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I'm curious to hear how folks remove the hot and cold breaks in their brewing process? With the hot break, I try to spoon out as much as I can, but this often feels like fighting the wind.

When it comes to the cold break, I have a tough time determining where the wort ends and the cold break begins. I try to leave as much of the hop sludge left in the bottom of my boil kettle as I can. Is this considered the cold break?

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Both hot and cold break will eventually fall to the bottom of your kettle if you leave it for 20-30 mins after flameout. So you can boil, and then whirlpool, and you'll not end up with much break material in the fermentor.

You can spoon off the hot break if you want to (I do the same), since some people say it's better for the beer:

I skim the stuff off during the first 15 minutes or so of the boil and put it in a bowl. I've looked at it a few hours later and it looks pretty nasty. I wouldn't even want it going through my whole boil, let alone going into my fermenter. I'm not a chemist so I don't know the specifics, but from what I've read it's basically the first hotbreak that is called albumin. The Germans claim that it entrains hop constituants if it is present and results in lower hop utilization and a reduction in head retention. That's why they always wait until at least 15 minutes into the boil before they add their first hop addition. So I would say yes, they do skim the scum. I imagine it also has particles of grain husks and other unwanted material that you would prefer not to have in your wort, fermenter, or finished product.

(source)

I do the skimming now with the Electric rig, but never bothered with propane (too hot!). I can't say I noticed any problems with the old way of doing things, but I do it to be on the safe side.

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Is the foam the hot break? Sometimes I see the formation of what looks like egg-drop soup during the boil. I always thought that was the hot break and the foam was something different. –  Tobias Patton Mar 13 '12 at 18:26
    
The foam is the hot break - howtobrew.com/section1/chapter7-2.html. and when it gets too heavy it falls back into the wort as the egg drop soup bits you see. Proteins continually coagulate thrughout the boil, and especially after adding kettle finings, so the hot break is only some of the protinacous matter in the wort. –  mdma Mar 13 '12 at 18:36
    
maybe this should be a separate question, but how do you whirlpool in a plain ten gallon pot? –  roto Mar 13 '12 at 18:36
    
a good candidate for a question, but briefly, you can use a spoon. another alternative, is to use a hopback which can act as a filter. –  mdma Mar 13 '12 at 18:48
    
Ok. That makes sense. Whenever I hear someone using a whirlpool I immediately think they must be using a conical fermenter where they can then just dump the trub. –  roto Mar 13 '12 at 18:52
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I skim the Hot Break as the wort comes to a boil. I'm not overly fastidious about it, I just don't like what it looks like and don't want it in my beer so I get most of it out with a fine mesh spoon like something you would use to get stuff out of a fryer without taking all the hot oil with it. This works quite well for me.

As for cold break, I use a counter-flow chiller so the cold break goes right into the fermenter. This hasn't caused any issues and since it would be a huge pain to change equipment and process to remove it, in the fermenter it stays.

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I used to skim the hot break, but once I started using FWH extensively that wasn't possible. I have noticed no difference in the beer from not removing it.

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Are you First Wort Hopping your 60min addition, or just a flavor addition while still putting in a 60min addition, Denny? –  Graham Mar 14 '12 at 13:14
    
What does FWH do for you? I've heard people doing it to avoid boil overs. I tried it once and still had a boil over, so I stopped. I'm just curious if there is another benefit/effect. –  roto Mar 14 '12 at 16:13
    
I use FWH for flavor and still do a 60 min. addition. I just subtract the bitterness the FWH add and them use enough 60 min. hops to hit the IBU I'm looking for. I've also found that FWH don't prevent a boilover...found out the hard way! To me, FWH adds great hop flavor and a smooth, mellow bitterness. –  Denny Conn Mar 14 '12 at 16:57
    
@Denny, regarding how you "subtract the bitterness the FWH add", how do you calculate the IBU of the FHW? Do you assume its the same IBUs as a 60min addition? –  Graham Mar 16 '12 at 14:22
    
Tests I've had done show that FWH actually add about 10% more IBU than a 60 min. addition. But we don't measure beer in a glass, we drink it, and to me the IBUs contributed by FWH taste more like the IBU for a 20 min. addition. So that's what I count them as. –  Denny Conn Mar 16 '12 at 16:28
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