>I have done several extract recipes out of Clone Brews and am going to
>do my first mini-mash.
Here's an article on partial-mash brewing that I wrote four my
homebrew club newsletter. It's not the only way to do it, but it
works. Hopefully, it should answer your questions:
Extract Brewers Anonymous
or Partial-Mash Brewing the Easy Way
by Greg B.
My name is Greg and I'm an extract brewer. Except for those times I
get to use the club all-grain system, all my home brewing is extract
based - and I still compete and win ribbons! But if there's one
regret I have about brewing, it's that I didn't try a partial-mash
(AKA mini-mash) much sooner. It just sounded like it would be
something difficult but the truth is that if you're brewing extract
with specialty grains, you can partial mash with very little more
time, effort and equipment than you're using now, even if you're
brewing on the stove top.
The main difference is that a partial-mash uses a base malt in place
of some of the extract. This makes the partial-mash approach a
natural for recipes that require more or less than the standard 6
pounds of extract. A good example is an English Dark Mild. The
style guidelines call for an OG range of 1-033-1.038 but 6 pounds of
liquid extract in a 5 gallon batch will result in an OG of 1.044,
which is too high. On the other hand, 3 pounds of LME only give an
OG of 1.022 Instead of using dry malt extract to make up the
difference, you can mash a couple of pounds of pale malt to get the
OG you want.
Calculating how much pale malt you use doesn't need to involve a lot
of math. An easy rule of thumb for partial-mash brewing is to use
about 1/3 more grain than you would use extract. For the Mild, this
means using 2 lbs of pale malt, since you'd have to add about 1.5 lbs.
of DME to your 3 lbs of extract syrup to hit a target gravity of
1.036. You can worry about more precise calculations after you try a
few batches and refine your brewing technique. I use the online Beer
Recipator spreadsheet to perform the calculations for me:
http://hbd.org/cgi-bin/recipator/recipator Once you've figured out
how much pale malt to use, you'll add it to the same specialty malts
your extract recipe calls for. You might need to get a bigger grain
bag, but that's the only extra equipment you need.
Now here's the big secret: mashing is just like steeping, you just
have to pay a little more attention to temperature and time. Using
your brewpot, start heating about 1-1.5 gallons of water (1.5 quarts
per lb. of grain.) At the same time, pre-heat your oven to 175
degrees. If your brewpot is too big to fit in the oven, you can mash
on the burners, it's just a little more work. When the water in the
brewpot reaches 155 degrees, turn off the heat and add your grains in
the grain bag. After about 5 minutes take another temperature
reading - it should be in the 140s but that's OK, too low is better
than too high. Start your burner and bring the temperature back up
to 152. Once you hit 152, move the brewpot to your oven and lower
the oven thermostat to 150. Now set your timer for 60 minutes and
relax. The oven should keep the water temperature at your 152 degree
target temperature. You can check the temperature every 10-15
minutes and adjust accordingly. That's mashing. Easy, isn't it?
The next step will be sparging your grain. Wait a minute, what the
hell is sparging anyway? The answer - it's rinsing the grain with
hot water. About 10-15 minutes before the mash is complete, use
another pot to heat another 1.5 gallons to 170 degrees. The one I
use only holds 1.5 gallons, so I use a little less. When the timer
goes off, move the brewpot back to the stove top, carefully lift your
grain bag out of the water and let it drain for a little while. Once
most of the water is drained out, you'll need a way to hold the grain
out of the water while you sparge it. I use a colander that fits
across the top of my brewpot but a big strainer will work as well.
Once the grain bag is out of the water, use a measuring cup to scoop
up the sparge water and pour it slowly over the grain so it runs
through into the brew pot.
Once you've poured all the sparge water through the grain, and all the
water has run through, you can remove the colander from the top of the
brewpot. From here on it's just same as any extract batch: stir in
the extract syrup, bring your water level to whatever you're used to
boiling and go to it. Believe me, the improvement in your beer will
make you glad you tried it!