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Old 12-03-2012, 07:20 PM   #31
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Ok so I did a search on all grain vs malt extract brewing and I found this thread. Read through it and found it very interesting. Got a few questions.

My very first brew was with a 1-gallon BBS kit; their Everyday IPA. Apparently that's AG. Did the mash, sparge, boil and everything. Had a lot of fun doing it. Bottled a few days ago and will find out how it worked out in a couple weeks.

Question 1) My second brew was with a 5-gallon Brewer's Best kit that my father-in-law-to-be gave me because he got it for Christmas like 5 years ago and never used it. I ditched the perishables and got a new kit from the LHBS. The kit had liquid pale malt extract and specialty grains which I had to put in a muslin bag and steep for a while before I started the boil, at which point I put in the LME. I'm wondering if this is a partial mash, or if I basically just did a malt extract brew?

I like the idea of all-grain and having more flexibility as is pointed out. I'm probably going to brew 5-gallon batches more often (probably 2 of every 3 brews as I still plan to use my 1-gal fermenter for experimenting with recipes). This leads me to my next set of questions.

Questions #2) What are we talking about exactly, in terms of additional equipment? I have a 5 gallon stock pot and a couple smaller ones. Of course I am going to need a larger stock pot for those 5 gallon (or even 6.25 gal) batches, but I think I'd need a mash tun, which to my understanding is basically a large beverage cooler like they have at sports events with a false bottom mesh. So I basically pour the completed mash into that and get the wort? Any other equipment I need on top of these 2? What exactly is the stand that people have mentioned?

Sorry for all the questions. Thanks in advance for reading and answering.



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Old 12-03-2012, 07:26 PM   #32
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What you did with the BB kit was extract with steeping grains. Mashing is a bit different,as you noticed with the 1G kit. I did a partial mash,partial boil in my 5G kettle with biab. Worked out great. Just used a 3G kettle to heat the sparge water.


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Old 12-04-2012, 04:11 AM   #33
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Thanks! So what exactly is a partial mash then?

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Old 12-04-2012, 02:08 PM   #34
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Partial mash is when you do a mash. A mash is like steeping, with three differences:

First, it involves unconverted grains --- base malts like 2-row, Vienna, Munich malt, etc. In a steep, you're using only pre-converted malts like crystal/caramel malts or darker malts like roast barley where you're mostly extracting colors and flavors, not sugars. The mash is intended to convert starches into sugars.

Second, the temperature is controlled to a greater degree. Ideally, you'd pick a temperature between about 145 and 160 (usually 150-156). This will determine what types of sugars are produced. Low temperatures produce short sugars that are easily fermentable, leading to higher attenuation, while high temperatures favor larger dextrinous sugars that are less fermentable. In a steep, the temperature doesn't really matter (with some caveats).

Finally, a mash is generally longer. An hour is the most common mash, whereas 10-30 minutes is typical for steeping.

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Old 12-04-2012, 02:19 PM   #35
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Thanks! So what exactly is a partial mash then?
If conversion (starches to sugars) takes place it's mashing. End of story!

Partial mash is when part of the sugars come from a mash and part come from extract.

You can steep any grain for color and flavor. Some are better than others.
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Old 12-04-2012, 02:45 PM   #36
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If you don't have someone experienced to help you through the first couple times, I strongly recommend starting with extract. Not everyone will agree, but it's the route I took, and it worked very well.

Here's how I did it (first brew was last January). First, during the couple months before I got my equipment, I read Papazian's book and read as many online resources as I could. I tried to get an idea of what the process was like, etc. It's hard to get a complete picture that way, but you can get some idea. The hardest part, really, was putting together a coherent plan---there are enough variations that you can get a little mixed up taking steps from different sources and trying to stick them together. Just be prepared to be flexible on your first time through, you will inevitably develop your own procedures.

For the first one, I went with all extract and steeping grains. I followed Papazian's process for the most part, and didn't worry too much about exact temperatures or volumes. I steeped by throwing the grains in the brew kettle while I brought it up toward boiling and fished them out around 160°. I started with a simple bitter recipe and kept it as close to RDWHA(Commercial)B as I could.

Wait until you have a full day to spend on this and start on the early side---you do not want to rush while you're still learning the basics of sanitation, etc. That way, for example, if you think you may have contaminated something, you won't feel too rushed to stop, step back, resanitize, and continue.

The next time around was a batch of mead, which is different enough I won't go into it here. It was useful, though, because it didn't involve the complications of a boil and let me focus on sanitation and other parts of the process.

Then I did a second extract+steeping grains batch. On this one, though, I set a specific target for the steeping temperature and tried to hit it. I kept notes on how I did, etc. Since it was just steeping, there was basically no penalty for missing by even a large factor, but it was practice for doing a mash. From my notes on the first batch, I cleaned up some parts of the procedure that had gone slowly.

From there, I jumped into BIAB partial mashing. It was only a small step from the steeping since I'd already tried controlling the temperatures, and the impact of low efficiency was limited because of all the extract. It also didn't require any extra equipment (except a grain bag, I guess). On this one, I also used liquid yeast with a starter and then harvested it at the end and reused it for my next batch.

After this, I've stuck with PM because I don't have the space or budget to expand for now. I probably will eventually, but there's no rush. Anyway, I think this worked really well for me. I was learning on my own from books and teh Intert00bs, so gradually working in more complexity was, I think, key to starting with a string of successful batches. I think extract is a fantastic way to learn the processes while minimizing the risks of a discouraging abject failure. Your first batch isn't going to be stellar anyway, but it's nice to keep it drinkable!
Well said zeg. I too started out with extract brewing mainly because it was more of a time saving issue for me as well as lower start-up costs for equipment. I was very pleased with the results overall that I was getting doing extract kits and I did about 15 batches. I was actually kind of skeptical about how much better AG brews could be compared to my extract brews I had been making because my extract brews were turning out so good.

Then I started reading up on BIAB brewing. The more I read about BIAB, the more intrigued I became until I finally broke down and decided to give it a try. The only additional equipment I needed to by was a large bag to fit in my kettle. I know most people use at least a 10 gal. kettle but I read enough to know that BIAB's can be done with 7.5 gal. kettles (what I have) with a sparge (either in a smaller kettle or a rinse of the grains in the bag). After tasting the results of my BIAB's I now know that there is indeed a big difference in taste and quality of AG brews compared to extract brews! Really, while the savings on ingredients is nice, it really isn't why I prefer BIAB over extract brewing. It is the quality of the brews! My brewday might take about an hour longer due to the mash and sparge, but all in all, it's worth it!
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Old 12-04-2012, 02:48 PM   #37
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My brewday might take about an hour longer due to the mash and sparge, but all in all, it's worth it!
Same here. It does add an hour (maybe an hour and a half for me), but most of that time is idle. It just means that I have to be around the house for that extra hour, but not even near the kitchen.
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Old 12-05-2012, 01:15 AM   #38
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This what I want to try, sort of like this video. Looks like the only thing I'll need is an Igloo cooler and a bag?

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Old 12-05-2012, 03:30 AM   #39
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Cool thanks. I upgraded from the 3g pot on loan from my future mother in law to a 7.5g SS pot. I'll have to check out the BIAB method because I'm not going to be able to afford a mash tun anytime soon.

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Old 12-05-2012, 05:28 AM   #40
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I just enjoy all grain more because I learn about the grains and what they do which makes putting together a recipe more fun for me. No doubt you can brew great beers from extracts and some grains can be steeped which is a pretty easy addition to extract kits.
If you brew a lot, the extra equipment for all grain pays for itself in lower cost.



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