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First partial mash done... a few questions

Hi All,
after more than a year of extract kits, maybe 30 of them,
I brewed my first partial mash, using the midnight beaten wheaten porter kit.

all in all, it went well.
OG 1.056 (target 1.062)
4.5# grain, 6# LME

a few questions:
1.how to get OG to target?
*I have a new hydrometer, and just read now about taking a reading before diluting and then adjust. I added 1 gallon water, and did mix well, but next time I will take reading first.
*I maintained my mash temp well, I think, but will use a smaller pot for this part next time and place pot in a cooler. I also have a new better thermometer.

I read about stirring mash for 2 minutes after “dough in”… what does that mean?

I sparged about 2 cups at a time, slowly, I think that was ok.

what are the main reasons for a lower OG?

this is fun!

thanks all

Stirring after dough in - basically, when you dump the dry grain into the water, it will sometimes “clump” up and form balls (think of putting flour into liquid to thicken gravy and getting “lumpy” gravy.) Stirring helps break up these lumps and expose the dry grain/starch to the water for conversion. One potential reason for missing gravity is if the mash does have these lumps, that dry portion of the grain is never converted to sugars for the wort.

Could be other things such as mash temp, sparge temp, etc. Sounds to me like you were reasonably close to me. I don’t get overly worked up about gravity if it is in the ball park. I always just throw in an extra pound or two of grain to compensate for lost efficiency. I NEVER get the gravity that a recipe/kit promises if I follow the recipe, so I just add some extra.

Sounds like you are on the right track to me.

great, thanks for the word of encouragement.

when you say that you add an extra pound or two or grain,
do you mean at the beginning?

now, I used 4.5 pounds of grain, and it barely fit in the strainer… (also in the bag)
if I add more grain, then what do I do?

get a bigger strainer?

Yes - into the mash ( I do all grain though). For partial mash, you could just have some dry malt extract on hand to add a little if needed, or boil it off longer to reduce the water. But again, I think you would be very hard put to tell the diff. between a 1.056 beer and a 1.062 beer if they were both sitting in front of you. Now, if you wanted 1.06 and ended up with 1.04, I would be a lot more concerned.

How are you mashing and sparging your grains if you are doing partial mash? Are you just mashing them in a pot, then transferring to a strainer, and pouring some water through the grains and collecting it in your brew kettle?

nope I am not worried about the 1.056, I’m happy with that…
but I just want to make sure I am doing it right.

18 hours now after pitching yeast, US-05 slurry from Chinook IPA, and an inch of krausen, bubbling away, at 62*

I pretty much followed the directions.

I did the mash in my boil pot, 5 qts water to 164*, add the grains to the strainer bag inside the pot, stir really good,
wrap in a bunch of blankets. after 30 minutes it was at 149*, so I heated it a little, added a little hot water, and after it got too hot (oops) added a little cold water.
(next time I’d like to insulate better so it will hold temp the whole hour).

Sparging: I heated 5 qts water to 170*, then poured through 2 cups at a time, slowly, through drained grains, the bag in the strainer, over the brew pot (7.5 gallon pot)

I did a full boil.

Sounds like you did better than I did when I first started partial mash. I don’t know that you are ever going to get “ideal” efficiency mashing on a small scale and moving the mash, etc. Just hard to really keep everything consistent all the way through.

The temp. drops too easily because of the small mass. It heats up too easily when you try to fix it. The sparge through a strainer is never going to be as efficient as on a large scale. Hard to elevate sparge/mash temp. up to 167 which is recommended for extracting max. sugars, etc.

Really sounds like you got every bit of what you could have out of the situation to me.

In my opinion, you are definitely on the right path. What are you brewing by the way?

midnight beaten wheaten porter

[quote=“newbrewermel”]I used 4.5 pounds of grain, and it barely fit in the strainer… (also in the bag)
if I add more grain, then what do I do?

get a bigger strainer?[/quote]
If you have a cooler with a valve laying around you can convert it like the guy in this video[/url]. Since you already do full boils this would allow you to easily step up to [url=http://hbd.org/cascade/dennybrew/]all grain batch sparging

when you’re ready to take the next step. The nice thing about coolers is that you don’t have to mess around trying to keep your pot at a consistent temperature in the oven or with blankets.

wow, thanks for the tips, everyone.

I may have to go shopping for a cooler!

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