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Partial Mash...To bag or not to bag, that is the question

When you guys do a partial mash do you just dump all the grain in the mash pot and then strain and sparge after or do you bag it and pour you sparge water over it? Does it make a difference which way you do it? For my first PM brew I used a big bag and don’t feel the sparging process got all the sugars out. I figured out that I could wrap my cullender in my nylon mash bag and really make it even more efficient.

I noticed the recipes on the NB site give you an option to use a bag or not. Some other home brew recipes specifically ask to use a bag.

I suppose you wouldn’t have to, but I always mash in a bag. And my efficiency averages around 85%. If you are unhappy with getting enough sugars out of the grains, consider whether you need to crush the grains harder. Crush is the biggest part of it. Crush good enough, and then with a good rinse you can get pretty darn good efficiency.

In partial mash brews, the recipes I’ve used call for approximately 5 pounds of grain (give or take). I’ve been able to fit the grains evenly (and looser) into three separate bags. They still fit in my 5 gallon brew kettle for the mash while being fully immersed in the water. When sparging, I just do one bag at a time, one quart of water at a time and rotate through the bags until the specified amount of sparge water has been used.

I have found the multiple loosely packed bags have allowed for a more efficient sparge than one tight bag and cleaner than the free floating grain method…but that’s just what’s worked for me.

I agree with RM0312. After trying with a bag and without I think breaking it up into two bags is the best method. Most partial mash kits come with almost too much grain to effectively sparge using a single bag. It’s pretty messy without a bag and you also run into the same issue, too much mash to effectively sparge.

I mash in a paint straining bag in my brew kettle. Then I remove the bag and let most of the liquid drain before placing it in my bottling bucket with the sparge water for a mash out. I can stir the loose mash while it steeps and then drain the liquid into my brew kettle.

And +1 to what Dave said. Double crush your grain if possible.

I use a 5 gallon mesh paint bag for my 5 gallon mashtun and I usually average 85%. But as noted above, the crush is the key to good efficiencies.


I agree on the bag…got a new bag from a local brew supply place and it’s huge. Did a partial mash on Sunday (English Northern Brown Ale) and it worked out very well; the grain was loose and I got good efficiency and when I sparged it worked out much better than before when the bag was tighter. I also had the grain double crushed…that really helped. I also made sure not to loose any of the grain dust on my counter top it all went in the mash.

Sounds like you had a great brewday :smiley:

[quote=“hans caravan”]Sounds like you had a great brewday :smiley: [/quote] I’m excited about that brew…to be honest that is the first brew where I made no mistakes…everything went perfectly…I have high hopes for that beer.

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