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VTGroff

My First Partial Mash, a Post-Mortem...

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Well, it's not really a post-mortem since I'm in the middle of my hops boil, it's more like a peri-mortem, but the partial mash part is over, so I feel I can comment on it, but I digress...

So I tried doing the countertop PM method as described in that BYO article using a 2 gal cooler I got from Target for like 10 bucks. The method itself wasn't that complicated, but I was having a bear of a time managing my temps, and while I think I've come a long way with Beersmith, the temps it was telling me to do things at wasn't coinciding well with what was happening in the real world.

I crushed most of my grains by hand like I usually do (except for the pale which I bought crushed), and I guess I underestimated the amount of effort involved in crushing almost 4x as much grain as I usually do when I steep. It was a lot of work and I'm not positive I did a super good job, we shall see...

I was using esheppy's fat tire clone, so I added 166F water to my cooler and then my grains (about 2 lbs). The first thing I noticed was that I lost 16F when Beersmith thought I was going to lose 12F. So I added some water to get it back up to 152F (But I was trying to mash at 154F, Doh). So I got it all nice and mixed up, put the lid on (Which was very thin, you get what you pay for), and put some towels on it and let it sit for an hour.

...I had a fun episode with my 4 month old son, a complete meltdown and projectile vomiting...

An hour later my son was asleep and I opened my cooler and jammed a thermometer in. 138F! Crap. I have no idea how that happened beyond this cooler I bought is a piece of crap. Maybe I should have Pre-Heated it? How do I do that? Anyway, I then tried recirculating some of the wort, but the bag was clogging the spout, so I pulled the bag out and drained it, and just dumped the wort in my brew kettle. Then I did a sparge with water that ended up being way too cold somehow (153F when I was looking for 168F), qand figured out how to suspend my bag in the cooler to make re-circulation possible. So I did that a few times with my sparge water and dumped that in the kettle.

That's pretty much it. We'll see how it turns out when I get my OG readings. Like I said, not that complicated, just temps were a little wacky. I'm considering trying just doing the whole thing basically in my brew kettle next time. I do pretty good managing temp in that when steeping. I'm also considering saving up some money to get a grain mill. Does anyone know if the grain mill attachment for a Kitchen Aid mixer would work? I'm *also* considering just saying *screw it* and going right to BIAB. I don't know, I'll probably do at least one more PM to see if I learned anything.

Sorry for the stream of consciousness, I'm a little tired and I've been drinking a little. Just wanted to share my thoughts and experience with you all as I just took my first "next step" that I've taken in a while. Cross your fingers! :laugh:

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I think you'll be okay. You may end up with a somewhat lower efficiency, but you'll have beer. Let us know how it goes.

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That seems harder than an all grain BIAB! I just did one in an aluminum pressure cooker. I did 3.5 gal of 157 degree water which brought me down to 155. I lost heat as well, next time I'll keep my electric burner set to "3" (out of 10) to maintain 153ish.

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Next time I would just let it sit at 152, 2 degrees isn't too bad. You can always scoop out some of the mash and water and heat that up to 175 or so and dump it back in. Usually 2-3 cups would work fine. Its known as "decoction mashing" and used quite often when doing a complicated brew with multiple rests without having to add extra water to it.

I'm amazed it lost so much in temp. I can usually hold temp on the stove in a Stainless Steel pot within 5-7 degrees for about 45 minutes without insulating it. I recommend doing a stove top Mash next time, just buy a brew pot big enough to hold 4 gallons of liquid and that works great. Than if you need to bring temp up you just turn the stove back on and your golden. Can get a 16qt SS pot at a biglots or ocean state job lot pretty cheap.

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I like mine, just fine. The reviews say it won't grind flour for bread, but I'm not doing that anyway.
I think the handcrank ones are cheaper and I have seen them at the thrift/resale store.
DSC03369-1-1.jpg

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Sham Addams wrote:

I like mine, just fine. The reviews say it won't grind flour for bread, but I'm not doing that anyway.
I think the handcrank ones are cheaper and I have seen them at the thrift/resale store.
DSC03369-1-1.jpg

That's pretty. My wife has that kind of mixer. What's that attachment called and how much does it cost? My hand crank mill is a PITA sometimes.

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So it wasn't a total disaster (I didn't really think it was going to be), I got 1.048 on a projected 1.057. It will be beer, it will just be a little weaker than I expected. I'm really excited to see how this one turns out.

Just from tasting the wort I used to get my OG readings, it's "grainier" than any all extract (Even with steeping) brew I've done. I can definitely taste the different grains and such going on in there if that makes sense. I can only assume this is because of the method.

We'll see, I'll definitely keep posted on this one :)

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Sham--No need to respond. I looked for kitchenaid mill on amazon and ebay. It looks like new ones on Amazon are cheaper than used on ebay.

This is definitely more expensive than the hand crank ones, but I'm starting to think it's worth it if I do much partial mash.

VT--It's not uncommon to miss the OG on your first few partial mashes. Don't get discouraged.

Did you stir the grains after adding the water? One thing you have to make sure of is that there are no "pockets" in the grain where there's grain but no water.

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The same thing happened to me during my first partial mash using a 2 gallon cooler. After one hour temps were in the high 130's. My gravity was a bit low so I just added more DME then planned, beer turned out great.

The next time I had better luck by preheating the cooler with boiling water before adding the mash. Think I ended up with temps in the high 140's after an hour.

My new method is the stove-top BIAB. I mash in a 16 quart brew kettle then stick the kettle in the over, which is set to 170(lowest setting) for an hour. It keeps the temp of the wort right at 155. I usually do a temp check at the 30 min and adjust the oven if needed. Learned about this method at the home brew talk forum.

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For any brewer or brewing method it's all about controlling temperatures. I pre-heat my mash tun with 180F water for 10-20 minutes before dumping it and out adding my grains and mash water.

I used a strike water calculator to determine how much strike water and at what temperature it needs to be to hit my mash temperature, based on the temperature of the grain.

Mash Thickness of 1.5
[ul]Where 1.5 quarts water times 4 pounds of grain = 6 quarts[/ul]
[ul]Grain temperature = 58F[/ul]
[ul]Target mash temperature = 152F[/ul]
[ul]Strike water temperature needed = 167F[/ul]

I poured in 3 quarts of 167F water, 4 pounds of 58F grains and then stirred in the remaining 3 quarts of 167F water and there it was like magic a 152F mash temperature.

It's important to hit your target mash temperature within the 2-5 minutes and to stir the mash thoroughly to remove any air pockets or hot spots within the grain bed. I keep some 170F water handy in case I change my mind and want to raise the mash temperature a little or stir in some cold water if I need to lower it some.

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Its all about getting to know your equipment. Now that you did one brew with lots of issues the next one should be easy. My first BIAB went pretty bad but I got beer out of it and the next time it was much smoother and the third time was like butter.

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Sham Addams wrote:

yankeedag wrote:

should I pic mine?


Yes!
022611grainhop.jpg

here's mine. I normally have it sitting on the Floor...

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crazybrody wrote:

Its all about getting to know your equipment. Now that you did one brew with lots of issues the next one should be easy. My first BIAB went pretty bad but I got beer out of it and the next time it was much smoother and the third time was like butter.

True dat...

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yankeedag wrote:

Sham Addams wrote:

yankeedag wrote:

should I pic mine?


Yes!
022611grainhop.jpg

here's mine. I normally have it sitting on the Floor...


Same as mine. They're a wonderful thing.

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oly wrote:

yankeedag wrote:

Sham Addams wrote:

yankeedag wrote:

should I pic mine?


Yes!
022611grainhop.jpg

here's mine. I normally have it sitting on the Floor...


Same as mine. They're a wonderful thing.

Yep. Did a 10 lbs bag of grain in about a min.

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yankeedag wrote:

oly wrote:

yankeedag wrote:

Sham Addams wrote:

yankeedag wrote:

should I pic mine?


Yes!
022611grainhop.jpg

here's mine. I normally have it sitting on the Floor...


Same as mine. They're a wonderful thing.

Yep. Did a 10 lbs bag of grain in about a min.

Mine does a one pound bag in about 10 minutes. :)

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Sham Addams wrote:

yankeedag wrote:

oly wrote:

yankeedag wrote:

Sham Addams wrote:

yankeedag wrote:

should I pic mine?


Yes!
022611grainhop.jpg

here's mine. I normally have it sitting on the Floor...


Same as mine. They're a wonderful thing.

Yep. Did a 10 lbs bag of grain in about a min.

Mine does a one pound bag in about 10 minutes. :)


That's why you see the electric Drill attached to the crank shaft....

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@TJ, did you ever make that pasta roller grain mill? That's a great idea. I was going to start saving up for a barley crusher and then saw this thread!

@VT, thanks for your comments regarding the 2 cooler partial mash method. I stumbled upon that article yesterday and got all excited about going this route very soon. I went to Target on the way home from work to check out those $10 coolers. The walls and lid do seem to be very thin. Did you insulate with towels or anything or just let it sit as is? Maybe I should be on the look out for some vintage Coleman stuff :) If you give it another try I'd be interested to hear how it goes in trying to manage the temps better.

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I got the roller from Joann fabrics for 16 dollars with a 40% off coupon. Im still waiting on my friend to let me borrow a drill so i can rough up the rollers enough to crush the grain. Theres a thread on homebrewtalk that talks all about it. Its very interesting and very cheap.

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Just found that thread on homebrewtalk... man that's a long one. I get the idea but I don't know if I want to ruin my pasta roller. hmmm... to make pasta or make beer? this should be an easy decision.

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I have a hand crank one. It takes a few minutes to crack 5 or 6 lbs, but I do it while I'm waiting for the water to get up to strike temp, so there is no time loss. The hand crankin' makes me a little thirsty, so I grab some cold home brew.

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Ya im gonna have to hand crank mine until i get a drill. But i do need to rough up the rollers and make some sort of hopper.

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chadmaz wrote:


@VT, thanks for your comments regarding the 2 cooler partial mash method. I stumbled upon that article yesterday and got all excited about going this route very soon. I went to Target on the way home from work to check out those $10 coolers. The walls and lid do seem to be very thin. Did you insulate with towels or anything or just let it sit as is? Maybe I should be on the look out for some vintage Coleman stuff :) If you give it another try I'd be interested to hear how it goes in trying to manage the temps better.

I used towels for the top. Upon further reflection, I also noticed that my counters are granite/marble - I forget which one, my wife would know. Regardless, my counters are made of a big, cold rock. I'm wondering if that didn't suck some of the heat out of my mash through the bottom of the cooler.

If I do the cooler PM again, I will make sure to insulate the bottom from the counter, and I will also pre-heat the cooler with boiling water. I think both of these steps would help with heat retention.

But, first, I am going to attempt a stove-top PM right in my brewpot. I'm thinking that might actually be a little easier, plus you can give a shot of heat if you need to. I plan on comparing and contrasting the two styles.

As a fun aside: I was definitely able to notice the lower mash temp in my brew from the samples I have been taking. It's definitely drier, and lighter bodied.

Science!

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Sham Addams wrote:

I like mine, just fine. The reviews say it won't grind flour for bread, but I'm not doing that anyway.
I think the handcrank ones are cheaper and I have seen them at the thrift/resale store.
DSC03369-1-1.jpg

Mine came this afternoon. What setting do you use for mashing grains? How about steeping grains?

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bpgreen wrote:

Sham Addams wrote:

I like mine, just fine. The reviews say it won't grind flour for bread, but I'm not doing that anyway.
I think the handcrank ones are cheaper and I have seen them at the thrift/resale store.
DSC03369-1-1.jpg

Mine came this afternoon. What setting do you use for mashing grains? How about steeping grains?

I have been using the eighth mark for steeping. I don't mash and my BIAB keeps getting pushed back because of time constraints.

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