First attempt at a partial mash.

January 1, 2006 at 2:31 pm Leave a comment

Ok, for those who don’t know, there are at least 3 ways to brew beer.

One, and the most common to start with, is extract brewing. This stuff is either liquid or dry and comes in cans or bags. It is the extracted sugars and the good stuff from brewing grains. You pretty much add it to water and boil it, add hops and yeast and wait.

The second type is a combination of some extract and some grains. The grains can be of a type that you can steep in a bag hung in the hot water, or a type that needs mashing. This process requires water that is in the ph range of 5.0-5.5 which is heated to 170 before adding the grains, and 150-158 (f). Water is added to the crushed grain at the rate of 1.5-2.0 quarts per pound of grain and held at the prescribed temp until the conversion from starches to sugars is complete. (There’s a couple more steps, but I don’t feel like typing that long!) After this process the liquid wort is drained from the grain, recirculated through it to strain out the hulls and pieces, and then flushed with 170 degree water to get the remaining sugary wort out of the grain. The extract and hops are added to this and perhaps some top-off water and boiled for an hour or so.

The 3rd method is all-grain, where no extract is used. I’m not there yet…. but I will be!

Anyway, yesterday was pretty much an all day “class” in partial mashing! It actually started the evening before with a lesson in water. I’m not going to be boiling my own anymore! I’ll buy the stuff…. I had containers of water everywhere, and it was in my way badly! For the $.60 a gallon I’ll make a trip to the store!

Next problem… the recipe called for flaked rice and the local place where I bought ingredients doesn’t carry it. So, after work the next day I went to a LHBS (Local Home Brew Store) …which is 15 miles or so out of my way….no luck there either! Sooo… the NEXT night after work I went 20 miles in the other direction to another LHBS, and bought the required two pounds.

Next problem… I had gotten the wrong chemical for water treatment! Another trip to yet a third LHBS for calcium carbonate. While there I picked up 3 pounds of 2-row pale malt to use as a base grain because I had been told that there were no enzymes in the rice, or the crystal and I would need the 2-row for things to work in the mashing process.

Back at home I checked the PH of the water. It was too low at 4.9, so I added some calcium carbonate…overshot, was now at 5.8, so added calcium. Undershot again! Dumped that water and tryed again, and hit it right on 5.2! Heated it to the requisite 170, added my grain (I crushed the crystal with a rolling pin) and managed to keep the temperature right for the whole hour! All full of confidence (sort of… didn’t see how anything was going to drain through that mush..) I got out my colander and scooped mash into it until it was full…and stuck! Wort was puddled on it, it wasn’t going anywhere, and I had half of it still left in the pot (mash tun is the proper name I guess)! I grabbed another strainer…same thing, and still LOTS left. Quick trip to Walmart…BIG colander (a whole $ .97!) and some petticoat netting ($.44) and I was back at the lautering (draining/rinsing). This colander held the whole thing, and it worked. But, it had taken so long th stuff was almost cool.. I was worried that it would start “jelling” and clog things up even worse. No problem…the lautering went well this time. Then, I realized I had forgotten the 15 minute stay at 170 called “mash out”. Good thing this recipe has a lot of extract in it!
Next problem… my stainless steel brew pot is 5 gallons… to the brim. I hated to do it, but I moved everything over to my 30 qt turkey fryer pot, which is aluminum. There are those who say never use an aluminum brewpot as it can give a metallic taste to the beer. Guess we’ll find out soon enough!

Near the end of the boil I was on the web and saw a thread about rehydrating and proofing your dry yeast. So, I did that while the pot was in the sink with water running down the side to cool it off to the pitching (adding yeast) temperature. I cooled it to about 100 degrees because I had to add a couple of gallons of water to bring it back up to 5 gallons and I figured the room temp water would bring it back to pitching temp of 70-80 degrees. WRONG…it was still so close to 100 that it was scary! Well, now it’s in my plastic fermenting bucket, so I took it outside and piled snow around it. Went back to the yeast. Several minutes later I went out to check the wort..still 100 degrees!!! Now, near panic (the yeast is READY!) I poured the wort back into the turkey pot and took it outdoors where I piled snow around it for long enough to get it down to 80 degrees, brought it in, matched temps with my now very-proofed yeast and pitched away.

The co2 bubbles started in the airlock early this morning, so the primary is under way!

Learned a boat load of stuff with this one!!! On to faster times, and hopefully better beer!

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Entry filed under: Homebrew Stuff & Notes.

Bottling So THIS is how it’s supposed to work!

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