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Old 08-09-2007, 01:42 PM   #1
Wrey
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Default What is Partial Mash

So I am pretty new to brewing although I have been lurking on these boards and doing a good bit of research. I hear alot about extract/PM and All grain.

What exactly is PM brewing?

What are the differences between Extract w/ seeping and PM?

What additional equipment do you need?

How much longer does it take?

What is the advantage over extract brewing?

These are some of the questions that I have had but haven't been able to find clear answers. Does anyone have and good links to this sort of noob information.

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Old 08-09-2007, 02:05 PM   #2
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Partial mashing is also called mini-mashing. There is some info on the wiki: http://www.homebrewtalk.com/wiki/ind...ash_Simplified

Basically, the technique is like steeping specialty grains except that you use some 2-row or other base malt, and there is actually some conversion going on in there. When you steep crystal or other specialty grains, you get color and flavor but not fermentables. Partial mashing allows you to extract some sugar.

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Old 08-09-2007, 02:31 PM   #3
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I'm looking to start PM because I do not have the ability to go AG at the moment due to the limitations of my stove. I'm planning to mash as much grain as possible for all my brews based on a 3 gallon boil, then add extra light DME to make up the fermentables and top off to 5.5 gallons in the fermenter. From everything I have read, this should have a marked effect on the quality of my beer and I am looking forward to the additional control over the process.

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Old 08-09-2007, 05:26 PM   #4
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I just started doing PMs, one under my belt, two and three coming up this weekend, and in my one batch I noticed a marked improvement. That first batch was a hefe and it came out much cleaner than it's extract twin which I'd just brewed weeks before.

For all my future brews, until I make the jump to AG, I'm planning on mashing as much grain as I can which for me is about 6-7lbs. since I can only safely boil around 3.25 gallons of wort.

Yooper answered the "what is it" and "what's the difference" questions so I'll try the next two, equipment and time.

As far as equipment is concerned I invested all of ~$40 in making the switch to PM. A 5 gallon round cooler from Wal-Mart for $17 and misc. plumbing supplies from Home Depot. If I had the link from FlyGuy's sig I'd throw that in here, maybe he'll chime in. I used his parts list to build my MLT and that was it, I was off PMing.

Time wise, I can't say it takes any longer to do PM. I've only done the one but it didn't feel any longer than an extract batch although I wasn't timing it. But seeing as it was my first I imagine it will be my worst timing wise since I'll get better at planning and layout.

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Old 08-09-2007, 06:34 PM   #5
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First off, most of your questions are pretty normal and could have been answered if you'd spent some time searching the forum and reading. I'm not saying that to criticize you, but to point out that there's a lot of good material out there and that it's a great idea to spend some time reading and researching because you'll learn a ton.

It can be done with something as simple as a grain bag in your brew kettle, but personally I am a big fan of the 2-gallon insulated mash tun I built based on this thread:
http://www.homebrewtalk.com/showthread.php?t=19413
(this also has an added bonus that you can later swap the parts directly into a 5-gallon rubbermaid cooler if you want to do bigger partial mashes or even all-grain)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Roterdrache
Time wise, I can't say it takes any longer to do PM. I've only done the one but it didn't feel any longer than an extract batch although I wasn't timing it. But seeing as it was my first I imagine it will be my worst timing wise since I'll get better at planning and layout.
Generally speaking, it does take longer than an extract batch - you do the whole mashing process (which can take an hour) before you even start the boil, whereas with a basic extract batch you go straight to the boil. The line blurs a bit if you compare it with an extract batch with steeping grains, which can add a bit more pre-boil time... and with a PM you can sort of overlap the wort collection from mashing with the boil to save a little time (get some water heated in the pot, so when your first and second runnings are collected you're already close to boiling)
Subjectively, I found partial mashing to be a lot of fun and well worth the bit of added time it took.

Of course, as soon as I got a bit more equipment, it became obvious that other than the volumes of grain and water I was dealing with, it really wasn't too much more of a step to just doing all-grain But, if you're equipment-limited, and/or space-limited, partial mashing is a great way to improve your brews and get more flexibility in your recipes (since you have access to a lot more grains)
To expand, the advantage of PM vs. steeping grains is that mashing allows starch conversion which allows you to use all different types of grains, whereas basic steeping only rinses starches/sugars/other compounds from the grains as they are. Only certain grains really work for steeping, such as crystal or roasted malts (which are for color/flavor/body/mouthfeel, not really for getting fermentable sugars), whereas if you mash you have access to way more variety of grains. For example, check out this grain list, which indicates which grains need to be mashed:
http://www.bodensatz.com/staticpages...hp?page=Grains
and it's pretty obvious that mashing opens up a lot more grain possibilities.
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Old 08-09-2007, 07:47 PM   #6
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So the difference between PM and all grain is that you only mash some of the grains and then fill the rest of the sugar with DME and that you still only do a partial boil?

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Old 08-09-2007, 07:54 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wrey
So the difference between PM and all grain is that you only mash some of the grains and then fill the rest of the sugar with DME and that you still only do a partial boil?
That's pretty much it. With AG you are getting ALL of your fermentable sugars by converting them yourself. With PM, you're only getting SOME of your fermentable sugars by converting them yourself, the rest comes from LME or DME.

As for the partial boils, you can do partial boils with PM and extract with steeping, but you need to do full boils with AG. You can, however, choose to do full boils with PM and extract with steeping if you have the equipment and choose to. It's just an option to consider.
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Old 08-09-2007, 08:33 PM   #8
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What about cost differences, I am always about saving money if I can.

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Old 08-09-2007, 08:43 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wrey
What about cost differences, I am always about saving money if I can.
In the long run, the cheapest option is all grain brewing. There are, of course, initial start up costs in equipment to get set to do all grain, but your cost per batch for your ingredients will be significantly lower.

As an extract brewer, I was paying between $25-40 to make a batch of beer. I'm now looking at $15-25 to make a batch of beer as an all grain brewer. I'd see even further savings if I bought grains and hops in bulk and crushed the grains myself.
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Old 08-09-2007, 09:28 PM   #10
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Partial mashing can save you a little money, but usually not much. Usually with PM batches I only mash about 3-4 pounds of grain, which can equate to something like 2-2.5 pounds of extract (less if some of what you're mashing is adjuncts which would have otherwise been steeped) which by my LHBS prices ($1/lb for grain and $3.39/lb for extract) means I only save 2 or 3 bucks. The cost savings definitely weren't my main reason for doing PM brews, because although the equipment to do PM batches wasn't extremely expensive, it would still take a long time for it to pay for itself while only saving a couple bucks a batch.

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