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Partial Mash Experimenting time?

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Jhedrick83

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I just finished my first partial mash on Sunday and it's fermenting right now. It was a 1 gallon Brewer's best kit. It was easier than I thought it would be. Last night I bottled up a 2 gal stout extract kit that came with the Mr. Beer that got me pushed down this slope. So, as I was in bed last night obsessively thinking about what to brew next, I thought why don't I try to take a recipe from Brewer's Friend or Brewfather and scale it down to a 2 gallon recipe and use the LBK that came with the Mr. Beer kit as the fermenter. I have a good LHBS near my office and I'm sure I can get all the DME, grains, hops and yeast there.

When I was browsing for recipes last night I didn't really see any 2 gallons for beers I would want to brew. My questions are:

1. will it scale in a linear fashion or is there a suggested way to scale recipes up/down?

2. If it is a recipe with a sparging step but I'm not sparging out of convenience (5.5 gal brew kettle should be fine for a full volume boil with a final volume of 2 gal, right?), how do I adjust the steps/mash time?

3. Any issues with using the LBK? Any way I should think about modifying it? I'm sure there are better options for primary fermenters but I have it already and I feel silly not to use it to make more beer.

I'd love to try things beyond the normal kits, like a coffee cream ale, a chili chocolate stout, etc.
 

McKnuckle

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Have you explored the use of brewing software? That's how people usually work up recipes to match their requirements, which include final batch size. Brewfather and Brewer's Friend are recommended (ah, I see you've mentioned those).

Recipes scale well except for water. That's because if your kettle evaporates 0.5 gal/hr, it will do the same whether you start with 4 gallons or 3 gallons. The scaling is not linear.

Sparging is more about method and equipment choices than recipe. It's not really pertinent in order to reproduce the intended beer. You can mash full volume if you like.
 
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Jhedrick83

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On The recipe I'm looking to use, it describes the Mash as "infusion" is that different than steeping?

For reference:
Spotted Cow "Clone" | Cream Ale Partial Mash Beer Recipe at Brewer's Friend

Also, I was planning on turning it into a Coffee Cream Ale by adding some whole bean espresso roast in the last couple days of fermentation. Any tips? Need to be Vodka soaked first?
 

McKnuckle

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An infusion mash just means infusing a volume of strike water into the grist in order to achieve a target mash temperature. In other words, a standard mash as you know it. Steeping is really the same thing, right? Except in brewing, it implies that the temperature and time may be less important, because you're not relying on enzymes to convert starch to sugar.

Lots of threads are accessible here on how to get coffee into the beer... many ways to do it. Definitely don't need vodka.
 
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Jhedrick83

Jhedrick83

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That's what I was confused about is how is that different than a steep. The recipe calls for an hour long infusion, so I guess that extended time is why it's an "infusion" instead. Do you cover when you mash or leave it open? For a 60 minute mash, just considering evaporation at 152 degrees. The recipe I scaled does not indicate either way.
 
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Jhedrick83

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Unfortunately, the thermometer port on the Brewtech kettle I have is right about the 3 gallon line. So for smaller boils, I’m having to at least open here and there to check temp during mash since I can’t see it on the outside.
 

RM-MN

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That's what I was confused about is how is that different than a steep. The recipe calls for an hour long infusion, so I guess that extended time is why it's an "infusion" instead. Do you cover when you mash or leave it open? For a 60 minute mash, just considering evaporation at 152 degrees. The recipe I scaled does not indicate either way.
With steeping you are simply trying to extract color and flavors from the grains and that works in a temperature range from room temp to boiling. A mash requires a specific, much smaller temperature range as the enzymes that convert the starch to sugar only work within the range of about 148 to 160. Too low and you don't activate the enzymes, too high and you denature (kill?) them. Infusion simple means you add the grains to the water that is the right temp so the mash falls withing the 148 to 160F.

This differs from a decoction mash where you start at a lower temp, remove some of the mash and heat it to a boil, then return it to the mash to raise its temp.

You do want to cover the mash as it helps to retain the heat so the temperature doesn't fall as fast. Most of the conversion will happen within the first 15 minutes so if the temperature falls a bit before the hour long mash is over it won't matter a great deal. The speed of the conversion depends on how well the grain is milled so if you aren't getting a good crush you can improve the conversion by mashing longer.
 

McKnuckle

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Unfortunately, the thermometer port on the Brewtech kettle I have is right about the 3 gallon line. So for smaller boils, I’m having to at least open here and there to check temp during mash since I can’t see it on the outside.
Yes, the thermometer height can be an issue. I don't have the SS thermo in my kettle, so I use an external BBQ thermo with a wired probe. I have fully insulated my SS kettle with two layers of Reflectix and an insulated lid that I made. I dangle the probe into the mash through a small gap on the edge of the lid, and monitor it via Bluetooth on my phone.

Of course you do NOT need to be obsessive about that, and if you aren't applying heat to the kettle in response to a dropping temp, there's no real point in opening it to check, you know? Just wrap it up tight and leave it.
 
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Jhedrick83

Jhedrick83

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Sorry for all the questions. I'm planning on brewing this Cream Ale tomorrow. The recipe I'm planning to use that I scaled down from a Spotted Cow Clone, lists 1.2 pounds of Pilsen DME.

My scaled version for Reference:
2 Gallon Cow | Cream Ale Partial Mash Beer Recipe at Brewer's Friend

Original Version:
Permission Error | Brewer's Friend

The kits I have done so far had me add DME once I got it up to boil post mash and then add more before flameout. The recipe does not delineate when/how to use the DME. I was planning on putting it all in once I get the post mash rolling boil going. Thoughts?
 

McKnuckle

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Hop utilization is partially dependent on the gravity of wort in the boil. For that reason, I would assume you'd want to boil for the entire time with the full amount of sugar in the recipe. Since DME + water is equivalent to what you would normally collect with a mash, I would stir all of the DME in with the first runnings at the beginning. Or at least wait til everything is hot enough to dissolve effectively.
 
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Jhedrick83

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Yes, the thermometer height can be an issue. I don't have the SS thermo in my kettle, so I use an external BBQ thermo with a wired probe. I have fully insulated my SS kettle with two layers of Reflectix and an insulated lid that I made. I dangle the probe into the mash through a small gap on the edge of the lid, and monitor it via Bluetooth on my phone.

Of course you do NOT need to be obsessive about that, and if you aren't applying heat to the kettle in response to a dropping temp, there's no real point in opening it to check, you know? Just wrap it up tight and leave it.
Thinking about following your lead and getting a BBQ probe to monitor mash temp and final wort temp when chilling so I don’t have to open the kettle. Two questions. Any recommended brands? Also, do you just let the probe float or is there a way you try to keep it submerged. I just wonder while heating and cooling if the currents created by the temp changes would mess with the accuracy of the readings. Obviously, less of an issue when mashing as the heat is off.
 

McKnuckle

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@Jhedrick83 this is the BBQ gadget I bought, although Amazon shows it now as unavailable. Use it as a baseline, though. It is Bluetooth enabled. I only use it during the mash, not during the boil or while cooling.

I hang the probe over the kettle rim so that it's immersed in about the top 2-3" of wort. I gently affix the wire to the rim with a binder clip. In my setup, which is double insulated in a warm room over an induction cooktop, it is very stable.
 
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Thank you guys so much for all your help and advice. I’m sure it gets old answering all the repeat noob questions.

just bottled this up. Nailed the FG. The FG sample tasted great. Learned a lot as I have from basically every brew I’ve done so far. You like put the damn coffee beans in a bag before you drop them in. I got myself a better set up for mash temp monitoring and a whole new set up for fermentation temperature management. Got an O2 tank and aeration wand coming as well. It will be a few weeks before I can brew again but I can’t wait and I appreciate all the assistance and support from you guys.
 
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