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1st partial mash

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Machiavelli

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Thanks to these forums, I've been inspired to try my first partial mash. I went with a Trappis trippel. I liked the looks of the ABV. :mug:

I had a couple of questions though.

Here's the recipe:
1/2 Cara-pils
2 1/2 Blegian Pale
1 clear candi sugar
6 extra pale extract
2 munich extract
Hops:
bittering 2oz Tradition
flavoring 1/2 Golding
aoma 1/2 Golding

They recommend pitching two packages of yeast. I guess because of high gravity? I have two packs of Wyeast 3787 Trappist (smack pack). I've only ever used dry yeast and have never made a starter. Okay for me NOT to make a starter, since im pitching two? I didnt get any extra dry malt. Just activate them a day before I plan to brew?

My other question is on mashing. I never really understood the whole purpose to sparging. Everyone is so adimant about KEEPING the mash temp right at 155; yet the second its time to sparge, you chuck the grain in 170 water? Is it that big a deal if you mash temps arent meticulously regulated?

Also, I've read that the bigger the boil that you can manage, the better. I have 5 and 8 gallon pots. What quanity boils would you recommend? What about mashing in 3 gallons and then sparge in 2? Ive seen different opinions on sparging, but it seems most people get better efficiency if you soak in the sparge for 5-10 minutes, instead of just pouring over? So I could do this and then add my sparge water to the mash?

Then again, if I deviate from the kit instructiions, I may need to use diffent hops amounts? ...its all so confusing!

Sorry, thats a lot of qustions. Just lemme know if anything above strikes you as a really bad idea. :)

Thanks!
 

Dougan

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They recommend pitching two packages of yeast. I guess because of high gravity?
Yes.

I have two packs of Wyeast 3787 Trappist (smack pack). I've only ever used dry yeast and have never made a starter. Okay for me NOT to make a starter, since im pitching two?
Yes, because you have smack packs. They allow you to "wake up" the yeast as well as ensure that it is viable before brewing. If you didn't have the smack packs I would recommend making a starter with the yeast just to ensure that it isn't dormant and it's alive.

My other question is on mashing. I never really understood the whole purpose to sparging. Everyone is so adimant about KEEPING the mash temp right at 155; yet the second its time to sparge, you chuck the grain in 170 water? Is it that big a deal if you mash temps arent meticulously regulated?
This confused me when I started as well. The mash temp is what you want to have for about an hour (or more if specified). This allows time for the enzymes to do their thing in your grains. It is very important that this temperature is hit. You can still get a mash anywhere from about 150 to 158 degrees. Nearer to 150 is dryer than 158. With an all-grain this is important. With a partial mash, your extract will do a good job covering up a couple-degree discrepency. Just make sure to keep it in this range.

As far as sparging, the idea is to rinse the grain and pull out any extra sugars you left behind. The reason it is at 170 is because warmer waters will penetrate further and the rinse will be more effective. A lot of brewers here don't use hotter sparge water for various (well-founded) reasons. If you're OK with lower efficiency, not sparging at all will work fine. The bottom line is that the mash is the important part. It's where you get your fermentables converted, and also how you get 2/3 of your fermentables rinsed out of the grain. Sparging is about 1/3 of the fermentables and is a lot more foregiving temp-wise. It's like washing your hands. Works best with hot water, but you're still going to get almost as much mud off if you use any temperature.

Also, I've read that the bigger the boil that you can manage, the better. I have 5 and 8 gallon pots. What quanity boils would you recommend?
Biggest your equipment and stove can handle. At minimum, half of the total volume.

What about mashing in 3 gallons and then sparge in 2?
There's so many ways of sparging because everybody is concerned about getting the best efficiency. This is more critical in all-grain. Your extract will cover up differences in efficiency (as long as you do OK). I also figure you're doing a stovetop mash which will have lower efficiency... not going to cut you off at the knees but my point is that since it's inherently low anyway, don't stress over sparge techniques that will increase your efficiency by a couple %. I'd think stovetop mashing with 3 gallons and sparging with 2 is fine if you're stovetop mashing.

Ive seen different opinions on sparging, but it seems most people get better efficiency if you soak in the sparge for 5-10 minutes, instead of just pouring over? So I could do this and then add my sparge water to the mash?
Up to you. If you did this, and you are doing stovetop mashing, I would recommend you jiggle your grain bag quite a bit during this 5-10 minutes.
 
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Machiavelli

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Thanks....very informative.

Yes, I'll prrobaby be doing this one on the cooktop. I just got an 8 gallon pot, but I think its going to be used for outside....need to get a propane burner first.

Out of curiosity, how would "stovetop mashing," differ from "other" mashing? You mean, because Ill be using smaller amounts of grain and using a grain bag?
 

Dougan

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Yeah, when I think of 'stovetop mashing' I think of a style that uses a second pot as a mash and/or lauter tun on your stove with bagged grains. There's a sticky post about stovetop mashing in the all grain forum. It's generally what's used when you partial mash because you dont have to build a lauter tun. I did it a few times before I built my lauter tun and it got me some good beer.

Basically stovetop will get you something like 65% efficiency and the picnic cooler batch sparge will get you something like 80%. Both can definitely fluctuate. But my point is that the upgrade is something desirable, but stovetop will do, especially in a partial mash.
 

jmiracle

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If you want to it's really easy to mash small amounts of grain in a picnic cooler, I read this article Brew Your Own: The How-To Homebrew Beer Magazine - Countertop Partial Mashing - and was hooked! For a 10 dollar investment in a 2 gallon rubbermaid cooler you get an easy way of doing small partial mashes. One of the best parts too is its pretty easy to convert extract recipes into partial mash.
 

Dougan

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One of the best parts too is its pretty easy to convert extract recipes into partial mash.

This is very true. Although you can make some delicious extract brews, even subbing in some of your light DME for 2-row or something can make a world of difference in flavor profile and color. After enough extract brews, I found that they all kind of tasted the same, since I was using the same brand and product of extract each time. Mashing allows you to mash at different temperatures, or different grain proportions... even a simple partial mash can make your beer that much better.
 
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