The Metamorphosis – A Four-Hour Boil

by Steve Thanos Updated on October 18, 2018

In recent months there has been a lot of talk in the homebrewing community about how homebrewers can reduce their brew times all the while still creating a delicious beer.

Simple Homebrew

Denny Conn and Drew Beechum over at Experimental Brewers have an entire book dedicated to this subject matter. Simple Homebrew, coming out this Spring, is a book about “cutting through the clutter” as Drew mentions.

Denny adds, “our basic message is to cut out anything that doesn’t make for a better beer or more fun.” One point Denny and Drew want to make here is “that simple doesn’t mean it’s just for beginners.”

Wise words from guys who have been doing this hobby for the past 40+ years.

Marshall Schott and the boys over at Brulosophy have been talking about shortening their brew days for several years now. The Short & Shoddy brewing method has become a popular segment on their blog and podcast.

I even entered my hat into the shortened brew day arena by brewing a Kolsch with a thirty-minute mash and boil. 

The beer fest

Every year the folks over at BeerHoptacular put on a pretty rad beer event. This beer fest has a vast amount of breweries serving their beer and even homebrew clubs that come out to serve homebrew.

There are also awesome food trucks serving some much-needed grub.

Every year the grain selection is different. This year the grain was Canadian Munich Light Malt.

There was one guideline that all homebrewers needed to follow with this brew day. We were not allowed to add any other grain to this beer, besides the Canadian Munich Malt. We were allowed to add fruit, sugar, oak age, copious amounts of hops, but the grain bill had to stay the same.

After discussing with some friends from my homebrew club (Plainfield Ale and Lager Enthusiasts), we decided to make a beer with intentions that this beer needs to stand out from the crowd. After all, there was a competition involved with this beer.

The brew day that I want to talk about here was the exact opposite of what I aimed to do. For the record, I do listen to these guys religiously.  This brew day experience was a four-hour long boil with fourteen pounds of Canadian Munich Light Malt.

“The Metamorphosis” that author, Franz Kafka, suggests is how his main character, Gregor, changes into a large insect. This change that Kafka alludes to is vastly different than what happened to my wort after four hours. Nevertheless, I think this beer of mine is named appropriately.

A long four-hour boil, Vos Kveik yeast from Yeast Bay, and an open-fermentation were all planned for this beer. What could have been a simple 5% sessionable beer, morphed into a supercharged 8.1% sipper that would be well-enjoyed around a campfire?

The Metamorphosis


14 lbs Canadian Munich Malt


1 oz. Mt Hood Hops  @ 180 minutes

1 oz. Mt. Hood Hops @ 220 minutes


1 vile Vos Kveik Yeast from The Yeast Bay

The hour-hour boil

After my mash, I began the long four-hour boil. I gathered five coffee cups from my kitchen and a ladle. My thought was to take out samples of the wort before the boil and after each hour of the boil. The results of the concentration of wort was astounding.

The color difference is already apparent.

Along with taking samples to provide visual evidence of the color difference in this beer, I went a step further. After the mash and after each hour of the boil, I took readings of my gravity with my refractometer.

Gravity reading after the mash.      1.039
After the one-hour boil, gravity at 1.044.
After two hours of the boil, gravity reading now at 1.055.
After three hours of the boil, gravity reading now at 1.064.
After four hours of the boil, gravity reading now at 1.083.
A final gravity reading with my hydrometer; holding steady at 1.088.

It was pretty interesting to see the increase of gravity readings as the hours of the boil increased. Also equaling as amazing was the vast difference in color of the wort. The concentration of the wort.

The visual example of the color differences between the start of the boil to after of the fourth hour of the boil. Also, repping the awesome folks at Werk Force Brewing Company.

Due to the nature of this competition, it benefits the homebrewer to stand out The yeast that I chose for this beer was a yeast that I have been dying to check out for quite some time now. Sigmund Voss Kveik. What’s amazing about this yeast is the fermentation temperature range. You can easily ferment a beer with this yeast from 70 – 100 ºF (or 21 – 37 ºC). I actually fermented at 70 ºF at the beginning of fermentation and then ramped it up to around 90 ºF.

In conclusion, this was a really great beer to brew.

The Munich Light malt contributed to a nice bready aroma and taste. The sweetness from the 4-hour boil also helped to bring out a sweetness that accompanied the fruity esters the yeast contributed. Although it was a long brew day, it was well worth it.