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I currently brew all-grain using a 7.5 gallon pot on a propane burner outside at a house I currently rent. However, I'm planning to move within the year to an apartment in the city and likely won't have the space to do outdoor brewing.

Is there an effective way to do full boils without a propane burner? Is a gas stove absolutely required or are there other ways to do it (multiple burners, etc)?

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7 Answers 7

up vote 3 down vote accepted

I would look into a heat stick (that's one of the original writeups, but there are plenty of new ones now, too). It might be just enough to supplement your burners.

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I'm planning to build a fully-electric kettle in the near future and brewing inside without propane at all. –  sgwill Nov 15 '10 at 22:23
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There's a more recent writeup of building heat sticks in BYO's August 2010 issue. –  Nicholas Trandem Nov 15 '10 at 22:25
    
Are there any issues with caramelization or scorching with the heat sticks? –  Jeff L Nov 15 '10 at 22:29
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From the research I've done, so long as you get an ultra-low density heating element, meaning the heat is dispersed along a large surface area, there aren't any caramelization or scorching issues. –  sgwill Nov 15 '10 at 22:32

You can even brew inside on a plain gas stove, depending on your pot. When I lived in overseas and didn't have my propane gear, I used the stock-standard gas stove/oven with four small burners like you see in many houses in the USA. (Older houses, that is, not newer ones with big stove-tops and wide-spaced burners.) My pot, which was about the same size as yours, straddled two of the burners.

I used an aluminum pot specifically because its heat distribution and transfer are better than stainless steel, and with just the two small stove burners, I did full 6+ gallon boils, boiling down to 5 gallons. But you have to make sure you use a pot wide enough to straddle the burners; tall, narrow ones won't cut it.

Another consideration if you do that, though: Humidity control. There was a LOT of moisture coming off of there. In one place I fortunately had a window right there at the stove, and I rigged a small attic exhaust fan on a piece of plywood that fit right into the double-hung window. That was enough to really get the steam out. Typical stove hoods didn't pull enough air.

Calvin Perilloux, Middletown, Maryland, USA

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I have gotten full boils on my (gas) kitchen stove. I do have to straddle my kettle over two burners, but the kettle is so large that it fits over two burners.

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Boiling 6 gallons on a 3.5 kW induction top works flawlessly.

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I've gotten a pretty solid rolling boil on a single burner with my 7 gallon pot. That said, my rental has a pretty fancy stove.

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The advantage you get from the propane burner is a harder boil. You brew on any stove that can boil water (my wort usually starts boiling at about 215F, almost water's boiling temp). However, if you have a lower temperature, make sure you start you hop additions only after you have a full boil, you don't want to miss the hot break or not boil off the dms.

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I have done several full boils on my cheap Whirlpool electric range. It takes a long time and is a bit of a pain but it's possible. I stopped when the burner overheated and the plastic harness that connected the heating element to the wires melted and/or burnt to ash.

So in summary, it probably depends on the quality and capabilities of your stove. My advice is to try it with a smaller batch to see how it handles it, then work your way up as you feel comfortable with your equipment.

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