Parti-Gyle Brewing – Two Beers from One Mash Revisited

carboy_webParti-Gyle brewing, sometimes incorrectly called party-gyle brewing, is an ancient technique where more than one beer is made from multiple runnings of a single mash. This week we’re going to take a look at this technique and how you can use it to brew great beer at home.

The term parti-gyle is the English name for the method, but there is ample evidence that the method dates back to at least medevil times if not earlier. In the 1700’s, English and Scottish breweries widely made three brews from a single batch – strong, common and small beers. The Belgian names Trippel, Dubbel and Single also refer to a time when these were made from the undiluted, second runnings and third runnings of a single mash. (Ref: Brewing Techniques, Mar/Apr ’94).

Parti-Gyle Method

In its simplest form, two batches of beer are made from a single mash. Typically the first high gravity batch is made from a no-sparge draining of the mash tun using only the water present in the mash. Then additional water is added and drained to form the second batch which will have a lower original gravity than the first. If enough grain us used, you can even plan a third weaker batch made from the third sparge of the same grain bed.

The mash and sparging are done in the normal way, and often the second runnings are done after the first has been boiled, so a homebrewer can use this method with little in the way of extra equipment. You can save time if you have a second boiler and burner by boiling both batches in parallel. The only issue is the amount of water to use for both the mash and sparging to achieve the proper target gravity. This will be covered below. Also, if you are going to do a no-sparge first runnings, it is often best to use a higher than normal water to grain ratio in the mash to achieve the desired volume.

Brewing Multiple Styles

Since different hops and spices may be added during the boil and you can select separate yeasts for each batch, it is possible to make batches of different styles using a single mash. Naturally the first and second style must have a grain bill reasonably close to each other, but some sample combinations include: (ref: Brewboard Article :MtnBrewer)

  • 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

Designing Your Recipe

The biggest challenge that Parti-Gyle brewing presents is correctly estimating the original gravity and color of the two respective batches, as well as determining what you need to add after the batches are split. Not surprisingly the color of the first runnings will be darker than the second, and neither will match the estimated color for the overall mash. The first will be slightly darker, and the second slightly lighter than the overall estimate.

The first decision to make is what water split ratio you will use. The split refers to the volume of the first and second batch, so a 50-50 split implies two batches of equal size. More commonly, the first batch is smaller than the second – for example a 33-66 split gives a second batch that is twice the volume of the first. Many brewers use a 40-60 split to get a strong first beer, and moderate gravity second beer.

Next you want to estimate the color and gravity for both batches. I won’t go into the technical details here, as I’ve covered them in a previous article on parti-gyle brewing, but you can estimate the color and gravity for the two separate runnings with some accuracy.

Finally you need to determine what you are going to brew with the two runnings. Since you will boil both runnings you can consider using different hops for each beer as well as different yeast. Some people even will take darker grains and make a separate tea (much as you would for an extract batch) to add color or additional flavor to the split batches. Finally you can always add spices for even more variety, and also ferment and age the beer in slightly different ways.

Parti-gyle opens up a world of options for brewers with limited time. The ability to make two distinct batches of beer from a single mash can save you both time and money and also allows you to run interesting experiments with variations in hops, specialty grains and yeasts to get more beer from your limited brewing hours.

Thanks for joining me on the BeerSmith Home Brewing Blog. Be sure to sign up for my newsletter or my podcast (also on itunes…and youtube…and streaming radio station) for more great tips on homebrewing. Also check out the How to Brew Video series I shot with John Palmer if you want to learn more about all grain brewing.

6 thoughts on “Parti-Gyle Brewing – Two Beers from One Mash Revisited”

  1. Can you cover how to use BeerSmith in a non-clunky way to plan and document a parti gyle batch? Right now I’ve got do do this silly thing where I make a recipe and try to convince your software I’m not boiling it and then I try to copy that recipe twice over and apply silly fractions to the grain to shoehorn the gravity into what I’ve calculated by hand (let’s be honest, in excel) and those recipes don’t think I’ve done a mash and so when I print then brew day sheet it sometimes refuses to show me hop addition times…

    I don’t want this to sound overly ranty/whiny since I love BeerSmith, but since you brought it up, when can we expect BeerSmith to elegantly handle parti gyle brewing? 😀

  2. I second Daniel’s comments.

    I’d love to see split batch / parti gyle features in BeerSmith!


  3. I agree with the above, I’m trying to calculate a Parti-Gyle using BeerSmith and I’m at a dead end. If you are doing high gravity all grain brewing then this is a important a calculation as using yeast slurries…

    I’d love to see this functionality added to BeerSmith.

  4. I’ve considered it several times but the challenge is that you could potentially split the batch at any point in the brew which makes it very complicated in the software – you could potentially have to duplicate everything to handle it properly.

  5. I stumbled onto this article while trying to figure out how I can use Beersmith to create an imperial stout with an extremely high gravity using two or three mashes to create one boil. I wonder if there’s a way to put an option into the software to choose when you stop the first runnings? Even if I could use the software to just predict how high my gravity might get in the beginning of running off and how much wort I would have collected when my gravity of the run-off drops below a certain point….like say 20 plato. But I definitely see the difficulty in setting this up.

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