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Old 02-08-2011, 03:12 AM   #1
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Default My no sparge, partial boil, all-grain method

**Warning: if lack of efficiency makes you twitchy, please stop reading now.**

My brewing ambition currently exceeds my brewing equipment.

I have been an extract brewer for over two years, but I got tired of the limited options for base malts; I wanted to try some Maris Otter. Moreover, after watching a few batch sparge videos online, mashing does not seem any more complicated than steeping grains. I'm also a bargain brewer, so the cost benefits of AG seemed great. I was looking for a workable way to use my extract setup (detailed below) to brew all-grain beer.

I read up on the no-sparge method on this board and a few websites. I was looking for a way to go all grain without having to upgrade to a full-boil kettle or dedicated chiller. Both are on my list as "eventually," but my brewing procedure from extract works pretty well. I also read about "richer wort" and a few other benefits, but my main priority was to find a workable solution for my equipment.

Here were my limiting factors:
--No full boil. I have a 20qt pot, which means I can only have about 4.5 gallons boiling at a time.
--No chiller. My extract method has been sterile ice directly into wort to chill to pitching temps
--No time. I have a 22 month old boy who thinks he's a dinosaur and who hates my freedom.

Here were the positive assets of my setup:
--10 gallon Rubbermaid MLT
--outdoor propane burner
--A few extra bucks for grain

Procedure:
--I pre-heated my mash tun with hot tap water (I keep it around 140F)
--I heated my strike water out of hot tap water (it's very clean and has no off flavors) and boiling water from an electric kettle and a small pot of hot water on the stove. Both were heated while I was setting up.
--I mashed with the full volume of water for my boil. I calculated to end up with 4.5 gallons in my 5 gallon kettle. I used some online calculator, and it worked. I kept adjusting the values until the "Sparge Volume" was close to zero.
--After 60 minutes, I simply drained the wort into the kettle and got it boiling.
--I performed a 60 minute boil. Final wort volume was around 3.75 gallons.
--I added the sterile ice to the fermenter with the hot wort. I topped off to reach 5.25 gallons in the bucket.
--I was instantly down to pitching temps, so I added my yeast (I only use dry), aerated, and sealed it up.

Ultimately, my brew day was about the same amount of time as brewing with extract, 3 hours. 4.5 gallons of 152F wort certainly gets boiling faster than 4 gallons of cold water mixed with hot steeping liquid. The only appreciable difference in time was the half hour difference in mashing v. steeping.

I hit 51% efficiency without a sparge. This number is low, but consider that I added about 1.5 gallons of water in the fermenter.

I'd love to hear feedback. Is this method heresy? Am I a sellout for not playing the efficiency game? Does anyone see a loophole I've forgotten?

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Old 02-08-2011, 03:36 AM   #2
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Looks great to me! If you get a 5gal paint strainer bag from home depot, you should even be able to bump your efficiency up into the 60s. You could do a pseudo-sparge by pouring some hot water over the bag. Good luck with the dinosaur.

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Old 02-08-2011, 04:26 AM   #3
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You might want to check your mash conversion efficiency. A no-sparge mash should be in the 60-75% efficiency range for any reasonable liquor:grist ratio.

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Old 02-08-2011, 11:01 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by a10t2
You might want to check your mash conversion efficiency. A no-sparge mash should be in the 60-75% efficiency range for any reasonable liquor:grist ratio.
Don't forget that he's only getting a little more than 2/3rds his pre-boil volume this way. Full volume no sparge can definitely get 60%. The 75% typically needs a finer grind than I assume he has. To lose 9 points from such a small boil sounds about right to me.
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Old 02-08-2011, 11:37 AM   #5
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I'm happy to read someone else in the same boat as me. I just did my first all-grain batch using a partial boil with an initial volume of 3.25 gallons. My method was very similar to yours.

The premium bitters recipe mashed for 60 minutes at 149F. The water/grist ratio was 1 qt/lb, and I assumed 70% efficiency. It worked out to 2.37 gallons for the mash. I added 1.5 gallons for sparging, with no mash out.

The calculations gave me an OG of 1.048, but the gravity of my wort was 1.060. I think this was because I was essentially extracting the first runnings which are higher in gravity. After boiling, I added gallons of spring water until my OG was about 1.046 (a reasonable range for the style. It turns out I have just under 5 gallons in the fermenter, a little short of where I like to start fermentation, but not unreasonable for my first AG batch. In the future if I use this method again (because I really want a full-boil-sized pot) I'd assume 60-65% efficiency off the bat so I could end up with 5 - 5.5 gallons in the fermenter.

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Old 02-08-2011, 12:43 PM   #6
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why not brew 2.5-3.0 gallon batches? I know you do not have a lot of time, but until you get all the equipment... its an option.

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Old 02-08-2011, 01:39 PM   #7
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why not brew 2.5-3.0 gallon batches? I know you do not have a lot of time, but until you get all the equipment... its an option.
It's definitely an option, in my case I guess I'm just used to getting ~5 gallons per brewing. I'd be sorry if I brewed something awesome and only had 2 gallons of it
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Old 02-08-2011, 01:41 PM   #8
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why not brew 2.5-3.0 gallon batches? I know you do not have a lot of time, but until you get all the equipment... its an option.
Because 3 gallons is two gallons less than 5
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Old 02-08-2011, 02:14 PM   #9
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why not brew 2.5-3.0 gallon batches? I know you do not have a lot of time, but until you get all the equipment... its an option.
I also don't have a good way to cool down a full 3 gallon boil. I try like heck not to carry around 3 gallons of sloshing, molten liquid whenever possible, so an ice bath isn't really an option. Sterile ice is a great (and cheap) way to quick-chill.
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Old 02-08-2011, 02:46 PM   #10
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I also don't have a good way to cool down a full 3 gallon boil. I try like heck not to carry around 3 gallons of sloshing, molten liquid whenever possible, so an ice bath isn't really an option. Sterile ice is a great (and cheap) way to quick-chill.
i guess i was saying that if you go for 2.5-3.0 gallons, you could go a full volume boil... then cooling becomes the issue... so you could brew a 1.080ish 2.gal batch and dilute to your desired volume.

i used to apartment brew... so i did 3ish gal or less size batches and then an ice bath. sure it took a long time, but the beer still came out great.
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