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Old 02-28-2006, 05:21 PM   #1
cweston
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Default What do you think of this partial-mash scheme?

I have a 3 gallon picnic water cooler thingy with a spigot.

If I used a grain bag and rigged some sort of false-bottom to hold it off the bottom of the cooler, the cooler could function as both mash-tun (for a single infusion) and lauter-tun. I could even do a protien rest on the stove and then raise the temp before dumping it into the cooler.

I'd use some sort of hose clamp to restrict the flow out of the cooler during sparging.

I'm cheap, so I really want to try partial mashing without buying any expensive gear first. But if I can get some good results from partial mashes and then point out to SWMBO how much cheaper grain is than extracts...

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Old 02-28-2006, 06:05 PM   #2
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I've been giving this some thought recently too. I'd like to improve my partial mash/sparge technique but with minimal investment. To date I've just been pouring my sparge water over the grain and I don't think I've been very efficient this way. I don't mind buying a cooler and maybe a false bottom, but don't want to have to get two coolers, sparge arm, flow controls, etc.

Have you considered trying a batch sparge first instead of continuous? At least that would allow you to avoid having to control the inflow and outflow. Thing is, I don't know if you would use the same ratio of water-to-grain for partial as you would for AG.

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Old 02-28-2006, 06:19 PM   #3
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For one thing, blow off the protein rest. It's your first mash so go simple. Single infusion at 150 degrees all in the cooler. I have brewed thousands of all-grain batches and the vast majority of my batches are single infusion. You really don't want to mess around with applying heat directly to the mash on the stove. If you feel for some reason you MUST do a protein rest (and I'm telling you...it won't make a bit of difference), then do a two step infusion. Add water to bring your cooler to 120 and then add enough boiling water to bring it to 150. I never apply heat directly to grain except in more complicated brews outside the scope of this discussion.

Second, almost all mash tuns are also lauter tuns, so you're on the right track.

Third, sparge arms are cheap and you should build or buy something to deliver the water very gently to the sparge. I like Phil's Sparge arm. You'll need to come up with something other than just ladling water into it if you want good efficiency.

Fourth, I'd get a vlave instead of using a hose clamp to restrict flow, but no matter how you go, the flow needs to be VERY slow if you want decent efficiency.

Last, good luck convincing your wife that all-grain is cheaper. It isn't unless all the equipment is free and once you get into it, you'll be buying lots of equipment for a long time. It's one of those things that isn't fun and doesn't produce great results if you do it half-assed.

Your setup sounds good overall. I strongly recommend doing a really simple single infusion mash. You can't go wrong that way. Cheers

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Old 02-28-2006, 06:22 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ESPY
I don't mind buying a cooler and maybe a false bottom, but don't want to have to get two coolers, sparge arm, flow controls, etc.
You're only shortchanging yourself

Seriously, another cooler and a sparge arm is, what, $30 tops?? You don't need flow controls other than a valve on your liquor tank and mash tun to control in and outflow.

If you want to brew budget, brew extract. All-grain really won't produce good results if you try to shortchange the process. Good luck!
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Old 02-28-2006, 06:58 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Janx

If you want to brew budget, brew extract. All-grain really won't produce good results if you try to shortchange the process. Good luck!
i don't know, with the exception of a large SS pot it's not that much of an investment in equipemnt unless youre the high tech type and want a three tier RIMS system or something ridiculous like that. my mash/lauter-tun cost me around $15 total (I got the cooler for a dollar though), which i've already paid off with the savings in grain after only a few AG batches. And they are ALL excellent brews, better than any extract batch i've done. I do batch sparge though, so a sparge arm is not included in that, but i might get one once I've got batch sparging down. first things first though- i need a wort chiller.
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Old 02-28-2006, 06:58 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Janx
You're only shortchanging yourself

Seriously, another cooler and a sparge arm is, what, $30 tops?? You don't need flow controls other than a valve on your liquor tank and mash tun to control in and outflow.

If you want to brew budget, brew extract. All-grain really won't produce good results if you try to shortchange the process. Good luck!
Thanks for the good tips. Of course, I know that the fact that grain is cheaper than extract is not terribly relevant, but somehow capital investments (gear) seem like money better spent than ingrediants that just get brewed up and consumed. My wife seems to view the equipment costs as the "hobby expense" (= good) and the ingrediant costs as the "I can't believe how much you spend on beer" (= bad) expense.

I mostly just want to be able to try partial mashing without much up-front investment. I'm sure I'll eventually graduate to a full-fledged all-grain system.
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Old 02-28-2006, 07:03 PM   #7
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drengel - how do you brew without a chiller??? Essential piece of equipment. You can build a counterflow chiller pretty cheaply...immersion even cheaper.

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Old 02-28-2006, 07:18 PM   #8
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i'll be building one within the next few weeks. immersion most likely as all the wasted water from a counterflow chiller doesn't really jive with my environmental ethos. especially not considering i live in a high desert environ thats in the middle of a drought. To tell you the truth it sucks brewing without a chiller. When doing partial boils it was OK, I have a industrial sink thats large enough to put a big pot in and fill with water and ice. with that it took about 30 minutes to chill. It just doesn't work so well with a full boil though, especially not when you've been brewing for hours already. you just want it to cool fast. I never realized how awsesome a wort chiller was until i saw one in action the other day. I'm in a bioichem of fermentation class and we brewed a dunkel in class, my teacher brought in his chiller and we had the whole batch chilled in 15 minutes. I was amazed, and now I'm working on building one.

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Old 02-28-2006, 07:19 PM   #9
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Janx, what do you think about cweston trying batch sparging first? Isn't that easier and simpler to set up than continuous sparge?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Janx
Seriously, another cooler and a sparge arm is, what, $30 tops?? You don't need flow controls other than a valve on your liquor tank and mash tun to control in and outflow.

If you want to brew budget, brew extract. All-grain really won't produce good results if you try to shortchange the process. Good luck!
I'm only doing partial mash. If I were ready to make the leap to AG, I would certainly see the benefit in getting all the right equipment. But so far I've been pretty happy with partial mash and would just like to try to find ways to improve my technique a bit. It was you that suggested last week that I'm sparging way too quickly. So I'd prefer to try it a couple different ways with a minimal setup before committing to a full setup. I was thinking that I could stick to just a cooler, false bottom and batch sparging first and see how that turns out.
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Old 02-28-2006, 07:22 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drengel
i'll be building one within the next few weeks. immersion most likely as all the wasted water from a counterflow chiller doesn't really jive with my environmental ethos. especially not considering i live in a high desert environ thats in the middle of a drought. To tell you the truth it sucks brewing without a chiller. When doing partial boils it was OK, I have a industrial sink thats large enough to put a big pot in and fill with water and ice. with that it took about 30 minutes to chill. It just doesn't work so well with a full boil though, especially not when you've been brewing for hours already. you just want it to cool fast. I never realized how awsesome a wort chiller was until i saw one in action the other day. I'm in a bioichem of fermentation class and we brewed a dunkel in class, my teacher brought in his chiller and we had the whole batch chilled in 15 minutes. I was amazed, and now I'm working on building one.
Hmm...I'm pretty sure that counterflow uses less water, especially in anything above 5 gallons. The most efficient chiller water-wise is a plate chiller. I'm with you, BTW. I always try to use all my chiller water. I clean with it or fill the dogs' baby pool in the summer.
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