Brewing bitter extract beer can be tough. As I have described before, there are two reasons why extract beers tend to be less bitter than comparable all-grain brews. The first is that hop utilization is lowered if a high-gravity wort is boiled. (Adding your extract late minimizes this problem.)
The second problem is the dilution factor. If you want to make 5.0 gallons of double IPA at 80 IBUs, but you’re only yielding 2.5 gallons of wort from your brewpot, that wort would need to be 160 IBUs. This is higher than can be achieved through boiling hops. The only cure for the dilution factor is to boil your full wort volume. Either you need a kettle big enough to hold the full wort, plus about 20% more volume to handle the foaming — and a heat source capable of bringing this volume to a rolling boil — or you need to split the wort into multiple batches.
Several years ago, I tested a method for brewing very bitter extract beer on my stovetop. I called the method The Texas Two Step because I made roughly half of the wort one day, then the remaining wort the next. By breaking up wort production into two steps, I could boil each step at working strength, therefore getting the most from my hops. In addition, since I didn’t need to make a yeast starter for the first volume of beer, I recouped some of the extra time it takes to takes to brew two 2–3 gallon batches over two evenings versus one 5.0-gallon batch in a single evening. [Read more…]