When Brewing Craft Beers Do We Really Need To Boil The Wort?
In the craft beer realm there is a growing process of no-boil all grain brewing.
Now there isn't much out there on the internet about it yet, so thought I would brew up a quick 2 gallon batch to see how it turns out.
So why boil? Well, it's always been done that way, so why should we change the way it's been done for hundreds of years. During the boil, there are processes that take place that, up until now, have been needed to help make a clear beer. The boil helps unwanted proteins to join together and drop out of suspension. It helps the acids come out of the hops to bitter the beer. It helps kill off any bacteria that could ruin your beer. It helps stop any further enzymatic processes. I'm sure there are lots of other things too that happen in the boil. But what I'm interested in, is if the beer tastes good when not boiled.
So I love hazy New England style beers with lots of body, mouthfeel, very little bitterness, nice an smooth and almost creamy, with lots of tropical hop aromas.
I am not a fan of malty bitter beers - that's just me.
So up until now, malty bitter beers have been boiled hard for an hour before being cooled quickly and then fermented. This helps create the slight brown colour, pulls the bitters from the hops and kills off bacteria and enzymes. This all helps to create that clear beer.
Craft beers however like to be hazy, less bitter than traditional real ales, push the aromatic properties of the hops, so do they really need to be boiled?
Brewing Beer Without Boiling
Here's what I did. Feel free to brew up the same and see for yourself. It will be interesting to hear and see your results, so add your comments below.
This is available as an all grain ingredient kit on our website in a 9 litre and 23 litre options. You can buy the No Boil Juicy New England IPA - All Grain Ingredient Kit
9 Litres of Strike Water @ 70°C
I used a brew in the bag method as it was just 2 gallons. Added all the grain to the strike water and held the mash at 65°C for 60 minutes.
At the end of the mash, added 20g Mosaic Hops to the wort,
Then sparged the bag of grain with 2 litres of water at 70°C. to bring the total up to 9.5 litres.
Siphoned to a fermenting bucket.
Added shot of CO2 to airspace at top of fermenter and left to cool overnight to 20°C.
I took a hydrometer reading, and the OG is 1.052.
Added Mangrove Jacks Hop Head yeast sachet and fermented at 20°C.
It's currently fermenting, so we'll come back to this blog later and update you on the results. Fingers crossed it will be a good beer.
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5 days later
All the fermentation has subsided, so taking a hydrometer reading the SG has dropped to 1.008.
Raised the temperate to 24°C.
While the beer was coming up to temperature, I prepared a coarse straining bag and added 50 grams of mosaic hop pellets. These were lowered into the wort and left to steep for 6 hours.
After 6 hours the hops were removed and the beer siphoned into a clean sterilised bucket ready for bottling.
We took a final gravity, FG, and it was surprisingly low at 1.004 but a sneaky taste proved it tasted fab.
50g of priming sugar was added to the beer and gently stirred to help it dissolve.
We bottled the beer into 500ml bottles and put them at 20°C for 48 hours for the secondary fermentation to happen and then we put them somewhere cool for any yeast to settle.
Whilst bottling we had a sneaky taste and we are very happy with the results so far. Lets see what it's like in a week or 2.
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Does It Save Money?
We decided to do a little calculation to see how much energy it saves by not boiling and we were surprised.
We calculated the cost of bringing a 23 litre batch or wort up to the boil and keeping it at a rolling boil for 60 minutes on a 3kw element.
Bringing it up to the boil would take 20 minutes. Then holding it at the rolling boil for 60 minutes. Which works out to be just over 4kwh of electric and at todays (Nov 2022) price would cost around £1.60, so that's only 4p a pint. Not a huge price to pay for brewing amazing beer for yourself. But it all adds up, so if you are counting your pennies or if you are a brewing up large quantities like a brewery, this could be an important saving.
One thing we did notice, was the lack of dripping wet walls caused by the litres of steam that usually boil off.
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It's Finished and the results are in...
Chilled down to 10°C, I popped open a bottle and was pleasantly surprised.
The Look - is lush and pale in colour, a nice yellow hue with a good haze. Great smooth creamy fluffy white head too.
The Aroma - is of pineapple, mango, pear and perhaps a little plum too, all on top of a very light maltiness in the background. A little dank too :)
The Taste - is smooth, light, but with a little viscosity. A nice sweetness too and very little bitterness. You can taste the pineapple and the mango and the plum. There is a little dryness combined with the light bitterness that gets the mouth watering and making you want to go back for more.
In conclusion, this is a very quaffable beer and if it had one of the good craft brewery labels on the can, it wouldn't be out of place.
So in conclusion, is the boil really needed to make a great New England style beer, I'd have to say no. Not with this recipe anyway.
I would make a couple of tweaks...:-
- I'd forget about the hops at the end of the mash
- I'd double dry hop for 6 hours each with 50g of mosaic hops in each dry hop
- I'd possibly swap the maize for more oats which should cause it to have a little more body.
...but that's just me being picky.
I would highly suggest giving this recipe a go. It's gonna be the easiest, quickest, all grain brews you will have ever made. So why waste money, time, condensation, on boiling the wort?
Let us know your result in the comments at the bottom of this page.
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New England IPA No-Boil Beer Recipe
This recipe is based on our experiment to not boil the wort resulting in a tropical, juicy, smooth New England IPA.
Remember to sterilise all equipment before use.
1 - Heat 9 litres of water in your mashtun to 70°C.
2 - Add all the grain to the mashtun and stir.
3 - Hold the mash at 65°C for 60 minutes.
4 - At the end of the mash add the 20g of Mosaic Hops to the wort.
5 - Sparge the bag of grain with 2 litres of water at 70°C to bring the total to 9.5 litres.
6 - Siphon the wort into a fermentation bucket and (if possible) add a shot of co2 to the top of the wort to protect it from oxygen as it's cooling.
7 - Leave to cool to 20° naturally. SG should be around 1.050
8 - Sprinkle on the yeast and ferment at 20°C for 5 days.
9 - Raise the temp up to 24°C and add the 50g Mosaic Hops.
10 - Dry hop for just 6 hours. FG was 1.006.
11 - Siphon off sediment and hops into a clean sterilised bucket.
12 - Add 50g priming sugar to the bucket and stir until dissolved.
13 - Bottle and allow a secondary fermentation at 20°C for 48 hours before transferring somewhere cool for the yeast sediment to settle for 2 weeks.
14 - Chill and serve at 10°C being careful not to disturb any yeast sediment at the bottom of the bottle.
At the time of writing, we have only just bottled ours, but initial looks, taste and aromas are looking good.
Due to the sucess of this experiment, we have been trying this method with other styles and the results are very promising. Because of this, we are now creating a range of no boil all grain beer kits that you can buy from our website - just follow this link to our All Grain Beer Kits