What are the benefits of mashing and what is the correct way to spurge?

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Do you mash?

  • Only do extracts

  • Only mash my own malts

  • I do a partial mash

  • I have no idea what we are talking about


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JSappenf

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So I am somewhat of a novice and with beer, I am only used to doing a partial mash. Besides cost, is there any benefit to mashing your own malts? It definitely takes more time. Also, if I am making a 6 gallon brew, I usually mash with 2.5 gallons, and then dump 0.5 gallons of water on my mash bag to spurge. Is there a more correct way to spurge?
 

Yooper

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I think that the only benefits to mashing a full batch, instead of a partial mash, are fairly big benefits, but others may not think so.

One is the ability to manipulate the fermentability of the wort by mash/grist ratio and mash temperature.

Another benefit is to use more adjuncts, if you want. A beer like a cream ale may have 20% flaked maize, 10% rice, and 70% base malt, mashed at a low temperature. That would be really tough to do in a partial mash.

Cost is another factor- extract is expensive!

I typically mash with 1.5 quarts of water per pound of grain, and sparge up to my boil volume (7 gallons for a 5 gallon batch).
 

bobeer

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I think the ability to manipulate the fermentability is a big one. I've also read that thicker mash verses a thinner mash will produce a full bodied beer verses a lighter bodied beer. I've made good beer with extract and partial mashes too. It really just depends how much time, effort and money you want to put into your processes and equipment.

The way you're sparging sounds like the best way to do with with a partial mash. If the batch was smaller you could put the grain bag in a colander and pour the water though it into your kettle.
 

roastquake

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Malt is cheaper than malt extract. the trade-off is time (at least 2 extra hours for crushing, heating, mashing, sparging...) But I don't mind, I love brewing and find joy in a long brew day.
 

eltorrente

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The only negatives to mashing is the increased time it takes, and more equipment necessary. Other than that, it's nothing but positives.

As roastquake said, the increased time and effort is part of the fun for most of us.

I really enjoy my brew day. It takes me about 6 hours start to finish, from when I first turn on the heat for my strike water, until I finish cleaning up and have pitched my yeast.

You can make so many more types of beers, and fine tune the entire process, that all-grain is the ultimate way of brewing. Many people simply don't have the time and want to get it over with, and that's fine, too - you can still make good beer with just extract and steeping grains - but to take it to the next level, all-grain is where it's at.
 

MuddyCreek

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Your poll is kinda limiting. I can't answer any of the questions because I generally do a full mash, but sometimes I do a partial mash and rarely, I'll do an extract.

It comes down to control. How much control do you want to have over the final product? If you do extract, you have little control aside from adding hops or increasing or decreasing the amount of extract in your brew.

If you do partial mash, you have some control over additional flavors, and other qualities of your beer.

If you do a full mash, you have total control over what comes out on the other end. It's a great deal of responsibility. But, when you come up with a great recipe (or steal one from Yooper ahem...) You feel really great about what you did. Especially when you took good enough notes to be able to reproduce that beer precisely.

Anyway, it comes down to a brewer's preference. There is no right or wrong way. It's just beer man.
 

RM-MN

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The only negatives to mashing is the increased time it takes, and more equipment necessary. Other than that, it's nothing but positives.

As roastquake said, the increased time and effort is part of the fun for most of us.

I really enjoy my brew day. It takes me about 6 hours start to finish, from when I first turn on the heat for my strike water, until I finish cleaning up and have pitched my yeast.

You can make so many more types of beers, and fine tune the entire process, that all-grain is the ultimate way of brewing. Many people simply don't have the time and want to get it over with, and that's fine, too - you can still make good beer with just extract and steeping grains - but to take it to the next level, all-grain is where it's at.
If the increased time is enjoyable for you, please ignore the rest of this.

I was interested in all grain, read about it, though about it, but gosh, I don't want to take that much time or spend that amount of money, me being kind of cheap about some things.

Then I read about all grain with Brew in a Bag and decided to get a sample of the process by making a half size batch. It cost me a Corona style grain mill ($25) because the nearest LHBS wutg a mill is 150 miles away and a pair of paint strainer bags ($5 and a pair because they came 2 per package). Gosh, that batch went so easy and my efficiency was pretty high too, not bad for a beginner. Now I found ways to cut down the time it takes even more by streamlining the process and found that I can do an all grain batch in about the same time as an extract batch or to put it differently, should I choose to spend my day that way, I can probably get 2 batches done in the time it takes the traditional mash tun people. There was no mash tun to purchase or build, no stuck sparges ever. Efficiency 80% or better since the first batch but all the flexibility of all grain. Now if I could only justify that wort chiller.....:ban:
 

bobeer

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If the increased time is enjoyable for you, please ignore the rest of this.

I was interested in all grain, read about it, though about it, but gosh, I don't want to take that much time or spend that amount of money, me being kind of cheap about some things.

Then I read about all grain with Brew in a Bag and decided to get a sample of the process by making a half size batch. It cost me a Corona style grain mill ($25) because the nearest LHBS wutg a mill is 150 miles away and a pair of paint strainer bags ($5 and a pair because they came 2 per package). Gosh, that batch went so easy and my efficiency was pretty high too, not bad for a beginner. Now I found ways to cut down the time it takes even more by streamlining the process and found that I can do an all grain batch in about the same time as an extract batch or to put it differently, should I choose to spend my day that way, I can probably get 2 batches done in the time it takes the traditional mash tun people. There was no mash tun to purchase or build, no stuck sparges ever. Efficiency 80% or better since the first batch but all the flexibility of all grain. Now if I could only justify that wort chiller.....:ban:
I brew 3 gallon biab and I agree with you. It's a cheap way to go all grain and see if the process/time is worth it. Personally, I'll never go back to extract.
Just my .02... The chiller is probably my best investment to this point as far as my brew day goes. No more ice baths and having to buy ice every time. It takes about 10-12 minutes or so to get from 212 to 70 degrees and that beats the time it takes to cool in an ice bath. Especially if you're doing half batches.
 

wailingguitar

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I do all grain 95% of the time, but have no qualms about doing an extract brew if I need to knock something out quickly. I do not, however do partial mash. If I am going to take the time to mash and sparge, I will do the whole batch that way.
 

Clonefan94

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I always mash. Not opposed to extracts at all, but I got into brewing for the process of making beer as much as for drinking beer. So for me, all-grain mashing is probably my favorite part about the brewing process. It just affords you so much more control over the final product. You can really adjust the beer exactly to your taste as opposed to relying on what the extract people have made.

I've got a really odd thing in my personality, it goes hand in hand with fishing, mushroom hunting and even making beer. There is something about taking what nature gives you (Yeah, I know barley is malted and processed before I mash it, so not quite the same) but to me there really is something about taking what nature gives you and turning it into food or drink. There really is something cool about starting in the morning with grain, water hops and yeast and by noon, you are making beer. Granted, still a couple weeks away from drinking it, but I am a DIY guy in almost every aspect of my life and this is one of the ultimate DIY projects, imo.

I didn't vote though, because I felt the pole was too restrictive. With my kids playing sports and all, I would definitely do another extract kit if I was in a time crunch and needed to get a batch brewed.
 

roastquake

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Clonefan, look into home malting! I've tried it with some local wheat and rye with mixed success. But I'm sure I'll get the process down by the time I take the jump to growing my own barley, which I can't get down here (just steam-rolled feed barley). But I bet you could get some raw barley in IL, I imagine :mug:
 

eltorrente

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.. There is something about taking what nature gives you (Yeah, I know barley is malted and processed before I mash it, so not quite the same) but to me there really is something about taking what nature gives you and turning it into food or drink. There really is something cool about starting in the morning with grain, water hops and yeast and by noon, you are making beer..
Yeah, a lot of people don't really understand this aspect - especially some of my non-brewer friends.

I actually enjoy crushing my own grains with a hand-cranked mill. Gets tiring for big batches lol - but somehow it feels like I'm more in touch with my process. Taking temperature, hydrometer, and refractometer readings is fun to me. I feel like a mad scientist sometimes, as my kitchen and patio turn into a brewery with all sorts of equipment everywhere.

Somehow through all of the madness, a batch of beer comes out of it and I carefully monitor the temperature and care for it until it's done. I even enjoy bottling with my counter-pressure filler from a keg, so I can either give out some samples or store them.

It's just part of the hobby. I've helped some friends do extract batches and it's a lot easier, but not as satisfying to me somehow.
 

RM-MN

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Clonefan, look into home malting! I've tried it with some local wheat and rye with mixed success. But I'm sure I'll get the process down by the time I take the jump to growing my own barley, which I can't get down here (just steam-rolled feed barley). But I bet you could get some raw barley in IL, I imagine :mug:
Are you willing to take a risk? Make a batch of beer with half and half mix of your home malted wheat and steam rolled feed barley. Your malted wheat should have sufficient enzymes to convert the starches in the barley and the feed people have already pre-gelatinized it for you. The feed man might even give you a little to try with in exchange for some of you home brewed beer.:mug:
 

roastquake

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Are you willing to take a risk? Make a batch of beer with half and half mix of your home malted wheat and steam rolled feed barley. Your malted wheat should have sufficient enzymes to convert the starches in the barley and the feed people have already pre-gelatinized it for you. The feed man might even give you a little to try with in exchange for some of you home brewed beer.:mug:
Hey great idea! I also have plenty of amylase powder to make up for any the wheat may lack.

And just so I'm not :off: once you get into all grain, these kind of neat experiments are possible once you understand mashing basics
 

RM-MN

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I used nearly 60% unmalted wheat right from my bin in a Belgian Wit and it converted just fine. The only problem I had with it was the OG should have been 1.060 and mine came out at 1.072.
 

roastquake

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Was the other 40% home-malted grain? I'm just not sure if I'm actually producing enough enzymes in my malting process to convert. That's the only reason I would add amylase, it's cheap enough
 

RM-MN

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No, I had purchased Rahr pale malt but I checked their info and it appeared that their malt had enough diastatic power that 30% pale malt would convert 70% unmalted wheat. I just didn't want to push it too much on the first test.

If you have iodine, you can test your mash for conversion. One drop of iodine on a white plate/piece of chalk/anything to get a white background, then add a drop of wort. If it has starch, the iodine will turn blue. The more starch, the darker blue or blue-purple. Do a test when you mash in because you can be sure that has starch, then do another one in 10 minutes to see if it is converting. Let it mash until there is no color change.
 

Clonefan94

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Clonefan, look into home malting! I've tried it with some local wheat and rye with mixed success. But I'm sure I'll get the process down by the time I take the jump to growing my own barley, which I can't get down here (just steam-rolled feed barley). But I bet you could get some raw barley in IL, I imagine :mug:
I've considered it, I just don't have the space right now to take this on full force. If I ever do that though, everything will come from my own garden, the hops, the grain. The really tough do it yourself part would be naturally getting some yeast and making sure you had the right strain to do what you want. I'd probably still leave that to the pros.

I definitely would, one time at least, make a beer like that.
 

TheSmithsEra

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Your poll is kinda limiting.
I do all grain 95% of the time, but have no qualms about doing an extract brew if I need to knock something out quickly. I do not, however do partial mash. If I am going to take the time to mash and sparge, I will do the whole batch that way.
If i'm going to mash then i'm going to mash all of it. Depending on my schedule and pipeline will depend if I brew some extract beers.
 
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