Author Topic: step-mashing, and when is it inappropriate?  (Read 4011 times)

Offline pikelakehomebrew

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step-mashing, and when is it inappropriate?
« on: September 05, 2012, 11:13:01 AM »
So earlier this spring I decided to make step-mashing a priority in my brew day — I do temperature rests at most of the various extraction points, 15-30 minute protein rest, 30 minutes for beta conversions, 30 minutes for alpha conversions, a 10-minute mash-out, and then sparging for as long as it takes.  By-in-large, my results have been great and achieve both high efficiency and great-tasting beer in the process.  And if I don't adjust my sparge water for my efficiency, I can also boost my ABV if I choose to as well.

But my question is about beer styles and when it may not be appropriate to do a step mash?  Are there beer styles or traditions that lend themselves to a single rest or something other than what I've described in my current step mash process?  I don't pretend to be well-versed in all the different BJCP styles, but at least know that so far I've had great results with a complete step mash.  But I am just curious if there are beer styles that call for specific mash processes, like no lower beta rest and only higher temperature alpha conversions, or vice versa.

Your thoughts and input is appreciated.  Thanks!
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Offline denny

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Re: step-mashing, and when is it inappropriate?
« Reply #1 on: September 05, 2012, 11:28:41 AM »
I base step mash decisions (especially protein rests) on the malt I use and not the recipe.  That means I almost never do a step mash.
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Re: step-mashing, and when is it inappropriate?
« Reply #2 on: September 05, 2012, 11:34:14 AM »
I tend to use single rest mashes for English and American styles while I step mash German styles.

Kai

Offline mabrungard

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Re: step-mashing, and when is it inappropriate?
« Reply #3 on: September 05, 2012, 12:01:18 PM »
I note that several commercial craft brewers like to perform multi-step sacharification mashs, with a rest in the 140's and then a step to the 150's.  I assume that they also step up to a mash out temp to improve lautering and extraction.   I like a Ferrulic rest, but only for Weizens.    But not too many brewers seem to deal with a protein rest.
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Re: step-mashing, and when is it inappropriate?
« Reply #4 on: September 05, 2012, 12:20:27 PM »
I note that several commercial craft brewers like to perform multi-step sacharification mashs, with a rest in the 140's and then a step to the 150's.  I assume that they also step up to a mash out temp to improve lautering and extraction.   I like a Ferrulic rest, but only for Weizens.    But not too many brewers seem to deal with a protein rest.

Martin makes a good point. Protein rests are not that common anymore, but that doesn’t mean that single infusion is the only mash schedule left.

It seems that micro brews start out with single infusion mashing since it requires less sophisticated equipment. But once they can afford a more automated German or Austrian brewing system they also tend to import the German brewing philosophy of step mashing.

These days I almost exclusively mash in a kettle on the stove top. I’m thinking about modifying an ice cream maker to help with stirring the mash during heating.

Kai

Offline denny

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Re: step-mashing, and when is it inappropriate?
« Reply #5 on: September 05, 2012, 12:22:31 PM »
When I do a step mash, it's usually something like 146-160.  No protein rest.
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Offline pikelakehomebrew

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Re: step-mashing, and when is it inappropriate?
« Reply #6 on: September 05, 2012, 12:29:17 PM »
I appreciate the comments on what you guys do, but back to my original question, are there beer styles that lend themselves to something other than a step-mash?  Personally I've found that I get a great deal more efficiency when step mashing, but wonder if there are beer styles that are just inappropriate to do so and would be best off with something like a single-infusion or something similarly?

I know that preference is just that, preference.  My question is about any connection to beer style and mash process types.
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Offline denny

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Re: step-mashing, and when is it inappropriate?
« Reply #7 on: September 05, 2012, 12:30:54 PM »
Like Kai mentioned, British and usually American styles do not use a step mash (although somebody can probably come up with an exception!).
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Offline pikelakehomebrew

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Re: step-mashing, and when is it inappropriate?
« Reply #8 on: September 05, 2012, 12:42:29 PM »
Like Kai mentioned, British and usually American styles do not use a step mash (although somebody can probably come up with an exception!).

Would you say that just comes down to a preference thing or perhaps just a brew house set up versus something necessary to the style? I know that spending more time at one range (beta vs alpha) can potentially change the body/fermentability, but don't ever recall reading anywhere that one brew style or another you ought not step mash.

I don't mean to belabor the topic by any means — just seeking out more knowledge on the subject.   :D
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Offline Pi

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Re: step-mashing, and when is it inappropriate?
« Reply #9 on: September 05, 2012, 12:48:01 PM »
Someone on this forum referred me to this BYO article by Dave Green. http://byo.com/stories/techniques/article/indices/9-all-grain-brewing/1529-the-science-of-step-mashing
I've read it 3 or 4 times and i get something out of it every time.
In it Green says "if a malt is undermodified, it will clearly say so in the name." thus, some sort of protein rest is needed to finish degrading the glucans and proteins.
I recently brewed a double decoction Hefe My mash schedule had me rest my first decoction at beta and alpha before gradually raising to a boil for 30 minutes. this left my main mash in like a 60+ minute protein rest.
The beer tasted great but had virtually no head.
Now I only do a P rest if there's alot of low-mod malt (German) in the grist.
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Offline pikelakehomebrew

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Re: step-mashing, and when is it inappropriate?
« Reply #10 on: September 05, 2012, 01:01:30 PM »
Someone on this forum referred me to this BYO article by Dave Green. http://byo.com/stories/techniques/article/indices/9-all-grain-brewing/1529-the-science-of-step-mashing
I've read it 3 or 4 times and i get something out of it every time.

That's perfect, Pi.  Thanks for the article reference — a great read!
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Offline denny

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Re: step-mashing, and when is it inappropriate?
« Reply #11 on: September 05, 2012, 01:07:48 PM »
Like Kai mentioned, British and usually American styles do not use a step mash (although somebody can probably come up with an exception!).

Would you say that just comes down to a preference thing or perhaps just a brew house set up versus something necessary to the style? I know that spending more time at one range (beta vs alpha) can potentially change the body/fermentability, but don't ever recall reading anywhere that one brew style or another you ought not step mash.

I don't mean to belabor the topic by any means — just seeking out more knowledge on the subject.   :D

It comes back to the malts used as much as anything.  British maltsters make highly modified malts so step mashing isn't a requirement.  I think it comes down to tradition, also.
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Offline Pi

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Re: step-mashing, and when is it inappropriate?
« Reply #12 on: September 05, 2012, 02:34:37 PM »

[/quote]

It comes back to the malts used as much as anything.  British maltsters make highly modified malts so step mashing isn't a requirement.  I think it comes down to tradition, also.
[/quote]
Briess/American malts are also well modified and dont need a P rest. I have found a single step around 153* is a fine compromise between Beta and Alpha and produces a well rounded wort for most ales
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Offline snowtiger87

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Re: step-mashing, and when is it inappropriate?
« Reply #13 on: September 12, 2012, 03:21:58 PM »
For American and British styles I don't do a step mash and for German and Belgian styles I do - usually 130 - 150.
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Offline zorch

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Re: step-mashing, and when is it inappropriate?
« Reply #14 on: September 13, 2012, 11:04:58 AM »
I’m thinking about modifying an ice cream maker to help with stirring the mash during heating.

I apologize for going off on a tangent, but rather than modifying an ice cream maker, I would suggest you try a low speed, high torque drill.    Here's the one I have:

http://www.harborfreight.com/power-tools/electric-drills/1-2-half-inch-heavy-duty-spade-handle-drill-93632.html

Notice that you can mount the handle on three sides; I just picked up 2 12" dowels and added the correct size hanger bolts to make two additional handles.  This allows me (with the addition of a third dowel propping up the 'trigger' handle) to set the drill on top of my kettle.   I use this in conjunction with a paint stirrer and my immersion cooler to gently stir the cooling wort.    It has a locking trigger with adjustable speed dial (and can be set to _very slow_ speeds), so you can just set it up and walk away. 

It works amazingly well.  I get cooling speeds comparable to the 'Jamil-O-Chill' method (boiling to pitching temps in <15 minutes).    I think a similar setup would work great as a mash stirrer.    It also works perfectly driving my grain mill (it's a brewing multi-tasker).

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