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Old 01-20-2010, 08:29 PM   #1
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Default Extract brewing without steeping grains or partial mash

I've been brewing all-grain for a while but having kids has taken its toll on my free time for brewing. My typical brew day has been to start warming mash water at 6am and maybe get done by 11 or 12. I used to brew about a batch per week but now I'm lucky to get one per month. I'm looking for ways to cut down my brew day significantly enough that it can squeeze into my schedule more easily. Extract brewing seems like it might help with this but I don't think that steeping grains or partial mash will get the time down enough. The problem is it seems like the variety of beer that I could brew would be pretty limited. I could see being able to do pale ales both American and British but not sure what else beyond that. I think the wheat extracts are half wheat and half pils so I could maybe do a hefeweizen with that. I know Coopers makes a stout extract that's hopped but don't know how good it is. Are there things that I can add to take the place of crystal/caramel malt? What about roasted barley? Oh, and if it's not even close to as good as I make with all-grain then I'm not really interested. I've heard of some half baked recipes but I feel like that's just a waste of time really.

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Old 01-20-2010, 08:36 PM   #2
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You can do partial boil extract with steeping grains fairly fast if you use two pots. I put about 1 gallon/lb of water and steep my grains in a smaller pot. While that is going for the 30 minutes or so I have the remainder of the water (3-4 gallons) heating to a boil in my brew pot. If it boils before steeping is completed I'll use that time to add the malt (and then heat to reboil). When the steeping grains are done, I drain them and dump that water in the brewpot with the rest. Drastically cuts down on the amount of time you are waiting for stuff to boil.

I've gotten mine down to 4 hrs from start to end of cleanup doing 2 separate 5-gallon batches at once. I imagine I would have it down to just about 3 hours if I only did one batch at a time.

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Old 01-20-2010, 08:54 PM   #3
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Ok. That makes sense. I haven't steeped grains since I first started brewing. Do you just throw the bag away? I remember my buddy telling me I could wash it and reuse it but it was a huge pain getting all the grain off of the mesh bag. What about hop utilization? I'm sure there's a thread on that somewhere. If you want to get high utilization by boiling your hops in plain water while steeping, how do you calculate the utilization?

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Old 01-20-2010, 09:02 PM   #4
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I am a simpleton. I just use premade kits. I don't know too much about hop utilization and such.

I don't add any hops until I have everything together in one pot. Pretty much its just cutting down the time you are waiting for a boil.

Normally you would:
1. Heat 3-4 gallons to 155.
2. Steep for 30 minutes
3. Remove grains
4. Wait for all to boil
5. Add malt, wait to boil
6. Start with hop additions and boil according to recipe.

I pretty much doing steps 4/5 during 1 and 2. Eliminating about an hour.

My kits come with the muslin grain bags which aren't reuseable. If you have a reuseable mesh bag the best way to clean it out is to flip it inside out and swish it around in your pot when it is filled with oxyclean to get clean. Gets out most of the particles.

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Old 01-20-2010, 09:03 PM   #5
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Steeping could be as quick and easy as putting the bag in the cold water and turning on the burner to start the boil. When the water hits 170F on the way to the boil remove the bag. That's enough to get what you need from the steeping grains. The way I steep the grain takes another 20 min but I'm not certain it's any more effective in extracting the flavors.

I toss the bags. I use the cheap muslin type bags.

Hop utilization will be effected by the gravity of the boil. I'd recommend using a program like beersmith to help figure you utilization.

I brew strictly extract and my brew day is about 3-4 hours including cleanup. Having 3 kids and several other hobbies keeps me from doing AG.

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Old 01-20-2010, 09:08 PM   #6
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+1 on using steeping grains with extract as an alternative. I don't do it as often anymore but, I still love the simplicity and time saved.

I also save my mesh bags. Yes it can be a pain, but my solution has been to dump the grains after use, and hanging the bag outside on my chain link fence. Once it drys out, it is real easy to shake out the remaining grain particles. I rinse it out and dry it and save it for the next brew day.

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Old 01-20-2010, 09:08 PM   #7
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I did small boils and Late Additions for years, actually still do some.

According to Papazian's TCJOHB, the trick to Hop Utilization is keeping the boil water to malt ratio at 1:1 which will result in a gravity of 1.040 (1.045 according to BYO). Meaning, if you boil 3 gals of water then use 3 lbs of DME (in this case). Add your hops as usual.

I boil for 30 mins then add the Irish Moss. Boil another 15 mins, remove the pot from the flame then add the remaining malt, dissolve and steep for the last 15 mins (NOT stopping the timer). All too simple.

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Old 01-20-2010, 09:19 PM   #8
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Put the kids to work?

Seriously, my kids do help when I make beer, they learn something new every time and we get to hang out too. Mine are 8 and 10 though.

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Old 01-20-2010, 09:32 PM   #9
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I like the idea of steeping while getting the main amount of water to a boil. That would be a time saver!

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Old 01-20-2010, 09:38 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tonkota View Post
Put the kids to work?

Seriously, my kids do help when I make beer, they learn something new every time and we get to hang out too. Mine are 8 and 10 though.
Yeah my kids are 1, 2, and 6. The 6 year old always wants to help but isn't much help. The 1 and 2 year old just try to make a mess and get in the way and have to keep them away from the burner. So it ends up that the wife has to keep them out of my hair which is asking a lot of her when my all-grain brew day is 6 hours.
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