Northeast Times

Homebrewing with Partial Mashing

Think Beer…Drink Beer colum­nist Tim Pat­ton looks at “par­tial mash­ing” — a home-brew­ing tech­nique that he says is as simple as brew­ing tea.

I am go­ing to start this column out by as­sum­ing all of my read­ers fol­lowed my ad­vice last year and star­ted homebrew­ing right after the hol­i­days.

Hope­fully, every­one’s first few brews turned out well and you’ve been able to share them with friends and fam­ily. 

Now that you have some ex­per­i­ence with brew­ing, I’d like to share some ways to step up the qual­ity and im­prove the fla­vor of your brews.

First of all, I am not a fan of brew­ing with malt ex­tract. Aanything you can do to re­place ex­tract with real mal­ted grain in your brews will im­prove the fla­vor of your beer.

Par­tial mash brew­ing is a great way to start down that road be­cause it re­quires little new equip­ment.

 Everything that you have been us­ing for ex­tract brew­ing will work here. Also, a good ther­mo­met­er and a kit­chen scale will be very help­ful to have. 

You will also need muslin or a re­usable nylon bag to hold the grains.

Now, there are two types of grains used in brew­ing, “base malts” and “spe­cialty malts”. 

Base malts need to be mashed, in oth­er words, they have to be soaked in hot wa­ter. This causes en­zymes in the grains to con­vert car­bo­hydrates in­to sug­ar. 

Spe­cialty malts have no en­zymes in them, just sug­ars and oth­er fla­vor com­pounds that dis­solve in­to hot wa­ter eas­ily. Spe­cialty malts are things like car­a­mel malt, chocol­ate, as well as the roas­ted and black pat­ent malt most com­monly used for stouts. 

Where­as mash­ing can be a com­plic­ated pro­cess, par­tial mash­ing is just steep­ing.

So, es­sen­tially, if you can make a pot of tea, you can make a par­tial mash beer.

There are many more types of grain avail­able than there are ex­tracts, so you will have a much easi­er time mak­ing your brews your own. 

At the end of the column, I’ve in­cluded a beer to try this tech­nique. It’s a port­er re­cipe, based on the beer I served at the FNA Chili Cookoff last month.

Up­com­ing Beer Event: The Mem­ph­is Tap­room (at 2331 E. Cum­ber­land St.) is cel­eb­rat­ing its fourth an­niversary and the open­ing of the bar’s beer garden on Sat­urday, April 21. 

Canned craft beer and hot dogs will be served in the court­yard from the bar’s food truck. The tap list in­side is full of some real rar­it­ies and sur­prises.

Fishtown Chili Cook-off Port­er

You’ll need:

6 lbs. Dried Light Malt Ex­tract

.75 lbs. Car­a­mel 90 Malt

.5 lbs. Chocol­ate malt

1 oz. Black Pat­ent Malt

.5 oz. Nug­get hops

For yeast, try Wyeast Lab’s (on­line at Wyeastlab.com) 1056 Amer­ic­an Ale Yeast or White Labs (on­line at WhiteLabs.com) WLP001 Cali­for­nia Ale Yeast.

It is best to have the grains crushed at the homebrew shop, though in a pinch you can use a blender or cof­fee grinder. 

Heat about a gal­lon of wa­ter per pound of spe­cialty grains to 160 de­grees. 

For this re­cipe that would be about one and a quarter gal­lons. Put the crushed grains in the grain bag, tie it shut and soak it in the hot wa­ter for about 30 minutes. 

Don’t worry if the tem­per­at­ure drops a little. Stir the bag with a spoon to make sure all the grain gets wet.

Re­move the bag from the wa­ter and let it drain, but don’t squeeze it - that can re­lease harsh tast­ing tan­nins in­to the wa­ter.

If you hap­pen to have a second pot, heat about a gal­lon of wa­ter to 180 de­grees and soak the grain bag in it for about ten minutes, then re­move and drain the bag and add this wa­ter to your main pot. 

If you can’t do this step, it is not cru­cial, it just helps get more sug­ar out of the grains.

Now stir in the ex­tract and top off your boil pot to three gal­lons of wa­ter. 

Boil like you did with your pre­vi­ous all ex­tract batches and add the hops at the be­gin­ning of the boil. 

After a 60 minute boil, cool the wort with an ice bath. When it has cooled to 68 de­grees, trans­fer to a buck­et, top off with wa­ter to five gal­lons of wort and add the yeast.

Wait a few weeks, then en­joy!

Tim Pat­ton is a Fishtown res­id­ent and the Brew­mas­ter at St. Ben­jamin Brew­ing Com­pany, a brew­ery open­ing in Kens­ing­ton this sum­mer. As a skilled brew­er, heís cer­tainly par­tial to his own brew, but en­thu­si­ast­ic about all that the Philly beer scene has to of­fer. Got beer or brew­ing news he should be clued in on?  Email him at brew­mas­ter@stben­jamin­brew­ing.com.

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