Partial Mash vs All Grain - is there a difference?

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missing link

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What is the difference between partial mash and All Grain?

I've done 3 Home brews so far. 1 all extract, 2 kits with grain and extract. I want to do 5 or 6 more kits to get my technique for sterilizing, OG and FG, and carbonating up to snuff before going into more involved brewing procedures.

Is there a step between AG and Extract kits?
 

TheJadedDog

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Partial mash involves mashing a portion of the grain (not steeping as it sounds like you may have done already) then making up the remaining fermentables with extract. This is an option for people (like me) who are unable to do a full AG due to equipment constraints (for me, my stove just can't boil more than 3 gallons).

PMers use a MLT and sparge just like the AGers, we just add some extract and top off water at the end so efficiency is not as big a concern.

PM is a good intermediate step between extract with steeping grains and AG although it is by no means necessary if you want to go straight to AG (I wish I could).
 

Evan!

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I've' done maybe 10 AG batches, but I still go back to Partial Mashing if I need to. If I'm doing a high gravity beer and I have the extract laying around, I'll just get most of my sugars from the mash, and toss in the extract to finish it off. There's virtually no difference in quality between mostly-mashes and all-grain brews.
 

EdWort

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Maybe it's just me, but I noticed that extract beers have a certain twang to them. My first couple of PMs had it, but when I switched to All Grain, the twang is gone. Sounds like a country music song don't it. :D
 

RedSun

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Yeah, extract and PM do have a little something that's almost sweet to the finishing, extra bite almost, characteristic of the type. PMs much less so than extracts though I've noticed.
 

cheezydemon

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As Orfy said, you notice a huge difference going to PM from extract. I guess I am a little unclear on Partial mashing and steeping. What is the difference?
 

FlyGuy

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missing link said:
Is there a step between AG and Extract kits?
Yes -- you are on the right track -- partial mashing is 'in between' method. It is a hybrid of extract techniques and all grain techniques. The advantages are that you probably don't need much extra equipment than you already have for steeping/extract brews, you can easily do it indoors, you can use nearly all types of grains and adjuncts (many of which are not possible with extract/steeping techniques), and it makes better beer than all-extract, typically. It is also very forgiving, because much of your fermentables come from extract -- so if you mess up your grain mashing process, the effects are minimized.

The downsides are that it takes almost as much time and work to do as all grain brewing, and you don't have complete control over your beer design as you would with all grain. Also, many believe (myself included) that it still doesn't produce beer
as good as all grain, but that probably depends more on the brewer.

cheezydemon said:
As Orfy said, you notice a huge difference going to PM from extract. I guess I am a little unclear on Partial mashing and steeping. What is the difference?
Steeping means the same thing as when you make tea. You infuse the grains with warm water and let the sugars, color, and flavour dissolve into the water. You extract the water and add that goodness to your extract brew.

Partial mashing means that you will take malted grains (not the ones used in steeping) that contain enzymes capable of converting starch to sugar. The mashing process involves infusing these grains with water held at a precise temperature that optimizes the enzymatic-activity of your base grains so that all the soluble starches are converted to sugar (namely maltose). Then the infused water is separated from the grains (often with some rinsing or sparging) to form a higher proportion of fermentables than obtained from just steeping. The big difference is that you can only steep certain grains that have been modified (typically by heat) so that their starches are already converted to sugar, whereas preforming a mash allows you to use the full gammut of grains and adjunct cereals in your brew.

Hope that helps.
 

Orfy

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Very Simply.

Extraxt only.
Using only extract (usually pre hopped)
Add water.

Extract and steep.
All the fermentables come from the extract (sometimes prehopped)
Grains are steeped (soaked) to add some flavour and colour

Partial Mash

Part/Majority of the fermentables are from extract. (Useually un hopped)
Grain is mashed (startch converted to sugar) to give some fermentables, flavour and color.
Own hops normally added
 

paranode

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Partial mashing is the funnest way IMO for those of us that are constrained to kitchen equipment for doing our boils. FlyGuy's cheap MLT design is excellent for mashing about half your fermentables then you can throw in a little bit of extract at the end and you're about as close as you can be to all grain, plus you get to learn about how that process works and all the different malts.
 

cheezydemon

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Thanks! Are Steepable grains typically labeled "crystal"?, that would make sense of a few things.
 

TheJadedDog

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There has been some mention in this thread of the dreaded twang. I have found that using extra light DME for my fermentables and using steeping grains for flavor and color has completely eliminated this flavor.
 

paranode

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TheJadedDog said:
There has been some mention in this thread of the dreaded twang. I have found that using extra light DME for my fermentables and using steeping grains for flavor and color has completely eliminated this flavor.
I also wonder if LME is more prone to this than DME perhaps. I usually use extra light DME in my PMs anyway. I've never noticed the twang but then I've never had an all-grain beer either. :)
 

SW Brewer

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I have done one AG, two PM and a bunch of extract kits, some with steeping grains. I think that AG takes more time and effort than PM because your dealing with the entire wort volume (and more prior to boiling down) than you do with PM. I do NOT need a wort chiller or a huge ice bath to cool down a PM wort, but I do with an AG wort. Plus, I found that using DME with a PM beer is safer because you can make up your efficiency issues with the DME additions. I am by far no expert and will likely do more AG when I have more time on my hands, but for now PM works really well and provides me with a nice step up to AG again when I am ready.

Greg
 

Bearcat Brewmeister

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FlyGuy said:
Partial mashing means that you will take malted grains (not the ones used in steeping) that contain enzymes capable of converting starch to sugar. The mashing process involves infusing these grains with water held at a precise temperature that optimizes the enzymatic-activity of your base grains so that all the soluble starches are converted to sugar (namely maltose). Then the infused water is separated from the grains (often with some rinsing or sparging) to form a higher proportion of fermentables than obtained from just steeping. The big difference is that you can only steep certain grains that have been modified (typically by heat) so that their starches are already converted to sugar, whereas preforming a mash allows you to use the full gammut of grains and adjunct cereals in your brew.
The other key to the difference between partial mashing and steeping is the amount of water used. I have had people ask me, "Well if I hold my steeping grains at the right temperature long enough, am I not mashing?" The answer is no because of the enzymes mentioned above. For the enzymes to convert starch to sugar, there is a very specific range of water to grain ratios where the enzymes are at the correct dilution to operate correctly and do their conversion. This range is roughly .75 qts of water per pound of grain to 1.5 qts/lb. The resulting mix has a porridge-like consistency, not at all like a full grain bag soaking in a kettle when steeping. Steeping a pound of grain in 3 gallons of your water as you bring it to boil, even if you held it at 152F for a while, is far too dilute to get any conversion.
 

RadicalEd

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Quickie question here:

When you're PM'ing, do you just toss the specialty grains in with the malts in the mash? I mean, I know you're not really supposed to get fermentables out of them, so it seems like it could mess up the flavor, but at the same time steeping beyond the mash is never mentioned, and it would seem still to hold grains at a temp twice...
 

paranode

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Yeah you can just put them all in there since the mash temps are in the same range you want for steeping.
 

Yooper

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So if i wanted to do a partial mash for the first time. Is there a kit for that?
Sure! Austinhomebrew.com (for one) sells them. There are probably other companies that do, too, but I know that AHS has them and I've even done a couple of them.

You can also convert any recipe from AG or extract to PM, and we'd be glad to help you with that if you'd rather. Many people like to buy a kit for the first time, but it's not necessary.
 

Synovia

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Maybe it's just me, but I noticed that extract beers have a certain twang to them. My first couple of PMs had it, but when I switched to All Grain, the twang is gone. Sounds like a country music song don't it. :D
I don't think that the extract has anything to do with the twang. I think its going from 2g boils to full boils that happens to usually happen at the same time.


I've just never understood the appeal of PM. Its all the work of AG, with none of the cost savings or control benefits.
 

Malticulous

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When I got a pot big enough for five gallon batch full boils I did 10 gallon partials. Wow, now that's a thought...I could do 25 gallon PMs now. :rockin:
For just another $100 in equipment I could do 50 gallon batches. Now how am I going to fit a 55 gallon barrel in my chest freezer? I know I can do it I just need some help drinking it.
 
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