Skipping the boil

Discussion in 'Beginners Brewing Forum' started by Mrcloc, Feb 24, 2021.

  1. Mrcloc

    Mrcloc New Member

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    Hi. So I've made a few extract beers and a few grain beers, but I would actually like to try and skip the boil when I do my next grain beer. What I would like to do is boil the hops separately while I do my mash. Then, I'd like to heat the wort to, say, 165F, and then add the "hop extract". As far as I understand, the boil is to convert the alpha acid, and obviously to deactivate the enzymes. There are a few reasons (least of which being the boiling wort in the house for an hour), and these include the following:
    1. I would have the heating element heating the wort for a few minutes, and I suspect metallic flavour to come from the heating element, so I avoid that flavour.
    2. Cooling 5 gallons of wort from 165F is much easier (shorter) than cooling that much boiling liquid. In fact, I can probably put 165F wort straight into the fermenter and wait for it to cool down in there (safer).
    3. It's much less energy required.
    4. I have more control over my hops because I can heat and cool that mixture much quicker.
    5. It's not necessary (this is the point I'm trying to confirm).
    If I can control the amount of wort I get out of my mash, then surely skipping the boil should be perfectly fine, and I can add my boiled hops to the fermenter? I just need to make sure wild yeast and bacteria are killed, and the enzymes are denatured, right?

    Please note, I brew on a very tight budget. It has much higher WAF, and I also believe it's possible to create a great beer without emptying my bank account (I've made 3 excellent beers already). My mash tun is a kettle bucket, and my fermenter is a 5 gallon polycarbonate water cooler carboy. I can't afford a cooling jig, nor can I afford the stainless steel stuff.
     
  2. Ozarks Mountain Brew

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    boiling also kills bacteria, you may want to mimic what wine makers do and use Potassium Metabisulfite but I would worry about not boiling without something
     
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  3. Mark Farrall

    Mark Farrall Well-Known Member

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    #3 Mark Farrall, Feb 24, 2021
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2021
    It's definitely not necessary, beer has been made for centuries with and without boiling.

    As Ozarks has pointed out, boiling also kills the various microbes, but you'll have the pasteurising effect at 165F after a few minutes, so that's not a problem.

    Another one that people talk about is boiling off the DMS precursor, but again, as you haven't pushed the temperature above 175F/80C you'll have very little to none of the precursor being created.

    I don't think point 1 is related to whether you boil or not. If you've been having problems with metallic flavours I'm guessing that removing the boil won't change it drastically. And I wouldn't have the heating element as the first suspect. They're all well treated to avoid imparting that metallic flavour. Some people get that flavour from chlorine/chloramine in the water (though others will describe it in different ways). Are you adding some potassium/sodium metabisulfite (Camden tablet) as you start to heat the water?

    For me the main difference will be flavour, you just may not like the beer you make unboiled versus boiled, Some of that flavour difference will be due to the boiling or not boiling the wort and some of that difference will be due to boiling the wort with or without the hops. That's personal preference and only you can work that out.

    And another history note. Prior to the 20th century some brewers would boil the hops separately as they couldn't afford a large enough metal kettle to boil the full batch. They took some of the wort from their main wooden vessel while it was mashing and boiled the hops with that and then added that mixture back into the main vessel.

    You could certainly do something similar. Take a few litres of your mash out after 30 minutes and boil your hops in that. You can keep it boiling until your mash mixture hits pasteurisation temperature, then add it back in and cool.
     
  4. sbaclimber

    sbaclimber Well-Known Member

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    Really stupid question here....but what about head creation/retention? I always (possibly wrongly) assumed that had something to do with the boiling of the hops.
     
  5. Mark Farrall

    Mark Farrall Well-Known Member

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    They definitely do, but I suppose it's how much of those hop materials that help with head retention come out in boiling in water versus boiling in wort with this process.
     
  6. Trialben

    Trialben Well-Known Member

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    Pretty cool idea I know Some Kviek beers are not boiled too.
    Would be great to know how this turns out for you @Mrcloc.
    Also in think maybe clarity maybe an issue with not boiling the wort there won't be any hot break.
     
  7. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    Your proposed procedure would make beer. It would likely not be infected due to holding the extract at pasteurization temperatures. Extract has already been boiled, so no DMS to worry about. And you're going to boil your hops separately in wort. I don't see why your procedure wouldn't work.
     
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  8. Mrcloc

    Mrcloc New Member

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    Thank you for the replies! Mark Farrall, that's a really good idea about boiling the hops in some wort - the thought did cross my mind after my original post because I was worried I wouldn't get good flavour integration, and the fact that you mention it is reason enough to do that. I guess there's no point to not doing that.

    About the metallic flavour; I use a bleach/vinegar solution to sanitize. I use about 3000 ppm solution, and you can smell the chlorine, but it's completely drinkable. The vinegar takes away that musty bleach smell. After rinsing the fermenter, there will usually be about 10 ml that remains in the carboy, and that's something like 1.5 ppb. I've even had airlock mishaps where some of this sanitizer solution falls into the wort, and I've detected no change in flavour. The metallic flavour is only in grain beers (which I've boiled). My extract beers are free of this flavour, and I don't even boil the tap water I mix into it (that's what it said on the box, so I gave it a try without issue).

    I've narrowed my metallic flavour to one of two things - the heating element and the grain itself. If the grain is older, I think I've read it could impart that flavour. The thing is that I used 3 different recipes and all three had a similar flavour (although some less than others, but that could be due to masking by the hops).

    But the feedback here so far is positive, and confirms some of my thoughts. It would anyway be a much easier process for me if I can skip the boil. If the beer is hazy, that shouldn't be a problem - it must just taste good! :) Head retention also doesn't worry me - I'm not that advanced yet...

    I have an idea for a beer I'd like to try. Maybe when I eventually do it, I'll make a thread about it and link it here. I currently have a full box of bottles and another 5 gallons fermenting, so it might be two or three weeks before I can do another brew day.
     
  9. Craigerrr

    Craigerrr Well-Known Member

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    Cool "pushing the boundries" thread!
     
  10. Zambezi Special

    Zambezi Special Well-Known Member

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    Please keep us updated!
    I'm very interested to hear how it works out.
     
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  11. Mrcloc

    Mrcloc New Member

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    The recipe I'm going to make (I love experimenting) is going to be a dark Pilsner, if that makes sense. I'm going for a malt flavour. I'm going to be using Pilsner as my base, then crystal 300 and some biscuit. That's it. The hops I still have to figure out, but it will likely be a 60 min brewer's gold, and a 5 minute Vic Secret or some other flavour hops. I'm a bit wary of the strong passion fruit in a dark beer, but as I said, I'm going to plan out the hops closer to the time. I might even go with a little late-Saaz... Anyway. I'll definitely keep the details posted.

    The final colour should be a deep red, so I think clarity can still be seen.

    This is what I love about brewing! I can mix flavours in my head like I do when cooking. I do a lot of tasting and smelling, and then the previous experiments marry the theory and practice.
     
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  12. Bubba Wade

    Bubba Wade Well-Known Member

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    The other thing to consider with an all-grain batch is “hot break”. The hot break is a mixture of coagulated proteins and polyphenols the come out of the wort during the boil, usually 5-10 minutes into the boil.

    I am not certain, but I suspect without the hot break, you will have more suspended proteins in the beer, possibly leading to a less clear final product. Polyphenols are thought to contribute to astringency. Again, I haven’t tried your method, so I’m not sure if this is a problem.

    Given that, I know that 60 or 90 minute boils are not required. I use a 30 minute boil with very good results.

    Good luck and let us know how this turns out.
     
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  13. Mrcloc

    Mrcloc New Member

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    Ok, great, thanks. I did a bit of reading on the hot break. I'm hoping the gelatin will pull those proteins out after primary. Otherwise, I'm not worried about some haziness.

    Coincidentally, I need to use gelatin to fine my beer. I'm allergic to most craft beers, and for years I've tried to find the culprit. I found that every beer I made without fining with gelatin did the same to me, but all those I did fine with gelatin didn't give me the reaction. When I react, my mouth itches, and my esophagus cramps badly. It's extremely painful, and lasts up to 6 hours. This is something I will consider with my proposed method - if I get the allergic reaction, I've got to try a longer boil.
     
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  14. thunderwagn

    thunderwagn Well-Known Member

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    I'm a normal all grain brewer and boil my typical batches. However, boiling isn't required. I have a Beermkr and it works by mashing and taking grains to a pasteurized temp of 165 and holds for a certain time, then cools to pitch temp. Makes great beer and I also use gelatin for those beers just cuz and they come out crystal clear.
    https://beermkr.com/

    I also make sours and don't boil those either.
     
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  15. BarbarianBrewer

    BarbarianBrewer Well-Known Member

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    I'm not a doctor but your allergic response is concerning. Might simply be a gluten intolerance but, it could also be something more serious. I know ClarityFerm is used to greatly reduce gluten levels in beer. So, if finings do reduce or eliminate your allergic response, that may be your problem. You could also try a gluten-free craft beer and seeing how your body reacts to that.

    This is from the WhiteLabs website:
    In addition to eliminating chill haze, Clarity Ferm significantly reduces the gluten content in beers made with barley and wheat. Clarity Ferm treated beer made from barley or wheat will typically test below 20 ppm of gluten, which is the international threshold for brewing considered "gluten-free." ​
     
  16. Mrcloc

    Mrcloc New Member

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    Thanks. It's not gluten, thankfully. I can't remember the name for what it is, but there are certain things which will trigger the reaction, and I must just avoid known triggers. Boiled eggs can also trigger it - no gluten in there. But I really don't want to avoid beer... :)
     
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  17. thunderwagn

    thunderwagn Well-Known Member

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    Avoiding beer IS a life threatening condition!
     
  18. HighVoltageMan!

    HighVoltageMan! Well-Known Member

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    Ironically, metallic flavors don't always come from metal. Yeast are capable of producing this flavor. To some it tastes "meaty". To me it's metallic. Water treatments can add metal flavors along with the water itself. If your heater is copper, tinned copper or stainless, I doubt the heater is your problem. If you get this flavor again, it would be good to get someone else's opinion. I know I'm overly sensitive to this flavor and I taste it when others don't. It maybe something other than dissolved metals.
     
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  19. Ozarks Mountain Brew

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    I'm allergic to hops, especially hop powder so good luck trying to find the culprit, I found out just by bagging 10 pounds of hops in 1 ounce bags
     
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  20. Donoroto

    Donoroto Well-Known Member

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    Protein allergies are not uncommon. Gelatin grabs proteins to mechanically separate them from the beer. It might be less important to you to find the actual protein than to know that gelatin removes it, solving the problem.
     

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