Extract Question

Have a question on extract brewing.

When I buy a pre-packaged kit they say to boil usually 2-1/2 to 3 gallons, add extract, add hops, cool, transfer to carboy then add remaining water to make the 5 gallons.
Why wouldn't I just bring 5-6 gallons to a boil and do the same as I do with all grain?
I can't see any reason to do the smaller boil except I can use a smaller pot.
Anyone know if there is a any reason?

Just wondering.

Frank Hiller Jr.

Event Coordinator - 2018 Brewer of the Year
I’m probably wrong, but I just believed it to be 2 reasons:

1. Equipment available for nubes. You won’t need a big pot/ you can use one in the house.

2. East way to chill the wort without having a wort chiller.

I’ve done 6.5g boils with no problems.

John Eaton

Barley Legal Member
It may not make an obvious difference, but hop utilization will be different due to volume difference. I believe that its better/greater with the larger volume.

Brian Pylant

Barley Legal Member
The kit instructions are usually written for folks who don't have the equipment to do full-wort boils (large kettle, burner, chiller). Doing a small boil and then topping off with water later works, but is a bit of shortcut that does impact the flavor and mouthfeel of the finished beer.

One of the first major upgrades most homebrewers make is to do full-wort boils. Sometimes this is in combination with moving to all-grain, but that is not required. Extract and extract + steeping grains recipes will come out better with a full-wort boil; with all-grain you don't really have a choice.

I did full-wort boils from my first batch, extract + steeping grains, as I chose to dive in and spring for a 10-gallon Polarware pot. Luckily at the time we had a kitchen stove that could actually get 6 gallons of wort to a rolling boil, but not without some discoloration of the stovetop. I did a second batch, and then before batch #3 I bought a propane burner. It was somewhere around batch #5 or 6 that I moved to all-grain (thanks to Denny Conn's cheap -n- easy batch sparging webpage!).

John mentioned this above, but I'll repeat it: hop utilization is greater in full-wort boils vs. partial boils, so if the hop amounts in the recipe / kit were calculated for partial boils you will need to recalculate and decrease your hops in a full wort boil. If you're not using brewing software (yet) there are plenty of online calculators to help you with this.