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Old 09-04-2007, 11:32 PM   #1
HBDrinker008
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Default Steeping vs Partail Mash

I was wondering if I could get some explanation on the finer points of the differences of a partial/mini mash as opposed to just steeping specialty grains. I have been looking at recipes converted from all grain to extract plus mini mash, but so far have only done extracts with steeping grains. I guess I dont know why you would do a partial mash if you are going to mash at all. I realize that all grain uses ,some different equipment, but would you need that to do a partial and then why not just do a full mash? Thanks for any insight

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Old 09-05-2007, 12:16 AM   #2
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Well, the main reason for the mini mash (or PM) is because it's like All grain, but you don't need all the equipment. You can still do smaller boils, for example. You don't need a big MLT either. My first PM was done in my bottling bucket with a grain bag and a sleeping bag around it to hold the temperatures, and I used DME for most of the fermentables. It was a 3 gallon boil, so I didn't need a big pot, a big burner, a wort chiller or a MLT. But some of the benefits were there- better tasting without an "extract-y" flavor to it. And I was able to use some grains that had to be mashed.

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Old 09-05-2007, 12:56 AM   #3
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Hi Hbdrinker008,

I'm an extract + specialty steeper too. How many lbs of grain are you talking about steeping? The most I've ever steeped on the stovetop was 3 lbs which seemed to be the most I'd want to steep and strain.

I'm taking the next step to the PM w/ a 3gal cooler so I can mash 4 to 6 lbs w/ good efficiency. It'll actually save money too. Grain is cheeper than extract. The PM gives you better control over a larger portion of your brew. You can do any mash schedule you want w/ a MLT. Even a decoction Mash.

Someday I plan on using the 3gal cooler for a first AG 2.5 or 3 gallon batch since I don't plan on going AG till I get my brewery into a house.

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Old 09-05-2007, 01:21 AM   #4
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Yooper makes some great points.
to put more numbers out there, hopefully to make it even clearer...

if you partial mash, its usually just 2-4 lbs of grain. when I did a 5lb grain bill PM, my LHBS thought it was high.
My problem was my boil volume. I was doing extract kits in two 12qt brew pots, then topping off the fermenter with another gallon+ of water to reach 5gallons.
for the cost of a 5 gallon cooler and some fittings, I had a mashtun and did a PM.

I loved it, and invested in the gear to go all grain...which mostly boils down to a very large brew pot and a method to heat it. when I say large, I mean 9 gallons...and that's just for 5gallon batches.
reason being, you boil to reach 5 gallons of wort..you've gotta start off with 6.5 gallons of runnings from the mash tun, possibly more if its a 90 minute boil.

also, you really just don't get the same efficiency with steeping grains as you do with a true mash.

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Old 09-05-2007, 03:08 AM   #5
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The reason I have gone to PM rather than AG is due to limitations on how much I can boil. I am unable to go outside with a hurricane burner or some such since I live in the city and have no outside area. Instead I am stuck brewing in my kitchen on my crummy stove which means I cannot boil more than 3 gallons which means I will have to top off. Topping off necessitates the use of extract since mashing enough grain to get all the fermentables for 5 gallons requires more liquid than I am able to boil.

As for why I switched from extract+steeping to PM, well, I wanted more control over my ingredients and I wanted to increase my involvement in the process because I love brewing (and will eventually go to AG when I am able). It's true I don't have complete control since I still use several pounds of DME, but I have more control over my grain bill and mash temp and my brew day has become more enjoyable.

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Old 09-05-2007, 03:43 AM   #6
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Thanks for the responses everyone. I too am a stove top brewer in an apartment but would like to have more control to experiment and instead of the same extracts all the time. If I do a partial mash with around 3-4 lbs of grain and sparge 3 gallons to boil then add some extract would that be sufficient amount of boil volume with that amount of grain?

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Old 09-05-2007, 11:11 AM   #7
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the grain just needs to be mashed to get the sugars out. Boil time depends on your recipe usually 60 to 90 min. I'm actually not sure about how much water needs to be used as I haven't yet done a partial mash. I'd like to get 3 gallons from the sparging into the kettle to boil. Water will be lost in the grain which will soak it up and boiling reduces the water by 10 to 15 % depending on how vigorous of a boil it is and boil time.

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Old 09-05-2007, 01:32 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HBDrinker008
Thanks for the responses everyone. I too am a stove top brewer in an apartment but would like to have more control to experiment and instead of the same extracts all the time. If I do a partial mash with around 3-4 lbs of grain and sparge 3 gallons to boil then add some extract would that be sufficient amount of boil volume with that amount of grain?
I would follow a recipe for your first few PMs and get some brewing software with a water calculator to determine how much water you will need and how much you will have in the brew kettle. 3-4 pounds of grain should yield you around 3 gallons in the kettle but it all depends on your system (ie. MLT deadspace).
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Old 09-05-2007, 01:54 PM   #9
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Easy guideline: have at least as much 2-row as you have total specialty grains. For many recipes, this means a 3-4 pound mini-mash.

The biggest difference is temperature control. Changing a mash temperature from 150F to 155F will change your results noticeably.

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Old 09-05-2007, 03:54 PM   #10
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also, they do make 3 gallon carboys...so you could easily do smaller AG batches and still end up with a case of beer (instead of 2), without needing a ton of space or spendy AG equipment.

my one partial mash was my kolsch, and i added xtra light briess DME in the last 15 minutes of the boil. still ended up with a nice light color...really its probably the best beer I've ever made.

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