So... I was listening to an old Basic Brewing Radio podcast (I believe it was http://media.libsyn.com/media/basicbrewing/bbr02-03-11byo7intro.mp3
), and they brought up an idea for experimentation that I think deserves some exploration.
The question is: Why do we heat up the strike water alone to 170-190 F then mix with the grain to hit 150s? Why do we not heat it all up together? Assuming we have direct heat capabilities (not possible with a cooler mash tun), why not dough-in the grain with the usual 1-3 qts/lb water at room temperature, then ramp up the whole mash together to 150 F?
This might be even more feasible with smaller batches where temperatures will not linger in the protein rest and beta amylase zones for too long before hitting the alpha range. However it will guarantee that you get through at least a brief sort of acid rest, beta-glucan, protein, everything, and you would also have the opportunity to easily step mash if desired, stopping for rests along the way as desired. This is all contingent on having direct heating equipment that could handle it. Personally I’m most interested in this technique because I brew small 1.7-gallon batches all the time, so it would of course be very easy for me to experiment with.
Unfortunately I do not brew very often these days so it would be some time before I can come up with any results on my own. But of course I wanted to throw this idea out there for anyone else who might like to try it, or who might already have any experience with it.
One theory about all this, also discussed on BBR, is that the resulting beer might be lighter in body and have less head compared to the traditional single infusion strike at 150-ish since it goes through some period of time in the protein and beta zones, breaking down proteins and starches more than you’d get otherwise. However this won’t stop me from experimentation! Who knows... where personal preference comes into play, you might find you like this method better than the traditional way. When I run my batches, I am not actually going to step mash and make any rests along the way. I’m just going to crank up the heat from room temp to about 140 F, then back off and coast up to 150 F. Then I’ll get some idea of the difference between this and traditional strike water mashing.
Thoughts?? This isn’t an original idea and has probably been toyed with for centuries, but I really don’t know exactly what to expect until I try it for myself. Sounds like fun to me, and I really don’t think it will ruin anything -- it will still be making good beer! At least I believe so.