Mashing grains in a bag?

Brewing processes and methods. How to brew using extract, partial or all-grain. Tips and tricks.

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Mashing grains in a bag?

Postby Legman » Mon Apr 14, 2008 7:28 am

I've been doing partial mashes(about 4# of grain) in the brew pot by just putting the grains in the pot and mashing. I've seen where this is also being done using a large grain bag. I was thinking about trying this to possibly make it easier transferring the the grains from the brew pot to sparge.
My question is, does using the grain bag effect the mash efficiency any at all or is it better to just have the grain loose in the water?
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bag

Postby slothrob » Mon Apr 14, 2008 9:25 am

The grain bag shouldn't matter as far as conversion goes. The sparging technique you choose could decrease efficiency if the grains don't get rinsed well.

You can get these 1 and 5 gallon nylon paint strainer bags at the hardware store for about $2. They make great partial mash bags and are open wide at the top, which should allow you to stir the grain well and improve your efficiency. They also make sparging easy: Mash the grain in one container in the bag, stir and lift the bag out to a second container holding your sparge water, stir well, lift and drain bag in a big colander.
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Postby Legman » Mon Apr 14, 2008 9:34 am

ok great. The paint strainer is what I already have. I was putting that in another container and pouring the whole grain/wort through that, then sparge.
Sounds like it should work the same, maybe a little easier. Thanks.
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strainer bag

Postby slothrob » Mon Apr 14, 2008 11:10 am

Yeah, there are a few ways to get these bags to work. Try a couple and see what works for you.
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strainer bags

Postby Legman » Mon Apr 14, 2008 1:21 pm

Hey, that's what I just did. Seemed to work pretty good. A little bit of juggling, but not too bad.
I'm curious to see what the mash efficiency will be.

The one thing I did notice that there where quite a bit of very small grain chunks still in the wort. I would think as fine of a mesh those bags are, that they would catch it all. Maybe not a big deal. I avoided pouring some of them back into the pot.
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Mash efficiency

Postby Legman » Mon Apr 14, 2008 3:27 pm

Well, all said and done, looks like my mash efficiency on that batch was 85.7%.
So far, that's been about the average on my last few partial mashes. I think I can live with that. :)
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Efficiency

Postby billd220 » Mon Apr 14, 2008 7:55 pm

Legman, can you tell me how you figure the efficiency of wort. Does it matter that its a partial mash and not an all grain?
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Final Beer Analysis

Postby Legman » Mon Apr 14, 2008 8:54 pm

I used the Final Analysis calculator on this website under tools. As far as those calculations go, I don't think it matters if it's partial or all grain. In the calculator it has a place to put in your extracts and adjuncts.

I just made a nut brown ale today, and only about 50% of the gravity came from the extract. So I was curious how well my partial mash techniques were. This was only my 3rd partial mash, so I'm still learning.
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Postby billd220 » Mon Apr 14, 2008 11:23 pm

I'm doing my 4th partial mash this weekend. My first two didnt go well. The third was very good. I'm making a Pale Ale on Saturday.
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Re: Efficiency

Postby slothrob » Tue Apr 15, 2008 12:18 am

billd220 wrote:Legman, can you tell me how you figure the efficiency of wort. Does it matter that its a partial mash and not an all grain?

Mash Efficiency = (OG x volume)
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Efficiency

Postby Legman » Tue Apr 15, 2008 6:29 am

Slo, I get what your saying.
That formula would be the true mash efficiency. All measurements and reading would have to be done before any extracts are added.

So what's the point of the Final Analysis Tool? What would that calculation be called? It says mash efficiency/brew house efficiency. :?
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efficiency

Postby slothrob » Tue Apr 15, 2008 9:24 am

It looks like that tool uses 34 ppppg (points per pound per gallon) for American 2-row base malt instead of the 36 I mentioned. It really depends on the bag of malt, but either of those is fine for getting a ballpark measure of efficiency. It appears to be designed to give Mash Efficiency, which is how much of the available sugars you get extract the grain.

That tool requires that you know the total volume in the kettle after the boil and the OG. You get the same number if you know the preboil volume and the gravity before boil. Don't use the OG after the boil and the pre-boil volume, which my previous post might have implied.

The tool probably takes into account the variable yield of different malts, but it can't know what your batch is like. If you don't know the actual pppg, the tool is fine or just pick a value around 35 ppppg and use it every time to get a good estimate.

Brewhouse Efficiency takes into account losses in volume due to trub and transfers. It's a useful number, but it isn't that helpful when you are trying to dial in your mash.
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Final Beer Analysis

Postby Legman » Tue Apr 15, 2008 12:27 pm

Yeah, I get what your saying.

But even still, if I did use the readings from the fermenter, it does help correct the mash efficiency in the recipe calculator. Which gives me a better idea about that recipe.
It may not give me exactly how good my mash was from the kettle, but it still lets me know roughly how good it was. For instance I used that for my first partial mash, and it said 65% efficiency. Then by my third partial mash, trying to impove my techniques, I acheived 85.7%. Which at least tells me I did 20.7% better than before. So I improved.

But even still, if I did a full boil that ended up 5 gallons in the kettle or did a smaller boil and topped it off in the fermenter to 5 gallons, wouldn't that basically be the same thing as far as the OG is concerned in the analysis tool?
It even says this on the tool "Final Volume gal. (measured when chilled and before trub removal) "

The desciption for the analysis tool also says "This does exactly what the name says. Once you have readings from the final product, you plug them into Final Beer Analysis. Here you can discover what your brew house efficiency is and how well your yeast attenuates."

To me, final product means final product. Maybe I'm wrong, but that's how I'm seeing it.
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efficiency

Postby slothrob » Tue Apr 15, 2008 2:20 pm

It all depends on how accurately you want your information on your mash to be.
If you ignore losses due to transfer, then you might wonder why you're getting 65% efficiency. If you had included the volume you left in the kettle you might have had 72%.

The main reason you want Mash efficiency, other than optimizing your process, is to make your brewday predictable. If you base your efficiency expectation on the low reading above, then correct your recipe for that efficiency, you are apt to overshoot your gravity on the next beer. This would be because you are actually getting a slightly higher efficiency than you believe.

This will play less of a role if you are transferring everything to your fermentor and not leaving your break material and some wort behind, but hop absorption will cause you to lose volume as well.

I find that the best time to get Mash Efficiency values is right out of the tun, before boiling. This is an opportunity to get a good volume and gravity reading without any complicating factors other than temperature, which is easily corrected.
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Postby Legman » Tue Apr 15, 2008 3:09 pm

I agree with you. It does all depend on how accurate you want to be. I'm still learning and some stuff is just over my head at this point. I'm just using that as a rough tool for now. And then again, I may find that's all I really need to know.

Man, is it 5:30 yet??? I need a homebrew!!!!! :mrgreen:
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