ExBeeriment: Water Boil Test

Water BoilingThere are all sorts of different ways to start homebrewing – various setups, recipes and equipment to use.
When I first began brewing extract kits at home, I used my stovetop and a soup pot for my batches, but have since upgraded to brewing outside with a gas burner and a proper, five-gallon pot. Moving outside also helps mitigate any potential mess – a boil over looks much less daunting on a concrete slab in the backyard than all over a stove and kitchen floor.
I haven’t brewed on my stovetop since my first batches years ago, mostly to avoid any mess, but also because I figured using my 55,000 BTU gas cooker made my brew day shorter and more efficient.
It wasn’t until now that I wanted to (unscientifically) put that to the test.
Using only water, I wanted to see how quickly I could reach brew-day temperature thresholds using my electric range stovetop and a Bayou Classic propane burner. My goal was specific to extract brewing, so I wanted to see how quickly I could reach 155 degrees when I’d normally steep grains for 25 minutes, then how long it would take to boil the water.
I decided to only use water since it offered an easy control – no matter where you’re brewing, water will still heat at the same rate. It’s just a matter of what the heat source is providing. I decided to also use the same three-gallon soup pot I previously used for my extract batches before investing in a five-gallon pot to accommodate occasional partial mash brew days.
First, I went outside to test my propane cooker with two gallons of 81-degree (F) water. I wanted to track how fast the water would hit 100 degrees for the sake of posterity, then mark at 155 degrees and hold the temperature for 25 minutes before raising it to a boiling temperature of 212 degrees.
I figured it would be a quick experience and here’s how it broke down:Water Boil Test - 5 Gallons

Propane Burner Boil Time

Minutes Degrees (F)
1:40 100
6:55 155
32:00 156
34:38 212 (boil)

Seems reasonable enough. Then I took another two gallons of 81 degree (F) water and set up the cooled soup pot on my General Electric stovetop. Here’s the time breakdown for this portion:
Water Boiling - 2 Gallons

Electric Stove Boil Time

Minutes Degrees (F)
4:15 100
12:30 155
37:35 157
39:03 212 (boil)
In comparison to my propane cooker, I certainly didn’t expect this. In all, using the stovetop only took me 4:25 more than my gas cooker. Knowing that, it would make me rethink the necessity of brewing outside with my cooker, especially during winter months.
Shop Brew KettlesOf course, there are all sorts of variables to consider, however, from the age of your stove (mine is less than a year old) to how much grain you’re using to steep. These kinds of results in time might not be universal, but do give a peek into what you might generally expect from a brew day.

If you’re thinking of making the plunge into a gas cooker, check out these two options and don’t forget a big enough pot, too.
Bryan Roth is a beer nerd and homebrewer living in Durham, North Carolina. You can read his thoughts on beer and the beer industry on his blog, This Is Why I’m Drunk, and send him suggestions on how to get his wife to drink craft beer via Twitter at @bryandroth.

0 thoughts on “ExBeeriment: Water Boil Test

  1. Something is wrong. Steeping for 25 minutes, added to the 12:30 equals 37:30, not 27:30. So the final number is in question – was it a direct reading off the timer so the 27:35 is a typo, or are the times calculated as deltas and the 39:03 should really be 49:03?

  2. I did a test when I first got my 54000 BTU burner and it only took 22 minutes to bring 3 gallons of cold (about 60°F) tap water to a full rolling boil. I had a whole chart I did, but unfortunately, I can’t find it. I may have thrown it away. I think a propane burner should be lot faster than a stove, no? Any “experts” out there have any more info on this subject? I find it interesting.