Thursday, July 16, 2015

My Partial Mash Process.

My Partial Mash Process.
Scroll to the bottom for some proven partial mash recipes...
By the way... I can turn any recipe into a partial mash... just send me a comment, I'm happy to help.

I brew 5 gallon batches of beer in a 7.5 Gallon Electric Turkey Fryer.   I use the Cajun Injector, but I know there are other models out there.   Part of my basic philosophy is to bring brewing back into my kitchen, to involve friends and family, and to show that brewing great beer doesn't require an expensive outdoor brewing system.

The Cajun Injector will easily boil 6.5 gallons of wort, with the lid ajar.  I keep the lid ajar about 2” and I have never had any problems with DMS.  With the injector configured in this way, I get a hard rolling boil, and I actually have to watch carefully for boil overs.   

My preferred method of brewing is Partial Mash. I also do loads of small batch all grain right on my stovetop.  But those are for perfecting recipes, and experimenting, and also to satisfy my need to brew.   In truth I do more all grain small batch (1 gallon)  than anything else recently, but I still consider myself a partial mash brewer.

Here is why I prefer partial mash brewing.

  • More fun than extract - you still get to mash grains and sparge and the fun stuff.
  • Better Taste than extract  - Real all grain flavor - I defy you to tell the difference
  • It’s repeatable you can brew the same beer with the same results every time.
  • More recipe options than extract,  you can brew anything.
  • Less cost than extract - extract is expensive, grain is cheap. Especially if you malt your own.
  • You don't have to stress over pH & H2O chemistry, you can adjust, but you dont have to.
  • Affordable equipment - electric turkey fryer is about $100.00
  • Decoction and step mashing are available to you.
  • You control the amount and % of grain that you are using.  I have recipes that are 85% grain. The DME is there as a buffer, an insurance policy if you will.
  • Takes way less time than all grain. It’s about the same as BIAB

So here is how I do it.

  • I always use right around 6 lbs of grain, sometimes more, but never more than 9 lbs
  • I mash in 3 gallons of water  In the turkey fryer.
    • I do add 5.2 pH stabilizer to the mash water. Some people argue that a thin mash can have a negative impact on pH levels.  No sparge brewing kinda flies in the face of this claim for home brewers. With 5.2 pH stabilizer I don't have to worry about it.
  • Two 4 gallon pots go onto the stove.
  • In one I heat 2.5 gallons of water for sparge rinse to 168 F
  • In the other I heat 2 gallons of water to 160 F at the end of the mash, I add the DME to this pot.  
    • I turn off the heat add the (DME or LME) and stir to dissolve.
  • I then pull the grains and set them on a rack above the kettle
  • I pour the dissolved DME and water carefully into the kettle
  • I then rinse the grains with the sparge water until I get to the desired volume, usually 6.5 gallons.
  • I have about 5.5 gallons of wort after boil
    • I put my hops in hop sacks during the boil to reduce trub loss.
      • It does seem to reduce hop flavor and aroma… no problem add a little more hops… right?  I mean who doesn’t love a hoppy beer...
  • I chill with an immersion wort chiller
  • I take a hydrometer sample.   
    • Some easy math gives me a rough idea of my efficiency with the grain, but it is never far off.
      • usually my gravity a little higher than I expect.
  • I transfer about 5 - 5.25 of that to the fermenter.  
    • After fermentation loss I have about 4.5 gallons of yummy beer.   That is 48 bottles.  
    • I almost always force carbonate 1 or  2 gallons in 2 liter bottles.
  • I keep great records of my brewing.   
    • This is one of the keys to getting recipes dialed in...

Notice what I didn’t mention.

I didn’t take a post mash gravity sample, there is just no need to do that.
I didn’t take a pH reading, again no need. Not even sure where my pH strips are.
I didn’t stress over my water chemistry, the extract will buffer the water just fine.  Just a little 5.2 pH stabilizer in the mash water.
I didn’t crush my own grains.   Again, No need.  Ill hit my numbers almost every time with a fine crush from the LHBS
I didn’t spend 6 hours brewing.  I’m generally done in 3 to 3.5 hours.  So If I start early on a Saturday Morning, I’m done by late morning.  

I have never entered a competition with my partial mash beers.  But that will change this year.   I have shared my partial mash beers with competitive brewers, and found that almost all who tried the brews were very positive about their taste and quality.  My Kolsch and American Wheat beers are about as good as any I have ever tasted. I sometimes cant believe I brewed them in my kitchen.  The comment I get most often is “wait? what?… this is a partial mash?”  Yes it is…

Partial Mash is not a panacea.  You still have to follow good brewing practices, you still have to work in a sanitized environment, and you still have to ferment at correct temperatures.   But if you are looking for a process that is repeatable, proven, and fun…give partial mash a try.

Here are some recipes for you to try.  Almost all of my proven recipes can be found at Brewtoad is the easiest beer software I have ever used.  

Champagne Lager An easy lager (without a fridge?)
Everyday pale aleEveryday Pale Ale
Call the Banners - a real hop monster
Wheat BeerWheat beer - a great base for fruit or hoppy wheat beers.

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