More with Less pt. 2: A Cornucopia of Mash
I was driving down US-131 with my windows down the other day when I hit some dense traffic. My mind has a hard time coming to grips with the reality of being on a hot, concrete interstate with no working a/c, and not moving. At that moment of sheer annoyance, on the wind comes an all-too-familiar smell: mash-in. I could almost see Founders from my window as that sweet, honey-like smell came wafting in my window. For me, it’s almost as comforting as the smell of a fresh tray of cookies.
As a recent experiment I have been exploring the world of multi-batch mashing.
The Life of the Parti-Gyle
While dog treats and bread may be applicable uses for your spent grain, what if that grain isn’t entirely spent? The English employed multi-batch mashing (or as they refer to it, parti-gyle) centuries ago, doing multiple runnings of a single mash to produce several beers. The first runnings could be used to produce a high alcohol beer; the second runnings, a moderate alcohol beer; and third (and so on) runnings for a low alcohol beer. Often times the first and second runnings were combined to produce more moderately high alcohol beer, which is the same practice that 99% of all-grain homebrewers implement.
A few weeks ago I decided to try this out. I had 15 lbs. of grain that I mashed and sparged to get the 6.5 gallons I needed for the Double IPA I was brewing, then I sparged with another 6 gallons and collected into a separate pot. Using the BrauKaiser batch sparge simulator and taking gravity reading throughout the process, I drew off about 5.5 gallons of wort at 1.015 gravity. I then put this on the stovetop as my DIPA started to boil on my propane burner. After about an hour of boiling I was left with about 4.5 gallons of 1.018 wort to which I added one can of Apricot Puree (3lbs. 1oz.), which brought my gravity to 1.020.
I hopped it at the end of the boil with some leftover Citra as well as ounce of sweet orange peel. I also reused some of my Wyeast 3711 French Saison yeast off a batch of saison I did (see last month’s article). After a week of fermentation, it had fermented out to 1.000, resulting in a whopping 2.6% ABV. So I decided to add another can of apricot puree to kick up the fruity punch, and will be bottling the beer within the next week.
Overall, I would say the experiment was a mild success, though next time I think I would do it differently. First off, I would have started with more grain in my mash tun to result in a higher ABV. second beer. Second, I would have used a different yeast. I used French Saison because it was what I had on hand, and because I am a huge fan of that yeast, but in hindsight I would preferred a lower attenuating yeast strain on the second batch to leave a little more body in the beer.
Besides the beer, the best thing to come out of this experiment was the knowledge. This is one of those things I never was going to figure until I just did it, and now that I’ve done it, I’ll know how to do it better next time. It’s easy to get into a rut involving your process, and while it’s good to nail down your brewing technique, trying something new is the only way to grow in your ability as a brewer. Now, I’ve got some beer to drink.
Andrew DeHaan,O’Connor’s Home Brew Expert
Have any questions for Andrew? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org