by Matthew Jackson
So, for whatever reason, maybe you decided
that you're not exactly satisfied with what your getting from
extracts. Maybe you decided that you could do it better. . . whatever
the reason, you've decided to check out grain brewing.
HOLD ON BUDDY!
Just one second. . . bad things happen from
jumping right on into all grain. So, where are you supposed to
go then? Well, there is a middle ground in brewing called partial
mash brewing. A partial mash is a brewing system wherein you have
a part of your wort (pre-fermented beer) derived from grain and
part from extract. It is a great way to get the hang of mashing,
with a safety net. See, with an all grain mash, your timing and
temperature control is everything. If you're not used to it, you
could over-heat your mash or leave it too long at a given temperature
and ruin all of your efforts. With partial mashing, you are not
completely at a loss because you've still got the extract. True
enough, the beer will not be as good as you thought it would be,
but it'll be drinkable. So live and learn. . .
As previously stated, the primary difference
between a mash and a partial mash brewing method is the use of
extract. The partial mash system is sort of like a stepping-stone
into the more advanced system of full grain mash. On the other
hand, some stay with partial mash for its simplicity and lack
of required time. The primary reason someone chooses partial mash
to all extract is, in a nutshell, more control. Most people can
turn out a fair to decent batch of homebrew with a hopped extract
kit and a packet of dry yeast. However, after a round or two with
"kit" beers, you will probably get the urge to explore further,
after all, was it no the drive for better beer that got you that
first can of extract in the first place?
Well, great. Partial mash. . . lets do that
then. "How?" you might ask. . . well, that's why you're here isn't
it. So lets get started, shall we? First, let's assume that you
have already gotten at least a basic brew setup. Here is the simple
brewing necessities: A copy of "the New Complete Joy of Brewing"
by Charlie Papazian (if you don't have this. . . stop what you're
doing click here
and get it now), a boiling pot, a fermenter, and a bottling bucket.
Other hardware should include a siphon (an auto-siphon is highly
recommended), a stirring spoon (not wood), some form of sanitizer
(Iodophor and B- Brite are both excellent choices. Check them
a thermometer, some bottles and caps, and lastly a capper. This
is your basic rig for kit brewing.
For partial mash you'll need some extra hardware
on top of this. You will also need a lauder-tun. The principles
of a lauder-tun are simple. Really, it is nothing more than a
strainer of sorts, to strain your mash with hot water. This can
be as impressive or cheap as you like it. For people like me who
love showing off their stuff, a 10 gal stainless steel pot with
a welded false bottom and a ball valve connector running straight
into the boiling kettle looks as good as it works. However, that's
a might excessive for someone just starting with grain. There
are modified Colemen coolers rigged up as a lauder-tun for sale
just about anywhere, it's perfect for the grain brewer needs.
In the book "The New Complete Joy of Brewing" Charlie walks you
through how to make a lauder-tun with two food grade buckets.
It's ugly, but wonderfully functional. Lastly, you could use a
large grain bag, like
this one for partial. However, if our grain bill gets bigger
than say 2.5 lbs. get or make a larger volume lauder-tun. So,
get or make your lauder-tun and lets get a move on.
So, here's your checklist:
New Complete Joy of Brewing" by Charlie Papazian
- A lauder-tun (5-6 gallons)
- A brewing kettle (5 - 6 gallons)
- Plastic or glass
fermenter (6 gallons at least)
- Secondary fermenter (This is optional but good to have for
lagering or clarity)
- Kitchen timer
(bleach works, but requires a longer soak and a good rinse)
(I'll explain that later)
Additives (e.g. Irish Moss and gypsum)
Go through and get that which you do not have.
Ok, now that you've got your checklist filled
out, lets mash!
Here's your grocery list. This is for a European
WARNING! A pilsner is a lager. . . that's
German for "wait". This takes about 6 -8 weeks to do right. If
you are impatient try an ale. You'll find many good recipes here.
- 3.3 lbs. Of
light unhopped liquid malt extract (3 lbs of dry
if that's your thing)
- 2 lbs two-row
malt (or pilsner malt if you can find it)
- .75 oz Saaz
- .5 cascade
- .5 Saaz hops (aroma)
- 1 tsp. Irish
- .75 cup priming
- White Labs Pilsner Lager tube
As a rule of thumb, Irish moss and gypsum
are two things you should have on hand in "bulk"; meaning that you
have a larger than one or two use amounts hanging around. For lighter
color beers, it's a must.
If you noticed
the shameless White Labs pitchable yeast plug, quit complaining
about it and get it in liquid form anyway. It's a lager and for
a lager, liquid lager yeast is the only way to go. If your more
familiar with the Wyeast "smack Pack" then do that, but try to
avoid dry yeast with a lager. . . it can be done, I'm just not
recommending it. Ales are great with dry yeast, lagers can be
a bit more unpredictable.
For an ale or lager, the brewing method is
the same. It's the storing temperatures and bottling times that
change. Follow your recipe. . . it'll more than likely be right.
Ok, so you've got your groceries and are now
ready to dive in to mashing. . . cool. Here's what we're going
to do. First, Get your yeast starter going. Its not just a good
idea, it'll make for a consistently better beer. You can find
how to do that here.
Now start a gallon of water on the stove or burner. DO NOT BRING
TO BOIL! You want it around 125 degrees or so, and yes have your
thermometer in the pot with the water. While your waiting, did
you get pre-cracked grains? If not, here's when you need to crack
them. Use a counter top and a rolling pin. Do not pulverize the
grain. It will turn into mush and mush isn't easily strained;
just crack them up. It does require a bit of arm strength, because
they need to be broken up. If your arms are sore after this, may
it serve as a reminder to buy them cracked. When the water hits
the 125 mark, add your grain. The temperature of the water should
drop a bit with the grain, its normal and in a way good thing,
so don't worry about it. Keep the water at a steady 120 degrees
for 30 minutes or so, stirring every 5 minutes. Now is a good
time to crack open a brew, and enjoy the moment. . .
While enjoying the moment, in a separate kettle,
get a gallon and a half of water heated up to 170 degrees.
After 30 minutes, raise the temperature of
the mash water to 150 degrees and hold for 10 minutes. Then raise
the temperature again to 158 degrees and hold for 20 minutes or
so. Ok, so here is where the iodine comes into play. Take a sample,
a small sample from your mash. Put a drop in a white plate, and
then drop some iodine into it. If it turns black, your not done
yet. Continue at 158 for up to 20 more minutes.
Ok, so what's with the iodine? Basically,
the starches in the grains are getting converted to sugar during
this process of temperature adjustment. Iodine reacts with starch,
but not sugar, so if the iodine turned black, you still have a
bit of starch to convert. If you still have some starch conversion
left it can go at 158 for another 20 minutes, BUT DO NOT EXEED
MORE THAN ANOTHER 20 MINUTES!
Ok, remember that second pot of water you've
kept at 170 degrees? Find your lauder-tun, drain your mash water
into the lauder-tun trying not to splash a whole lot. Then empty
your second pot into your lauder-tun on top of the mash water.
This is called "sparging" by the way. The idea of sparging is
to run more water over your now spent grain to get all the sugary
goodness out of them. Drain your first gallon of wort into a container,
and send it back through for clarity. Now drain the rest of the
wort back into the brew kettle and add the extract. Stir the extract
until it is not clumped up at the bottom any more. That would
lead to scorching the malt, and adding a darker color and slightly
burned caramel flavor to your beer. Now add the first round of
hops for bitter. Bring the wort to boil set your kitchen timer
for 30 minutes. Now is a good time to sanitize your primary fermenter,
air lock, hosing, and lid. It's simple enough to follow the instructions
on the packet, but it is of absolute importance that you sterilize
your equipment. After 30 minutes is up, add the second hops for
flavor and Irish moss, and set your kitchen timer for 20 minutes.
Now add the last bit of hops for aroma and set your kitchen timer
for 10 minutes. If you use an emersion wort chiller, now is the
time to put it into the boiling wort.
You want to get the wort down to 100 degrees
as fast as possible. If you have a wort chiller great, use it.
If not, put your brew kettle in a vat (read sink) of ice water
and tightly cover it. It might be suggested that opening and stirring
the wort every now and again, around every 5 -10 minutes or so
will expedite the cooling process. If the sink of ice water is
used, keep a steady flow of cold water or replenish your ice often
in order to keep the ambient temperature as cold as possible.
You did leave that thermometer in the kettle right? Around 30
minutes or while your stirring for the third or fourth time, check
your wort's temperature and see if it's below 100 degrees. If
so, add it to your fermenter and top off to 5 gallons with cold
water. Splashing around the water and wort into the fermenter
is encouraged to the point of not making a mess, but getting plenty
of air. At about 70 degrees take a hydrometer reading. This is
your original gravity (O.G.) write it down in your log. Now Pitch
your activated yeast assuming it is showing signs of heavy activity,
and put the lid with the air lock on the fermenter. Don't forget
to put sanitized water in your air lock.
Now here is the hard part. . . wait. Keep
the fermentation temperature around 50-65 degrees for around 4
days or so. Now put the fermenting beer into the secondary fermenter
and put the lid with an airlock on it and store at 45-55 degrees
for around four weeks before bottling. Mark it your calendar,
with big letters BOTTLING DAY!
Here is an important note about playing with
a hydrometer. First, follow the instructions and all will be well.
Second, don't stick it in your beer, get a sample and use it.
Some people use a glass beaker for this, I use the plastic tube
the hydrometer comes in. Lastly, never ever put the test beer
back into the batch, unless you want a beer that smells a lot
like locker room slime extract stained through a sweaty gym sock.
Inevitably, the sample is contaminated, and really. . . it is
just not worth it to save the half-cup your testing. If you feel
that strongly about wasting beer, drink it. A good rule of thumb
here would be: if it tastes better at room temperature and flat
that most beer you can get at the store, your doing good!
On the day before bottling day, take a hydrometer
reading of your beer, and write it down. Now, on bottling day,
take another hydrometer test. Is it the same as yesterdays? If
your hydrometer reading is the same as yesterday, your ready to
bottle, and if not, its still fermenting a bit to lively to bottle
right yet. When you can get two days to read the same this is
called your final gravity (F.G.), its time to bottle. Take care
to sanitize all of your bottles, caps and tubing before you touch
the beer with them. If you have a bottle filler groovy, sanitize
it too. The biggest thing to remember is to sanitize everything
that touches your beer. Yes at this point it is beer, it's flat
and warm, but its beer. Heat up to boil a quart of water. At about
10 minutes of boiling add priming sugar and stir until all sugar
is gone. Cool the water in an ice bath until around 70-ish degrees.
Then pitch it into the beer, and stir a little bit. Now bottle
it. Put the bottles in a refrigerator and now wait again. . .
Two weeks in a refrigerator, and your European
pilsner is drinkable. Enjoy.