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> Parti-gyle Brewing, contributed by TomoMeier
post Sep 26 2006, 09:48 PM
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What is Parti-gyle?
Parti-gyle is the english name of the traditional mashing procedure of mashing grains with two (or even three) infusions of water, resulting in successively weaker beers. Each beer is run off to its own pot, or gyle. And so two or more different beers can be made from the same mash. It is a technique that has been used for hundreds if not thousands of years.

The lautering process can be done many ways, but the classic definition is as follows:
  1. completely drain the mash of wort (to get what are called first runnings)
  2. refill mash with sparge water, and stir
  3. recirculate drain mash again (to get what are called second runnings)

Parti-gyle is a great way to get different beers from one mash. Because the first runnings are strong with high sugar concentration, this method is particularly useful to use where one beer is strong the other is weak. It is easy to make a barleywine or other strong beer via parti-gyle, because of this high sugar content.

Is parti-gyle brewing only for making barleywines?
No. It can be adpoted to any two styles, but is most useful where one of the beer styles is of significantly higher gravity than the other. This does not necessarily mean that one of the beers has to be super high gravity. One example might be basic pale ale malt wort with: first runnings is an IPA, and second runnings is a mild ale or ordinary bitter. Even so, any two beers that are closer in gravity to each other can be made by blending 1st and 2nd runnings. See question 8 below.

What kind of beers can I make using parti-gyle?
Here are some ideas for different mashes to yield strong / weak beers:
  • Weizenbock / Dunkelweizen
  • Dopplebock / Dunkel
  • Imperial Pilsner / CAP
  • Tripel / Pils
  • Tripel / Belgian Pale
  • Belgian Strong Golden / Kolsch (both low mash temp)
  • Old Ale / Dark Mild
  • Bock / Munich Dunkel
  • IPA/ Ordinary Bitter
  • Scotch Ale/ Scottish Ale
  • Barley Wine/ Pale Ale
  • Belgian Strong Dark / Belgian Abby Ale
  • Helles Bock/ anything pils based
  • Maibock/ Belgian Pale
  • Imperial Stout / Foreign Extra or Dry Stout
There are so many other variations you could do also. After you run off the strong beer, you can “cap” the mash. This is adding crystal, roasted, and toasted grains to the mash before putting in the strike water for the 2nd beer. For example, you could run off 5 gallons of barleywine, then cap the mash for a brown ale and run off 10 gallons of brown ale (5+10gal parti-gyle). One half as an american brown, nicely hopped, and one an english brown ale (3 beers from the one mash). You can also steep grains, just like extract brewing. In the previous example, you could run off the 10 gallons or 2nd runnings, and steep the grains separately to make pale ale, and brown ale.

If you can think of any two beers where the base grain bill is the same, you can steep grains in the wort, cap the mash for the 2nd runnings, etc. The possibilities are endless.

I use brewing software. How do I enter my parti-gyle recipe into such a program?
I do 3 promash recipe files for each recipe. One for all the grains, to figure the total runoff and figure out the total amounts of grains I need to crush. Since I always make 5.5 gal x 2 batches I know that the grainbill is calculated to give the average of my two recipe OGs.

Then I do a promash file for each individual batch separately, and I use 60% of the grainbill for the 1st runnings beer and 40% for the 2nd runnings beer and figure the hop bill for each to hit their IBUs. Doing this, I don't have to worry about color splits - because promash does it! The color goes up with the gravity... So the strong beer will show up dark in promash, and the weak beer shows up lighter.

Instead of going to this trouble, if you know the specs for your grains, you can use this parti-gyle recipe spreadsheet which includes input of grains and hops, and IBU calculations.

If I want to make 5 gallons + 5 gallons, what percentage of the sugars goes into the first runnings?
Most people reference Randy Mosher’s Homebrew Companion, which has a great table that shows color and gravity splits. This is also available in the archives at Brewing Techniques:

Note there are a few inconsistencies in Randy's Brewing Techniques article:
  • The values for the split of wort gravity are not consistent. Consider the 1/2-1/2 split (2x5gal batches).
  • Table 1 (OG) reflects 66%-33% split of extract.
  • Formula in the text says 58%-42% split of extract.
  • Table II (deg. plato) reflects 70.5%-29.5% split of extract.
I have been using (60%-40%) with good results. This is recommended by Drew Avis, in his Split Wort of Increasing Gravity (SWIG) brewing article.
The table below lists the gravities for each part of the wort, based on the total batch (entire grainbill used).


How do I sparge for a parti-gyle batch?
You sparge just like you normally would for any allgrain. Fly sparging makes catching the split wort a bit easier with smaller beers, because you can just switch pots after you get 5 gallons. But batch sparging works can be easier with the higher gravity beers, because you can just drain the tun and get out 5 gallons, then refill with 5 gallons and drain again.

If you use a thin mash, or add additional water at end of mash before batch sparging, you may not get as high a gravity as the table shows on the first 1/2 of the wort...the reason being you are diluting the sugars of the 1st runnings with additional water. And the two wort gravities are going to be closer to each other (the high is lower, and the low is higher). That kind of defeats the purpose. (If you wanted 10 gallons of the same gravity wort, you could have just brewed regularly).

How do I calculate my wort gravities?
If you are shooting for 1.090 and 1.055 split, then you will have to shoot for 1.072 overall grainbill. Then after catching the two runoffs you will end up with 5 gal ~1.086 OG, and 5 gal ~1.057 OG (per the parti-gyle tables).

Example calculation:

You want a 5gal/5gal split of 1.090 OG and 1.055 OG beer.
This is avg of 1.072, or 72*10gal=720 total points.

Using 60% of the extract in the strong batch and 40% in the weak batch this is: 720 points * 0.60 / 5gal = 86.4 or 1.086 OG for the first runnings.

Using 40% of the extract for the weak batch, this is: 720 points * 0.4 / 5 gal = 57.6 or 1.057 OG for the 2nd runnings. Note that these are not the gravities you wanted, so you have to top up the strong beer with some of the weak beer, in order to hit the strong beer gravity. This is assuming that the strong beer is the important part of the batch, and the weak beer you can live with a lesser volume.

What if the two gravities I want to brew aren't shown in the parti-gyle table?
You can blend 1st and 2nd runnings to hit target gravities. You will need to calculate the total points in each batch and figure what volume of each you need blend to get the right gravity in each. (put low gravity in high gravity and vice versa).

You can also top up the strong batch of beer with the low gravity wort. Then you would just need to boil the strong beer down more. Just capture the total “points” you need for the strong batch.

I created a parti-gyle spreadsheet that calculates both blending and topping off of wort. It was written for excel, and can be found here.

What if I don't hit my volume or gravity correctly?
Then you need to adjust the wort in your kettles so that you have the right amount of total “points” of wort gravity in each. Then either boil down or top up with water to reach your target volume. My parti-gyle brewing spreadsheet (link above) has a calculator to figure adjustments based on actual wort collected.

What if I want to make 5 gallons of strong beer and 10 gallons of weak beer?
Something I haven't even done yet is the 1/3rd, 2/3rd split, which I didn't go over at all here. Its in the linked-to Randy Mosher article.

Think of this: use recipe for your favorite american pale ale wort.. then

1st runnings is for 5 gal of an amercian barleywine
2nd runnings is for 10 gal of your favorite american pale ale (maybe you could do a split ferment with two yeasts?)

With this 1/3rd, 2/3rd split, the math is simpler. 1/2 the sugar goes to 1st runnings, 1/2 goes to 2nd runnings. Therefore if your pale ale recipe is 1.050, the barleywine wort 1st runnings will be 1.100. And the "average" gravity is (5*100 + 10*50)/15 = 66, or 1.066. So figure your grains for 15 gallons of 1.066 wort.

How can I get a higher gravity from the first runnings?
The best way to get a real high gravity first runnings is to mash thick and drain the mash tun without sparging. Here is an example of various mash thicknesses and the first runnings no-sparge gravity from each:

Date: Mon, 31 Jul 1995 15:05:01 -0400
From: "Spencer W. Thomas"

I did some experimentation, and *with my system*, and with the grains I
was using at the time, I got the following numbers (explanation

water (qt/lb)........SG........Collected (qt/lb)........Yield

You need to keep these inherent limits in mind when formulating recipes. Don’t think that you can brew an average batch of 1.090 wort with 1.108 and 1.072 OG’s without cutting back on the mash thickness. You can, but you will be boiling for a long, long time to get rid of your strike and/or sparge water.

What kind of efficiency will I get using parti-gyle?
Parti-Gyle will result in the same efficiency you normally get on your system for a similar size batch. For example, if you are making an average batch of 1.075 average wort, and fly sparging, it will be the same for both parti-gyle and regular 10 gallon batch brewing. Only difference is you are catching the wort in two pots…

When using your brewing software to determine the grainbill, be sure to use a lower efficiency if your avg batch OG is higher. This should match what your normally get on your brewing system with a batch of that gravity. As a starting point, I suggest the following: Avg OG of 1.060=70% eff, 1.070=66%, 1.080=62%, 1.090=58%. Just be aware that if not, you will have to catch more wort and boil down longer.

What if I want a gravity over 1.100?
Randy Mosher describes a technique called “doble-doble” in his book “Radical Brewing”. Idea is to take first runnings from a mash, then lightly sparge the grains. Heat this wort up to use as strike water for a second mash, which is also run off. Collect enough wort from first mash to provide 1.5 qts/lb strike in second mash, and second mash should be sparged to yield the batch volume.

Using this, you can achieve gravities of 1.100+

Parti-gyle is a great way to inject new life into your brewday, and is the best way to brew high gravity batches efficiently without using extract. It is also useful because you can easily create a variety of different beers without much additional work on brewday. Parti-gyle brewing is no more difficult that regular or “entire” brewing, but does require a bit of figuring and calculating beforehand or on the fly if you want to hit gravities perfectly, but don’t let that stop your creativity.

“Parti-Gyle Brewing”, Randy Mosher, Brewing Techniques

“The SWIG Method”, Drew Avis

“Parti-Gyle and Multi-Batch Brewing”, Keith Klemp
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