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Moving up to Partial Mashing, Many questions

Hi all, it’s been awhile since I’ve posted anything here. I’m finally at that point where I want more from my beers and I know incorporating more grain into the process while using the least amount of extract possible is the best way to go. However, I have plenty of restrictions right now from keeping me from making the leap to all-grain (mostly living in a 3rd floor apartment with limited space).

So, here are some of my major questions, and I will number them to make it easier for you all to respond.

I’m very much into going right for developing my own recipe, so I want to probably use a little bit more equipment than what’s included in the NB partial mash kit. I’m attempting to make an IPA and want something around 6.5%- 7.5% alc. when done, which means I’m going to want to be using quite a bit more than the usuall 4-6 lbs of grain typical in a partial mash if I want to have more grain than extract ratio.

I’m ideally looking to have my wort be at least 2 parts from partial mash to 1 part extract. So, say I was to aim for 12 lbs grain to hit my target in an all-grain recipe, I want to use 8 lbs for my partial mash, the rest extract.

1.) Now could I do this in a 5 gallon kettle?

2.) Am I better off using a cooler? and What size should I look for given this much grain (8 lbs or so)?

3.) I’ve found a 3 gallon rubbermaid cooler, would that possibly work for this much? (This one would be most ideal for the space I have at this time if it could work, I’d just have to set it up with the false bottom and spigot). I’m not sure how to calculate for how much volume all the grain will add to the water level.

Thanks for any and all comments and advice.

Hey Chris,
I’ve been doing PMs with most of my batches(with 1 all extract, and 2 AGs so far). I use a 5 G picnic drink cooler with a stainless braid. And up until my latest batch I was using a 3G brewpot on the stove(stepped up to a 7G turkey fryer pot and propane burner. It’s sweet)
I don’t have the figures at my fingertips, but Palmer’s book or most on-line brewing calculator sites can help you figure out your volumes. Generally I’ve done 5-7 lbs grain, but I did do a 9 lb batch that filled my cooler to the brim. I used to do step mashes(122, 147, then 157 ), but quite awhile ago I dropped the protein step(122) on advice from Denny and others. Still occasionally do the 2-step, but mostly just 1 step at 150 for 60 min. With a high volume almost filling the cooler, if I wanted to do a 2-step, I might do a decoction(I’ve practiced, it’s not so bad)
I used to use Hopville to figure out amounts, temps, IBUs and color, etc. but they were bought out by Brewtoad. Initially I hated the transition, but they have worked hard on the site and it’s much more user-friendly. And it’s free.
Good luck, it’s definitely not hard, and the beer variety is increased exponentially.

http://www.rackers.org/calcs.shtml

In the above link, there is a calculator called “can I mash this”. At 1.25q/lb, 8lbs take up ~3.14 gallons. Although a 5 gallon water cooler would work, they are much more expensive than a comparable rectangular cooler.

You can go down to 1qt/lb (2.64g for 8lbs) if needed with out issues. So your 3 gallon cooler would be fine. Several years ago I started at .75g/lb trying to do a step mash with boiling water additions. Beer came out fine. But I don’t think anything special happened with the temp steps.

Can you brew this in a 5 gallon kettle? Sure. Boil the wort from the grain. At the end of the boil add your extract. Adding top off water as needed to the fermenter.

thanks for the input guys, very helpful and much appreciated. Nighthawk I used your recommendations awhile ago for temp control in building myself a fermentation cooler because a 3rd floor apartment is hot year round, and it has saved my ass and allows me to actually home brew again. Thanks for all the truly invaluable info you and everyone here shares, its helped me big time.

Go to the MB site and do a search for their three gallon BIAB kit. BIAB is essentially the same thing as AG just that you do the entire mash in one pot and you don’t do a traditional lauter and a sparge is optional. The size is perfect for apartment dwellers.

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