Do you really need to boil beer?

mythbusters-logoWhen it comes to brewing, the boil is sacrosanct. One of the first cardinal rules all brewers are taught is “You must boil for 60 minutes. No more, no less”.

It’s right before the rule about needing to always use a secondary fermentor and somewhere after the rule about waving a chicken bone over every mash.

But then you learn that it’s OK to boil a little longer and that in some cases that’s actually beneficial (but don’t boil too long!). But what happens if you boil for 4 hours? Or 40 minutes? Or not at all? Does it ruin your beer? Does it bring shame to your family and ancestors and require you to live out the rest of your life in solitude? Or does it not really make all that much difference and we’ve all been wasting our time?

I don’t really know, but I plan to find out. I’ll be doing this month’s educational on The Boil – what it is, what it does, do you need it, and how should you use it? Hopefully, I’ll even have a sample or two. Before that, though, I’d like you to vote on the poll on the right side of the page here. How long do you typically boil a batch of beer? If you typically brew all-grain, select from one of the answers starting with “All-Grain:”. Do the same with the extract answers if you brew more extract than all-grain. I’ll reveal the answers and more on Sunday, July 27th!

2 thoughts on “Do you really need to boil beer?

  1. You forgot an option: depends on the recipe. My practice is 60 minutes typically, 90 minutes if there is a significant portion of Pilsner malt in the grist, and potentially much less time for a Berliner Weisse

  2. Good point, but I already had 10 options in the poll :). I’m looking for a rough average. I think most of us follow a fairly consistent schedule on brew day. I generally do 90 minutes or greater because I’ve been dinged on DMS enough in competitions I want to do everything I can to get rid of it. Plus, my eBrew system lets me walk away and not worry about the kettle. When I brew in the morning I can use that time between boil and the bittering charge to get breakfast and shower!

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