Extract starting volume

Discussion in 'Beginners Brewing Forum' started by BigfootBrew, May 9, 2018.

  1. BigfootBrew

    BigfootBrew New Member

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    I see extract kits/partial mash kits that instruct to start with 2.5 or 3 gallons of water, steep and boil, and then top off with water once cool and before pitching. Then other forums say to start with the full volume so that you get more of your grain and hop flavors throughout. It would seem to me that topping off with straight tap water just dilutes the wort and adds the possibility of bacteria since the top off water hasnt been boiled. What am I missing?
     
  2. jmcnamara

    jmcnamara Well-Known Member

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    Topping off is usually done when you can't do a full boil. The water should either be boiled and cooled beforehand or just store bought.
    A full volume boil is better if you can do it, but I've made great beer doing partial boils and then topping off
     
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  3. jeffpn

    jeffpn Well-Known Member

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    ^^^
    What he said
     
  4. philjohnwilliams

    philjohnwilliams Well-Known Member

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    When I brewed extract I would top off with tap water and never had an infection. That being said, it would be best to boil the water first to sanitize it, and if you can cool it in the fridge for a day before brewing then you will get to your pitching temperature that much faster.
     
  5. Hogarthe

    Hogarthe Well-Known Member

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    If you top off with tap water you will be adding chlorine or chloramine, whichever your water utility uses to prevent bacteria growth. These chemicals lead to off flavors. Either treat the tap water to remove them or use bottled water that does not contain them for topping off.
    That said, a full boil is preferred for optimal hop utilization. The instructions that say to only do a partial boil and top off are aimed at people who are getting started with the minimal amount of equipment, and do not have a large enough pot to boil the entire amount.
     
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  6. Ozarks Mountain Brew

    Staff Member

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    I’ve brewed many great beers with just a 5 gallon pot both extract and partial mash, so the top off water I use is double carbon filtered with a campden tablet crushed and mixed in the water, no boiling necessary with this system, you do have to be careful since the hops will not taste the same as a full boil so I add twice the amount for a topped off beer
     
  7. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

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    I've topped up with the same filtered water I brew with, straight out of the tap. The water isn't harboring any nasty organisms or you'd be sick all the time. The container you collect it in may be problematic so I always use a freshly-sanitized glass pitcher or measuring cup and pour immediately so it's not sitting around open and collecting spores and microorganisms from the air in the kitchen or brew area.
     
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  8. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    Won a silver medal at the Colorado State Fair for a blonde done using this procedure. Didn't filter the top-off water or dechlorinate it - didn't know about that stuff at the time - ran it straight out of the tap! The judges cited "Belgian-like characteristics" in their score sheets, I'm guessing it was the chlorophenols. Point is you can make great beer using just about any method.
     
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