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Age of grains and a partial mash question

In my transition to all grain, I’ve decided to use an old kit that was given to me. It’s a gifted kit from my brother who got it a year ago and it never got used. It’s the Northern Brewer Oatmeal Stout Kit : ... lStout.pdf

I have a few questions before I begin:

  1. The grains are old and came crushed or partially crushed (10 months or more). Am I boned? It was a free kit so if the quality will be just a little under ideal that’s okay. If its going to ruin the whole thing I’d rather just buy the 5-10$ of grain at my LHBS.

  2. Partial mashing often takes place in the brew kettle, but I have a 5 gallon cooler. I was planning on doing partial mash with a 5 gallon paint strainer in this cooler. The recipe calls for 2 gallons of steeping water, can I use more (3 or 4 gallons) because I have more room to work with and I wont be losing heat as steadily? Will this extract tannins from the grains even if the temperature is solid? I guess the real problem is that with partial mashing I don’t understand the correct way to calculate your water volume for the mash. Is lower better, or is higher better?


1st, thanks for the link to the kit. Many time people ask a question about a kit (OG/FG) and then other have to search for the kit info.

Give the grain a taste. Being crush it may be difficult to tell if they are more mushy than usual. Any off flavor that you can detect?

In regards to mashing/mini mash, use the same water volumes you normally would. 1.25-2qts/lb of grain. If you are doing a full boil, I would stop your sparge volume when you get to 3-4 gallons. By then you should have pulled as much sugar out as possible. Anymore and it could be detrimental to the beer.

Using Mashwater3.3
and 1.5qt/lb:
1.87gal strike water, 1 gallon mash out water, 2.02 gallon sparge volume. Total to boil pot 4.04 gallons. With the assumption of .25g loss in the mashtun and in the boil pot.

For ease, I might mash with 1.75 or 2 gallon, mash out with 1 gallon, and sparge with 2 gallons.

Usually the grains are wrapped in plastic, this keeps them dry. If the grains are damp or soggy, smell moldy or mildew, I would get new grains. The DME/LME should be fine.

I would just stick to the brewing instructions, but to each his own.

I just watched a “Basic Brewing” video from earlier this year, in which they read a reply to a similar question from Briess Malting. To summarize, their recommendation was (for properly stored grains) to not use base malts outside of 12-18 mos, and specialty malts older than 2 years. However, they specified that for base malts, the primary loss over time is with respect to enzymatic power for the mashing process.

So if the grain smells and tastes good still, it might still be wise to substitute a little bit of fresher base malts to the mash. Alternately, take your chances and if your gravity comes out low, you could simply add a bit of DME near the end to beef it up.

If acceptable results is acceptable and the grain tastes ok then go for it; if you want the beer to be the best possible use the freshest ingredients possible. The freshest ingredients make the best beer.

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