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General Category => General Homebrew Discussion => Topic started by: bendbrew on January 20, 2010, 06:32:48 PM

Title: Partial Mash As a First Step To All Grain
Post by: bendbrew on January 20, 2010, 06:32:48 PM
It may sound somewhat timid but I am considering trying several partial mash recipes prior to jumping into all grain.  I have read Chris Colby's article "Countertop Partial Mashing" which appeared in the October 2006 issue of BYO.  Has anyone tried this approach?  Is there another process I should try?  Thanks.
Title: Re: Partial Mash As a First Step To All Grain
Post by: makemehoppy on January 20, 2010, 06:40:02 PM
Sure it is an easy first step to mash 4-5 lbs of grain and use that as the starting wort to add extract to. Partial mash is nice because you don't need any more special equipment other than a strainer large enough for your grain size. You'll see all grain isn't very hard.
Title: Re: Partial Mash As a First Step To All Grain
Post by: Hokerer on January 20, 2010, 06:49:19 PM
You'll see all grain isn't very hard.

+1.  When I started, I did one extract/grains batch, then two or three partial mash batches, saw how easy it was, and then made the jump to all grain.  One thing, while it may be simple to make the jump, it's not necessarily cheap.  Denny's cooler/braid mashtun won't set you back much but all grain means full boil which means big kettle, probably burner, chiller, etc.  Those $ can add up.
Title: Re: Partial Mash As a First Step To All Grain
Post by: tubercle on January 20, 2010, 06:52:48 PM
A lot of people are intimidated by all grain but once you do it and see how easy it is, you will kick yourself for not doing it sooner.
I suggest you "make the jump" as soon as you can.

 There is that extra expense as mentioned though :P
Title: Re: Partial Mash As a First Step To All Grain
Post by: bendbrew on January 20, 2010, 07:00:16 PM
Right now the budget is tight.  I am thinking that a partial mash will allow me to test the waters so to speak as I save towards the necessary equipment.
Title: Re: Partial Mash As a First Step To All Grain
Post by: denny on January 20, 2010, 07:08:28 PM
The mashing part of going AG isn't very expensive....just a cooler, a toilet supply hose, some tubing and a cheap nylon valve.  The real expense could come from a kettle and possibly burner for full boils.  But going partial mash or AG doesn't necessarily mean a full boil.  I started doing AG with a partial boil on my stovetop, or brewed 2.5 gal. batches for a full boil.  Take a look at www.dennybrew.com to see how cheaply and easily you can do it.
Title: Re: Partial Mash As a First Step To All Grain
Post by: weazletoe on January 20, 2010, 09:22:40 PM
  Best advice ever given me is when I was tossing around the idea of partial mash. The dude told me just to go AG. It's essentially the same thing, So just jump in with both feet. It turned out to be simple, and rather inexpensive.  JUST DO IT!   (insert Nike swoosh here)
Title: Re: Partial Mash As a First Step To All Grain
Post by: bendbrew on January 20, 2010, 10:20:56 PM
I would jump right into all grain but would need to spend some cash on a propane burner, larger kettle (I have a 7.5 gallon), mash tun etc.  My goal when I do is to brew a 10 gallon batch of Denny's Rye IPA with WY1450.
Title: Re: Partial Mash As a First Step To All Grain
Post by: a10t2 on January 20, 2010, 10:38:23 PM
A 7.5 gallon kettle is (barely) big enough for 5 gallon batches, so you really just need a propane burner ($30), mash tun ($30-50, depending on how you build it) and basic immersion chiller ($50). Considering you save $10+ on extract each time you brew, the basic equipment isn't hard to justify IMHO.

As Denny pointed out, you could also do partial boils and put off buying the chiller and burner.
Title: Re: Partial Mash As a First Step To All Grain
Post by: bendbrew on January 20, 2010, 10:47:05 PM
Would a $30 propane burner be sufficient to boil a 10 gallon batch?  My biggest cost would be a proper sized kettle.  How about a pH meter?  I have read about the importance of pH and mash.  Luckily the water here in Bend, OR is clean and soft (which allows for adjustment I guess). 
Title: Re: Partial Mash As a First Step To All Grain
Post by: roffenburger on January 20, 2010, 10:58:21 PM
You should browse on craigslist for a turkey fryer burner. I got mine for $15, and it works perfect for me. I also bought a 36 qt pot for $25 on CL.
Title: Re: Partial Mash As a First Step To All Grain
Post by: mikeypedersen on January 20, 2010, 11:06:02 PM
They're even pretty cheap at Walmart.  They might even have some left over from Thanksgiving.
Title: Re: Partial Mash As a First Step To All Grain
Post by: Lynux on January 20, 2010, 11:07:57 PM
Build a cheap mash tun and brew a few 2.5 gallon batches with the equipment you already have.  Add the rest of the equipment as you have the money to get to 5+ gallons.

Best brewing related decision I ever made.
Title: Re: Partial Mash As a First Step To All Grain
Post by: weazletoe on January 20, 2010, 11:10:58 PM
Would a $30 propane burner be sufficient to boil a 10 gallon batch?  My biggest cost would be a proper sized kettle.  How about a pH meter?  I have read about the importance of pH and mash.  Luckily the water here in Bend, OR is clean and soft (which allows for adjustment I guess). 


Dude, I paid 10$ at Target for my burner. Keep your eyes out, and you will score a good deal. And, when you get a turkey fryer, it comes with a 7.5 kettle, perfect for 5 gal batches, till you decide to upgrade your burner. And yes, a turkey fryer burner, typically 55k BTU, if plenty for 10 gal batches. It's how I roll. Now go brew something!!!!
Title: Re: Partial Mash As a First Step To All Grain
Post by: denny on January 20, 2010, 11:34:31 PM
Would a $30 propane burner be sufficient to boil a 10 gallon batch?  My biggest cost would be a proper sized kettle.  How about a pH meter?  I have read about the importance of pH and mash.  Luckily the water here in Bend, OR is clean and soft (which allows for adjustment I guess). 

There's probably a BiMart in Bend.  I started doing AG with a turkey fryer kit from BiMart that included a burner and a 7.5 gal. AL kettle.  Got it on sale for $30-40.  10 years later, I use kegs for kettles, but I still use that original AL pot for heating water for my brews.
Title: Re: Partial Mash As a First Step To All Grain
Post by: Thirsty_Monk on January 21, 2010, 03:17:10 AM
Would a $30 propane burner be sufficient to boil a 10 gallon batch?  My biggest cost would be a proper sized kettle.  How about a pH meter?  I have read about the importance of pH and mash.  Luckily the water here in Bend, OR is clean and soft (which allows for adjustment I guess). 

I do not know anything about propane burner. Did you think electric?

For AL kettle check http://www.instawares.com/ you can get 10 gal kettle with lid for $60.
http://www.instawares.com/stock-pot-aluminum-40.alsksp007.0.7.htm
You still want to have spigot so add $30 for weldless kit.
By the way if you want to make 10 gal batches buy 15 gal pot.
http://www.instawares.com/stock-pot-aluminum-60.alsksp009.0.7.htm

if you want to check your mash pH go with ColorpHast Strips from here:
http://www.sanitationtools.com/Products.asp?Product=1391&Category=72

I would also say just go All Grain and skip partial mash.

Title: Re: Partial Mash As a First Step To All Grain
Post by: BrewingRover on January 21, 2010, 05:13:35 AM
Build a cheap mash tun and brew a few 2.5 gallon batches with the equipment you already have.  Add the rest of the equipment as you have the money to get to 5+ gallons.

Best brewing related decision I ever made.
That was my progression as well. I used a cheap 3 gallon cooler following Colby's methods for my partial mashes and it really let me get things figured out. I also did small batches and stepped up to 5 gallons once I could do full boils.
Title: Re: Partial Mash As a First Step To All Grain
Post by: brewsumore on January 23, 2010, 05:31:06 AM
Trying partial mash before going all grain is how I went, and when I found out how much better the partial mash beer was than extract, it whetted my appetite to go all grain even more.  Having started from experience as an extract brewer, I think partial mash is a natural progression - and it marries the extract with the AG process so provides a good transition.  I figured out how to do stove top partial mashes and actually came very close to the method explained in the BYO article you reference.  If you go that route I'll bet you conclude as I did, that once all grain equipment is purchased, brewing all grain takes about the same amount of time as partial mash, is cheaper when figuring ingredients cost, gives you more control over the beer, and allows you to make bigger batches.  Still, I was glad to learn partial mash, and there was a time when work called me away from my all grain setup for an extended time, and I was still able to go back to stovetop partial mash and make really good beer with very little equipment.  My point is that at least from my perspective, there's nothing lost by going partial mash as your next step.
Title: Re: Partial Mash As a First Step To All Grain
Post by: yaleterrace on January 23, 2010, 05:42:20 PM
+ another 1 on going all-grain!  the basic setup is REALLY simple.  I started AG brewing and skipped the extract phase altogether.  I brewed 5 gallons every week for 19 batches in a row with the following items you don't need for extract batches:

8 gal AND 5 gal steel stockpot
immersion wort chiller
Papazian's "zapap" lautering tun, (converted 2 Ale Pale buckets)
strong mash spoon/paddle
2-quart pitcher
vinyl tubing

you can mash at a single step or stepped-infusion style with the pot over 2 gas range burners on your stove.  after mash-out, scoop the mash into your bucket-in-bucket lautering tun.  drain your first runnings back into the big kettle (you have washed this out after removing the mash) because this is also your boil kettle.  batch sparge (pour) your hot water into the grains, let them steep for a few, and drain those into the kettle too.  THATS IT!  start your boil from there, and forget that you ever opened a can to make beer!  it isn't scary, it isn't hard, and it isn't really too mysterious.  the benefits (which far outweigh the expenses and increased brew time) are many.  you will understand beer much more than before, you will be very proud of every batch, even the s***ty ones, and you will make better beer every time since you will have a rapidly growing conception of brewing and ability to apply it.  like i said, brew time goes up (5-7 hours total from set-up to clean-up) and you will need to be mentally present for all steps, but you WILL NOT REGRET IT, I PROMISE.

cheers, and tell us what you wind up doing!
Title: Re: Partial Mash As a First Step To All Grain
Post by: rabid_dingo on January 23, 2010, 06:17:55 PM
A 7.5 gallon kettle is (barely) big enough for 5 gallon batches.

As a10t2 pointed out it is big enough, just barely. :o Even though the margin of error
for using a 7.5 gal kettle is minuscule it is big enough. I made several batches with
one and successfully made the jump to AG. Go for it. You will just need to be diligent
with watching for boil overs.

Title: Re: Partial Mash As a First Step To All Grain
Post by: Thirsty_Monk on January 23, 2010, 08:51:36 PM
A 7.5 gallon kettle is (barely) big enough for 5 gallon batches.

As a10t2 pointed out it is big enough, just barely. :o Even though the margin of error
for using a 7.5 gal kettle is minuscule it is big enough. I made several batches with
one and successfully made the jump to AG. Go for it. You will just need to be diligent
with watching for boil overs.


I also started with 7.5 gal turkey fryer.
Now I will tell you that it is too small for 5 gal batch.
I need to have 8 gal wort when I do 5 gal batch.
SO if you are buying a new kettle, buy at least 10 gal pot.
And Spigot is essential.
Title: Re: Partial Mash As a First Step To All Grain
Post by: denny on January 23, 2010, 11:19:31 PM
It's too small if you do a full boil.  When I started AG, I used a .5 gal. kettle, did a higher gravity boil, and topped off afterwards.  It wasn't ideal, but it worked fine.  Fortunately, after a few batches that way, a friend who was getting out of brewing gave me a converted keg.
Title: Re: Partial Mash As a First Step To All Grain
Post by: bendbrew on January 24, 2010, 09:13:23 PM
Well-I have decided simply to try the partial mash approach first.  I made a "mash tun" out of two gallon cooler.  I am brewing right now.  It was exciting to see how things work.  I used 165 degree-5.5qts of water and added my 4lbs of grain-hit 154 degrees perfectly.  It is now resting.  I have made contact with another brewer here in town that makes 30 gallon all grain batches.  I will met up with him next weekend.  My homebrew shop will start carrying Wyeast 1450 so when I switch to all grain I will go with the Denny's Rye IPA.  Here are the two articles that I used for where I am today.  Thanks to all for your advice. 

http://www.homebrewtalk.com/wiki/index.php/Making_a_Partial_Mash_mash_tun

http://www.byo.com/component/resource/article/511-countertop-partial-mashing
Title: Re: Partial Mash As a First Step To All Grain
Post by: Thirsty_Monk on January 24, 2010, 09:48:16 PM
Well-I have decided simply to try the partial mash approach first.  I made a "mash tun" out of two gallon cooler.  I am brewing right now.  It was exciting to see how things work.  I used 165 degree-5.5qts of water and added my 4lbs of grain-hit 154 degrees perfectly.  It is now resting.  I have made contact with another brewer here in town that makes 30 gallon all grain batches.  I will met up with him next weekend.  My homebrew shop will start carrying Wyeast 1450 so when I switch to all grain I will go with the Denny's Rye IPA.  Here are the two articles that I used for where I am today.  Thanks to all for your advice. 

http://www.homebrewtalk.com/wiki/index.php/Making_a_Partial_Mash_mash_tun

http://www.byo.com/component/resource/article/511-countertop-partial-mashing

Great news.
As someone else said.
JUST BREW IT  :D

All grain is not that difficult at all.
Title: Re: Partial Mash As a First Step To All Grain
Post by: bendbrew on January 25, 2010, 01:41:58 AM
Okay-first experiment over (at least brewday).  I missed the mark.  Expected OG was 1.045 and I hit 1.042.  This recipe called for the late addition of the liquid extract (45 minutes into the boil).  I had difficulty getting the boil going again (5 gallons on a stove top).  I had a 2L starter (on a stirpate-very active) so the fermentation should be fine.  My guess is a very love ABV beer with perhaps some chill haze.  I feel good about the partial mash though and look forward to experimenting further.
Title: Re: Partial Mash As a First Step To All Grain
Post by: tygo on January 25, 2010, 02:12:43 AM
I'd consider aiming for 1.045 and hitting 1.042 to be pretty successful actually. 
Title: Re: Partial Mash As a First Step To All Grain
Post by: bendbrew on January 25, 2010, 06:12:27 PM
Just picked up a 70qt Coleman extreme for $36.  Heading towards all grain.
Title: Re: Partial Mash As a First Step To All Grain
Post by: brewsumore on January 26, 2010, 06:19:03 AM
Good luck converting it into a mashtun.  That's a good size for doing 10 gallon batches.  I first used Denny's SS braided hose setup, but went to using a 1/2" SS Kewler Kitz spigot/bulkhead with straight Bazooka screen for filtration and prefer that.