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I'm ready to graduate to partial mash. Help please.

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BoogDaddy

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A little background.....

I've spent the past several months learning everything I could about sanitation, bottling and extract brewing. I am now ready to start my move over to partial mash. I've read lots on here as well as in a couple of books I have. I've found Deathbrewer's partial mash thread to be a very good starting point. I've used the search option and found lots of other good info here. So, I guess with that said my question is this....

Could any of you that have done, are currently doing or have moved past partial mash offer many advice/suggestions in getting started?

I know that is quite random but I'm not looking for any one thing in particular yet. I belive those questions will come as I begin the brewing. What I want is any advice that I can then take and decipher to use in the best way with what i've already learned.

Thanks in advance for any help. :mug:
 

kh54s10

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The only thing I can think of; is figure out how you are going to keep the mash temperature up and stable. I did mine in a five gallon pot that would fit in my oven. I raised the oven temperature to 152 or so per the instructions for mash temperature, put the pot inside and checked the temperature then turned off the oven. It held the temperature close with about 2-3 degrees drop in an hour.
 

Capn_Bill

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I recently graduated myself. I did a partial mash kit from Midwest which included about 4 lbs of grain to be mashed inside my pot using a muslin bag. My next batch, I used a 5 gal cooler with about 7lbs of grain. How do you plan to mash?

The midwest kit was a nice introduction. Sparging was a snap, and there wasn't any worry about a screen or false bottom getting clogged and getting a stuck sparge. I didn't do a good job of holding my mash temp, though, and should've used some blankets or the oven method.

The coolers hold temperatures very well, so that solved that problem. My one mistake there was recirculating (vorleuf?) too much. You only need to recirc until you don't see any grain chunks flow by. I took the directions of "recirculate until clear" too literally.

If you have a cheap electric stove, like me, it probably takes you forever to heat water. While you're mashing, make sure you have your mashout water (at least a gallon or so) heating up. While you're mashing out, make sure your sparge water is ready. You may want to have a couple pots going.

Have a kettle of boiling water, and cool water, ready to go in case you need to add some to adjust your mash or mashout temp.
 
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BoogDaddy

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I haven't decided if I'm going to use the stove, blanket or cooler method. That is one thing i'm trying to figure out with this. I have the ability to do any of them currently.

I might have to look into the midwest kit you mention. It seems as though it would be a good starting point.
 

JR_Brewer

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I too have recently graduated. Sounds like you're on the right track and doing a lot of research before diving in. As you've already found Deathbrewer's partial mash thread is a great resource, but also check out Seven's brew in a bag stickie.

Mashing - Before investing in a bunch of coolers, I would try mashing in your brew pot. I hear the oven method discussed above works, however the dimensions of my setup don't allow me to do that. Here's the BIAB method I've been using and for the small batches I've been doing it's worked well. Once I've doughed in, I put a towel (folded over several times) between the brew pot and the floor, a towel over the lid, and set the pot in front of a heater vent. I've found I'm only losing 2-3 degrees per hour, and I think that's on par with a lot of people. I recommend trying this out, and then make the decision whether to go all out. If so, good for you, but if you decide it's not for you, you haven't spent a lot of money and you can invest it elsewhere.

Sparging - my process is still evolving. I've only once gotten my efficiency up near 70%, so I'm still working out the kinks, so me giving you advice would be like the blind leading the blind.

Finally, do some research on how to measure efficiency. This is a big change from extract where efficiency doesn't mean anything. There are multiple ways to do it in partial mash (either after sparge or after boil) and they are both right, but they tell you differnt things. There are some good threads on this topic, so check them out.

Best of luck!
 

Capn_Bill

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If you go BIAB, make sure to do your research. My LHBS owner has heard some horror stories about efficiency with that method. But obviously many here have had success with it.

Partial mash is great because you get almost all of the flexibility of doing all-grain, yet can ease yourself into the all grain equipment purchases. You can do it with a 5 gallon kettle alone, or with one 5 gallon cooler as your mash tun, or add another cooler to use as a hot liquor tank.

Northern Brewer also has a selection of partial mash kits, but I haven't tried them. Or make your own recipe! I recently downloaded the iBrewmaster app, and enjoy copying the all-grain recipes and converting them to partial mash. Just take out the base grains (typically 2-row) and replace with extra light DME and try to hit the same OG. Beer nerd fun!
 

chiteface

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I personally don't worry about efficiency. I just add a little more grain to account for it. Granted I do all grain. However when I did partial mash, I really liked Austin Homebrew or Midwest kits. They really give clear instructions. In fact I ended up using the instructions to make a reproduction batch afterwards. I just kept mine on the stove to control for temp. Just keep a glass of cold water close to help with boil over and temp control.
 

chiteface

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The only thing I can think of; is figure out how you are going to keep the mash temperature up and stable. I did mine in a five gallon pot that would fit in my oven. I raised the oven temperature to 152 or so per the instructions for mash temperature, put the pot inside and checked the temperature then turned off the oven. It held the temperature close with about 2-3 degrees drop in an hour.
Also this is pretty f'n brilliant.
 

ApothecaryBrewing

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Skip the partial mash and go straight to AG. I was looking at doing a PM Imperial IPA and decided with the additional trouble I was going through to do a PM I could just save myself some time in the future and jump into AG.

bought a cooler for $20, made a MLT and don't regret a thing. 3 AG brews under my belt and I can't wait to do more.

The clean up is a bit more laborious but it's totally worth it. I was worried about space as I live in a small apartment but just like life, good beer finds a way!
 

chiteface

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Skip the partial mash and go straight to AG. I was looking at doing a PM Imperial IPA and decided with the additional trouble I was going through to do a PM I could just save myself some time in the future and jump into AG.

bought a cooler for $20, made a MLT and don't regret a thing. 3 AG brews under my belt and I can't wait to do more.

The clean up is a bit more laborious but it's totally worth it. I was worried about space as I live in a small apartment but just like life, good beer finds a way!
I love AG. Its all I do. There seems to be something with the taste of extract that I can't shake. However, it is more time intensive and I feel that's fair to mention.
 

biodarwin

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I just did my first partial mash this last weekend. I just used a grain bag and a cooler I had on hand and batched sparged. While not fancy and definitely not as efficient, it definitely works and gets your feet wet without buying a lot of equipment.
 

hopmonster2189

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I just wrap a spare bucket in a sleeping bag and can get away with using a max of 10.5 lbs of grain. I BIAB then dunk in my BK with enough water to bring me to 6 gals for a full boil. so I can brew anything under about 1.055 all grain and only had to buy paint strainer bags!
 
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