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Already doing partial mash?

Hi all,

I am still pretty new to the hobby, but I have a few brews under my belt, and I’m increasingly happy with the output of the extract kits I’m using. Because I would like a little more room to explore (and screw up, if it happens), I started researching the partial mash method. However, I’m now pretty confused–it sounds like this is just exactly what I’ve been doing with the speciality grain option (as in steeping the grains) from NB?

Is that true, or is there a nuance I’m missing here that makes it “partial mash?”

And if that’s the case, how do I accommodate my wandering soul here? I’d like to try putting a recipe or two together, maybe, or just trying some different grains, but I was thinking that by using extract kits I’m really locked in, and I’m not really ready to do all grain (nor, to be fair, is my wife ready to buy a new set of equipment).

In any case, I guess I’m looking for advice on stepping up the complexity and challenge of the process in a reasonable way. Any suggestions welcome. Thanks in advance!


The roasting process used to create the specialty grains convert the starches to sugar. So you can just steep them to extract the color and a little sugar.

When using a base malt ( 2row, 6row, Pilsner, …) you need to mash (steep) them for 60 minutes, at ~150* to allow the enzymes in the grain to convert starches to sugar.

The difference between steeping and PM, you don’t get much sugar out of a steep.

You can take any recipe and convert it to PM. 1st you need to know how much grain you can “mash”. Then using a recipe calculator, enter the recipe as it’s written, noting the OG/SRM. Then add in the base grain to the level that you can work with. Then delete the LME/DEM until you get the OG the recipe calls for.

Clear as mud? :shock:

Ah, I think I understand now. Those specialty grains I’ve been getting have already had a lot of the starches converted, and I’m just getting those sugars out with the steeping–not doing the actual converting.

So, when doing a partial mash, I need to figure out how much sugar I’m getting out of the mash, which I’m spending a good hour on (instead of a 15 minute steep), and use less of the other fermentables.

Then, I think, instead of steeping, I just add the mash water to the kettle?

Ok! That makes sense to me, and the rest of the instructions generally make sense, as well. I’ll probably sit down this weekend and see if I can’t work my way through a recipe as a dry run.

Big help, and very cool. As always, thanks, Nighthawk!

A quick example. The Caribou Slober Extract recipe.

0.25 lbs Briess Caramel 80L
0.25 lbs Fawcett Pale Chocolate
0.125 lbs Black Malt

6 lbs Amber malt syrup
1 lbs Amber dry malt extract

OG 1.52/SRM 21-23

Say you can “mash” 5lbs of grain. The recipe may look something like this.

4lb 2row
4lb Amber DME
.25 c-80
.25 chocolate
.25 black malt.

This will give you an OG of ~1.056 based on an efficiency of 65%. Efficiency being how “efficient” you are in getting the sugars out of the grain. If you are more efficient than that, you can add some water to dilute it down. Or just go with the higher alcohol content.

You could also go with 3lb of 2row, adding table sugar (1lb = 1.009/5g) if needed to bump the OG.

And an SRM of ~21. Because I doubled the black malt to raise to color, lost color because of deleting the amber LME, you could mash only 1/2 of it for the full time. Then add 1/2 the last 15 minutes to get the color but not all the roasted flavor.

You can use free online recipe generators at or brewtoad. Or a downloaded program. Qbrew is free. Strangebrew, after the trial period is still useful. Though both of these programs are behind in some of the ingredients. The other commercial programs, ProMash, BeerTools, Beersmith are great also. And there are many others. Some people have even made spreadsheet based calculators that they have shared for other to use.

You can do this as a “brew in a bag” on your stove top. You can google that for more info.

Hey, this is really helpful! I’m using Beersmith to try putting together my first from-scratch recipe (well, based on a recipe already in the DB, but you know what I mean). So, I’m breaking out of the off-the-shelf-extract box, which was the goal, and really enjoying figuring out these next steps. Thanks again for your help!

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