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General Category => All Grain Brewing => Topic started by: astrivian on May 20, 2011, 10:12:34 pm

Title: Understanding the Mash (for noobs like me)
Post by: astrivian on May 20, 2011, 10:12:34 pm
I have been reading about the process of mashing and i think i am missing some details. After talking to people it sounds like there is a lot more to it. I have been told that a great deal of the profile of the final beer depends on the mash, but up to this point i just use a single step with direct heat (on the stove).

Okay, so the seriously noob questions are

I do pretty high gravity stuff so i usually mash at 147 using 2 quarts of water per pound. Is this the right idea?
Title: Re: Understanding the Mash (for noobs like me)
Post by: astrivian on May 20, 2011, 10:29:15 pm
I did some more reading an i get more of it now. So different enzymes are at work at different temperatures (beta and alpha).

So lets take two hypothetical brews, one mashed at the single temperature of 147 and another at 147 then 158 (i am just making up these numbers, but i think you get the idea). What, do you think, would be the difference in the finished beer assuming everything was the same (yeast, hops, grain, water/grain ratio, etc.)?
Title: Re: Understanding the Mash (for noobs like me)
Post by: a10t2 on May 20, 2011, 10:40:53 pm
So lets take two hypothetical brews, one mashed at the single temperature of 147 and another at 147 then 158 (i am just making up these numbers, but i think you get the idea). What, do you think, would be the difference in the finished beer assuming everything was the same (yeast, hops, grain, water/grain ratio, etc.)?

I'd expect the two-step mash to have slightly higher fermentability than the single-infusion. Maybe also slightly higher efficiency, if the pH wasn't quite right. Of course, the precise temperatures do matter, at least when talking about variations of more than a degree or two.
Title: Re: Understanding the Mash (for noobs like me)
Post by: bluesman on May 21, 2011, 01:47:04 am
Here's some great info. from a great brewing mind.

http://braukaiser.com/wiki/index.php/The_Science_of_Mashing
Title: Re: Understanding the Mash (for noobs like me)
Post by: tom on May 21, 2011, 02:38:54 am
And welcome back!
Title: Re: Understanding the Mash (for noobs like me)
Post by: astrivian on May 21, 2011, 05:30:06 pm
Thanks! It is good to be back.   ;D

Thanks for that link. I will check it out in detail.

Okay so i have a follow up question. I used to mash on the stove but i could only keep the temperature +/- 10* of where i was supposed to. Based on what you were just saying, that was bad.

I have heard another method is to use a cooler, which is what i will probably start doing. However, for a two step mash, what is the best way to raise the mash to the next step? I guess i could do decoction or i could just add some hot water.
Title: Re: Understanding the Mash (for noobs like me)
Post by: jamminbrew on May 21, 2011, 05:48:18 pm
Thanks! It is good to be back.   ;D

Thanks for that link. I will check it out in detail.

Okay so i have a follow up question. I used to mash on the stove but i could only keep the temperature +/- 10* of where i was supposed to. Based on what you were just saying, that was bad.

I have heard another method is to use a cooler, which is what i will probably start doing. However, for a two step mash, what is the best way to raise the mash to the next step? I guess i could do decoction or i could just add some hot water.
Start with a slightly lower amount of water for the first step, and when ready, add boiling(or near boiling) water until you hit your desired temp.
Title: Re: Understanding the Mash (for noobs like me)
Post by: astrivian on May 21, 2011, 05:57:46 pm
Okay thanks. So would around 1.25 qt/pound be good for the start?

Also, I am reading more and i understand a bit more of what is happening. But let me see if i am understanding this correctly. At lower temperatures (like 143) the mash is producing more fermentable sugars (this is "beta" enzymes right?). At higher temperatures (like 158), the mash is in alpha producing unfermentable sugars.  So a low temp mash produces a dry beer, and higher temps produce a sweeter beer. Is that about right?

So more steps resting at different temperatures in the mash create more complex flavors with regards to sugars?

Also, once the temperature is raised, are the enzymes at the lower temperature destroyed? For example, if you started at 158 and went down to 143 would that work? Just curious on that one. Every recipe i have seen so far goes up in temperature. 

Thanks all!
Title: Re: Understanding the Mash (for noobs like me)
Post by: a10t2 on May 21, 2011, 06:26:44 pm
I think you'll find the answers to all those questions in chapters 14 and 16 of How to Brew.

http://www.howtobrew.com/section3/chapter14.html
Title: Re: Understanding the Mash (for noobs like me)
Post by: oscarvan on May 22, 2011, 04:14:33 am
I'm a single infusion/batch sparge brewer and so far have not felt the need to change that.
Title: Re: Understanding the Mash (for noobs like me)
Post by: astrivian on May 22, 2011, 04:55:44 am
I think you'll find the answers to all those questions in chapters 14 and 16 of How to Brew.

http://www.howtobrew.com/section3/chapter14.html

oh wow. i didn't realize the whole book was online. i just thought it was a teaser.

Reading it answers most of my questions. Thanks for that post.

One last question though regarding the pH. Back in my days as an aquarist i bought a submersible electronic pH and temperature tester (see it http://www.instrumart.com/products/31861/hanna-instruments-hi-98128-waterproof-ph-tester?gclid=CI_G96vi-qgCFRx3gwodQlFNUA (http://www.instrumart.com/products/31861/hanna-instruments-hi-98128-waterproof-ph-tester?gclid=CI_G96vi-qgCFRx3gwodQlFNUA)). Do you think this would work for testing the pH of the wort?
Title: Re: Understanding the Mash (for noobs like me)
Post by: malzig on May 22, 2011, 12:59:38 pm
One last question though regarding the pH. Back in my days as an aquarist i bought a submersible electronic pH and temperature tester (see it http://www.instrumart.com/products/31861/hanna-instruments-hi-98128-waterproof-ph-tester?gclid=CI_G96vi-qgCFRx3gwodQlFNUA (http://www.instrumart.com/products/31861/hanna-instruments-hi-98128-waterproof-ph-tester?gclid=CI_G96vi-qgCFRx3gwodQlFNUA)). Do you think this would work for testing the pH of the wort?
Sure, just cool the wort first, since that's only rated to 140°F.
Title: Re: Understanding the Mash (for noobs like me)
Post by: astrivian on May 22, 2011, 04:08:56 pm
One last question though regarding the pH. Back in my days as an aquarist i bought a submersible electronic pH and temperature tester (see it http://www.instrumart.com/products/31861/hanna-instruments-hi-98128-waterproof-ph-tester?gclid=CI_G96vi-qgCFRx3gwodQlFNUA (http://www.instrumart.com/products/31861/hanna-instruments-hi-98128-waterproof-ph-tester?gclid=CI_G96vi-qgCFRx3gwodQlFNUA)). Do you think this would work for testing the pH of the wort?
Sure, just cool the wort first, since that's only rated to 140°F.

Sweet, now i can take this thing from the shelf and dust it off :)
Title: Re: Understanding the Mash (for noobs like me)
Post by: astrivian on May 22, 2011, 04:15:16 pm
One final question regarding the mash-out. I read somewhere that if you go strait to the boil you don't need to mash out. What i have done in the past is just lauter when the mash timer goes off without raising the temperature.

Agree? Disagree?
Title: Re: Understanding the Mash (for noobs like me)
Post by: denny on May 22, 2011, 04:23:37 pm
One final question regarding the mash-out. I read somewhere that if you go strait to the boil you don't need to mash out. What i have done in the past is just lauter when the mash timer goes off without raising the temperature.

Agree? Disagree?

Agree, although most homebrewers don't do a true mashout even when they try to do one.  You need to hold 170F for 20 min,. to truly denature enzymes.
Title: Re: Understanding the Mash (for noobs like me)
Post by: tschmidlin on May 22, 2011, 07:27:46 pm
I think you'll find the answers to all those questions in chapters 14 and 16 of How to Brew.

http://www.howtobrew.com/section3/chapter14.html

oh wow. i didn't realize the whole book was online. i just thought it was a teaser.
The online version is the first edition of the book, the 3rd edition came out a couple of years ago.  I think it's worth buying.
Title: Re: Understanding the Mash (for noobs like me)
Post by: denny on May 22, 2011, 07:36:30 pm
Agreed.  The 3rd ed. is much more comprehensive, includes different, more up to date info, and is easier to read.
Title: Re: Understanding the Mash (for noobs like me)
Post by: astrivian on May 22, 2011, 08:45:33 pm
Agreed.  The 3rd ed. is much more comprehensive, includes different, more up to date info, and is easier to read.

Oh sweet. I am on it.

Thanks for the tip on the mash out deal.

So i have a sample mash schedule to show you and see what you think. The style is my own thing really, but it is sort of like a Belgian golden ale (with a dash of lemon and orange). This is a very high gravity ale, around 13% ABV (i like em strong).

I plan on using a cooler w/ a false bottom rather than the stove this time.

Start with a grain/water ratio of 1.25 qt/lb.
Heat the water to 108 to dough-in for 20 minutes at 104.
Add more water at 205 degrees to bring the temperature to 143 for 60 minutes. (about 2.15 qt/lb)
Finally add more water at 204 degrees to raise the temp to 160, hang here for 30 min (about 3.05 qt/lb)
Drain, lauter, then boil.

I put this together in Beersmith.
Title: Re: Understanding the Mash (for noobs like me)
Post by: astrivian on May 22, 2011, 09:28:47 pm
Actually wait, that is 16 gallons total water volume and that doesn't include sparge water. Decoction maybe?

What about this (for 10 lbs of grain):

Dough-in at 104 for 20 minutes with 2 qt/lb
Decoct 8.5 quarts, boil, to bring it all to 143 for 60 mins
Decoct  4 quarts, boil, to bring it to 155 for 30 mins
Title: Re: Understanding the Mash (for noobs like me)
Post by: morticaixavier on May 23, 2011, 05:26:03 am
Actually wait, that is 16 gallons total water volume and that doesn't include sparge water. Decoction maybe?

What about this (for 10 lbs of grain):

Dough-in at 104 for 20 minutes with 2 qt/lb
Decoct 8.5 quarts, boil, to bring it all to 143 for 60 mins
Decoct  4 quarts, boil, to bring it to 155 for 30 mins

Is this for a 2 or 3 gallon batch? 10 pounds of grain is not going to get you to 13% even at 3 gallons without a LOT of added sugar. Nothing wrong with that just saying. with 10 lbs of grain and 3 lbs of cane sugar you might manage 4 gallons of 13 percent beer. 
Title: Re: Understanding the Mash (for noobs like me)
Post by: astrivian on May 23, 2011, 02:33:24 pm

Is this for a 2 or 3 gallon batch? 10 pounds of grain is not going to get you to 13% even at 3 gallons without a LOT of added sugar. Nothing wrong with that just saying. with 10 lbs of grain and 3 lbs of cane sugar you might manage 4 gallons of 13 percent beer. 

No you are right, sorry i should have posted that. I created this mash schedule in Beersmith and it just defaulted to 10 pounds of grain. Good point though, the actual recipe will have much more grain (i do add corn sugar usually).

You know, i might be up for an experiment and tasting. Maybe one batch could be decoction and the other i can just pour out the mash from the cooler and heat it up on the stove, then dump it back into the cooler. I might do this actually, it would be a great way for me to learn about mashing and taste profiles.
Title: Re: Understanding the Mash (for noobs like me)
Post by: denny on May 23, 2011, 04:09:39 pm
Actually wait, that is 16 gallons total water volume and that doesn't include sparge water. Decoction maybe?

What about this (for 10 lbs of grain):

Dough-in at 104 for 20 minutes with 2 qt/lb
Decoct 8.5 quarts, boil, to bring it all to 143 for 60 mins
Decoct  4 quarts, boil, to bring it to 155 for 30 mins


That's ridiculously complicated IMO.  There is no need to mash in at such a low temp.  Why are you doing the decoctions?  Why not a single infusion?
Title: Re: Understanding the Mash (for noobs like me)
Post by: bonjour on May 23, 2011, 04:20:42 pm
No need for the dough in at 104.

Malts today are vastly different than they were "back in the day".  The mash steps that were required then are not required today.

Before you decoct, plot your single infusion mashes, Mash temp vs. FG for similar recipes with the same yeast.  (Ideally the same recipe).
First learn how mash temp impacts your beer on your system.

Decoctions can be emulated using grains, but they promote a rich maliard reaction and are typically a few points more efficient at sugar extraction from the malt.
Title: Re: Understanding the Mash (for noobs like me)
Post by: astrivian on May 24, 2011, 02:08:46 am
Maybe i am not understanding something. What is "single infusion"? is that the same as a single step?
Title: Re: Understanding the Mash (for noobs like me)
Post by: bluesman on May 24, 2011, 02:16:42 am
Maybe i am not understanding something. What is "single infusion"? is that the same as a single step?

Yes.

Basically all of the crushed malt is mixed (infused) with hot water to achieve a mash temperature of 146-158F, depending on the style of beer being made. The infusion water temperature varies with the water-to-grain ratio being used for the mash, but generally the initial "strike water" temperature is 10-15·°F above the target mash temperature. The mash should be held at the saccharification temperature for about an hour. The goal is to achieve a steady temperature.
Title: Re: Understanding the Mash (for noobs like me)
Post by: astrivian on May 24, 2011, 02:50:20 am
No need for the dough in at 104.

Malts today are vastly different than they were "back in the day".  The mash steps that were required then are not required today.

Oh okay thanks. And thanks for the tip on single infusion. So you all are saying just infuse the grain to one desired temperature, let it sit for about an hour (holding the same temp), then mash out? If that is the case then i agree, i was making it way to complicated.

So Bonjour, a better experiment would be the same recipe mashed at two different temperatures?
Title: Re: Understanding the Mash (for noobs like me)
Post by: bonjour on May 24, 2011, 03:33:56 am
So Bonjour, a better experiment would be the same recipe mashed at two different temperatures?
Brew something like a Strong Scotch Ale with a 148/9F mash
and a duplicate with a 155/6F mash
something like 1.070 OG, easy to brew
Title: Re: Understanding the Mash (for noobs like me)
Post by: jamminbrew on May 24, 2011, 03:36:26 am
When I brew Belgians, (which are my favorites) I only do a single step infusion at 148-150*. I add 1.5 qts water per pound, and figure adding water at 16-18* higher than your mash temp, to account for heat loss when adding to cooler temp grains.Grains will absorb water, and my experience is 1/10th gallon per pound. So if you have 10lbs grain, you'll likely lose 1 gallon water to absorption.
Title: Re: Understanding the Mash (for noobs like me)
Post by: astrivian on May 24, 2011, 03:48:33 am
 ;D This is really funny actually. I thought my single temperature mashes were too simple so i made them more complicated thinking it was better. Now i see i should go back to the single. Full circle :) I do, however, understand much more than i did before. Besides, my "single step" varied about 10 degrees while i was doing it on the stove. Not exactly repeatable.

This has been a great learning experience. I am excited. I have a recipe that has been quite successful in the past but i will try two batches at different temperatures, just so i understand this process and the end product better. This will be my second attempt at all-grain. The first time i was in over my head and it didn't turn out well so i went to partial mash/extract. Now i have a much better understanding of what i am doing, or plan on doing when i get back to it.
Title: Re: Understanding the Mash (for noobs like me)
Post by: thomasbarnes on May 24, 2011, 08:09:52 am
Besides, my "single step" varied about 10 degrees while i was doing it on the stove. Not exactly repeatable.

If you're just doing single infusion mashes, build a mash tun. No need to risk scorching or overheating your mash.
Title: Re: Understanding the Mash (for noobs like me)
Post by: johnf on May 24, 2011, 01:04:24 pm
There are lots of reasons to dough in at 104. If you are decocting, it lets you decoct a lot. It lets you fix mash pH before you get to the more important part of the mash. Malt doesn't gelatinize at 104 so you can dough in without stirring and breaking up dough balls. As Charlie Bamforth said on The Sunday Session a few months ago, it is cheap insurance against malt that isn't quite as modified as you think it is (as it will continue to break down beta glucans). It's one things to say "today's modified malts" but how many of you take a sample from your bag of grain and observe the length of the acrospire? I do, and you would be surprised at the variation from bag to bag.

So lots of benefits, admittedly minor, and no downside. I wouldn't recommend it for people doing infusion mashes in coolers, but it is easy on my system and I do it each time.

This whole "today's modified malts dictate that you should always do single infusion" argument is kinda crap isn't it? German brewers have always step mashed and still do today. English brewers have always done single infusion, even hundreds of years ago. If something changed between 1980 and 2010 such that everyone should have been step mashing in 1980 and everyone should be single infusion mashing today, the pros never got that memo. Low temperature rests aren't just about proteolysis (according to Bamforth in the aforementioned interview, proteolysis doesn't happen at appreciable levels in mashing anyway).

So I'm all on board with the theory that proteolysis isn't typically required or desired in mashing but I think that does not imply that there is no reason to dough in at lower temperatures.
Title: Re: Understanding the Mash (for noobs like me)
Post by: astrivian on May 26, 2011, 08:55:19 pm
i did some more reading and now i am wondering about pH. i heard from my lhbs that they don't worry about pH very much. do you all adjust it? if so how
Title: Re: Understanding the Mash (for noobs like me)
Post by: denny on May 26, 2011, 09:50:01 pm
i did some more reading and now i am wondering about pH. i heard from my lhbs that they don't worry about pH very much. do you all adjust it? if so how

I do now, but I brewed award winning beers for 10 years before I really worried about it.  If you're just starting AG, you've got other things to deal with.  Get the basic methods down, then worry about pH.
Title: Re: Understanding the Mash (for noobs like me)
Post by: thomasbarnes on May 26, 2011, 10:48:17 pm
i did some more reading and now i am wondering about pH. i heard from my lhbs that they don't worry about pH very much. do you all adjust it? if so how

Denny's pretty much right - don't worry about it too much. Water is the last thing to master - get your mashing and yeast management skills right first. Mash pH will usually adjust itself. Just make sure that your water is fit for brewing: no off-flavors, chlorine removed. If you want to experiment, there's no harm in buying some pH test strips; just resist the urge to monkey with your water unless you've got serious pH or ion level problems.

The exceptions are if you're dealing with really alkaline water (i.e. high carbonates, bicarbonates and/or magnesium) or extremely pure water. In the first case, you might need to add some food-grade acid to get your mash pH in the right range. In the latter case, you might need to add some calcium to react with the phosphates in the malt to get the pH to drop.

Good information here:

  http://www.homebrewtalk.com/wiki/index.php/Understanding_Mash_pH

and here:

  https://sites.google.com/site/brunwater/
Title: Re: Understanding the Mash (for noobs like me)
Post by: astrivian on May 29, 2011, 02:12:28 pm
oh good thanks. i was talking to someone at my lhbs and he said the same thing. that is one less thing to worry about.

i was reading "how to brew" and there was a lot in there about pH so it got me thinking.