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Old 06-28-2011, 08:01 PM   #1
grace1760
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Default Mini-mash beginner questions

I'm interested in making the switch from all extract to partial mash. I've read Deathbrewer's sticky several times. My questions are:

1) The pic below shows my two brew pots. One is a 40-qt. SS kettle, and the other is an 8-qt. SS pot. Can I do this with the equipment I have? If I wanted to mash 5-6 lbs. of grain, that would require about 2 gallons of strike water, right? So, it seems to me I would have to mash in the big kettle and use the little one to heat the sparge water? Since two gallons of water would fill my smaller pot completely, I would not be able to steep or tea bag the grains in the sparge water, I would have to rely on sparging only, which I assume would decrease my efficiency somewhat?

2) 2 gallons of water in my 10-gallon kettle only fills it up a few inches. If I added 5-6 lbs. of grain to it, would that even be enough to cover the grains and keep them wet?

3) I'm concerned about maintaining mash temp. the pot is probably too big to stick in my oven, and over the course of 45-60 minutes, I would think I'd experience significant heat loss due to the surface area/headspace.

Do I just bite the bullet and buy another (bigger, cheaper) pot? Like a 4-gallon one?


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Old 06-28-2011, 08:06 PM   #2
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I think you're going to need a bigger pot than the 8 qt (Especially if you want to use DeathBrewer's sparge technique).

I wouldn't be too concerned with Mash temps since you'll be able to add heat if necessary.

For #2, that's probably not enough liquid to accomplish what you're trying to do.

I would work on larger batches and make sure you have another pot (at least 20-24 qt) to replace the 8 qt.


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Old 06-28-2011, 08:14 PM   #3
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You could also do your mash in a 6 gallon bucket. Just heat up your strike water to about 180 and pour it into your bucket and then stir the water and let it fall to your strike temp. This will pre-heat your bucket. Dump your grain in the bucket (lined with a large grain bag) and stir well. I have a comforter that I wrap all around my bucket and have done this with as little as a 2 degree temperature drop. This would allow you to heat your sparge water and "tea bag" in your large kettle.
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Old 06-28-2011, 08:15 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Haputanlas View Post
I wouldn't be too concerned with Mash temps since you'll be able to add heat if necessary.
You mean via pre-heated water...like just pour in a few cups of hot (190*)water to raise the temp?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Haputanlas View Post
For #2, that's probably not enough liquid to accomplish what you're trying to do.
I'm not sure I follow you here. Should I be mashing 5-6 lbs. of grain in more than 2 gallons of water?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Haputanlas View Post
I would work on larger batches and make sure you have another pot (at least 20-24 qt) to replace the 8 qt.
I'm planning on doing 5 gallon batches.
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Old 06-28-2011, 08:24 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BryceL View Post
You could also do your mash in a 6 gallon bucket. Just heat up your strike water to about 180 and pour it into your bucket and then stir the water and let it fall to your strike temp. This will pre-heat your bucket. Dump your grain in the bucket (lined with a large grain bag) and stir well. I have a comforter that I wrap all around my bucket and have done this with as little as a 2 degree temperature drop. This would allow you to heat your sparge water and "tea bag" in your large kettle.
I use food grade buckets to mash and sparge as well. My lauter tun is a standard food grade bucket with lots of holes drilled in the bottom. This fits inside a bucket with spigot and creates a false bottom. I have been using this for a couple of years now and really like it. Easy to clean and cheap. You do have to insulate it somehow with blankets or beach towels but it will hold temp and it really works quite well. Papazian calls this the Zapap.
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Old 06-28-2011, 08:32 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BryceL View Post
You could also do your mash in a 6 gallon bucket. Just heat up your strike water to about 180 and pour it into your bucket and then stir the water and let it fall to your strike temp. This will pre-heat your bucket. Dump your grain in the bucket (lined with a large grain bag) and stir well. I have a comforter that I wrap all around my bucket and have done this with as little as a 2 degree temperature drop. This would allow you to heat your sparge water and "tea bag" in your large kettle.
Quote:
Originally Posted by JonK331 View Post
I use food grade buckets to mash and sparge as well. My lauter tun is a standard food grade bucket with lots of holes drilled in the bottom. This fits inside a bucket with spigot and creates a false bottom. I have been using this for a couple of years now and really like it. Easy to clean and cheap. You do have to insulate it somehow with blankets or beach towels but it will hold temp and it really works quite well. Papazian calls this the Zapap.

I like these ideas. The drilled bucket is so that you don't have to use a bag? You just open the spigot after the mash is finished and drain into your brew kettle? If I took BryceL's method, I probably wouldn't want to use my fermentation bucket in case it got scratched in the process.
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Old 06-28-2011, 08:57 PM   #7
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I'm in the same boat. I have a 5 gallon pot and a 2 gallon pot, and plan on doing partial mashes and 3 gallon AG. My plan at the moment is somewhat comical, but should hopefully work.

I'm going to mash using the BIAB method in the 5 gallon pot (and mash out if need be). Then I'll hold the bag up to drain as best as I could. I will then pour that part of the wort into my primary bucket to hold.

I will then put the bag of grain back into the now empty 5 gallon pot, and pour in the sparge water that was heated in my 2 gallon pot (and a third small pot if i need extra). I will do the sparge, and drain as I did with the mash.

Then I'll simply pour the wort from my bucket back into the big pot with the sparge, and continue as per usual.

Yeah, it's a few extra steps, but it will keep me from having to buy any extra equipment for now. Might work for you?
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Old 06-28-2011, 09:05 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by onipar View Post
I will then put the bag of grain back into the now empty 5 gallon pot, and pour in the sparge water that was heated in my 2 gallon pot (and a third small pot if i need extra). I will do the sparge, and drain as I did with the mash.
Yes, that could work. When you do the sparge, will you pour the water over the grains into the 5 gallon pot, and then tea bag in the sparge water/wort?

I'm trying to think through the specific steps before I attempt this...
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Old 06-28-2011, 09:11 PM   #9
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A tip for holding the bag up to drain- I'm a decent size (6'1", 245lbs) but holding a heavy bag of soaked grain nearly at eye level can get even hard for the strongest person. Recently by mistake, I realized that if you wrap the extra part of your bag around your mixing stick and lay it across the top of your pot, you can avoid having to do this (imagine a winch). I have one of those plastic stirring paddles which is about 3 feet long so luckily when I wind the bag around it my hand is not over the hot pot.
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Old 06-28-2011, 09:49 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grace1760 View Post
I like these ideas. The drilled bucket is so that you don't have to use a bag? You just open the spigot after the mash is finished and drain into your brew kettle? If I took BryceL's method, I probably wouldn't want to use my fermentation bucket in case it got scratched in the process.
You will still want to use the grain bag. I believe that the holes just create a false bottom so that when you sparge you get an even flow through your grain bed which will increase your efficiency. The holes will still allow grains to pass through, hence the need for the bag. Also, good idea to keep a separate bucket for your fermentation vessel.


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