After mashing, the beer wort is boiled with hops (and other flavourings if used) in a large tank known as a copper or brew kettle – though historically the mash vessel was used and is still in some small breweries. The boiling process is where chemical reactions take place, including sterilization of the wort to remove unwanted bacteria, releasing of hop flavours, bitterness and aroma compounds through isomerization, stopping of enzymatic processes, precipitation of proteins, and concentration of the wort.
Finally, the vapours produced during the boil volatilise off-flavours, including dimethyl sulfide precursors. The boil is conducted so that it is even and intense – a continuous rolling boil. The boil on average lasts between 45 and 90 minutes, depending on its intensity, the hop addition schedule, and volume of water the brewer expects to evaporate. At the end of the boil, solid particles in the hopped wort are separated out, usually in a vessel called a whirlpool.