PM vs extract/specialty grains - Home Brew Forums

Register Now!
Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > All Grain & Partial Mash Brewing > PM vs extract/specialty grains

Thread Tools
Old 11-17-2007, 09:03 PM   #1
Nov 2007
San Diego, CA
Posts: 262
Liked 1 Times on 1 Posts

As I understand it, the only real difference between these two is the type of grains that are used. PM uses grains that have their own enzymes and what not and will produce fermentables in the wort, so that one has to use less LME/DME. With specialty grains, your are basically extracting flavors/color/non-fermentables, but the bulk of the fermentable comes from the LME/DME. PLEASE correct me if I am wrong!

So if I want to do PM and only have a 5 gallon and 2 gallon pot available to me, how should I do it? My first recipe that I did involved steeping the grains in 3 gallons of water in a grain bag at around 155 F for 45 minutes, and then dunking the grain bag 7-10 times as a "fake" sparge, and then adding 6 lbs of LME to achieve that SG. Is this typically what most PM's do, or do they actually sparge, etc using larger equipment? I really want to get to the point where I can use the most amount of grains that my system can handle until I get the whole turkey fryer/ 10 gallon MLT set-up (hopefully by Xmas!). Thanks so much for any and all input!

Primary 1: SN Celebration Ale Clone
Primary 2: Empty
Kegged: BCB Haus Pale Ale
Bottled: Guinness Clone, Watermelon wheat, Westvleteren 12 Clone, Cottage House Saison, Cream of Three Crops, BM Helles Belles, Punk'toberfest, Santa Baby Holiday Ale, Kaiser Alt
Up next: BCB Rye IPA, Coconut porter, Bluebird bitter clone

Reply With Quote
Old 11-17-2007, 09:26 PM   #2
Soulive's Avatar
Mar 2007
The Middle of NJ
Posts: 4,278
Liked 25 Times on 25 Posts

You're confusing terminology here. Partial-mashing is a technique, whereas specialty grain is an ingredient. If you're using specialty grains, you can either mash OR steep them. Extract brewers usually only steep them which means no fermentables (no conversion). Partial mashers mash them and get everything possible out of them, including fermentables. The steeping method is not the same as partial mashing. My advice is to use as much real grain as you can and boil as much wort as you can...

Green Lane Brewing

Primary = Evan!'s Special Bitter
On Deck = EdWort's Porter / American Amber

EdWort's Haus Pale Ale Count

Reply With Quote
Old 11-17-2007, 09:33 PM   #3
david_42's Avatar
Oct 2005
Oak Grove, Oregon, USA
Posts: 25,595
Liked 153 Times on 144 Posts

What I would do is mash in the smaller pot. Limit your grains to 4 pounds & get a big grain bag, 'cause loose is good. The two keys for PM are temperature (150-156F) and having as much 2-row as specialty grains. While the mash is working heat about two gallons of water in the other kettle to 170F. When the mash is done, move the bag to the larger kettle and tea-bag it. Then pour the wort from the mash tun into the large kettle.

I batch sparge my PMs, but the above method will give good results.
Remember one unassailable statistic, as explained by the late, great George Carlin: "Just think of how stupid the average person is, and then realize half of them are even stupider!"

"I would like to die on Mars, just not on impact." Elon Musk

Reply With Quote
Old 11-17-2007, 11:06 PM   #4
RLinNH's Avatar
Feb 2006
Wrentham, MA
Posts: 1,014
Liked 28 Times on 13 Posts

PM'ing is also a great step if you ever want to get in AG. I have been Partial Mashing for about 3 years now, and I am soooo close to All Grains. I just need to kick myself in the butt to put my HLT and my Keggle together. I also have to build a bench for my Gravity fed system.

As far as PM's go, I currently have 7 lbs of Grains (5 lbs American 3 row, 1 lb. 20 L, and 1 lb. 40 L) in the oven right now. It'll be in their for 90 minutes in the lower 150 degree range. After that, I'll batch sparge, get my boil going, add 5 lbs. Light LME, and go from there with my hop additions. You learn a lot from Partial Mashing as far as All Grain Techniques go.
You Can Give A Man A Fish and Feed Him For a Day, or You Can Teach Him To Fly Fish And Spoil Him For Life

On Deck Hmmmmmmm
Primary Super Sessionable III
On TapAmerican Pale Ale

Reply With Quote
Old 11-20-2007, 10:44 AM   #5
Apr 2005
Posts: 344
Liked 1 Times on 1 Posts

Originally Posted by Soulive21
You're confusing terminology here. Partial-mashing is a technique, whereas specialty grain is an ingredient. If you're using specialty grains, you can either mash OR steep them. Extract brewers usually only steep them which means no fermentables (no conversion). Partial mashers mash them and get everything possible out of them, including fermentables. The steeping method is not the same as partial mashing. My advice is to use as much real grain as you can and boil as much wort as you can...

I was interested in your comment about speciality grains,
steeping vs partial mashing.
I have been brewing 15 years.
Today I walked into the Homebrew Headquarters to pick up my 55 Lbs of D.M.E. mentioning that last year my goal was 1,000 bottles of beer,
{on the wall so to speak}
all at the same place and at the same time.
I brewed 300 Lbs of D.M.E.
8 Lbs per 5 gallons of water
ie. 'Mien Acht Pfund Hammerbier'

I achived 517, 12 oz bottles all at the same place and at the same time, but brewed 2,000.
So I am getting volume production down,
{and that was all 12 oz bottles!}

This year I was asking about adding grain to my extract for flavor.
'Old Kelly' told about steeping, 150 degrees for 20-30 minutes and sparging
before adding the extract. I have done this steeping before but stopped when I learned there was no alcohol being produced.
My goal was to make alcohol which didn't taste bad.

I told Kelly that alcohol which did... taste bad,
was better than no alcohol at all,
but since quantity was the goal last year
and quality is the goal this year,
I bought speciality grains this time to 'steep' in my Hammerbier.

what about this P.M. thing?
I have not heard about it but was wondering:
1. If P.M. added as good of a taste as steeping.
2. What is involved in 'P.M. ing'
and as a precurser to my learning full grain
is it worth the little bit of alcohol it produces?
{My Hammerbier is 6 3/4% alcohol already.}

Also today, after 15 years of brewing, {my own buzz}
I learned L.M.E. and D.M.E. are both made from 'base grains'
and basically impart little flavor themselves
hence the addition of specialty grains.

I am learning stuff!
I walk around the store every time I go in there
wondering what all those bins of grain are for
assuming they are for whole grainers.
My Hammerbier is good but there isn't much taste.

1. Alcohol which doesn't taste bad, was the goal,
I achieved that.

2. Being able to produce 60 gallons a month,
6 months out of the year, {during cool weather}
was achieved last year.

3. Now, this year,
there is no place left to go but to quality.
better tasting brew being the goal
I am all excited and can't wait to crank up a batch of ale
with specility grains 'steeped' in.

But is 'PM' worth it?
and whats involved?

Thank you

J. Winters VonKnife

Reply With Quote
Old 11-20-2007, 03:22 PM   #6
Joker's Avatar
Nov 2007
Posts: 1,953
Liked 33 Times on 30 Posts

Most of this taken from John Palmer's "How To Brew"

Steeping differs from mashing in that there is no enzyme activity taking place to convert grain or adjunct starches to sugars. Steeping specialty grains is entirely a leaching and dissolution process of sugars into the wort. If grain with enzyme diastatic potential is steeped, that is mashing. See the following chapters for more detail on that process.

Specialty malts like caramel and roasted malts do not need to be mashed. These malts have undergone a special kilning process in which the starches are converted to sugars by heat right inside the hull. As a result, these malts contain more complex sugars, some of which do not ferment, leaving a pleasant caramel-like sweetness. Caramel malts are available in different lovibond ratings (color), each having a different degree of fermentability and characteristic sweetness. Roasted malts have had their sugars charred by roasting at high temperatures, giving them a deep red/brown or black color.

Mashing grains need to have the enzymes to break down the starch into sugar, steeping grains already have the sugar they just need the water to extract it from the grains.

Reply With Quote
Old 11-20-2007, 03:33 PM   #7
Ale's What Cures You!
Yooper's Avatar
Jun 2006
UP of Michigan, Winter Texan
Posts: 69,537
Liked 7913 Times on 5540 Posts

To me, there are two main reasons to PM instead of steeping grains:

1. Fresher more "malt" taste
2. Save money!

If you use say, 3 pounds of two-row and "steep" the same way you do specialty grains but at 150 degrees for 45 minutes, you can decrease the amount of DME you use!

Jack, in your 8 pound hammer for example- 8 pounds of DME in 5 gallons gives you an og of 1.070 and you know how much you pay for DME. (It would cost me around $24 just for the DME because I don't buy in bulk).

Same recipe, but use 6 pounds of DME and 3 pounds 2-row. It's about the same sg, so same amount of alcohol. But 2-row costs less than DME and makes it taste better! Even better, toss in some crystal malt (maybe a pound) in with the two-row and have an awesome malty beer that is a wee bit higher in ABV, tastes better, and costs less to make!

PM can be super easy- my first one was in a grain bag in my brewpot, just like with steeping grains. My second was in my bottling bucket. Or you can go bigger and use a cooler and mash even more grain. There are lots of options here!
Broken Leg Brewery
Giving beer a leg to stand on since 2006

Reply With Quote
Old 11-20-2007, 04:25 PM   #8
FatMonsters's Avatar
Apr 2007
Posts: 580

Best thing I did was move to PM. I did the extract and the extract + steeping for a couple of brews. The last four batches have been PM and as everyone as pretty much already stated - lower cost, more control, better final beer product and learning the techniques for me to jump to AG. I started PM'ing with 4 lbs of grains and now am up to 5.25 lbs. Go PM if you get the chance and you don't need too much more equipment, unless you want to...

Reply With Quote
Old 11-22-2007, 12:33 AM   #9
Apr 2005
Posts: 344
Liked 1 Times on 1 Posts


Each one of the former posts were so profoundly educational
interesting and exactly what I needed to know.
I am stunned.
It has taken days for me to even begin
to understand all this information.

Speciality grains are for taste.
Base grains {so aptly named} are for alcohol production.
L.M.E. & D.M.E are made from base grains.
{I thought my homebrew was kinda bland tasting.}

If base grains were steeped at 150-175 degrees,
for 30' -45' minutes... and this makes alcohol...
Is this whole graining?
Or at what point does steeping base grains end
and partial mashing of base grains begin?
For that matter where does 'partial mashing of base grains' end
and 'whole graining' begin?
Is it just the proportion of ingrediants?
If I take 14 Lbs of base grain,
and boil it at 150 175 for 30' - 45' minutes,
steep in some speciality grains,
does this equal whole graining?

'The Knife

Reply With Quote
Old 11-22-2007, 01:55 AM   #10
kappclark's Avatar
Sep 2006
Southern VT
Posts: 1,590
Liked 6 Times on 6 Posts

I have a book "North American Clone Brews", and all the recipes are PM, (although they do shou Extract and AG alternatives)

I took the PM "plunge" after building the 5 gal (should have been 10) gallon MLT.

The results showed a real improvement over extract, especially in smoothness..

The move to AG was easy (Thanks to EdWort! )

My advice, go build a MLT and go PM
Bill Clark
Windham, VT

Reply With Quote
Thread Tools

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
First recipe using specialty grains (extract) jjones17 Beginners Beer Brewing Forum 13 12-31-2009 02:53 AM
Specialty grains using malt extract HalloweenGod General Techniques 9 01-04-2009 05:38 PM
Specialty grains beerbuddy Extract Brewing 3 11-07-2007 02:43 PM
specialty grains God Emporer BillyBrew General Techniques 8 10-02-2006 11:33 PM
Extract + Specialty Grains vs. All-Grain brewing rcd Beginners Beer Brewing Forum 2 07-30-2006 07:24 PM

Forum Jump