Partigyle Brew Day photos – Imperial fig stout / export stout

So, there is a lot going on in the shed at the moment. It’s messy. I apologise. I’m still processing some fruit (feijoas next, and maybe olives) and I’m testing out the new 4” potstill in various configurations before finishing off my scotch. Full post on that to come later. Amongst this I’m still brewing much more beer than I can drink (what a problem, eh?) and todays brew is probably interesting enough both technically and in the recipe to warrant a post.


First of all, the technique. Partigyle brewing refers to keeping the first, second, and sometimes third runnings off the mash separate, making two or three beers of sequentially decreasing strength from the single mash. This is a traditional English technique, and many styles we know today have their roots in this brewing method – e.g. ESB, Best bitter, and Ordinary Bitter. To learn more about the technique, and how to do it at home, this article by Randy Mosher (and the attached gravity and colour tables) should fill in the blanks, but I’ll quickly summarise how I plan on doing it:

  1. Mash enough grain for 2 batches of beer, calculating the expected split of gravities from the table linked to above,
  2. Mash out first runnings into the first kettle, get the boil going, and proceed as normal with the rest of the first brew;
  3. Batch sparge into a second kettle, correct colour with additional roasted malts, mash out, take a gravity reading to check how long a boil is needed, then proceed as normal for the rest of the second brew.

Just to make it even more interesting, my second beer will be done using the no-chill technique. more on that later.


So, on to the recipe – this is what I came up with:

40L batch size, 2 runoffs, ~80% brewhouse efficiency

Grain Bill:
8 kg NZ Malteurop ale base malt (3.5 SRM)
1kg Bairds Pale Chocolate malt
1kg Oats, flaked (cereal mashed)
0.8kg Thomas Faucet Dark Crystal malt
0.2kg Bairds Chocolate Malt
0.2kg Roasted Barley
0.15kg Weyermann Caraaroma
0.15kg  Weyermann Caraamber

Figs,other awesome stuff:

Imperial stout (Figaro):
1.5kg figs, caramelised, added to boil
80g Switch Espresso Ethiopian (added in cold conditioning, 4 days at 1°C)
20g Cocoa Nibs (added in cold conditioning, 4 days at 1°C)

Export Stout
Potentially this might end up as a milk chocolate stout, haven’t decided yet, but it would be:
120g Cocoa Nibs (added in cold conditioning, 4 days at 1°C)
400g Lactose

Imperial Fig Stout-
70g NZ Cascade (8%) @ 60 mins, 63 IBU
60g NZ Cascade (8%) @ flameout
20g Simcoe (13%) @ flameout

Export Stout-
80g Willamette @ 60 mins
30g Willamette @ flameout (nochill cube)

Imperial: Wyeast 1272 (American Ale II)
Export: Nottingham

Right, so those in the know will probably notice some similarities in the shopping list with the Epicurean, which is true, because this is definitely inspired by that beer, although I want to go a lot more figgy and less coffee, to the point that I’m not putting coffee in at all at this stage – some cold extract  or dry beans might go in later in the piece though, potentially with cocoa nibs as well but that’s a later question, after I’ve tasted it. [editing this later, yeah, they went in, moar flavour mwhahahaha]


First think I had to do was get a starter going from my 1272 slurry. I stepped this up over a few days before brewday on my DIY stir plate. A stir plate is such a great investment, they’re cheap to make and you can breed up yeast so much easier – and stop paying for it. Here in NZ, we also have the problem that liquid yeasts are pretty unavailable, so being able to easily breed up a sample to pitching size is great.


Roasting Figs

I got about 1.5 kilos of figs from Raffe, and dry roasted them for about 3 hours at 120°C, then mashed them, then grilled them for 30 mins or so at 190°C. They rendered down into a super gooey caramel sludge. Awesome smells.

photo Resize

photo (3) Resize

Weighing out grain

I have a couple of different sets of scales. For my base malts I use a nice pair of Salter analogue scales I put an old retired fermenter on and pour into. Nice and inaccurate, but I figure with the base malts it’s just a gravity point here or there, I wouldn’t pick it in the end product. For the specialty grains, I tend to use a little set of 1g resolution digital scales and be a bit more precise about it.


Milling Grain

I mill directly into my mash tun, which is of the cooler / esky / chilly bin and stainless braid persuasion. My mill is a Crank and Stein 2”, gets a nice crush and with the hopper I built and a step down motor attached, I can just pour the grain in and walk away.


Heating strike water

This is my number one brewing-quality-of-life improver: A thermostatically controlled hot liquor tun (HLT). I have a 2.5kW element welded into the keg, controlled by a cheap ebay thermostat (same as I use on my fridges for fermentation control) and one of those plug in timer socket things. A sight glass on the side gives me my volume measurements.

Because of the thermostat and timer, I can fill up my HLT the night before brewing, add a tiny bit of a campden tablet for dechlorination, go to work in the morning, and come home to perfect strike water ready for me to mash in with. It’s been a great help in my quest to brew on weeknights.


Water Chemistry

I have a very low mineral supply of water, which is great for brewing because it’s very easy to build up to whatever you want. I use some drug dealer scales and a combination of Epsom salts (MgSO4), Gypsum (CaSO4), Chalk (CaCO3), Calcium Chloride (why the hell doesn’t that one have a catchy name?), baking soda (Na2CO3), and salt (NaCl) to correct my water profile to whatever I decide I want on the day. Generally, you want to correct the pH to an appropriate level for mashing (5.2), and then vary the relative levels of sodium, chloride, and sulphates to swing the perception of the beer from malty-sweet to bitter depending on what you’re after.

Alternatively, you can aim to match a famous water – like Dublin for a stout (lots of carbonates to buffer the acidity in a dark mash), or Burton on Trent for a English IPA (oodles of sulphites for dry hoppy bitterness).

I normally make up my own profile on the day because I’m incapable of following even my own recipes, let alone anyone else’s!


Mashing in

I don’t use pumps in my brewing, just gravity, so I simply drain the water from my hot liquor tun into the mash tun at the right temperature, and then give it a good stir and chase down all the little dough balls and squash them. Single infusion mashing (i.e. add water @ certain temp and forget about it for an hour) is pretty simple and easy really, no matter how much we like to complicate it when talking smack about brewing.

My mash tun is pretty close to capacity on a partigyle batch like this. It’s also always a little scary working with oats in the mash, as they are notorious for giving you a “stuck sparge”, where the filter/manifold in the bottom of the tun clogs and ruins your day. I try to avoid this by doing a separate cereal mash on the oats upstairs on the stove, where I can do all the protein rests etc with a bit more precision.



… Is a fancy word for pouring some wort out of the mash tun and then putting it back in the top without splashing too much. The idea is to set the grain bed in the tun into a big filter matrix to help get clearer wort into the kettle. I basically did this out of habit, without thinking that the beer is actually going to be about as clear as engine oil due to colour alone.

I just run off into a jug and then pour it back into the tun over my mash paddle. Fancier setups would do this with a pump.


Mashout / First runnings



During the first runnings I’m going to sort out my figs. They’ve been chilled overnight after roasting, and they have basically been rendered into figgy treacle. It tastes like awesome.


I have this big reel of muslin cloth for the cider press, but I’m also using it for hop bags and such in my beer making. I reckon it’ll be perfect for holding the solids back of the figs while the caramel and sugars can steep out into the boil.


I bagged up the figs with plenty of room to spare, I don’t want them tightly packed.


In goes the yumminess…


They’re tied to the rim of the kettle to eliminate the slim chance of any scorching to the bottom of the pot.


Batch sparge, second runnings / gyle

After getting the first runnings into the boiler, it’s time to batch sparge – add more water to the mash tun to wash out some more sugars. In a normal brew this would go into the same kettle, but in the partiglye method, I’ll be draining to a different kettle and making a smaller (weaker) beer with the second runnings.

I’m going to darken the second runnings somewhat by adding a little Carafa Special II (a dark roasted malt with the husks removed to avoid astringent flavours), which I’m just going to crush by hand, it’s too small a quantity to bother with the mill.


I’m going to dump the carafa into the mash tun. The 10-15 minute or so steep should extract what I want just fine.


The sparge water is added to the mash tun at about 76°C. I feed my water in through the braid filter at the bottom of the tun, which I’ve recently discovered is unusual.


After a 10-15 minute or so wait, I vorlauf again, then mash out into a second kettle – my hot liquor tun is done for the day so I’m using it, with it’s 3kW element it can just give a good enough boil.



I weigh out my hops on a 1g resolution set of scales, and then make a hop bag out of muslin cloth for adding them to the boiler, much the same as how I added the figs.


While I’m hopping the imperial stout, the export stout is getting to the boil:


Checking Specific Gravity, blending

I recently got a refractometer. How did I live without one of these? I’ve broken so many hydrometers that I should have bought one right at the start, it would have gotten cheaper pretty quickly.


Anyway, I tried to take a photo down the… Uh… Lens? Scope? To show the gravity reading. It sort of worked, but it’s not as clear a line as it is to the eye. I did a bit of blending between the two gyles (first and second runnings) to adjust the gravity south a little in my imperial stout – I didn’t want it to be too imperial. Having a refractometer that can test little samples during the boil without cooling down 100mls or so is a serious plus. This pic is taken during blending, the first runnings gravity was much higher than this.



With the imperial stout getting pretty close to flameout, my immersion chiller goes into the boil to sanitise it, and aroma hops etc are added, and some koppafloc finings (again, habit).


When the boil is over, I run cold water into the chiller and then out into my mash tun to use for cleaning, which seems better than tipping boiling water down the drains. I cover the kettle with plastic after the first few minutes of chilling.


Racking to the fermenter

With the imperial stout chilled, I can rack to the fermenter. Again, gravity feed is how I roll so I just lift up the kettle and put it on my keg freezer, and rack to a plastic fermenter.

Meanwhile the other boiler is boiling away, almost done now.


No Chill, Cube hops

No chill brewing is (according to legend) what the aussies came up with to combat high groundwater temps that mean you can’t chill right down to pitching. Or scarce water, or something.

In summary, you rack boiling wort directly from the boiler into a HDPE jerry can or “cube” and seal it up. It’s then more or less shelf stable wort – it cools naturally and you can open it up at a later date and ferment. I was pretty sceptical about this because of my fear of DMS (off flavour like cooked corn / cabbage resulting from poor boils), but it seems to be well and truly established now that no chill brewing doesn’t cause DMS. Also, you continue to get hop utilisation as it cools in the cube, so you need to advance the hop additions by 10-15 minutes or so – so I’m adding what would have been a 15 minute addition into the cube before racking onto it.

Some more info about no chill brewing is here.


Hot wort then gets racked into the cube…


You squeeze out any air and tighten the lid. Too easy. It now awaits me getting around to ferment it. This saves me from having two stouts on tap at once, and helps manage the fermenting pipeline. It’s a pretty neat trick really, I’ve been using it a lot to piggy back a second beer onto a brew day.


So there we have it. Imperial stout into the fermenting fridge (Thermostatically controlled) and the export or maybe milk chocolate stout into a no chill cube for me to deal with later.

As I write this, the Imperial stout has been fermented and kegged, and I can let you know that it rocks the partigyle. Teheheehehehehe.

Can’t wait to brew this recipe again, but I’ll have to, because there aren’t any more figs til next year.



11 Responses to “Partigyle Brew Day photos – Imperial fig stout / export stout”

  1. 1 Druid
    June 5, 2012 at 11:56 pm

    NIce write up. After trying the Epicurean at the AKL Beerfest, I’m pretty keen to give darker beers a try after being a little standoffish to date – so this is a great overview. I’ve read a bit about the dehusked dark malts and like the idea of the mouthfeel in an oatmeal stout too.

    I’ve also been using a refractometer for some time now and totally agree on it’s usefulness – great to use when you want to keep tabs on your boil off rate with a target OG in mind.

  2. 2 Paul
    June 6, 2012 at 12:53 am

    That was a fricking awesome read. I was planning on doing a partigyle recently but found it somewhat confusing. The photos and write up have been a great help. Heres hoping I get to make a english barley wine/mild in the future

  3. 3 Ian
    June 11, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    Great write up! Thanks for taking the time to do this.

    I noticed you ran your second infusion “backwards” into the MLT outlet, and use muslin bags. Are there any other interesting little things you’ve found to make the brew day easier?

    • June 11, 2012 at 7:40 pm

      Hey mate, thermostatic hlt is my number one quality of life improver 🙂 that and using what is around in the shed for my brew stand, without needing to build a dedicated piece of kit. Using the hot coolant for cleaning is a good one too!

  4. 5 Sean
    June 15, 2012 at 8:47 pm

    How does one go about purchasing the muslin cloth roll in the US? I’m interested in buying one.

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