The joy of parti-gyling


We’d been playing with the idea of a parti-gyle brew for a while.  This is where you take the first lot of sugary liquid from the mashed grain to make a strong beer. You then run more water over it to flush out any remaining sugar and that  second, less-sugary liquid is used to make a weaker beer.  Here’s  an old article by Randy Mosher on how to do it.

When I hit upon the idea of brewing Bailey a surprise birthday beer, I knew I couldn’t brew an entire batch in secret, but I could hide a small carboy of beer. So, part-gyling seemed the natural way forward.

I was definitely impressed by the results, and I think Bailey was too (well, he can’t say he doesn’t like his birthday present, can he?).   More excitingly though, it showed us that parti-gyling is pretty straightforward and allows you to experiment a lot more on brew day and make two very different beers with only a little extra effort.

Full details on how I made the beers can be found after the jump.

Mash schedule:

  • 4lb pale malt
  • 2lb Vienna malt (7 EBC)
  • 5lb Wheat malt
  • 1lb wheat malt, toasted at 160 deg C for 30 mins
  • 3oz roasted barley (for colour)

I used 15 litres for the mash (at 60 degrees) and 19 litres in total for the sparging.

Strong beer

I took the first seven litres of the sparge, which had a gravity of 1057.  I then added 8oz of sugar, taking it to 1069.

I did a 90 minute boil in a large saucepan on the stove, with the following additions:

  • 90 minutes: 1 oz old Tettnang 2.3% (opened six months earlier)
  • 30 minutes: 1 oz fresh Saaz 2.2% (and also some Irish moss)
  • 5 mintes: 0.5 oz Tettnang, 1 x star anise, 1/2 tsp each of allspice, caraway seeds and 10g grapefruit peel.

Once cooled, I pitched some Wyeast 1388 which I’d harvested from an earlier batch.  I had around 4.5 litres by this point and an OG of 1101.  I forgot about matured it for four months in a glass carboy.

I wasn’t expecting too much of it, as I hadn’t moved it off the yeast, but when I sampled it shortly after Christmas, it was great, with loads of interesting flavours such as blackcurrant, chocolate and even a hint of banana.  It had dropped to 1020, and so had plenty of body and a massive 11% alcohol by volume.

I bottled it in small bottles and left it for another month, having added a little sugar to each bottle.  Sadly, I forgot to add any fresh yeast, and as a result when we opened up a bottle on Bailey’s birthday, it hadn’t conditioned at all.  This was a real pity as the flavours were great: like a Pedro Ximenez with blackcurrant and date notes.  The spice was very subtle.

Weaker batch

I had around 21 litres of residual wort at 1042.  I boiled it with the following additions:

  • 90 minutes: 1 oz old Tettnang 2.3% (opened six months earlier)
  • 30 minutes: 1.5 oz fresh Saaz 2.2%
  • 5 minutes: 1 oz Saaz, 2 x star anise, 1 tsp allspice, 1/2 tsp caraway seeds and 10g grapefruit peel.

After cooling, I pitched some old Wyeast Belgian Wit (3944).  The OG was 1044.  After about a month in primary, it had dropped to 1016. We did a week of secondary and then bottled it.

This was a nice beer with an interesting banana and spice flavour which we enjoyed drinking.  My one criticism would be that the allspice became a little overpowering over time – possibly because I used ground allspice, which couldn’t be filtered out.


4 replies on “The joy of parti-gyling”

Parti-gyling is great but makes for a long brew day. The one time I did it I made a 9% brew and a 3.2% brew and both turned out great.

Bailey, you are a lucky man. Finding a lady that makes an 1100+ OG beer for my birthday is now at the top of my to do list.

Yes, Tim, you’re right. I’m going to go an crack a bottle open now, in fact, and contemplate my good fortune!

Wow– the possibilities of this are exciting– now I’m thinking of something very strong and ginger-based. Once I get my brewing up to scratch I’ll have to try it.

Well done. On my quest to make a Chiswick like bitter I have come to the conclusion I need to parti-gyle. I haven’t take the plunge yet and probably won’t until next year so I haven’t worked out the details yet but Ron provides a lot of parti-gyle info on Shut Up About Barclay Perkins.]

Glad you were happy with the results.

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