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General Category => All Grain Brewing => Topic started by: klickitat jim on June 05, 2013, 04:26:24 AM

Title: Mash temp calculation
Post by: klickitat jim on June 05, 2013, 04:26:24 AM
Is there a good rule of thumb source for choosing mash temps? I know lower for drier and that higher gravity effects it too, but is there some chart or simple calculation to aid in choosing the appropriate temp?
Title: Re: Mash temp calculation
Post by: jamminbrew on June 05, 2013, 04:34:49 AM
It will depend on what you want to get out of a particular brew. Some styles require a drier, lighter body, and others will benefit from a sweeter, fuller body. Most of it will be experimentation, and finding what works for you. Make a beer, and split the mash in two, one high temp, one low temp, and see how different they can be. 

If I want a drier light bodied beer, I mash at 148*, and If i want a fuller bodied beer, I will mash at 156*.
Most of my beers fall in the middle, at 152-153*. My Scottish Wee Heavy is mashed at 160*.
Title: Mash temp calculation
Post by: denny on June 05, 2013, 04:43:28 AM
Is there a good rule of thumb source for choosing mash temps? I know lower for drier and that higher gravity effects it too, but is there some chart or simple calculation to aid in choosing the appropriate temp?

It's your beer, YOU decide!  You've got the basic idea, so think about what the style is (maybe look at the BJCP guidelines if you're making a style you're not familiar with) and what you want it to be like in terms of body.  Then make an educated guess.
Title: Re: Mash temp calculation
Post by: klickitat jim on June 05, 2013, 05:03:25 AM
Ok thanks. I've been mashing my lagers at 145 ish, APA around 150-160 depending on how hoppy and how much crystal if any. I like my IPA to have more malt power to balance the bitter. I haven't done an imperial yet but I'm guessing they would be in the 145-150 realm.

I was just curious if anyone have a calculation of some sort for adjusting. Trial and error works tho.
Title: Re: Mash temp calculation
Post by: brewmasternpb on June 05, 2013, 05:41:44 AM
I do think that some of your ranges are extreme on both sides.  145 would be too low... and 160 is too high.  147 to 158 would be a tad safer.
Title: Re: Mash temp calculation
Post by: klickitat jim on June 05, 2013, 06:09:40 AM
Ok I'll take a look at that. Thanks
Title: Re: Mash temp calculation
Post by: klickitat jim on June 05, 2013, 09:24:09 AM
So I revisited Palmer HTB chapter on Mashing and refreshed my memory a bit. Funny how a little experience brings out a better understanding of this stuff.

I'm working on my three mainstays. An American Premium Lager
An APA
An IPA
Some day I will add a Triple to the list

I think I have my mash temp problem narrowed down now. Thanks for the input and inadvertently prodding me to crack open the book again. I've been mashing to thin sometimes, it still "works" but the book pointed out that is probably where I am losing some body that temp alone might not fix.

Anyway, what a cool hobby. No end to the lessons
Title: Re: Mash temp calculation
Post by: erockrph on June 05, 2013, 12:06:11 PM
Greg Doss from Wyeast presented an experiment at the NHC last year which showed that 153F was the mash temp that led to the most fermentable wort. My only question with his experiment setup was that the mashes were all conducted for a standard time. If the lower temperature mashes were held for a longer time, I still wonder if they would have surpassed the fermentability of the 153F mash.

Personally. I shoot for 153 for the majority of my beers. I'll go as low as 147-148 for really big beers that I want to ferment down as far as I can get them. For session beers I mash in the 160-162F range to leave enough dextrins behind. If I had a beer that I was rebrewing a bunch of times I might try to dial in a specific mash temp, but normally I don't see enough of a difference between 153 and 156ish where I'd bother with that small of a difference in mash temp. I generally try to dial in the other parts of the recipe first before I start with mash temp unless it is grossly off.

FWIW, Lagunitas mashes the majority of their beers at 160F, so it's not like a mash temp in this range means you're doomed to be drinking malt syrup. A lot of brewers seem to have this idea that mash temps above the mid 150's are way too high, but I just don't find that to be the case in my experience.
Title: Re: Mash temp calculation
Post by: morticaixavier on June 05, 2013, 02:56:23 PM
Greg Doss from Wyeast presented an experiment at the NHC last year which showed that 153F was the mash temp that led to the most fermentable wort. My only question with his experiment setup was that the mashes were all conducted for a standard time. If the lower temperature mashes were held for a longer time, I still wonder if they would have surpassed the fermentability of the 153F mash.

Personally. I shoot for 153 for the majority of my beers. I'll go as low as 147-148 for really big beers that I want to ferment down as far as I can get them. For session beers I mash in the 160-162F range to leave enough dextrins behind. If I had a beer that I was rebrewing a bunch of times I might try to dial in a specific mash temp, but normally I don't see enough of a difference between 153 and 156ish where I'd bother with that small of a difference in mash temp. I generally try to dial in the other parts of the recipe first before I start with mash temp unless it is grossly off.

FWIW, Lagunitas mashes the majority of their beers at 160F, so it's not like a mash temp in this range means you're doomed to be drinking malt syrup. A lot of brewers seem to have this idea that mash temps above the mid 150's are way too high, but I just don't find that to be the case in my experience.

+1

or rather +162. I like that mash temp for session beers a lot. Even at modest gravities (1.035~) and minimal crystal additions (<.5 lbs/5gallon) you can get a ton of malt character but it's still plenty drinkable.

And with a really big beer like a barley wine or IIPA mash at 148, add simple sugars and you will still have plenty of body to support lots of hops.
Title: Re: Mash temp calculation
Post by: denny on June 05, 2013, 06:18:21 PM
I do think that some of your ranges are extreme on both sides.  145 would be too low... and 160 is too high.  147 to 158 would be a tad safer.

I dunno.  Although those temps are at the outside of the range, there's nothing wrong with them.  I would recommend extending the mash to 90 min. for lower temps, though
Title: Re: Mash temp calculation
Post by: micsager on June 05, 2013, 08:00:54 PM
Is there a good rule of thumb source for choosing mash temps? I know lower for drier and that higher gravity effects it too, but is there some chart or simple calculation to aid in choosing the appropriate temp?

I hear ya Jim.  Many of know the "rule of thumb" you are talking about, and of course we all get to decide whether or not to follow that rule.  But I would like a little chart to hang in the brewery for quick reference.  maybe it's up to one of to make such a thing.   ;D ;D ;D ;D
Title: Re: Mash temp calculation
Post by: Pi on June 05, 2013, 08:46:28 PM
I always thought the term "rule of thumb" came from a brewer (in pre-thermometer days) sticking his thumb in the strike/mas to determine the correct temperature. So if you dont have a thermometer,trust your thumb.
Title: Re: Mash temp calculation
Post by: joe_feist on June 05, 2013, 10:04:41 PM
Great input on mash temps. Count me as one who thought 160 was too high. But it seems its not all that uncommon. I really though the "range" was about 148-156 or so. So much for my rule of thumb...
Title: Re: Mash temp calculation
Post by: klickitat jim on June 05, 2013, 11:03:41 PM
From what I am gathering we need a slide rule because there's more to it than temp. Temp vs Ph vs potential gravity vs grain:h20 ratio vs amount of crystal, caramels, etc vs time. At some point you're chasing your tail I guess.

I think I'm just going to narrow my ranges a little for now and keep some of the above in mind when I make small adjustments.
Title: Re: Mash temp calculation
Post by: ynotbrusum on June 06, 2013, 02:19:29 AM
I use a simple rule of thumb - mash 90 minutes if under 150F or if using mainly Pilsner Malt; rarely do I mash below 148F or above 154F.  Higher mash temps for a Mild or 60-70 shilling Scottish Ale or similar lower ABV beers, but not all (for example a Berliner Weiss would be at a lower temperature, despite its low ABV, due to its Pilsner content).
Title: Re: Mash temp calculation
Post by: kmshultz on June 06, 2013, 04:07:06 AM
Let's not forget that multi-step mashes are an option, too. If you think about it, it can afford you a greater control over your wort fermentability in the case that you are uncertain if the entire mash has a uniform temperature during a single-infusion mash. Matt Brynildson at Firestone Walker uses a separate beta and alpha rest for many of his beers, and I sure trust that guy!

I recently did a Belgian Blonde which I mashed in the upper protein range (132F) for 15 minutes, then 147F for 40 minutes (shorter than a single-infusion beta rest would ideally be, as others have mentioned above), and then 40 minutes at 156F to finish the conversion with some less-fermentable sugars. I've just packaged/carbonated the beer and it has a very firm-yet-refreshing medium body, even with having used 8% cane sugar. But everyone's system is unique, of course.

For single infusion mashes, the general rule seems to be that if you're doing a pretty high gravity beer (> 1.075 or so) that you do not want to have an overly sweet/big body (i.e. it's not a barleywine or Imperial stout), mash low -- in the high 140s or so. If you are brewing a low gravity session beer and want to avoid it becoming too thin, mash into the mid 150s.

Of course yeast strain choice plays into it as well. And your own system's fermentability (everyones is different!). And your own drinking preference. I like to mash lower than most people but that is just me. It just takes time to find out what works best for your own enjoyment (or for the judges' enjoyment, if that's also a goal).

Cheers,
Kent
Title: Re: Mash temp calculation
Post by: klickitat jim on June 06, 2013, 04:44:31 AM
Great info. Thanks. What I'm learning is that it can be very simple but there are many available nuances that can make it quite a science to explore.
Title: Mash temp calculation
Post by: denny on June 06, 2013, 06:03:33 AM
Great info. Thanks. What I'm learning is that it can be very simple but there are many available nuances that can make it quite a science to explore.

The AHA motto used to be "It's not rocket science unless you want it to be".  Very true.
Title: Re: Mash temp calculation
Post by: Pi on June 06, 2013, 08:01:35 PM

[/quote]

The AHA motto used to be "It's not rocket science unless you want it to be".  Very true.
[/quote]
Big +1 on that. My understanding is malt enzymes work more in a sliding scale If you overshoot by a few degrees it takes a little time for the amylase to react. More importantly focus on your process; getting your thermal mass dialed in so you can be consistant with your strike. And to Denny's comment, the earth has been making beer alot longer than it's been putting things in space.
Title: Re: Mash temp calculation
Post by: hopfenundmalz on June 06, 2013, 08:11:49 PM
Certain malts are made for certain mash time temp schedules. Learn what works best for your base malt.
Title: Re: Re: Mash temp calculation
Post by: klickitat jim on June 07, 2013, 01:14:17 AM


The AHA motto used to be "It's not rocket science unless you want it to be".  Very true.

. And to Denny's comment, the earth has been making beer alot longer than it's been putting things in space.
[/quote]

I don't know, it put the moon in space an awfully long time ago. ;)
Title: Re: Mash temp calculation
Post by: jamminbrew on June 07, 2013, 05:47:03 AM
An important point to remember, is that the enzymes don't turn off at an exact temp. They may denature a little faster, but beta amylase still works at higher temps. Same for alpha. They have a fairly wide range of temps they work well in, but the optimum temps are what we shoot for.