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My no sparge, partial boil, all-grain method

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Dr. Francois

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**Warning: if lack of efficiency makes you twitchy, please stop reading now.**

My brewing ambition currently exceeds my brewing equipment.

I have been an extract brewer for over two years, but I got tired of the limited options for base malts; I wanted to try some Maris Otter. Moreover, after watching a few batch sparge videos online, mashing does not seem any more complicated than steeping grains. I'm also a bargain brewer, so the cost benefits of AG seemed great. I was looking for a workable way to use my extract setup (detailed below) to brew all-grain beer.

I read up on the no-sparge method on this board and a few websites. I was looking for a way to go all grain without having to upgrade to a full-boil kettle or dedicated chiller. Both are on my list as "eventually," but my brewing procedure from extract works pretty well. I also read about "richer wort" and a few other benefits, but my main priority was to find a workable solution for my equipment.

Here were my limiting factors:
--No full boil. I have a 20qt pot, which means I can only have about 4.5 gallons boiling at a time.
--No chiller. My extract method has been sterile ice directly into wort to chill to pitching temps
--No time. I have a 22 month old boy who thinks he's a dinosaur and who hates my freedom.

Here were the positive assets of my setup:
--10 gallon Rubbermaid MLT
--outdoor propane burner
--A few extra bucks for grain

Procedure:
--I pre-heated my mash tun with hot tap water (I keep it around 140F)
--I heated my strike water out of hot tap water (it's very clean and has no off flavors) and boiling water from an electric kettle and a small pot of hot water on the stove. Both were heated while I was setting up.
--I mashed with the full volume of water for my boil. I calculated to end up with 4.5 gallons in my 5 gallon kettle. I used some online calculator, and it worked. I kept adjusting the values until the "Sparge Volume" was close to zero.
--After 60 minutes, I simply drained the wort into the kettle and got it boiling.
--I performed a 60 minute boil. Final wort volume was around 3.75 gallons.
--I added the sterile ice to the fermenter with the hot wort. I topped off to reach 5.25 gallons in the bucket.
--I was instantly down to pitching temps, so I added my yeast (I only use dry), aerated, and sealed it up.

Ultimately, my brew day was about the same amount of time as brewing with extract, 3 hours. 4.5 gallons of 152F wort certainly gets boiling faster than 4 gallons of cold water mixed with hot steeping liquid. The only appreciable difference in time was the half hour difference in mashing v. steeping.

I hit 51% efficiency without a sparge. This number is low, but consider that I added about 1.5 gallons of water in the fermenter.

I'd love to hear feedback. Is this method heresy? Am I a sellout for not playing the efficiency game? Does anyone see a loophole I've forgotten?
 

MalFet

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Looks great to me! If you get a 5gal paint strainer bag from home depot, you should even be able to bump your efficiency up into the 60s. You could do a pseudo-sparge by pouring some hot water over the bag. Good luck with the dinosaur.
 

a10t2

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You might want to check your mash conversion efficiency. A no-sparge mash should be in the 60-75% efficiency range for any reasonable liquor:grist ratio.
 

MalFet

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a10t2 said:
You might want to check your mash conversion efficiency. A no-sparge mash should be in the 60-75% efficiency range for any reasonable liquor:grist ratio.
Don't forget that he's only getting a little more than 2/3rds his pre-boil volume this way. Full volume no sparge can definitely get 60%. The 75% typically needs a finer grind than I assume he has. To lose 9 points from such a small boil sounds about right to me.
 

robfalck

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I'm happy to read someone else in the same boat as me. I just did my first all-grain batch using a partial boil with an initial volume of 3.25 gallons. My method was very similar to yours.

The premium bitters recipe mashed for 60 minutes at 149F. The water/grist ratio was 1 qt/lb, and I assumed 70% efficiency. It worked out to 2.37 gallons for the mash. I added 1.5 gallons for sparging, with no mash out.

The calculations gave me an OG of 1.048, but the gravity of my wort was 1.060. I think this was because I was essentially extracting the first runnings which are higher in gravity. After boiling, I added gallons of spring water until my OG was about 1.046 (a reasonable range for the style. It turns out I have just under 5 gallons in the fermenter, a little short of where I like to start fermentation, but not unreasonable for my first AG batch. In the future if I use this method again (because I really want a full-boil-sized pot) I'd assume 60-65% efficiency off the bat so I could end up with 5 - 5.5 gallons in the fermenter.
 

optimatored

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why not brew 2.5-3.0 gallon batches? I know you do not have a lot of time, but until you get all the equipment... its an option.
 

robfalck

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why not brew 2.5-3.0 gallon batches? I know you do not have a lot of time, but until you get all the equipment... its an option.
It's definitely an option, in my case I guess I'm just used to getting ~5 gallons per brewing. I'd be sorry if I brewed something awesome and only had 2 gallons of it :)
 
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Dr. Francois

Dr. Francois

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why not brew 2.5-3.0 gallon batches? I know you do not have a lot of time, but until you get all the equipment... its an option.
I also don't have a good way to cool down a full 3 gallon boil. I try like heck not to carry around 3 gallons of sloshing, molten liquid whenever possible, so an ice bath isn't really an option. Sterile ice is a great (and cheap) way to quick-chill.
 

optimatored

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I also don't have a good way to cool down a full 3 gallon boil. I try like heck not to carry around 3 gallons of sloshing, molten liquid whenever possible, so an ice bath isn't really an option. Sterile ice is a great (and cheap) way to quick-chill.
i guess i was saying that if you go for 2.5-3.0 gallons, you could go a full volume boil... then cooling becomes the issue... so you could brew a 1.080ish 2.gal batch and dilute to your desired volume.

i used to apartment brew... so i did 3ish gal or less size batches and then an ice bath. sure it took a long time, but the beer still came out great.
 
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Dr. Francois

Dr. Francois

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I'm a little bit fortunate that I'm mostly interested in brewing smaller beers (OG lower than 1.040). I use Hopville's free software to make my adjustments. So far so good!

All brewing must take place outside. We lived two blocks north of the Coors Brewery in Golden for a year, and my wife's tolerance for "mash day" aromas is pretty much nil. She doesn't mind the finished product, but malt and hops go OUTSIDE, not in the kitchen.
 

a10t2

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Don't forget that he's only getting a little more than 2/3rds his pre-boil volume this way.
You're right; I didn't realize that took the top-off water into account. In that case, 76% mash efficiecy sounds pretty good. Sorry, Franc103!
 

HItransplant

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All brewing must take place outside. We lived two blocks north of the Coors Brewery in Golden for a year, and my wife's tolerance for "mash day" aromas is pretty much nil. She doesn't mind the finished product, but malt and hops go OUTSIDE, not in the kitchen.

haha.. thats funny. It only took one extract batch inside for my wife to banish me to the borderlands of the garage and the outdoor woods.
 

TheMan

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why not brew 2.5-3.0 gallon batches? I know you do not have a lot of time, but until you get all the equipment... its an option.
I started doing this during winter...means I get to brew more often and have fresher beer on tap since I can go through 3 gallons quicker than 5. That IPA doesn't sit past it's prime anymore! And not to offend anyone, but if you brew that beer and it's awesome you should be able to recreate it.

When summer comes around I will likely go back to 5 gallon batches outside every once in a while.
 

TheMan

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spoken like someone without a 22 month old son who thinks he is a dinosaur and who hates his father's freedom :D
HA, very true....That child is far from my mind at this point.
 
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Dr. Francois

Dr. Francois

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You're right; I didn't realize that took the top-off water into account. In that case, 76% mash efficiecy sounds pretty good. Sorry, Franc103!
To be fair, my efficiency was only 51%. I imagine if I didn't add all that water at the end, it would be closer to 60%-65% with no sparge.
 
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