Sunday, March 21, 2010

My first mashing, as it were

Today was my first foray into a partial mash, as a step to a full mash. I do not as of yet have the ability to boil a full five gallons (six actually when boiling for an hour), so a partial mash is the step I must take. A bit above the steeping of grains, a partial mash will not only induce color, but add to the fermentable sugars. So, what did I mash?

Let's step back a moment. The latest issue of Zymurgy contains several articles on the list of various types of adjuncts. Few provide fermentable sugars, but they do add to the character of the beer. Using this as a guide, and inspired a bit by things my fan club enjoys, I started to generate a recipe in my head. I started with my "Crystal My Oats" recipe, though in the end, few elements of the original recipe remained.

The first to change were the hops in play. Four ounces of Chinook were chosen over a single ounce, plus an ounce of Fuggles. The chocolate malt was also reduced and the roasted barley dropped. Into the partial mash then went 6 pounds of pale malt, 2 pounds of 120L Crystal malt, 1 pound of flaked Oats, half-pound of chocolate (350L) and one-quarter pound black patent (500L).

2.5 gallons of 170F degree water went into the mash tun, the lid placed and let sit for 10 minutes. The idea to heat the entire tun with the water came from videos I had seen of others and their mashing techniques. It did seem to help the adsorption of heat and keep the temperature constant. The cracked grains were then in placed, stirred and left to mash for 45 minutes. In the meantime, 2.5 gallons of water were heated to 170F to sparge when the mash was finished. The collection of wort ended up being 3 gallons and the specific gravity was 1.050 and adjusted to 1.058 based on temperature.

After that, it was pretty much business as usual for extract brewing. Seven pounds of pale extract were added, boiled for 60 minutes with 2.5 ounces of Chinook hops. Half ounce was added with 10 minutes to go. Half ounce more at 5 minutes and the remaining half ounce at heat off and boil stop. Other ingredients were added then as well, but they will be the subject of a future post.

Immersion chilled to proper pitching temperature, nice yeast starter pitched containing White Labs WLP004, and off it goes. With a starting gravity of 1.088, by morning it should be going quite well.

So, what did I learn after doing a partial mash? Well, here's a nice list:
  • Mashing is more work, but brings more giddiness when doing the run off.
  • Never second guess the water to grain ratio. Let it run and adjust in another batch, if necessary.
  • It is a VERY good idea to flush several gallons of cold water through the grain bed before tossing in the trash. Unless one enjoys being scalded.
  • The 10 gallon Home Depot labeled Rubbermaid cooler holds heat very well.
  • Simple is better.
Thanks for all those who followed my progress today on Twitter. May the results be well worth the efforts.