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The Belgian Mare Says Hello!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Hops & The Short Boil

As regular readers know, we are very excited about the hop yard this year. This is our third year and, if conventional wisdom holds, it is the third year in which the plants begin to realize their full potential. So we have gone into this year with great expectations.

To date, the plants seem determined not to disappoint us. The rate at which they are growing is almost frightening. The first shoots emerged on April 24. As of today, May 24, the tallest plant is only about six inches from the top of the trellis. That is 13 feet of growth in four weeks! Last year that took nine weeks!

What will this mean in terms of harvest? I can only wait and hope.

Short Boil

Coming up through the ranks of homebrewing, I was lead to believe that the boiling of the wort could be no less than 90 minutes. The reason being that this amount of time was needed to get the protein to coagulate and precipitate. Longer boils were used to achieve a desired initial specific gravity.

I had always wondered if this was really necessary. When brewing with malt extract, I had occassionally used a rather short boil time. This seemed to work quite well. Would it work with all-grain brewing?

The reason for using a short (30 minute) boil time are compelling. First, the brewing process is shortened by an hour or more. More importantly, by boiling for only 30 minutes, a huge energy savings is realized. Given that we hope to have our brewery wood-fired, this is something that we needed to look into.

To that end , we brewed an experimental beer today. We did everything as we usually would, with the exception of the length of time we boiled the wort. Normally we boil the wort for 90 minutes. This time we boiled it for only 30 minutes. During the process it seemed a ridiculously short span of time. We had barely started boiling when it was over.

What will this new process yield: A more cost effective and energy saving way to brew? Garden fertilizer? Stay tuned Dear Reader, I shall keep you informed.

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