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Old 04-28-2006, 02:03 AM   #1
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Default Mini Mash System for Extract Brewers

This idea came to me while posting in this thread:
http://www.homebrewtalk.com/showthread.php?t=8748
I think we as a team should figure out how to design and build a mini mash system that extract brewers could use to do partial mashes when they brew.
I want to say right off the top that this isn't intended to slam extract brewers. If you enjoy the hobby by doing extract only then by all means stay with it but if you are doing extract with steeped grains this method might not be much more difficult or take much longer. If it works it will make your home brew better.
We need input from everyone.
From the extract brewers:
- Would you be interested in a mini mash system?
- How much would you be willing to spend to build this system?
- What would you want this system to do for you?
From AG and experienced brewers:
-Would a mini mash system even work?
- What procedures and equipment would work best?
- Would the addition of a bit of pale 2 row help in the mash? (Maybe 1 or 2 pounds)
- What would its limitations be? (adjuncts may not work too well)

I think this system should:
1. Not be too costly to assemble so there is not a big expense to step up to PM.
2. Create about 2 to 3 gallons of wort. The malt extract could be added to this in a fairly small brew pot.
3. Be fairly simple to use and not extend the brewing session too long.
4. Strait forward assembly with parts that would be easy to get.

Brewsmith found this link for a 2 gallon cooler. I think this is a good start. for the mash/Lauter tun.
http://www.igloo-store.com/product_detail.asp?T1=IGL+LEG+2G+BLUE&HDR=personbe verage
The cooler will need to contain 3 to 5 pounds of grain and the strike water needed to mash it. (5 pounds of grain would take about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 gallon of water)
A false bottom is needed to strain the wort. What would be best? stainless steel braided hose? A type of false bottom? a manifold made from copper pipe? Any other suggestions? (Thanks again Brewersmith)

What procedures would make this work best? I would say a simple infusion mash at about 150 to 155 degrees and batch sparging with 170 degree water. After the sparge is done the brewing session would be the same as pure extract.

If this would work, I think it would be a system for brewers who either don't have the time or don't want to hassle with doing a full all grain brew. It might be good as well for anyone who wants to step up to AG but wants to first learn through PM brewing.
I would love to get input from everyone.

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Old 04-28-2006, 02:44 AM   #2
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Cheap and easy would suggest to me a cheap cooler and a hose braid. Should work well for partial. I think you hit it right on the head with a simple infusion mash at about 150 to 155 degrees and batch sparging with 170 degree water. Even cheaper would be a bucket and a bucket grain mesh bag. Or even just a pot and sparge thru a colander or something. Never tried that but bet it would work.

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Old 04-28-2006, 02:52 AM   #3
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Extract/steeping brewer here.

I don't think it would be worth the trouble. I've done a 'mini-mash' a couple of times, which just consisted of sticking my grain in a bag (obviously there was some 2-row in the mix), submerging that in water of the right temp for 1-2 hours, then giving it a rough rinse.

Because I rely on extract for all my fermentable anyway, this is really just to impart some more complex flavours to the brew, and it seems to work fine.

Just my two cents...

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Old 04-28-2006, 02:56 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shambolic
Extract/steeping brewer here.

I don't think it would be worth the trouble. I've done a 'mini-mash' a couple of times, which just consisted of sticking my grain in a bag (obviously there was some 2-row in the mix), submerging that in water of the right temp for 1-2 hours, then giving it a rough rinse.

Because I rely on extract for all my fermentable anyway, this is really just to impart some more complex flavours to the brew, and it seems to work fine.

Just my two cents...
Very good point. However, I think you would get more out of your specialty grains if they were mashed and sparged in this manner. Plus you could use grains like Munich malt which must be mashed.
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Old 04-28-2006, 03:04 AM   #5
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I started mini-mashing to get fermentables for two reasons, to add more depth to the beer-in-a-can kits I was using and to learn the mechanincs of AG which is where I knew I would end-up. In the end I was mashing about 4-5lbs of grain in a big pot on the stove, monitoring the temp closely. Then I would rinse the grains in a big colander a couple times with water at 170F. I think its a great idea Rich, if I were to do it again I may go a bit more complicated in the lautering process, but I learned enough about grain-beds and stuff doing it the cheap way. I also learned exactly how I wanted my full-size AG setup to be.

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Old 04-28-2006, 03:21 AM   #6
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Here's some more coolers that are reasonably priced.

This one is a 3 gallon:
http://www.bteutil.com/index.asp?PageAction=VIEWPROD&ProdID=94

and a 2 gallon:
http://www.bteutil.com/index.asp?PageAction=VIEWPROD&ProdID=95

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Old 04-28-2006, 07:38 AM   #7
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I'll do a partial mash or two a year with my bottling bucket and large mesh bag. Brewing in the summer at 110-120°F in the shade prevents the need for a cooler due to low temp shifts. I agree that its a great way to increase knowledge of the brewing process, give more control over the specifics of the beer without all the time and expense of AG.

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Old 04-28-2006, 10:53 AM   #8
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First, I'll say up front that I know little about the process being pretty new to the scene. Second, as a partial mash brewer, where I steep my grains in muslin bags at 170 degrees for a period, rinse them with 170 degree water, and then add my dry malt, extract and hops, I'll say I'm pretty happy with the quality of my brew.

That said, last night I was talking to my home brew guy and he said that, to do a mini mash, all I would need is a small pot, a small spigot drilled into it, and one of those mini bazooka T strainers. I couldn't figure out how he described recirculating the water to sparge the grain but it sounded pretty easy. From what he said, I could start my wort in one pot while getting the mini mash going in another, saving maybe a half hour of the process. So, this could be interesting as I get into the bigger batches.

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Old 04-28-2006, 04:05 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robbw
That said, last night I was talking to my home brew guy and he said that, to do a mini mash, all I would need is a small pot, a small spigot drilled into it, and one of those mini bazooka T strainers. I couldn't figure out how he described recirculating the water to sparge the grain but it sounded pretty easy. From what he said, I could start my wort in one pot while getting the mini mash going in another, saving maybe a half hour of the process. So, this could be interesting as I get into the bigger batches.
I'm thinking you could get one of those 2 or 3 gallon coolers with a SS braided hose for cheaper than the bazooka strainer.
To recirculate the wort you just open the spigot on the mash/lauter tun and fill a small glass container. You then very gently pour the wort back into the mash/lauter tun. You repeat this until the wort comes out some what clear. You would then drain the tun into your brew pot. When it is done draining you add more water to the tun, stir it up, let it settle, and then recirculate again. This whole procedure is repeated until you have used all of the sparge water. I think you could apply heat to the pot once you are about half way done sparging and you could also add the malt extract (with heat off).
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Old 04-28-2006, 04:26 PM   #10
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i personally do not want any extra equipment to store/clean. i will probably use the pot and strainer method even though i won't get the best efficiency it's still better than just steeping...right?

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