Many published homebrewing books will tell you to boil for 90 minutes and chill immediately. I say boil for 30 minutes and don’t chill. There is a method to this madness. If you think about it, 30 minute boils and no chill are the lazy man’s dream team. Bitterness, we know, comes from putting hops in the hot wort for an extended period of time. No chill extends that time. In other words, you are getting bitterness out of your hops while sitting on the couch – because the beer is still hot, very hot, hot enough to extract bitterness while it is slowly cooling down (I’ve heard 145 degrees is the cut-off point but I’m not sure). That’s why I’m trying short boil + no chill. Until proven otherwise, it’s my preferred method.
They get the most out of your bittering hops for the least amount of work.
Here comes the but. It’s not for everyone, especially the scientific brewer. You have to somehow calculate and adjust for bitterness, which is tricky with no chill. For example, you throw 1 oz. of Warrior in for 30 minutes. After the boil, it stays hot for another hour. What does that mean? How much bitterness does that extract. How do you calculate and adjust your recipe? I don’t really have a clear answer yet. So far, I haven’t really worried about it. For malt forward beers, I wouldn’t worry too much; simply use the same recipe. The Russian Imperial Stout I recently made – which had 2.5 ounces of Warrior bittering hops – came out very nice, not too bitter. I think you would be fine to keep the same, original recipe, which relies on a 60 minute boil. I think the shorter, 30 minute boil, plus the no chill, is roughly the same as a 60 minute boil. Close enough, right?
What about IPAs?
I read a great article on brulosophy.com, where one of the writers had went a full year doing no chill. The upshot was this: when it comes to hoppy beers, you have to worry about your flame out additions (or your ‘flavor’ and ‘aroma’ additions, to be clear). Essentially you should treat Flame Out hops as 30 minute additions. I agree. My advice is this: add your bittering hops while you’re waiting for the boil (called ‘first wort hops’), and then dry hop the rest. That’s it. I’ve done several IPAs like this, and they turn out very good.
Let’s take an example. Say you got this recipe off the internet:
Traditional IPA recipe
1 oz. Warrior (60 minute)
1 oz Centenial (30)
2 oz Centenial (Flame Out)
2 oz. Centenial (Dry Hop 2 days)
I would convert it to something like this:
My IPA Recipe
1 or 1.5 oz Warrior (First Wort, 30 minute boil)
5 oz Centenial (Dry Hop 2 days)
I’m a big believer in using a simple hop schedule. In my opinion, to get the best flavor and aroma, it’s all about the dry hopping, baby. To get bitterness, it’s all about First Wort hopping. And oh yeah, it’s a nice coincidence that this also works well with the short boil, no chill method. Baby.
Let’s put this to the test. I recently made an IPA that included 2 ounces of Flame Out hops (against my own advice). Will it be too bitter? Will it be ‘grassy’ or ‘vegetable’? I will know in about a week.