My handy-dandy "Beer Craft" book has a handful of recipes with useful information, including expected targeted pre-boil gravity, original gravity, and final gravity. Their pale ale recipe, for example, calls out a pre-boil gravity of 1.035, original gravity of 1.055, and final of 1.012.
What I'm wondering is... why does gravity increase from pre-boil to original?
There's two things that happen here; you boil off some liquid, and you add hops. You already have all your sugars from the malt. My first thought was that it might be because you're increasing the density of sugars by losing water in the boil, but the ratio of liquid retention changes depending on batch size; I expect to lose about a gallon in an hour, regardless of whether I start with 2 gallons or 6; but the gravities stay the same. My next thought was that the hops must affect the density, but what we keep from the hops after the boil doesn't go away as the beer ferments... or does it?
What's the science behind this?