Partial Mash vs All Grain

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CBBaron

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I'm new to home brewing with my second batch in the secondary. However I am curious about doing some mashing mostly to improve the beers.
Besides the cost savings of using grains instead of malt extract is there much of a difference in flavor between doing a partial mash and an all-grain brew?
Currently I am working in a kitchen so my boils are limited to 3-4 gallons. That means I can do a small batch of all grain or a partial mash 5gal in one boil.
What are your thoughts?
Craig
 

Fiery Sword

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The taste difference thing is very subjective. I would not disagree with someone who said that they see no difference, but in my experience I did think the beers got 'better' when I went to partial mashing, and then to all-grain. I didn't make the partial mash jump, however, just for taste purposes. It was more the feeling that I wanted to continue to try new, more advanced techniques and learn the process in much more detail. At first, the taste difference is hard to quantify. partial mash or not though, I think most people would agree that as you learm more and understand detail better you wil make better beer, extract, PM or AG. Jumping into mashing definitely made me understand the process better, and made me more attentive to detail (you have to be is you are mashing or you won't get your sugars!!!) - these things made me a better brewer, and I was able to make better beer.

I do think that the difference in taste from extract to all-grain is dramatic, though. a well-made AG batch looks different than an extract batch, and I believe there is a significant difference in taste also. That being said, you can make great beers with any method. :mug:
 

JasonCajda

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Craig,

I'm no expert and there will be more qualified people to help on this but I'll give my experience. I started out with extract then partial then all grain. Now this is my opinion the all grain beers have been the best, not to say you can't make great beers with extract. I say give the partial mash a try and see, there is a posting on all the things you would need for a partial mash it helped me a lot.
This is a good website to learn the process. Good Luck
http://cruisenews.net/brewing/infusion/
 

Fiery Sword

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JasonCajda said:
This is a good website to learn the process. Good Luck
http://cruisenews.net/brewing/infusion/index.php[img][/QUOTE]
Hogwash!!!!! He already found the best brewing website on the net!!!

[I]"......Oh second thought, let's not go to Camelot. Tis a silly place."[/I] ;)
 

the_bird

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It's hard for me to say whether mashing improved the quality of my beers, since I started mashing fairly early on (my last extract batch was Walker's IPA, which was excellent, so it's not a requirement that you mash to make good beer).

With that said, I find mashing to be a much more enjoyable process, not necessarily the mechanics of it, but the much greater degree of control I get to exercise in the beer's creation. I can use great, flavorful grains like Vienna and Munich. My last pale ale, I can really pick up the sweet Vienna malt in the aroma, it adds a complexity that would not be there if I simply used DME. I can easily do a smoked beer. I can start exploring grains like Special B and Aromatic.

It gives me a lot more flexibility in the whole process, which to me makes everything a lot more enjoyable.
 
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CBBaron

CBBaron

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Thanks for all your help. I am getting alot of ideas from this forum on a small mashtun for my PM experiment.
My main reason for an interest in PM is I really like oatmeal stout and from what I have read to take best advantage of oatmeal in a beer you need to mash.
I also like some malty beers and it sounds like those really see advantages from mashing.
However with really hoppy brews would the hoppiness hide most of the differences? That way I can save the time and effort. With a SWMBO who doesn't care for my brewing and a young child I don't often have large windows of time for brewing. So I would like to put my efforts where they are best rewarded.
Craig
 

FlyGuy

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If you are comfortable with all-extract brewing, then definitely try some partial mashes. You might even want to start by experimenting with specialty grains that don't require a mash (e.g., crystal, chocolate malts). You can make a very wide variety of beers by just steeping grains and using extracts. But if you want to try some partial mashes, that really isn't much harder. With a partial mash and extracts, you can brew almost any beer imaginable.

Of course, as was previously mentioned, learning how to do partial mashes will also teach you the mechanics of all-grain brewing. It is a low-cost way to see if that is the direction you would like to take (most do, I gather, but the added time, equipment, or attention to detail may not appeal to everyone). So yes, I would highly recommend that you give partial mashing a shot, particularly if you can do it without having to buy much equipment (you probably won't if you get creative).
 

the_bird

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I think it's probably fair to say that the advantages of mashing are most pronounced on the malt side, not hopping. With that said, I have an IPA that calls for a lot of Munich malt - it gives it a lot of balance, a real strong backbone to support those hops. To maximize your hopping, the improvement to make is to work towards full boils (which gets you real close to going AG).
 

Desert_Sky

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the complaint I had most with extract was the final color of my beer. With AG I feel that I have much more control over the final SRM. Extracts tend to turn out a bit darker than expected
 
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CBBaron

CBBaron

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Chimone said:
the complaint I had most with extract was the final color of my beer. With AG I feel that I have much more control over the final SRM. Extracts tend to turn out a bit darker than expected
Not a problem for me as I tend to prefer brews you can't see thru.
Craig
 

david_42

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I like mini-mashes, even though I'll still do full boils much of the time. Most people would not be able to tell the difference between a mini-mash and all grain. Until you have access to larger equipment, mini-mashing with late extract addition is the way to go.
 

Willsellout

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david_42 said:
I like mini-mashes, even though I'll still do full boils much of the time. Most people would not be able to tell the difference between a mini-mash and all grain. Until you have access to larger equipment, mini-mashing with late extract addition is the way to go.

I have a Chocolate Stout that's as good as any I've ever tasted and that was with an extract with steeping grains. I was considering going AG, and will probably within the next year, but I think right now I am going to move up to doing full boils with extract and steeping grains. I'm also going to get myself a wort chiller. Once I get my process down a bit more and quit having stupid mistakes then I think I will get my AG stuff together. I really can't wait, but right now the beers I am making are pretty damn good so there isn't any rush.



Dan
 

RafanBrewer

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Hi Everybody, I just found this forum and i am glad I found this topic. I have done three extract brews, an Extra Pale Ale, a Califoria Common, and an American Wheat. The Pale Ale is the only one that is in bottles and it is very good. The color probably could be a touch lighter, but I can't say I can complain about the quality.

But, like others, I want to take it to the next level and try a partial mash. I am doing an ESB, which should be good for a PM, since I want it to be somewhat high gravity. In trying to figure out how to do the mash, I found this article, which explains how to do a PM in steps using a two-gallon beverage cooler. The grains are put in a strainer bag so that no modifications to the cooler are required. The cooler is drained after each infusion. I am going to give that a try. I already found a two-gallon cooler for $8, so it is definately an affordable way to try mashing.

That same article suggests the "extract late" method. In this method, the extract is added at the end of the boil (last 15 minutes) so that darkening does not occur as much and so that hop utilization is higher.
 

Willsellout

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RafanBrewer said:
Hi Everybody, I just found this forum and i am glad I found this topic. I have done three extract brews, an Extra Pale Ale, a Califoria Common, and an American Wheat. The Pale Ale is the only one that is in bottles and it is very good. The color probably could be a touch lighter, but I can't say I can complain about the quality.

But, like others, I want to take it to the next level and try a partial mash. I am doing an ESB, which should be good for a PM, since I want it to be somewhat high gravity. In trying to figure out how to do the mash, I found this article, which explains how to do a PM in steps using a two-gallon beverage cooler. The grains are put in a strainer bag so that no modifications to the cooler are required. The cooler is drained after each infusion. I am going to give that a try. I already found a two-gallon cooler for $8, so it is definately an affordable way to try mashing.

That same article suggests the "extract late" method. In this method, the extract is added at the end of the boil (last 15 minutes) so that darkening does not occur as much and so that hop utilization is higher.
I am going to try the late addition of extract on my next brew which will be an IPA. As far as the bag and grains, I hear people say that you lose efficiency using a bag, which is to say you don't extract as much sugar from the grains. Also someone just posted a cooler that was fitted with some SS braid and they used that as their drain filter...seemed like a pretty cool idea to me.
 

feedthebear

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I've only done one all-extract. The rest had specilty grains that needed a partial mash.

The one that was all extract had no mouthfeel. Tasted like beer but felt like water.
 

thedaler

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Just my two cents, but one of my brother's friends has won a few competitions, and he does only all extract and steeping specialty grains. I would say that its possible that many of these people who say all grain is better saw an improvement in quality simply from experience. A good brewer can make a good beer out of either extract or all grain. With that said, I just switched to all grain myself to improve quality and save money. I would say that if you don't need to invest a huge amount to graduate to all grain its the way to go.
 

Lil' Sparky

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thedaler said:
With that said, I just switched to all grain myself to improve quality and save money. I would say that if you don't need to invest a huge amount to graduate to all grain its the way to go.
Young Padawan, you still have much to learn. Do not understate the power of the dark side. Once you start down that path, forever will it consume you!!!

You're right, the minimum $$ required can be small. But before long, you're looking at keggles, brew stands, pumps, mills, plate chillers, etc. I'm quite certain that I've never "saved money" by brewing my own beer. But that's OK with me. I like doing it and I make good beer!
 

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Lil' Sparky said:
Young Padawan, you still have much to learn. Do not understate the power of the dark side. Once you start down that path, forever will it consume you!!!
You're right, the minimum $$ required can be small. But before long, you're looking at keggles, brew stands, pumps, mills, plate chillers, etc. I'm quite certain that I've never "saved money" by brewing my own beer. But that's OK with me. I like doing it and I make good beer!
It is tempting to go that route. The hobby is great the beer is even greater but if you are disciplined you can follow the KISS route. Being broke makes this discipline simpler.
My initial set up of a immersion heater pail HLT converted cooler MT and converted keg boiler with propane boiler cost me £80 and I've stuck with it. Any changes I do make will be homebrew lobuck solutions.
The only other change I've made is to get Kegs which are expensive over here but it's a long term investment. The only foreseeable future investment is a kegorater and I have a fridge will make a Tower or get a cheapy ebay one. I already have 2 spigots but may treat myself to a couple of shiny ones. An like I have said previously I am well infron on the £££ equation already.

The other way I keep cost down is to find a bargain buy double what I need and sell the extras to help cover my outlay.
 

abracadabra

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Lil' Sparky said:
Young Padawan, you still have much to learn. Do not understate the power of the dark side. Once you start down that path, forever will it consume you!!!

You're right, the minimum $$ required can be small. But before long, you're looking at keggles, brew stands, pumps, mills, plate chillers, etc. I'm quite certain that I've never "saved money" by brewing my own beer. But that's OK with me. I like doing it and I make good beer!

I'm quite sure I'll save money all I've got to do is brew for the next 150 years and then I should break even and start saving money big time!:)
 

Bobby_M

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All this is true. I started brewing in August of 2006 and I already have a grain mill, keggle, and 8 corny kegs. Ok, so I like gadgets.

It is true that you make good beer and even win comps with extracts. I made 8 batches of extract + steep and they're all fantastic (other people even think so, so it's not just a fatherly love thing). An interesting phenomenon is that all grain guys will usually claim they taste the difference while extract guys will use the above arguement. In my case, I decided to convert to all grain for purist reasons. It's how its been done forever and I like that nostalgia. In addition, it's more challenging and likely to get you to cloning your favorite commercial brews more accurately. Bottom line, extract brewing just feels like making instant iced tea.

I'd say that I would let you know if I can taste the all grain difference, but it's too late. I've already invested money and time into the equipment so I can't be a neutral party anymore.
 

IowaStateFan

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Bobby_M said:
I'd say that I would let you know if I can taste the all grain difference, but it's too late. I've already invested money and time into the equipment so I can't be a neutral party anymore.
That's really the whole issue right there, isn't it? Those that have spent the time and money to go all grain have a vested interest and need to feel that their time and money was well spent. Those that don't have the money (or desire) don't want to feel inadequate and point to the extract competition winners to make themselves feel good. In the end, I'll bet it is almost impossible to find a truly unbiased opinion on this.
 

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There's nothing to be Biased about.
If you are doubting the word of the majority of posters on here then that's an issue you'll have to cope with.

You can make damn good beer with extract and you can make crap beer with extract. But I'd guess it's difficult to compete with the best craft brewed commercials.
With all grain you can make great beer and control every aspect of the out come. If you get it wrong then you may fail. But because you can brew to your own taste and criteria if you get it right then you have a very good chance of brewing beer that is as good as and even better than the commercials.
Most people on here I should imagine have integrity and would like to think tell the truth on how their beer turns out rather than justifying how much money they have spent.

I for one have no need to convert people to All grain just because I have spent £££s on equipment.

All grain is not for every one for many reasons but I believe all those who have done it when they say they have seen a cost reduction in ingredients and a determinable increase in quality and satisfaction.
 

BierMuncher

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I love it all. :D

I love the AG process...the detail...the timing...the mad scientist glasses I get to wear.

My last two batches were indoor extracts with steeped grains (mmmmm steeped grains) because it was 4 below zero and 40 MPH winds outside.

Saturday I am going outside to do an AG version of an English Ale Extract I did about 8 weeks ago and I only hope it tastes as awesome as that batch did.

My favorite right now...my extract chocolate stout in bottles.
My favorite right now...my AG Porter that just got kegged last weekend.

That's right...I have two favorites. :p

Like I said...I love it all and they both have advantages:
Extract - 2-3 hours total time
AG - More fun and I love my neighbors reaction when I'm in the garage.
Extract - Great results if you steep some specialty grains.
AG - Nothing tastes as wholesome as an AG brew.

They also have disadvantages:
Extract - Expense
AG - Set aside 6-8 hours
Extract - Ya don't get to break out the witches brew kettle and Propane :rockin:
AG - Ya gotta clean up the kettle and put the propane away

I look at it like this, I can stop by the vegetable stand on the side of the road and buy some awesome tomatoes...or I can put a seed in the ground and sweat, and worry, and labor and love those little [email protected]@rds until they yield my first tomato.

Truth is...they're both going to taste great...but that one I grew from scratch...?

Perhaps I'll savor that one just a bit more.

Like I said though...I love it all. :ban:
 

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