Chapter 18 - Your First All-Grain Batch
18.3 Partial Mash Option
An option for beginning all-grainers is to take the transition only half-way. Use a small mash to provide wort complexity and freshness, but use a can of extract to provide the bulk of the fermentables. This option is particularly attractive for brewers living in small apartments with not much room in the kitchen for large pieces of equipment. Using a partial mash was how I first started using grain and I was extremely pleased with the results.
A partial mash is carried out just like a full scale mash, but the volume of wort collected is only the 3 - 4 gallons that you would normally boil when brewing with extract. The procedure is also similar to using extract & steeped specialty grain, the extract is added to the grain-based wort and the boil proceeds as usual. You can mash in either a pot on the stove or buy a smaller cooler (3-4 gal.) and build a small manifold. You probably have a small beverage cooler already that would work well with a drop-in manifold like that shown with the rectangular cooler in Appendix D. One advantage to using a manifold, versus pouring the mash into a strainer, is that you avoid aerating the wort while it is hot. As was discussed in Chapter 6 - Yeast, and Chapter 8 - Fermentation, oxidation of hot wort at any time will lead to flavor stability problems in the beer later.
Figure 92: This view shows the slots cut in the copper manifold. The design of copper manifolds is discussed in Appendix D.
Figure 93: The lautering manifold is now installed in the bottom of the cooler. Designs will vary depending on what you have to work with.
Figures 94 & 95: These two types of mash/lauter tun coolers are part of a three tier, gravity fed brewing system. A three tier set-up is not required when using a cooler, it just happens to be the way I do it. More often brewers use the cooler in the kitchen, and boil in other pots. I used to do it that way before my wife decided she wanted my hobby out of her kitchen.
Figure 96: This is my hot water tank that feeds the sparge. It is a converted stainless steel beer keg with the top cut out and fittings installed. A thermometer is shown in front and the sight tube along the left side shows how much water is being used. The keg sits on top of a propane burner which is very handy when heating 6+ gallons of water. Another propane burner fires the boiling kettle. Full volume boils for a 5 gallon batch can be difficult on a kitchen stove; propane is an economical alternative. Propane burners are a necessity when brewing 10 gallon batches.