Author Topic: Mash Thickness  (Read 1212 times)

Offline flbrewer

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Mash Thickness
« on: March 31, 2015, 01:25:59 AM »
I'm finalizing a recipe for this weekend (first competition beer) and I have a question around mash thickness. I am planning on mashing low, around 152, in attempts to making this pale ale fairly dry.

I typically will select a mash thickness based on rounded volume numbers to ease measuring. So with that being said, what are your thoughts on the two below options?

Mash Thickness- 1.76 (5.25 gallons mash/ 3. 48 gallons sparge)
Mash Thickness- ~1.5 (4.50 gallons mash/ 4.23 gallons sparge)


Offline JT

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Re: Mash Thickness
« Reply #1 on: March 31, 2015, 10:32:00 AM »
If it were mine I'd take something along the lines of the second option, except before lautering the mash (but after mashing) I'd rob the sparge water of a little over a gallon, boil it and add the boiling water to the mash.  This will give you more equal runnings without the thinner mash.  It will also bump your mash temp up a bit to offset some of the cooling that occurs during lautering and while mashing in a cooler.  This is also why many batch spargers use water hotter than 170 to batch sparge.  I've also found beers that don't get the extra heat at the end to be a bit thinner and/or attenuate more.  YMMV, and I'm assuming you're batch sparging in a cooler still.  There is also a setting on beer smith that will calculate out the water additions using this method, but I'm on the road now and don't have it with me.  Dennybrew.com also has this formula.
« Last Edit: March 31, 2015, 10:35:27 AM by JT »

Online dmtaylor

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Re: Mash Thickness
« Reply #2 on: March 31, 2015, 10:49:48 AM »
+1 to JT.  He is right on the money.
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Offline morticaixavier

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Re: Mash Thickness
« Reply #3 on: March 31, 2015, 12:35:05 PM »
I'd go the other way. I like a thinner mash as it's easier to stir well and seems to hold heat a bit better. but I'm sure either one will work. And I doubt there is a big difference either way.
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Offline toby

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Re: Mash Thickness
« Reply #4 on: March 31, 2015, 01:56:34 PM »
+1 to JT.  He is right on the money.
I agree mostly, but think that one of his observations is what is wanted here.  You'll want to undershoot mash temp a little here (go more for 149-150) if you want it on the drier/more attenuated side.  I've personally gone to that for my IPAs (and extended the mash to 75 minutes) and been pleased with the results.

Offline morticaixavier

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Re: Mash Thickness
« Reply #5 on: March 31, 2015, 02:05:15 PM »
+1 to JT.  He is right on the money.
I agree mostly, but think that one of his observations is what is wanted here.  You'll want to undershoot mash temp a little here (go more for 149-150) if you want it on the drier/more attenuated side.  I've personally gone to that for my IPAs (and extended the mash to 75 minutes) and been pleased with the results.

I have not been able to see any difference between 152 and 150 in terms of fermentability of the wort. It's worth further study but I just don't get enough effect to bother worrying about a couple of degrees here or there. North american malts are so highly enzymaticly active that they will just chew through starch regardless of mash temp (within reason). I've gone to three zones: very low (148 or so) for big beers, middle range (155 or so) for 'normal' beers, and very high (162+) for small beers or beers that I want a lot of body in. You pretty much have to get out of the beta amylase temp range altogether to see much increase in FG in my experience. I think water chemistry plays a bigger roll in mouthfeel and impression of crispness/maltiness than mash temp.
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Offline erockrph

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Re: Mash Thickness
« Reply #6 on: March 31, 2015, 04:14:10 PM »
I have not been able to see any difference between 152 and 150 in terms of fermentability of the wort. It's worth further study but I just don't get enough effect to bother worrying about a couple of degrees here or there. North american malts are so highly enzymaticly active that they will just chew through starch regardless of mash temp (within reason). I've gone to three zones: very low (148 or so) for big beers, middle range (155 or so) for 'normal' beers, and very high (162+) for small beers or beers that I want a lot of body in. You pretty much have to get out of the beta amylase temp range altogether to see much increase in FG in my experience. I think water chemistry plays a bigger roll in mouthfeel and impression of crispness/maltiness than mash temp.
+1 to all of this. I will add, that you not only have to go really low in temp to see a big boost in fermentability, but you need to hold the mash longer since the reactions happen slower at the lower temps. I go as low as 145F for beers that need a big boost in fermentability, but I will mash for 90-120 minutes at that temp. 153F is my normal mash temp, and 162F is for session beers.
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Offline flbrewer

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Re: Mash Thickness
« Reply #7 on: March 31, 2015, 04:31:21 PM »
I should mention that this beer is right at 5% ABV

Offline flbrewer

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Re: Mash Thickness
« Reply #8 on: March 31, 2015, 08:18:05 PM »
So if I'm reading your comments correctly, the lower mash temp. will lend to a dryer beer over choice in mash thickness I make. Is this correct?

From what I've read so far (and at my stage of brewing) I think the rewards outweigh the risks or doing a thinner mash (1.5+). Reduced dough balls, etc.

Offline flbrewer

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Re: Mash Thickness
« Reply #9 on: March 31, 2015, 08:23:33 PM »
I have not been able to see any difference between 152 and 150 in terms of fermentability of the wort. It's worth further study but I just don't get enough effect to bother worrying about a couple of degrees here or there. North american malts are so highly enzymaticly active that they will just chew through starch regardless of mash temp (within reason). I've gone to three zones: very low (148 or so) for big beers, middle range (155 or so) for 'normal' beers, and very high (162+) for small beers or beers that I want a lot of body in. You pretty much have to get out of the beta amylase temp range altogether to see much increase in FG in my experience. I think water chemistry plays a bigger roll in mouthfeel and impression of crispness/maltiness than mash temp.
+1 to all of this. I will add, that you not only have to go really low in temp to see a big boost in fermentability, but you need to hold the mash longer since the reactions happen slower at the lower temps. I go as low as 145F for beers that need a big boost in fermentability, but I will mash for 90-120 minutes at that temp. 153F is my normal mash temp, and 162F is for session beers.

When you say a beer "needs" a big boost in fermentability" what do you mean? Is this separate from drying out a beer?  Maybe I don't want a dry pale ale?  :o

Offline morticaixavier

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Re: Mash Thickness
« Reply #10 on: March 31, 2015, 08:44:56 PM »
I don't think mash thickness plays a huge roll in fermentability. and with North american malts for the most part mash temp doesn't play as big a roll as we are led to beleive outside of certain general temp zones.

with a smaller beer like a pale ale you don't really need to maximize fermentability. It will be dry enough as long as you take good care of the yeast. when you get into big beers where you want some body (Barley Wine, wee heavy) a low and slow mash will prevent thick cloying finished beers. For big beers that you want really dry and crisp (DIPA, TIPA, tripple) adding some sugar may be needed along with a low slow mash.
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Offline flbrewer

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Re: Mash Thickness
« Reply #11 on: March 31, 2015, 08:48:28 PM »
I don't think mash thickness plays a huge roll in fermentability. and with North american malts for the most part mash temp doesn't play as big a roll as we are led to beleive outside of certain general temp zones.

with a smaller beer like a pale ale you don't really need to maximize fermentability. It will be dry enough as long as you take good care of the yeast. when you get into big beers where you want some body (Barley Wine, wee heavy) a low and slow mash will prevent thick cloying finished beers. For big beers that you want really dry and crisp (DIPA, TIPA, tripple) adding some sugar may be needed along with a low slow mash.

Is there a guide or resource you can point me to that gives solid guidelines on style vs. mash temp? I know I previously asked about this and the consensus was that no one could really tell the difference in taste or body between varying mash temps on similar styles.


Offline duboman

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Re: Mash Thickness
« Reply #12 on: March 31, 2015, 08:48:57 PM »
I take the simple approach, I try to use an equal amount of strike water and sparge water, ie. ~50:50.

I've not really noticed any temp drops between thinner or thicker mashes in my round mash tun or greater or lesser attenuation as a result of thinner or thicker mash, just lower or higher mash temp.

My experience is if your sparge volume is too low your run risk of an efficient sparge in rinsing the sugars out. YMMV
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Re: Mash Thickness
« Reply #13 on: March 31, 2015, 09:29:23 PM »
Is there a guide or resource you can point me to that gives solid guidelines on style vs. mash temp? I know I previously asked about this and the consensus was that no one could really tell the difference in taste or body between varying mash temps on similar styles.

Nope, not really.  It's subjective and you get to decide for yourself.
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Re: Mash Thickness
« Reply #14 on: April 01, 2015, 12:49:08 AM »
The base malt may be a factor.
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