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Old 03-23-2013, 04:04 PM   #1
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Default Novice extract brewer

Am a beginner, have my 4th extract in fermenter new. 1st two have been great, 2nd was an Irish Stout with just right amount of bitterness. 3rd is conditioning now. Next month wanted to try a special Christmas beer that s supposed to have ABV of 11%, 6-8 months bottle conditioning. Would there be a big advantage to try a partial mash brew?

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Old 03-23-2013, 04:10 PM   #2
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That sounds like a personal question with debate to follow. Personally, I wouldn't bother.. but in your case it's a great learning experience.

That's a huge beer for your 5th batch. Make sure to pitch enough yeast (at least 3 smack packs, or a large starter) and aerate the hell out of it!

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Old 03-24-2013, 03:25 AM   #3
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Go for it. If you first brews turned out well, PM is a solid next step.

IMO, learning to ferm well (starter, oxygenating, temp control) is the key to good brewing. With a huge beer, you'll need to master these techniques. A big starter and O2 stone injection is a virtual must. Keeping temp at the end of ferm to the high end of the yeast temp range will get you to achieve FG.

If you can make a great big beer, you can do almost anything.
Give a man a beer, waste an hour. Teach a man to brew, and waste a lifetime! Bill Owen quote

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Old 03-24-2013, 04:43 AM   #4
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Would there be a big advantage? No.

I concur with the above: it's totally up to you. Technically speaking, it's unlikely to make your beer better or worse. It may save you a few $ on extract, but it does add some complexity on brew day. The first couple are especially bad because it takes a bit of experience to figure out how to hit your temperatures.

A big beer is probably the least sensible place to start the transition. Assuming you're doing PM because you don't have the equipment to do a full mash or boil, you're going to wind up with the majority of your fermentables coming from extract anyway. Unless you want to do something that requires conversion, you might as well stick to a steep.

But I do mostly PM, usually trying to minimize the amount of extract. I enjoy the extra challenge and it's fun to play with a wider range/larger number of ingredients. If I were you, though, I'd stick with extract+steeped grains for the big beer and do a less ambitious beer as your first PM. One tip in any case: have enough extract on hand to correct for a much lower than expected mash efficiency. I attempted to do an all-grain batch a couple weeks ago and wound up lower than expected---I was glad I'd initially ordered the ingredients to do the beer as a PM so that I had an extra pound of DME on hand.
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