IBU's and gravity, is it simply a matter of finding a boil size that achieves my desired bitterness and gravity?

    The boiled extracts give me the wort that I would usually buy in a pre-hopped can, correct? I could not see any mention for extract brews of top-up water being accounted for. I assume Brewer's Friend can see my batch size, my boil size and automatically knows I am topping up with water (or do I need to tick something somewhere?).

    I currently have an APA recipe which has a batch size of 23l, target set to fermentor and boil size 11.5l. Achieving an OG of 1.049, FG of 1.012, ABV of 4.91% and IBU of 37.47. Does this seem alright?
     
  2. sbaclimber

    sbaclimber Well-Known Member

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    Looks good to me.
    In the recipe editor it says, " Batch Size: 26 liters (fermentor volume)". So, yes, it is exactly what you think it is. ;-)
    All of your other assumptions are also pretty much correct. Boiling your own hops in a wort made from extract will give you what would you would get from a pre-hopped can, only most likely much better.
    Whether you boil the full volume or top up with water isn't really relevant for the final OG calculation. The amount of sugar in the final volume of water is the same either way.
    Where is does make a difference though is the IBU calculation!
    The calculator takes into account the volume you enter as boil volume, but not the higher specific gravity the wort has if you are planning on topping it up with water.
    e.g. if your OG is 1.049 you will only get the~37IBUs if the SG of the wort you are boiling is also ~1.049 (obviously slightly lower pre-boil). The problem here is ,if you only have say 20l of wort total pre-boil and top-up the missing 4-5l post-boil to reach your 23l fermentor volume, the 20l pre-boil will definitely have a higher SG, yielding a slightly lower number of IBUs.
    I am not sure how to trick the calculator into taking that into account...
    BTW, I also boil in a 20l pot. I can generally boil 17-18l, but yes, I do have to be extremely careful when adding hops and do get the occasional boil over.
     
  3. jmcnamara

    jmcnamara Well-Known Member

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    to add my 2 cents,

    I've got the same size pot as you, and I generally try not to do a boil that's more than 2/3 to 75% full or so (i use gallons, and my math isn't good this early in the morning :D ) But even then, I watch it like a hawk once it's getting close to boil. FWIW, i've heard that a wooden spoon across the top of a pot of spaghetti keeps that from boiling over, wonder if it would work for wort? And I top up my fermentor with water to get my desired batch size, same as I did with extract brewing.

    i'd advise against playing with boil size in order to tinker with IBUs and gravity. You always want to do as close to a full boil as possible. Instead, add more or less extract or hops, or play around with the hopping schedule. not a great metaphor, but it's kind of like removing the door to a car, when all you wanted was to roll the window down

    anyway, good luck! it'll all make sense at some point
     
  4. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

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    I've done some simple batches with partial-boil/late addition extracts that have come out very well. For a 2 1/2 gallon batch something like a gallon of water with a pound of DME and a boil of 20 minutes and hop additions at 20, 10, FO and adding a couple of pounds of LME at the end of the boil and topping up to the fermenter volume. Super simple if you just want a quick recipe.
    I haven't done all-extract full-boil brews, but I've done batches using the (small volume of) wort from steeped grains for a 60 minute boil with traditional hop additions and doing late addition for the extract and topping up into the fermenter. That's produced some excellent beers for me. It's really handy for stove-top small-batch brewing.
    Once you have the capacity to boil your full volume, you'll find a way to mash grains and you won't look back. For larger batches, you'll use extracts as an ingredient for augmenting volume or OG if your mashing and boiling capacity is limited (mine is), but you'll be making all-grain beer exclusively before you know it. ;)
     
  5. Vheissu

    Vheissu New Member

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    Really great responses everyone. Thank you for taking the time. So ideally it seems I should try and get my boil size as close as possible to my final volume that goes into the fermenter without needing to top it up with any water at all. I am thinking that perhaps I should move to a BIAB method instead and just get a larger pot, while extract brewing is definitely a possibility with Brewer's Friend, it seems I will have a much better time moving to a full boil volume opposed to messing about with topping with water.
     
  6. jmcnamara

    jmcnamara Well-Known Member

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    I'd wholeheartedly say go for BIAB!

    I've been able to successfully do it in a 20l pot, but limited to about 22 kg of grain. I'll still top that off with some water, just like I was doing with extract, to make a bigger batch (5.5 gallons or so). But, I can make smaller, stronger batches no problem.

    While I'm guilty of buying some new gizmo or shiny piece of metal here or there, part of the charm to me is doing the most with what you have at the time. This can be an expensive hobby if you let it, but humans made beer thousands of years ago. Whatever you're doing is leaps and bounds ahead of that
     
  7. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

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    I've done several 4.5 gallon AG batches in a 4 gallon pot. Mashing BIAB in the kettle, sparging and starting with the wort as full as I could get - probably 3.5 gallons pre boil. After the boil, I topped up to over 4.5 gallons in a 5-gallon carboy. That only works for a relatively low-gravity beer (.045 or less) and it's only necessary if you want to maximimze yield. It may not be the best way of doing all-grain, but the beer's great and there's a lot more to show for the work of mashing.
    I have a bigger pot now, but that smaller set up is really handy for 2.5 gallon AG batches.
     
  8. Ozarks Mountain Brew

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    I can remember those days, I till have my first 5 gallon pot in the attic along with my 10 gallon turkey fryer and my fifteen gallon cast aluminum electric brew in a bag set up, those where the days
    I actually miss the simplicity of it too
     
  9. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

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    I brewed up several 5-gallon batches of summer beer and I'll brew up a big batch of Helles Bock to take advantage of a big starter left from the Helles I've got going. Other than that, I'll be sticking to smaller batches for a while. Simpler mashing and brewing, opportunity to repeat batches more often and more variety in the pipeline are all advantages, IMO. ;)
     
  10. Ozarks Mountain Brew

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    not a big deal since Ive been doing it for years but quite a clean up on my set up.
    over 20 ft of hose and 11 ball valves
     

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  11. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    To answer your question on topping up, that's automatic. The calculator assumes you will have the amount of liquid you specify at the end of the boil. The "tick" is in the boil size: If, in your system, you specify a 15 liter boil (yep, I can work in metric, too!) and a 20-liter finished product, the recipe builder will make the appropriate corrections to hop utilization and gravity. If I'm interpreting your original post correctly, your fermentor has a 23-liter capacity. Three liters of headroom in the fermentor isn't much - be sure to use a blow-off tube or you may be cleaning gunk off the ceiling. I brew 7.5 gallon (28.3 liter) worts in a 9-gallon (34 liter) pot but, as mentioned, watch like a hawk until the hot break subsides (the foam on top of the wort). And don't trust a wooden spoon across the kettle to prevent boil-overs!

    Be sure and calculate the recipes with the actual volumes you intend to use and the software will make the adjustments for you. I'm actually going the other way, backing off from all-grain when there's no need to mash the grains in my grain bill, and enjoying some peaceful extract batches. Good luck with it!
     
  12. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

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    After grinding through the process of figuring out mashing and full boil and getting almost a dozen batches done that way, I put together a couple of quick extract recipies...Man, I forgot how much easier that is. :D
     
  13. sbaclimber

    sbaclimber Well-Known Member

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    Are you sure about that? I can't image the hop utilization calculation is always entirely correct, seeing as the recipe calculator has no option for entering pre-boil gravity.
    Here is an example of what I mean using some simple, if not entirely realistic, metric #s...
    Let's assume I want to have 20l in my fermentor with an OG of 13° Plato (~1.042), but only have a pot in which I can boil 15l of wort, and for simplicity's sake, let's assume a boil-off of 3l.
    Option 1 (similar to OP): I mash and sparge such that I get exactly 15l of wort @ 17.3°P, boil off the 3l (= 12l @ 21.7°P), top off with 8l of water, resulting in 20l @ 13°P
    Option 2 (similar to what I do): I mash and sparge such that I get 23l of wort @ 11.3°P, boil off the 3l (= 12l @ 14.1°P), top off with the other 8l of wort, resulting in 20l @ 13°P
    As we can see, in Option 1 the hops are boiled in wort with a specific gravity of 17.3°P but in Option 2 only 11.3°P. That has go to make a huge difference in the utilization and final IBUs, or am I missing something!?
     
  14. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

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    Changing efficiency percentage automatically changes the pre-boil wort gravity. I've been checking gravity pre-boil and adjusting the efficiency accordingly. Once it matches up I can get good numbers and volumes in terms of post-boil volume and OG. That being said, I have had a couple of pre-boil gravity readings that didn't didn't seem to match up with the post boil and post-topping volumes and readings. Still not sure where the glitch was there, but it's only happened a couple of times.
    IBUs are hard to nail down subjectively, but based on the batches that I've topped up, the IBU number seems to fall in line pretty well with the preceived bitterness.
     
  15. Ozarks Mountain Brew

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    theres no exact measurement for a preboil, there are many ways to alter the reading even by accident or not knowing the site very well, thats why its called an "(recipe based estimate)" and not fact , you can be off on your grain, have too much or too little water, it could be the temperature is not compensated for or even not mixed up well enough so if your within a couple of points your good

    all you can do is add your measurements to your notes and possibly after a few brews and adjustments to the recipe it will be closer
     
  16. Head First

    Head First Well-Known Member

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    Your comparing something here that is apples and oranges so to speak. The software is designed, as I understand for top off with water only. Of course your IBU"s would be off.
     
  17. sbaclimber

    sbaclimber Well-Known Member

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    Ah! I did not know that... :D
     
  18. Vheissu

    Vheissu New Member

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    Really insightful follow responses guys. Handy to know that the editor takes into account topping up with water. I realise that at the end of the day, you should always take your own measurements and then refine until you get a feel for calculator input/output versus actual result.
     
  19. Tomas Brew

    Tomas Brew New Member

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    "The boiled extracts give me the wort that I would usually buy in a pre-hopped can, correct?"

    I dont think its correct. Pre hopped tin extract is the same extract you re using. It just doesnt have any hops in it. I dont understand why would you need to boil it all.
    You could boil for example 3 liters of water. Adding 60 min hops then 15min (or whatever) then your extract last, to boil it for a few minutes. Then only top up with cold water upto level you need (21L etc). This way you wont need to chill your wort and save some time and energy...
    I m I wrong?
     
  20. sbaclimber

    sbaclimber Well-Known Member

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    Yes... ;)
    First of all, boiling hops in just water produces much different results than boiling them in wort.
    Secondly, "pre-hopped" means that the hops have already been added.
    You are right about not necessarily needing to boil (other than for sanitation) pre-hopped malt extract though.
     

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