Partial Mash or AG?

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wigstr

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So I have been extract brewing for a while now and making some decent brews. In fact I am loading the truck and delivering beer as gifts to all my friends dressed as santa (they love the homebrew)... Here is my issue

Should I even mess with Partial Mash or go straight up full time AG... I am not looking for a 3000 post answer just some logic, either way. money is not a huge issue, quality is important. I like the craftsmanship of brewing. Is partial mash a decent stepping stone or should I just hit AG full throttle?
 

Baja_Brewer

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I've been extract brewing for a while, and I feel that Im going to move straight to All Grain in the not to distant future. The way I look at it is that Im going to stop messing around with the partial boils, go through the mess of sparging and everything, and Im going to make the best beer that I possibly can. Everyone I have talked to seems to agree that the quality of All Grain beer is better than that of extract (even though I find extract to be pretty damn good.)

I also think Ill be enjoying the challenge of this next step and am going all the way because Ill be able to just focus on the grains instead of worrying about mixing extract and grains.
 
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wigstr

wigstr

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That was sort of what I was thinking, but I wasn't sure if I needed to learn something magical from Partial Mash. Sort of like crawling before walking.
 

9/9

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We did one PM before making the jump to AG, mostly because we were still working on equipment and thought we would give it a shot. I don't think I really learned anything from the PM that made me any more or less ready for the AG.

If you know that AG is in your future, I say you should just go for it.
 

Shonuff

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If you really like the craftmanship of brewing go AG. I've never done a PM before.
 

Bobby_M

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One trick that I like to advocate is to step up once by getting a larger kettle and a wort chiller. Do one or two more extract batches using that stuff by doing a full boil. It's one increment closer to all grain and gets you used to dealing with large amounts of liquid.
 

Donner

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Having done PMs on my own and helped with AG batches, i don't think there is a 'right' answer. The only advantage of doing a PM or two is that you get used to dealing with the process on a smaller scale. Having a stuck sparge with only 4 lbs of grain is much easier to deal with than say 16lbs...

Again, i doubt you'll go wrong with either.
 
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wigstr

wigstr

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Cool I think I will try a PM or two just to make sure I understand my equipment and the process thanks for the help...
 

Donner

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make sure you check out deathbrewer's tutorials on stove-top AG and PM. If you decide you want to get a cooler to do your mashing, BYO has an article called countertop partial mashing that is very helpful. If you feel you want to go AG for sure then maybe getting a 5-gallon cooler and converting it would be a good idea, as well. PM me if you have any questions or can't find the articles.
 
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I have done all PMs until recently, and just did my first AG a few weeks back. Like most people will tell you, you are likely to go AG sometime, so try to prepare the equipment wisely. You should be able to do a PM with your extract equipment, PM just adds 45-60 minutes of mashing a few pounds of grain, in a grain bag, in your boil kettle.

Going all grain was definitely a step up due to doing full boils. I needed a large kettle to heat my mash water, and a cooler for the mash. Gravity also became an issue as I was doing a 10G batch and I had tons of wort and water.

So, to do PM, you should be good to go. To upgrade to AG or full boils, you'll need to spend a few bucks.

Also, my PM brews turned out great. My AG pale ale doesn't seem to be better in my opinion. It could be due to my noob brewing skills.
 

balto charlie

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I PM'ed first. Makes the move up easier. Also it gives you time to think how you want to set up you AG brewery. Brewing 10 gallons is a different beast than a 5 Gallon AG which is a different beast than a 5 gallon PM.
One of the biggest differences is going outside to brew. While romantic in ideology, issues arise...my chiller froze a few weeks back, wind can cause havoc, rain:( Dealing with a really large volume of water was also a little difficult.
I brew AG now but have no problems nor off taste when I brew PM. I will still PM when the grain bill exceeds my MLT. The key to PM brewing is using the freshest extract. I like NW and Briesse DME. Many cans are older with oxidation being the culprit in off flavors.
Best, Charlie
 

Anthony_Lopez

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I would agree that moving up to full boils is definitely a good idea whether or not you are still doing extract, steeping grains, or PM's. I went from extract to steeping grains to PM's to All grain in 7 brew sessions. Partial mashing is nice since you can get very high efficiencies, and if you don't, you can always correct with your extracts. The best beer i have done yet was a Partial mash IPA. My all grain beers are still conditioning, so this isn't really a fair statement.

Get at least a 10 gallon pot, a good turkey fryer burner, and an immersion chiller.
 

Yunus

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Just go to AG. Think about if you are ever going to go to 10 gallon batches though and get a wort chiller capable of that, meaning a larger Immersion chiller or a counterflow chiller or whatever you think works best for you, all I'm saying is plan ahead if you even think your going to do 10 gallon batches in the long term.
 
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wigstr

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Everyone has good points. HBT is freakin awesome... you always get both sides. From what I figure the main idea in everyones post is:

-Get a 10 gallon pot, and a legit heat source
-a serious wort chill device (mine is a very ineffiecient immersion)
- and either way PM, Full boil, or AG, brew your way through it
 

balto charlie

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-Get a 10 gallon pot, and a legit heat source
I listened when folks told me to get a 10. When I brew on friggin' cold days I can sit inside and not worry about a boil over. For that alone I am glad with the purchase. Now if you think you will go to 10 gallon batches then need a 15 gallon.
 

Kugster

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Cool I think I will try a PM or two just to make sure I understand my equipment and the process thanks for the help...
This is what I'm gonna try tomorrow...I have been doing full boils now for a bit and think I'm about ready for 10g brews...just need some equipment and more $$

make sure you check out deathbrewer's tutorials on stove-top AG and PM. If you decide you want to get a cooler to do your mashing, BYO has an article called countertop partial mashing that is very helpful. If you feel you want to go AG for sure then maybe getting a 5-gallon cooler and converting it would be a good idea, as well. PM me if you have any questions or can't find the articles.
DB's tutorial is sweet!! Tryin it for a first tomorrow. The only thing is that it doesn't use a tun just tea-baggin it...but will help with trying to hit my temp and holdin it. Just need to convince SWMBO to let me go bigger:p
 

desertbronze

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My first two batches were extract w/ steeping grains. I did about 20 partial mash batches before moving to all grain. If I had known them what I know now, I would have gone straight to all grain. If I were you, I would just move to all grain and go for it!:mug:
 

Jonnio

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I think one thing to keep in mind is that AG will not necessarily give you better beer. What it gives you is more options. A properly formulated extract recipe can and does compete with all grain. The issue you run into is that some grains just aren't available for extract.

I recently moved from PM to AG for this reason, as well as the ability to start buying grain in bulk. I figured that if I was spending the time to mash I might as well save the money too.
 

Grinder12000

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I PM because I don't really want to spend ALL day doing AG. it's the only reason I Mini Mash. Time.
 

Malticulous

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How is PM faster? You still have to do the whole mash thing anyway. AG takes me six hours and my last PM took a little longer (but it was a 10 gallon batch.) I think PM is more about the equipment not fitting the batch size.
 

nosmatt

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funny how different peoples approaches are... i went AG because i did not like spending half the day brewing... my last brew, i named all-day-Ipa for a reason.
my stove does not like to boil more than 2 gallons of water, and only two burners can do it. it is a very lengthy process for me to get the mash water to temp, the sparge water to temp, and then attempt to boil it split between to pots. not to mention messy..
my first ag took about half the time as my last pm did...

i bought a converted cooler already done, as i do not have a hardware store stocked enough to get the stuff needed locally, and the price was minimal. i paid 80 bucks for a converted cooler. 74 for a turkey fryer kit. and my house does not smell like boiled wort and hops anymore, which my wife and kids are happy about. i need a wort chiller tho!!!
thats the next expense.

good luck!
 

david_42

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I've never seen it as an either/or situation. However, you might as well get the gear for all grain, because you can do partials in AG gear, but not necessarily the reverse.
 

Kugster

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The more I read & learn about AG I get more excited to get there. When I switched to doing full boils I cut my brew time by 1 to 2 hours:rockin: I did buy a turkey frier which helped the situation and now brew in the garage. Seein how my PM goes tomorrow I don't think AG will take much longer (minus setbacks) since I'm already out there and have more room...hum...wonder if a second burner would improve time??

Here's a question for the more exprienced brewers...when heating your strike & sparge water, do you still use the stove or your burners outside? And, does a better quality burner allow you more tempature control?

Plus the cost of AG is more economical...buy in bulk and crush your own, grow your own hops...Damn..ok...that's enough for now!
 

Yunus

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The more I read & learn about AG I get more excited to get there. When I switched to doing full boils I cut my brew time by 1 to 2 hours:rockin: I did buy a turkey frier which helped the situation and now brew in the garage. Seein how my PM goes tomorrow I don't think AG will take much longer (minus setbacks) since I'm already out there and have more room...hum...wonder if a second burner would improve time??

Here's a question for the more exprienced brewers...when heating your strike & sparge water, do you still use the stove or your burners outside? And, does a better quality burner allow you more tempature control?

Plus the cost of AG is more economical...buy in bulk and crush your own, grow your own hops...Damn..ok...that's enough for now!
Do you still use your stove to heat the water?

I do, some don't though

Better quality burner allows more temp control?

Easier temp control maybe, but an accurate thermometer will increase temp control more than burner for heating batch/sparge water. (If your using a cooler for a mash tun, direct fire would be different)

AG is more economical...

Yes it is in the long run, but buying all the equipment to crush your own grain, isnt free it will be quite a few batches before you enter the real "saving money" category.
 

Jonnio

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AG is more economical...

Yes it is in the long run, but buying all the equipment to crush your own grain, isnt free it will be quite a few batches before you enter the real "saving money" category.


It takes time to pay it off, but while you are paying it off you have the freshest possible ingredients.

To put some numbers to the payoff (ignoring the increased efficiency that will allow you to use less grain per batch) - I don't yet participate in group buys on grain, and each time I buy a bag I pay off $25 of my barley crusher. A 50lb bag lasts about 5 batches, so about $5 of each batch. It will take 5 bags, or 25 batches of beer to pay off the crusher.
 

cclloyd

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When I brew on friggin' cold days I can sit inside and not worry about a boil over.

Yeah, I hate the cold days here too - I have to wears pants and shoes instead of shorts and sandals. I hate that.
 

bottle-o-jeff

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An All-Grain recipe takes me about 5 hours from start to finish (including cleanup). The first one took almost 8 hours, so be prepared for that. I was spending about 3 hours on extract anyways (though using a fryer I could speed that up considerably. If you've got the equipment, I'd just go full bore and do it. It's not as hard as it's made out to be. Just clean up as you go.
 

Bigsnake

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I PM because I don't really want to spend ALL day doing AG. it's the only reason I Mini Mash. Time.
The PMs I did took longer than my AG batches and seemed like more work. It's basically combining AG brewing and Extract brewing, so you have more work to do than if you just did an AG batch.
 

Nurmey

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The PMs I did took longer than my AG batches and seemed like more work. It's basically combining AG brewing and Extract brewing, so you have more work to do than if you just did an AG batch.
This has also been my experience going from extract/partial to all grain.
 

Kugster

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An All-Grain recipe takes me about 5 hours from start to finish (including cleanup). The first one took almost 8 hours, so be prepared for that. I was spending about 3 hours on extract anyways (though using a fryer I could speed that up considerably. If you've got the equipment, I'd just go full bore and do it. It's not as hard as it's made out to be. Just clean up as you go.
Yeah...I'm prepared for an all day ventur cause there is a learning curve and once ya get the steps down...it only gets quicker. And cleaning up as you go REALLY makes a big diff. I do most of my start up cleaning the night before...to make sure everything is ready to go.

My goal is to be AG by summer. Gonna start puttin the equiptment together after the 1st.

I understand that after so many batches the crusher will pay for itself years to come...
 
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I just got a PM Stout from AHS... Gonna give it a whirl. Had to reload on supplies for the Apfelwein- Plan on brewing the stout some time this week
 

Kugster

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So....My first PM went pretty good, followed DeathBrewers stove top instructions...missed my target temp, but only by 4* low. I then added heat and it got a bit too hot but only on the outer edges, the middle was 153* - 155* so I think it was alright.

For the amount of work and time, I might as well just go AG here soon...so I guess my vote at this point in time is...go AG!
 

Jonnio

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So....My first PM went pretty good, followed DeathBrewers stove top instructions...missed my target temp, but only by 4* low. I then added heat and it got a bit too hot but only on the outer edges, the middle was 153* - 155* so I think it was alright.

For the amount of work and time, I might as well just go AG here soon...so I guess my vote at this point in time is...go AG!
Yeah, the move from partial mash to AG is usually more about equipment than time. You can PM with your extract equipment + something to mash and lauter in. Unless you want to split the boil going all grain requires a bigger pot, which usually requires a bigger burner, and you have to have some way to cool the wort besides your sink.
 

Kugster

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Yeah, the move from partial mash to AG is usually more about equipment than time. You can PM with your extract equipment + something to mash and lauter in. Unless you want to split the boil going all grain requires a bigger pot, which usually requires a bigger burner, and you have to have some way to cool the wort besides your sink.
To cool my wort...I do 5gal full boils...I do an ice bath in a plastic storage container. it is tall enough to fit plenty of gallons of water and ice and my cool time is 15-20 mins. that's 200* - 70*. The only thing is spending $2.50 per 20lbs bag of ice X2. I just got my MLT...igloo 5 gal cyl. $20 @ walmart. I think I can set this up fairly inexpensively.
 

Jonnio

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To cool my wort...I do 5gal full boils...I do an ice bath in a plastic storage container. it is tall enough to fit plenty of gallons of water and ice and my cool time is 15-20 mins. that's 200* - 70*. The only thing is spending $2.50 per 20lbs bag of ice X2. I just got my MLT...igloo 5 gal cyl. $20 @ walmart. I think I can set this up fairly inexpensively.
That sounds like a pretty good time, better than I got with partial boils. Do you get a good cold break? If so it sounds like you at least have a good temp solution, but you are adding $5 to every batch of beer, so I would still look into some sort of chiller when your able.
 

TampaTim

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To cool my wort...I do 5gal full boils...I do an ice bath in a plastic storage container. it is tall enough to fit plenty of gallons of water and ice and my cool time is 15-20 mins. that's 200* - 70*. The only thing is spending $2.50 per 20lbs bag of ice X2. I just got my MLT...igloo 5 gal cyl. $20 @ walmart. I think I can set this up fairly inexpensively.
Good luck.


Dec. 6th I brewed my first batch ever. A partial mash kit from Mid-West. Of the sample I've removed from the bucket last Thursday...I have to say it's pretty damn good.

On Dec. 20th, I brewed my second batch.....all grain. Based on the knowledge I've gained here and in Palmer's and Charlie P's books, I don't think I've missed out on anything by jumping right in, and passing up the extract phase.

The notes I kept on my process were great. I improved, in the areas I muffed the first time around, but then a whole new set of things to improve popped up during the All Grain session. Which are fixable.

Two problems that I encountered weren't even problems...easily fixed. One was the collection of wort...my process was highly inefficient (involved me taking a pitcher full of wort then dumping it in the boil kettle, then me marking a hash mark in my notes.....You can guess after a while I was asking myself if I marked that pitcher off or not.)

The second was my flame lost it's potency somewhere in the boil. How long? I don't know. I switched out quick, but by the time I noticed, I was no longer getting a roiling boil. So I missed a mark in the process there for not evaporating enough wort. Which would probably cause my OG to be a little low.

Third, is I just got to get the hang of the process of mashing in. Next time, I'll just heat water to 185, dump it in, wait for my strike temp, and add the grain. I covered the mash at the desired temp, but it seems like after an hour, it went up to over 160.

In the end, I'm sure I'll end up with something that'll look and hopefully taste like beer. Matter of fact, I'm sure it'll taste damn good. And I'm glad that I jumped right up to All-Grain.
 
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