How is all grain better than partial mashing?

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Brewer_Bob

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I currently am only doing extract brewing and while I know award winning beers can be made with extract I also fully understand that there is much more flexibility with all grain over extract with regards to the malt profile. That seems fairly indisputable.

My question is does the same hold true for partial mashing? Does all grain give you more flexibility than partial mashing or can you accomplish everything with partial mashing that you can with all grain? And if so, what are the advantages of all grain over partial mashing? Thanks.
 
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I currently am only doing extract brewing and while I know award winning beers can be made with extract I also fully understand that there is much more flexibility with all grain over extract with regards to the malt profile. That seems fairly indisputable.

My question is does the same hold true for partial mashing? Does all grain give you more flexibility than partial mashing or can you accomplish everything with partial mashing that you can with all grain? And if so, what are the advantages of all grain over partial mashing? Thanks.
You get some additional flexibility with mash temperatures, which affect dryness and mouthfeel, and you can do longer mash procedures like decoctions or step mashing which contribute to the final product as well. You really can't get those same effects at the same level from a partial mash.
 

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Partial Mashing to me is a love/hate relationship. I partial mash due to my living conditions (I.E. Apt). I have most of the kit needed to graduate to AG when I move to a house with space for a bigger setup. I think PM is helping me work out the mistakes that otherwise would be made with a AG setup. I'm a big fan of crawl/walk/run phases of training. You can do decoction, step, and infusion mashing with PM. You can work with batch sparging/fly sparging methods with PM. Most of my recipes and grainbills call for 7 to 8lbs of grain. Look think of it like this. It's your learners permit for AG.
 

ChshreCat

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I don't think there's anything you can do all grain that you can't do partial mash with the right volumes. The biggest advantage is cost. Extract is 'spensive stuff.
 
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Brewer_Bob

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Thanks. I certainly see the utility in starting with extract. And I also find extract brewing extremely easy. If I had the kind of flexibility with extract that I could have with AG then I would stick with extract because I like to keep things as simple as is practical. However, being able to make what I want to make is even more important.

I probably will try my hand at PM in a few more batches so at the very least I can say I have done it. Space is not much of an issue for me as I have a decent size house with a couple patios. However, with a five year old and a 1 year old time is an issue.
 

ajf

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I would think it would be rather difficult to make something like an American Lager with a very high percentage of adjuncts with a partial mash as you wouldn't have sufficient diastatic power to convert the adjuncts.
Apart from that, and the fact that you usually don't know exactly what was used to make the extract (especially with darker extracts), I can't think of anything that hasn't already been said that can't be done with a PM.
Having said that, I can't see the point in doing a partial mash except you don't need such a large MLT or kettle. If you're doing the mash and the sparge, you won't be shortening the brew day by much, and you will be paying extra for the extract.

-a.
 

ChshreCat

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I would think it would be rather difficult to make something like an American Lager with a very high percentage of adjuncts with a partial mash as you wouldn't have sufficient diastatic power to convert the adjuncts.
-a.
Sure you can. You just need a big enough mash. I'll mash 8 or 9 lbs of grain sometimes. Plenty of enzymes.
 

OLDBREW

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now days you do have a wide selection of extracts that are (pretty fresh). compare this to using a good quality instant coffee. Partial mashing freshens up the extract which gives you a can of maxwell house columbian blend drip. alright but not that great!

All grain is like brewing a pot of coffee freshly roasted then ground beans
 

Crinkle

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I did PM for over 5 years with great results. Used a 2 gallon water cooler and a vegitable steamer as a false bottom it work awesome. Even did some 2.5 gallon AG with it, got 88% efficiency. I would use about 4 pounds of grain usually around 2 pounds base malt and 2 pounds specialty, and 1-4 pounds of light DME. I found the light DME gave me the best results both for flavor and color. I now have a better stove, and have switched to AG. PM tought me alot about the process, and I had no fear or difficulties swithing to AG after that. Time wise, PM and AG (batch sparge) are about the same, but whatever works for you.

I love AG brewing, but to those extract and PM haters, I won several competitions with PM and produced many tastey brews. There is no wrong or right way to brew, as long as you enjoy doing it and you end up with a good beer!!
 

ghpeel

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Yep, I used to do "almost all grain". 6 to 7 lbs of grain and then enough extract to get me to the target gravity. Worked great. There might be some styles that are a little tricky, but nothing is impossible.

Little known fact - you can re-mash extract along with your grains. So if you are trying to make a really dry style, like an American lager or a Belgian, then add your extract to the mash. The enzymes in the grain will break down some of the starches left in the extract. You can't make extract any less fermentable, but you absolutely make it more fermentable this way.
 

ajf

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Yep, I used to do "almost all grain". 6 to 7 lbs of grain and then enough extract to get me to the target gravity. Worked great. There might be some styles that are a little tricky, but nothing is impossible.

Little known fact - you can re-mash extract along with your grains. So if you are trying to make a really dry style, like an American lager or a Belgian, then add your extract to the mash. The enzymes in the grain will break down some of the starches left in the extract. You can't make extract any less fermentable, but you absolutely make it more fermentable this way.
There are no starches left in the extract. There may be some unfermentable dextrins that could be converted to fermentables, but not starches.

-a.
 

ChshreCat

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Yep, I used to do "almost all grain". 6 to 7 lbs of grain and then enough extract to get me to the target gravity. Worked great. There might be some styles that are a little tricky, but nothing is impossible.
+1

This is what I do. I brew on the stove, so I have to do partial boils. What I basically do is brew a 3-4 gallon (preboil) batch all grain then add enough extract to make up for my top up water. Makes GREAT beer.

The other thing is to make sure that if you use LME, to get good FRESH LME. None of the stuff from a dusty can that's been sitting on a back shelf since Carter signed the bill.
 

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I would think it would be rather difficult to make something like an American Lager with a very high percentage of adjuncts with a partial mash as you wouldn't have sufficient diastatic power to convert the adjuncts.
Apart from that, and the fact that you usually don't know exactly what was used to make the extract (especially with darker extracts), I can't think of anything that hasn't already been said that can't be done with a PM.
Having said that, I can't see the point in doing a partial mash except you don't need such a large MLT or kettle. If you're doing the mash and the sparge, you won't be shortening the brew day by much, and you will be paying extra for the extract.

-a.
I agree. The only other thing I can think of that would make me prefer AG over PM is the cost- extract is expensive, while base grain is cheap. I pay $.68/pound for Briess two-row in bulk.
 

markg388

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I must be the only one who finds night and day differences between PM and AG.

Is it just me or is there no such thing as a truly pale extract? I've also never seen/tasted an extract brew with a rich, malty flavor. Extract is fine for your typical standard microbrew line up of beer (you know... pale, ipa, porter, amber ect.) but if you want to make pale lager, a belgian tripel, anything malty or anything blonde for that matter you're out of luck, right?

To me the taste difference of extract or partial mash to all-gain is like comparing concentrate OJ to fresh squeezed... unless you're doing something hoppy or with a ton of dark grains where the base malt's character is going to get washed out anyway.
 

Synovia

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The only advantage to partial mash that I See is you can have a smaller mash tun, which is silly. A 5g igloo mash tun will cost you like $35.

Partial Mash costs more, takes just as long, needs just as much equipment, and doesn't give you the flexibility.
 

TenaciousJ

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The only advantage to partial mash that I See is you can have a smaller mash tun, which is silly. A 5g igloo mash tun will cost you like $35.

Partial Mash costs more, takes just as long, needs just as much equipment, and doesn't give you the flexibility.
I agree with everything you said, but at least you get more flexibility than extract by going PM. I recently graduated to PM because i had an old 5 gallon cooler lying around that i converted to a MLT. it's giving me a chance to develop my mashing process/technique without getting overwhelmed. training wheels so to speak...

I'll have to upgrade to a larger MLT once I decide to go all grain which is the only disadvantage I can see to the interim step. When this happens my hope is that the time spent doing PM will enable me to make better AG batches with less trial and error due to familiarity.

my 0.02
 

ChshreCat

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I must be the only one who finds night and day differences between PM and AG.

Is it just me or is there no such thing as a truly pale extract? I've also never seen/tasted an extract brew with a rich, malty flavor. Extract is fine for your typical standard microbrew line up of beer (you know... pale, ipa, porter, amber ect.) but if you want to make pale lager, a belgian tripel, anything malty or anything blonde for that matter you're out of luck, right?

To me the taste difference of extract or partial mash to all-gain is like comparing concentrate OJ to fresh squeezed... unless you're doing something hoppy or with a ton of dark grains where the base malt's character is going to get washed out anyway.
You're just down the road from me. I'm gonna have to treat you to some GOOD partial mash beers, my friend. :mug:
 

remilard

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I must be the only one who finds night and day differences between PM and AG.

Is it just me or is there no such thing as a truly pale extract? I've also never seen/tasted an extract brew with a rich, malty flavor. Extract is fine for your typical standard microbrew line up of beer (you know... pale, ipa, porter, amber ect.) but if you want to make pale lager, a belgian tripel, anything malty or anything blonde for that matter you're out of luck, right?

To me the taste difference of extract or partial mash to all-gain is like comparing concentrate OJ to fresh squeezed... unless you're doing something hoppy or with a ton of dark grains where the base malt's character is going to get washed out anyway.
I've seen plenty of pilsners that were extract win competitions. I mean I guess if you are regularly winning BOS you have a point but it sounds like a few people have figured out how to make pretty good pale lagers with extract.

You are right on the fresh squeezed vs concentrate thing. It is one of those differences you will perceive when you know which is which but would likely fail to notice in blind tasting.
 

NCBeernut

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I don't think there's anything you can do all grain that you can't do partial mash with the right volumes. The biggest advantage is cost. Extract is 'spensive stuff.
What about a SMaSH? Or a bitter where I want all of my base malt to be a flavorful English variety? Or what about a Tripel, where my entire grist is Pilsner malt and sugar and I need to mash low to get good fermentability and want that nice pilsner flavor? A wee heavy where I want to do all golden promise and boil down to get those nice toffee and caramelized flavors?

Also, since moving to all-grain, I have noticed a night-and-day differnence in my attenuation. You just can't get the same fermentability with extract.
 

ChshreCat

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What about a SMaSH? Or a bitter where I want all of my base malt to be a flavorful English variety? Or what about a Tripel, where my entire grist is Pilsner malt and sugar and I need to mash low to get good fermentability and want that nice pilsner flavor? A wee heavy where I want to do all golden promise and boil down to get those nice toffee and caramelized flavors?
Well, if goes without saying that if you're specifically wanting to make a beer using all one grain then you need to go all grain wtih that. But I can make a bitter or a tripel that's to style and just as tasty using partial mash methods as I could doing all grain. A SMaSH is more of an experimental thing than a style to it's own. In that context you could say that all grain is limited because you can't do no-boil (not that I do no-boil kits, but you get the point).
 

markg388

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Originally Posted by ChshreCat
You're just down the road from me. I'm gonna have to treat you to some GOOD partial mash beers, my friend.
I love being proven wrong, especially when there's new good beer involved. Don't get me wrong, I have had great partial mash beers... just never any that were outside the line-up of Redhook brewery. And never any that were lighter than amber in color, I guess I'm a stickler for German styles.

I've only used pale extract from the 3 major homebrew shops in the Seattle area and all 3 were orange at best, and had the flavor of common 2-row rather than rich continental pilsner. So if you or anyone can pull off a tripel or an award winning pilsner I'm missing out on something and need to be educated.
 

jsullivan02130

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I found the few PM batches I did to be a pain -- all that steeping, multiple pots, bags, this one here, that one there.

All grain -- dump it in, done. Simple. And cheap. With my club's bulk buys I can make a 5g batch for about six bucks.
 

NCBeernut

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Well, if goes without saying that if you're specifically wanting to make a beer using all one grain then you need to go all grain wtih that. But I can make a bitter or a tripel that's to style and just as tasty using partial mash methods as I could doing all grain. A SMaSH is more of an experimental thing than a style to it's own. In that context you could say that all grain is limited because you can't do no-boil (not that I do no-boil kits, but you get the point).
I disagree on the tripel. You just can't get the same level of fermentability with extract, so you would need to use more sugar. And a smash is not experimental at all. It is just a technique that can be used to make several styles - English Barleywines and Wee-Heavies are two of those that can be made by boiling down first runnings, just using base malt. Even a pale ale with 100% vienna can be really nice and not just an experiment. You don't get the same flavor profile by boiling down generic extract or by trying to just add crystal malt. I did PM for about 6 months. It wasn't the same at all. I couldn't get the same level of flavor from base malts like Maris Otter or Vienna just by using a few pounds of it. And again, the the control over wort fermentability has been awesome. The control and abilities you have with all-grain are definitely superior. Also, partial mashing is a pain in the ass - you get the worst of both worlds - still having to deal with extract, but still having to take the time to mash. I'll just end with one more example - an authentic Vienna based decocted oktoberfest. Can't make that PM.
 

Reno_eNVy

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I've pondered this question and came up with several reasons AG is better than partial mash:

1) Malt is cheaper than extract, and by a decent margin at my LHBS.
2) Better control over body and mouthfeel
3) FWH, FTW!
4) To me, working with a big mash is more fun
5) Spent grain baked goods (well, at least more spent grain to use)
6) I get to do the same (or similar) processes as the brewers of generations past... you know, if they had access to a cooler and stainless steel :D
 

ChshreCat

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I disagree on the tripel. You just can't get the same level of fermentability with extract, so you would need to use more sugar. And a smash is not experimental at all. It is just a technique that can be used to make several styles - English Barleywines and Wee-Heavies are two of those that can be made by boiling down first runnings, just using base malt. Even a pale ale with 100% vienna can be really nice and not just an experiment. You don't get the same flavor profile by boiling down generic extract or by trying to just add crystal malt. I did PM for about 6 months. It wasn't the same at all. I couldn't get the same level of flavor from base malts like Maris Otter or Vienna just by using a few pounds of it. And again, the the control over wort fermentability has been awesome. The control and abilities you have with all-grain are definitely superior. Also, partial mashing is a pain in the ass - you get the worst of both worlds - still having to deal with extract, but still having to take the time to mash. I'll just end with one more example - an authentic Vienna based decocted oktoberfest. Can't make that PM.
I think you're confusing partial mash with extract with steeping grains.
 

lumpher

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How is all grain better than partial mashing? simple. taste... nuff said
 

lumpher

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what's wrong, chshre? did i simplify it too much? :D your response says it all... too good
 

Lilahblossom

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You Guys! I brew extract and all grain. My husbands fav is three lb. bag of breiss pilsen and two lb. honey and cascade hops. Quick and you can do ten gal. with four gal. pot. LOL . But I make all grain wheat, all grain amber and etc. Just depends on what I want to brew. They are all good. My father in law failed to make decent beer back in the eighties because he didn't have a forum to help him. My husband still feels bad for him even though he has been gone for twenty three years. All the modern methods are good. Now quit bickering about it.lol
 

OLDBREW

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Just like maltsters producing different flavored malts in malted grain. When compared to other maltsters, they taste different. The same goes with extracts when comparing fermentables and flavors from one manufacture to another.
When extract brewing, there are a few specialty malts that need no mashing. You can steep these and make good beers.

Partial mashing allows you to use specialty grains that need to be mashed, to convert the starches to sugar. As I mentioned before, it will also freshen up the extract. Say FRESHNESS!
A partial mash is the same as doing all grain, but is smaller. Mini/Partial, All Grain mashing are the same process, if you can do one, you can brew an all grain beer from scratch.

As far as entering a contest using extract.. there really should be separate category's for extract brewers. The hardest part of the brewing process is already done for you by professional brewers. All you need to do is add water, hops, and stir this brew.
A very pale brew like a pilsner, or lager, are the hardest brews to make. Any flaw in your mash, lautering techniques, will show up in the finished product when brewing from scratch.
Somone entering with really fresh LME or DME, has the advantage over an all grain brewer unless the brewer is a very experienced brewer.

Years ago you were stuck with pale or dark, hopped or unhopped LME. The cans would sit on the shelf a long time before ever being used. Making beer with those extracts were not the best tasting. Today there is every variety of base malt extract being used (including wheat and pils malt), and is kept pretty fresh.

When a new brewer starts out with extract/w specialty malts, I teach them to use their specialty malts like they need mashing. This way it teaches them the process of how to mash before they dive into partial or all grain brewing.
 

markg388

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I get that there are extracts labeled 'pilsner', but the results just don't cut the mustard if you're looking for the rich, yet subtle taste of a pilsner-dominant beer (helles, kolsch ect.). The pilsner extract I tried darkened the beer, and also made a helles taste like kokanee. Maybe if you have a good connection at Weyermann Maltings and get some premium, uber high-quality, extra fresh pilsner extract that I've never seen before the results will be comparable. Suitable for hoppy beers and beers with plenty of specialty malts I'd say, but still inferior. Even if PM only inferior in a small handfull of styles, I think it still counts.

I can make an award winning chicken soup with canned chicken broth, but I will still make an even better award winning chicken soup from scratch using chicken feet & vegetables to make a stock first.

Ahhh, I love splitting hairs in the morning. :D
 

ghpeel

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Yeah, I like using the "canned chicken broth" analogy when talking to new brewers about extract. In fact, a friend of mine who cooks EVERYTHING from scratch asked me to show her how to brew, and after that analogy, she decided to suck up the learning curve and jump straight to all grain. Wish I had done that from the start.
 

jfr1111

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People's perception of taste are heavily influenced by what they see and expect. To all the PM naysayers, a blind test would be interesting. Very interesting. I remember reading on here about a BCJP judge almost commenting on the excellent decoction taste from a Pilsner during a competition. The guy finally decided not to write it on the scoresheet since he didn't usually talk about technique on it.

The beer won best of show. It was also all extract.
 

iijakii

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What does AG have over PM?

It's more fun. That's the main thing. More research, more planning, more tweaking. More fun!
 

OLDBREW

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I get that there are extracts labeled 'pilsner', but the results just don't cut the mustard if you're looking for the rich, yet subtle taste of a pilsner-dominant beer (helles, kolsch ect.). The pilsner extract I tried darkened the beer, and also made a helles taste like kokanee. Maybe if you have a good connection at Weyermann Maltings and get some premium, uber high-quality, extra fresh pilsner extract that I've never seen before the results will be comparable. Suitable for hoppy beers and beers with plenty of specialty malts I'd say, but still inferior. Even if PM only inferior in a small handfull of styles, I think it still counts.

I can make an award winning chicken soup with canned chicken broth, but I will still make an even better award winning chicken soup from scratch using chicken feet & vegetables to make a stock first.

Ahhh, I love splitting hairs in the morning. :D
the point is.. the LME "you used" didn't do it for you, but there are so many other manufactures now that may have the flavor/color profile you seek. If you can get it fresh, then it may be better then the wort you can make from scratch when trying to do a pilsner.
All the chicken broths you can buy, don't all taste the same. You try, then find the one that does meet your preference, then you stick with that brand. They do sell gourmet stocks that will compare to any home made stocks
 

ChshreCat

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This will probably piss some folks off, but I have to say it...

If you can't make a great beer doing partial mash, it's more a reflection of your skills as a brewer than it is on the technique.
 

OLDBREW

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People's perception of taste are heavily influenced by what they see and expect. To all the PM naysayers, a blind test would be interesting. Very interesting. I remember reading about here about a BCJP judge almost commenting on the excellent decoction taste from a Pilsner during a competition. The guy finally decided not to write it on the scoresheet since he didn't usually talk about technique on it.

The beer won best of show. It was also all extract.
that is one reason why I think there should be style entries for extracts.
 
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