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Old 05-21-2008, 10:16 PM   #1
Jan 2008
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So I am thinking about starting all grain brewing, but I think a good way to segway in would be to do small mashes. I usually use steeping grains and thats great in all, but I would like to use more base malts in my brewing. I have a 4 gal brew pot so i do not thik it will be to hard to do a partial or mini mash type thing. Anyone have any sugesstions on what I need to do this. I wa splanning on a small 2 Gal cooler to make into a mash tun. i was thinking of doing one stage mashing not the three tier thing. I am new to the idea of mashing so any advice and help to point me in the right direction would help Thanks.!!!!!!!

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Old 05-21-2008, 10:43 PM   #2
I am Wally
Warped04's Avatar
Jul 2007
San Diego, CA
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I'm not an expert, so take what I say with a grain of salt, and it may get corrected. What you are talking about is called partial mashing, or mini mashing. You are also talking about "batch sparging."

I remember reading about countertop AG in byo, but I don't remember how big the cooler they used was, but a 2 gallon cooler sounds pretty small (ie you won't be able to fit much grain in there), but I'm unfamilar with doing it.

Too learn about mashing check out or pick up "Brewing for Dummies." It will get you started on the basics of mashing.

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Old 05-22-2008, 01:52 AM   #3
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Sep 2007
Dexter, MI, Michigan
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If you're really interested in AG, I suggest just making the leap and go full scale. You'll probably like it, and it's always better to buy once than buy twice.

If cost is an option, look for used equipment (somebody near you may be looking to
upgrade to bigger/better equipment; or check craig's list). Maybe put a post in the classifieds forum with your wish list.

If you buy new:
For $40-50 you can get a turkey fryer with a 30-qt kettle (it's good enough for AG - it's what I currently use);

Next you could find a 5-gallon round cooler for $25 or so (or better yet spend $40 for a 10 gallon round or rectangular cooler). Throw in another $15 or so for hardware.

Lastly - an immersion chiller ($50 or so, unless you can find a used one).

The rest of the stuff you probably already have (same as extract/PM).

With this set-up you'll be off and running. Add a $100 barley crusher for Christmas and you'll be really set.

Let us know when you've done your first AG. I bet it will be someday soon.

Good luck with your brewing.


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Old 05-22-2008, 02:01 AM   #4
Mar 2006
Stevens Point, WI
Posts: 150
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I agree with BrianP, just jump right in. I made the switch about 9 months ago. already had gotten the equipment to do full boil extract recipes, and can recall thinking that I could not fathom going to spend the time to go AG. I had recieved as a wedding present a 5 gallon rubbermaid cooler. I returned that for a 48 quart rectangular cooler (about $17 if paid). I went down to lowes and built the bulkhead fitting and manifold for another $10-15. From there I just jumped right in. Basically, if you convert a 2 gallon cooler, it will probably cost the same as building the full equipment. Realize it will take you a few batches to get the hang of it, but once you do and you get a good recipe, the results are amazing.

Good luck!!!

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Old 05-22-2008, 03:36 AM   #5
Aug 2006
Madison, Wisconsin
Posts: 343
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You'll probably also notice a bigger difference if you do an all grain batch versus a mini-mash. It's also more rewarding to say that there's basically no malt extract in a beer (except from the starter). So a combination of improved quality and a better brew day is probably why most of us do AG brewing.

I had absolute crap for efficiency in my first batch so my only recommendation is to do a full-scale AG mash procedure, but keep some DME in the wings in case you need it. That way you can add some to get to the gravity you want.

That said, my first all grain batch was pretty bad but that's because I tried to take all sorts of shortcuts by not having a proper mash tun.

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Old 05-22-2008, 04:37 AM   #6
Apr 2007
Vancouver, B.C.
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Partial mash is a fine introduction to AG. You will probably want to move to AG pretty soon afterwards as the amount of time to do a PM is nearly the same as an AG.

This is a fairly good intro to PM

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Old 05-22-2008, 05:38 AM   #7
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Feb 2008
Chico, CA
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I did exactly one partial mash before I went all grain. Let me just say, it was a waste...not really all grain, not really steeping grains. The beer came out great, but it in no way modeled my current all grain system, which is pretty low tech. I batch sparge in a 5g igloo cooler with a stainless steel braid filter. I'm glad I just jumped in, I learned a lot that first brew...and more my second. Go for it!

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Old 05-22-2008, 10:07 AM   #8
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Apr 2008
Auburn, GA
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I have to agree with going all in with AG equipment. I can understand wanting to be sure you will like it before going all the way, but once you decide that AG is for you(almost guaranteed) you will still have to buy the set-up. I would save some more money instead of buying the smaller cooler, etc. Thats what I did: I decided to bypass PM altogether and did my first AG about 6 weeks ago. Just started drinking my APA this week and I am VERY happy with the results.
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Old 05-22-2008, 11:31 AM   #9
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Sep 2007
Apex, NC
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Originally Posted by kenche View Post
Partial mash is a fine introduction to AG. You will probably want to move to AG pretty soon afterwards as the amount of time to do a PM is nearly the same as an AG.

This is a fairly good intro to PM
I'll second this suggestion -- the BYO Countertop Partial Mash article is a good introduction.

I understand your hesitation about jumping into all grain brewing head first. I shared it. The investment in equipment is significant, and the time & complexity are certainly greater than for an extract or extract+steeped grains brew. A partial mash brew day or two is a good, low-cost way to see if that style of brewing is for you.

I brew all grain now, but I also enjoy the process as much as I enjoy the beer. My partial mash beers were every bit as good as my all grain beers are and the brew day was a couple of hours shorter. Sometimes there's a lot of appeal in that.

Chad Ward
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Old 05-22-2008, 12:26 PM   #10
Flyin' Lion
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Jan 2005
Chester, VA
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+1 on Partial Mashes. I did a few PM's before going all grain and I think it's perfectly acceptable to do partial mashes first in order to get the concept down and also have the ability to 'correct' mistakes with DME.

The cost of PM's is negligible with a 2 gallon cooler and a filter bag for the grains. Once you've perfected hitting your temps, you'll be ready to go all grain.

Read up, preparation is the key to success.
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