Author Topic: Guidance on setting up equipment / mash profile for "partial mash"  (Read 6607 times)

Offline LairBob

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I'm using the trial version of BS2, and while it's clearly an enormously powerful piece of software, I cannot -- for the life of me -- figure out how to correctly configure it to account for the specific partial-mash / extract brewing process that my buddy and I use when we brew. We've been brewing once or twice a month, for over a year now, and I'd really love to be able to use BeerSmith to start keeping track of everything, but if I can't work out how to get it set up right, it looks like we'll need to use something simpler for now, and look at BS2 again when we move to all-grain. I've read just about every single forum post and entry in the BS2 manual that I can find (and I'm a software designer) but I'm still pretty lost.

Anyway, I'm hoping that if I try and describe our process as clearly as possible, then someone can more easily point us in the right direction to get things set up. (I don't need help figuring out every single number to input...I just need help figuring out the bigger picture of how to configure the equipment and mash profiles. Once I understand the logic, I'll be able to fill in the specifics. Also, I understand that we'll need to be a lot more precise about some of the volumes involved, in order to do this correctly. We just haven't had cause to be that precise, until now.) Thanks in advance for any help anyone can offer, and if I can get this sorted out, I promise...I'll buy the software right away. I'd love to start using it.

BREWING PROCESS (10-GALLON BATCH)
Steeping: We almost always have some specialty grains that we need to steep for 15-20mins at 150F-160F, using approx. 1.25qts of water per pound of grain. (We usually do this in a smaller steel pot, on a stovetop, to save a little time, but I'm guessing that it doesn't really matter if we make believe it's happening in the bigger pot, as far as BeerSmith is concerned.) When the steeping is done, we just let the grain bag drain over the liquid, without sparging.
Q: BS2 seems to assume that "fly sparging" is automatically going to take place after this step, even though I haven't specified anything like that in my mash profile. (At least, as far as I can tell.) It keeps on inserting 3.31 gallons of sparging water at 168F into my recipes. Is there any way to specify a mash where that doesn't happen?
Q: It seems that what we're doing may not even be what BS2 considers "partial-mashing". Some of the entries I've read here seem to indicate that it's only considered a partial mash when it's done at a higher temp, using malted grains, and what we're doing is just "steeping". Am I barking up the wrong tree by even trying to design this as "partial mash" in BS2?
Q: This "mash step" should be classified as an "Infusion", with a "Water/Grain Ratio" of 1.250, correct?


Getting to a (near) Full Boil: While the grains are steeping, we're bringing several gallons of water to a boil in a 10-gal aluminum pot (depending on how much water we're already using for steeping) over a propane burner. Once it's boiling (or close), we add the steeping liquid. If that doesn't bring the total volume up to around 9 gallons, we top it off to that much, and bring it back to a full boil.
Q: Does the fact that we're adding the water in stages really matter? For example, should some of that be considered "Top Up Water for Kettle" in our equipment profile?
Q: I'm really not clear on how to set up this second mash step. Should the "Water/Grain Ratio" be 3.8 qt/lb, because we want 9.5 gals total in our boil? Should it be 2.55 qt/lb, because we need to back out the 1.25 qt/lb we added during the steep?
Q: No matter what W/G numbers in the mash step, if I make it an Infusion, I get an error telling me that I need an Infusion Temperature of 245.2 degrees. Does that mean it should just be a "Temperature" step?
Q: Finally, will the projected volume of water required for a recipe stay at 9.5 gals, even for recipes that use more or less than 10lbs of grain? It seems like the water calculated would go up and down for different recipes, which is definitely not what we want.


Malting and hopping: We kill the flame, add our malt extracts, and mix thoroughly. We bring it back to a rolling boil, and add our bittering hops, and then go for an hour, throwing in any additional hops, as per our recipe.

Cooling and transfer: After an hour, our immersion chiller is able to knock the temp down pretty quick -- we usually get to 75F-80F, in about 5-10 minutes. We siphon the wort into two fermenting buckets, being pretty careful to get them both even. At that point, each bucket's got approx. 4.5gals of wort in it, and we top them both off to 5 gallons, even.
Q: We need to measure more precisely how much water we're adding to top off the buckets, but I'm pretty sure that that's the "Top Up Water", correct?

ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS
Cold-steeping: When we make stouts, we "cold-steep" the dark grains for 24-48, at pretty much the same W/G ratio we use for our other specialty grains. When I try to add an infusion step at a cold temperature, though, I get an error that I can't add a negative amount of water. Is there any way to account for cold-steeping, or is that just something we just leave out the calculations?


Again, thanks for any help, and I'll gladly pick up a license for this right away if i can just figure out how to use it correctly for what we're doing now. I'm attaching some screenshots from my current attempts, below, just in case it helps.

Offline LairBob

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Re: Guidance on setting up equipment / mash profile for "partial mash"
« Reply #1 on: March 10, 2012, 07:53:33 PM »
P.S. I've actually picked an activation key already. I've already learned so much about different details of brewing, just by trying to figure out how to get what I want set up, that come hell or high water, I'm going to figure out how to make this work. (Plus, I figure it's a lot better to get started using it _now_, and keep using it, rather than using something else first, and then trying to migrate all my recipes, brew records, etc. a year or two from now.)

Offline mm658

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Re: Guidance on setting up equipment / mash profile for "partial mash"
« Reply #2 on: March 11, 2012, 07:40:51 PM »
Hi LairBob -

I believe that what you are doing is considered by BeerSmith to be an extract batch.  If you define a batch as Extract and add steeping specialty grains, BeerSmith will "know" that what you're doing is a steep and not a mash, and will react accordingly (it adds very little to the fermentables for the steeped grains, and won't add any unwanted sparging steps to your process).  If you define the batch as a partial mash, I believe it assumes that any grains in the bill are being mashed. 

As for the rest of your questions, I'm guessing that many (but not all) of them would be resolved by making the above change.  I'll let those who are more well-versed than me answer any outstanding questions.

Offline LairBob

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Re: Guidance on setting up equipment / mash profile for "partial mash"
« Reply #3 on: March 11, 2012, 07:55:37 PM »
Thanks so much -- that's a really helpful clarification, just to start with. I'll make sure to use that, and see how much it helps sort out some of the other questions I had.