Easy Partial Mash Brewing (with pics)
EDIT: Modifications will be made to these pages over time. If you find anything confusing or would like clarification, please post your questions here. I'll be searching through the thread periodically to include all the information from answered questions within the tutorial itself.
Due to my bad back, the limits of brewing inside a carpeted apartment, and time constraints i have working tons of overtime at my job, i've often tried to find a quick, cheap and easy method of brewing.
Brewing with extract limits the type of beers you can make and the character you can get in certain beers. Some of my favorite grains, including vienna, rye, maize, oats etc. need to be mashed to get the right character out of them. I want to use them quickly with a minimum amount of equipment to clean.
The method i found works best in my situation involves a few pieces of equipment I already had, it uses a short amount of time, and I can brew any type of beer i want. I use this method to do 5 gallon partial mashes and 2.5 gallon all grains several times a week.
i thought i would post this to help some of the newer people easily do partial mashes, as i know passing the extract barrier can often be difficult.
I use the following equipment for the brewing process:
2 - 5 gallon stockpots (different sizes will work, this is just what i use)
1 - Lid (to cover one of the stockpots)
1 - Floating Thermometer
1 - Stirring Rod (you can use anything from a wooden spoon to a mash paddle)
1 - 24" x 24" Hop/Grain Bag
In this thread, i will explain how i made a 5 gallon batch using pictures from the brew night. This batch took less than three hours.
Place the bag inside your stockpot, folded around the sides, and fill with the desired amount of strike water (i use 2 gallons of water for 5-6 lbs of grain.) Place the thermometer in the pot and heat the water to the desired strike temp. i experience a loss of about 12°F when i add my grains with this equipment, so i shoot for 162°F water which will drop to 150°F mash temp when I add the grain.
EDIT: Using 162°F water is no guarantee you will get the right temp. It depends what the temperature of your grain is, how much water you use and your equipment. I would suggest using the Green Bay Rackers Mash Calculator and then finding out what works on your system.
Also, the binder clips are not necessary...the bag holds itself in the pot quite nicely, as long as you have the right size. JUST MAKE SURE YOU DON'T BURN IT
I always have all my ingredients ready to go to make everything nice and smooth:
Once you reach your desired temp remove the pot from heat, remove the thermometer and add your grains, while stirring. Stir well for a bit and again place the thermometer inside the stockpot and cover it. Let it sit a few minutes before checking.
At this time you could adjust temperature if you need to, adding a little heat or perhaps even a small amount of water if necessary. Messing with it, however, especially with an electric stove, can be finicky. The best way to cool it down or heat it up is to add a small amount of cold water or pre-boiled water.
As long as my mash is within 146-154°F, i cover it and leave it be.
It's also good to be comfortable during your brew days. i've had this shirt for 14 years =)
During the time that your are mashing, heat up an additional 2 gallons of water in the second pot to no higher than 175°F for the sparge. I usually heat it to only 160°F so I get some conversion during the sparge. Move the thermometer to this pot to help determine your temp.
EDIT: If you experience a bit of heat loss during your mash (and care about that type of thing) then there are a few ways to correct it. I never recommend heating the pot, as it will likely get too hot and the heat won't be evenly distributed. Some people have had good luck with pre-heating the oven to the right temperature and putting it in there. My recommended method is to wrap in a blanket or otherwise insulate to conserve heat.
When I did this regularly, I usually experienced that my mash temp would drop down to 140°F. I didn't worry about it and the beers turned out fine.
After about 30 minutes (or once you have conversion), pull up the bag of grains and let as much drain back into the pot as you can stand. This is a good workout with enough grain. A colander can help.
CONVERSION TEST: Is the taste of the wort sweet or starchy? If it tastes nice and sweet, you're probably good to go. You can also do a search for "iodine conversion test" but 30-45 minutes should be enough time to get decent conversion.
Step 4.5 (EDIT)
Once your arm is tired, remove the bag from your mashing pot and "tea-bag" in the sparge water. Make sure it mixes well, and let it sit for 10 minutes (advice given to me in this thread: if you leave it in the sparge water longer, you will get better conversion...just make sure your sparge water isn't too hot if you want to get more conversion...if it's too hot [think 168°F or above] you risk extracting tannins.)
After your sparge is complete, raise up the bag and let that drip again, so that you can get all the wort possible from the grains.
EDIT: Another method that is often used is a "pour-over" sparge. You put the grain in a colander or strainer and pour the sparge water over the top of the grain and into the first pot. I have used this method in conjuction with the "tea-bag" method...pouring over about a half-gallon and then submerging in the remaining amount...and it also seems to work well. In any case, this method is not intended to get very high efficiency; usually I get around 60%.
Dispose of your grains and spray all the grains out of your bag. Hang it to dry for a bit...you'll be using it again soon.
Step 5.5 (EDIT)
Pour the wort from your original mash into the pot with the sparge water (now wort as well) or vice-versa. Try to minimize splashing, but don't worry about it. Put your heat to high and proceed to Step 6.
As the water heats up, i add my extract. Some people wait until it boils, then remove from heat and add, but i find my method makes it quicker with no undesirable effects...just be sure to stir well. I add all my extract at the beginning of the boil.
Start your boil as usual! I reuse the grain bag for the hops...less to clean overall and it keeps me cleaning as i go. I'll clean the rest of the pots at this point too...i need the sink free. I use the binder clips again (be sure if you have a gas burner that you keep that nylon bag from going over the side and setting on fire.)
I use a partial boil, and adjust my hops accordingly, shooting for the middle or top of the style.
Cooling...i use a water bath in the apartment. i change the water out 3 times over about a half-hour period...the last time i will add ice to speed it up.
Sanitization...I use iodophor or star-san. I sanitize anything that could possibly touch the yeast or the wort, in this case my two 2.5 gallon carboys, my airlocks, my sampler, my funnel and i even throw the yeast packets in there.
NOTE: This solution is a little heavy...your iodine water does not need to be this dark. Use the manufacturer's recommended dosage.
Ferment...i split this 5 gallon batch into two 3 gallon fermenters and topped off with bottled water. Be sure the top-off water is sanitary...either boil and cool some h20 or use bottled water, if you'd like.
With this beer, I used two different yeasts (nottingham and windsor) and eventually blended them back together into one keg.
As for target gravity, i usually shoot for the middle of the style at 65% efficiency. i've experienced as low as 55%, but it's usually in the 65-70 range. as this is meant to be an enjoyable brew day, i don't take a sample until the beer is finished, poured and topped off.
NOTE: In an experiment with the 10 minute sparge, my efficiency rose to a steady 70% efficiency for 4 batches.
I hope this helps inspire some people to make the jump to partial mashing from extract! All you really need is the bag in addition to some regular equipment to see how easy it is. Once i started doing this, there was no turning back. I regularly make partial mash and all-grain batches nearly 3 times a week now.
Let me know if you have any questions on this process or if you need any easy partial mash recipes. Some of my favorites are Hefeweizens, Dunkelweizens and Cream Ales, as well as the Irish Rye Stout in my drop down.
Take care and keep brewing!
Right on, good process, but cut that damn hair you hippy. You look like me when I was 16 ;-)
hmm i will def try this out at some point after i do 3 or 4 more extract brews... Thanks for the post!
Nice write up and the pictures are great. This should be helpful to a lot of folks.
I might still have long hair if it would still grow.:)
Thank you so much, planning to do my first PM and this was really really helpful.
Very good - however.
Why so slow on the cold break. Why not add the ice right off the bat. I can get from 212 to 110 in 15 minutes with ice water - then delute with 35 degree water to get to 65 degrees.
Well done - where was this when I was looking into Mini Mashing my 1st time.
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