Homebrewing Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for dedicated home brewers and serious enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

The starting postion for most new extract brewers is to use a partial boil set up. Defined as using a pot smaller than the intended batch size, all the ingredients are boiled in a smaller volume. Then the wort is diluted to the final desired batch size. (Often the dilution step is used as part of a cooling step)

What are the Ups and Downs of both Partial vs. Full boils?

share|improve this question
This might be a good place to start, I asked something similar and got some good answers: homebrew.stackexchange.com/questions/971/… – WhatsBillDoing Jan 9 '10 at 16:27
I always wondered why my brews were always drarker, thanks for the post! – user2449 Jun 2 '12 at 18:11
up vote 17 down vote accepted

Boiling is a fairly poorly understood process. That being said here is what I know.

Partial-wort Boil


  • You probably already have all the necessary equipment
  • Small footprint
  • Easy to manage
  • You can use your kettle for other things


  • Hop utilization suffers, meaning you must use more hops to get the same level of bitterness
  • There is a limit to iso-alpha acid concentration in wort - might have trouble making your favorite imperial double IPA. citation needed
  • It is much more difficult to accommodate all-grain batches because they necessitate full-wort boils
  • Boil-overs make a mess on the stove
  • You should sanitize top-off water to minimize infection risk, giving you another process to mind
  • Wort-darkening reactions happen faster at higher concentration, so your beer comes out darker than expected

Full-wort Boil


  • You can handle a full batch of wort from a mash tun
  • Hop utilization is better
  • Wort-darkening reactions happen at an expected concentration
  • You can size your kettle to minimize the possibility of boil-over


  • It is very difficult to boil a full batch on the stove, making it necessary to buy a burner in addition to a large pot
  • Boil-overs make a mess on the deck/garage/sidewalk
  • More (large) equipment to manage & store
share|improve this answer
Very nice summary. – brewchez Jan 10 '10 at 16:35

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.