Author Topic: Direct heat step mash - info for first-timer.  (Read 4570 times)

Offline skyler

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Re: Direct heat step mash - info for first-timer.
« Reply #15 on: August 16, 2010, 09:18:38 AM »
I have found it very perilous to hit various steps with infusions. It often ends up using way more water than I had planned on, and is very time-consuming. Now, I rarely ever use anything but a single infusion, so the problem is generally moot, but I thought direct heat would be worth a try since, by combining our supplies, my friend and I can accomplish it fairly easily.

I do not have a false bottom, but I have a kettle screen (like a bazooka) on my kettle (which, in this case, would be the mash tun). So I guess I will have to mash super-thin, and use a lb or so of rice hulls. I suppose I will go for a wheat beer or a lager when I brew this one, since I can't really think of what else would particularly benefit from steps (maybe an altbier? a dubbel?). I mostly brew American and British styles, so I just do single infusons (I don't even bother with a mashout).

Offline majorvices

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Re: Direct heat step mash - info for first-timer.
« Reply #16 on: August 16, 2010, 01:14:10 PM »
I disagree entirely with you wit...I can hit my temp each and every time exactly regardless of whether I am mashing a 5 gallon batch or a 10 gallon batch a low gravity or a high gravity. I could NEVER get it that exact with infusions...YMMV

MMDV....My mileage does vary!  I can hit really exact temps with careful infusions of boiling water.

+1 - in fact I am usually spot on and never varying more than a degree or two. I would also ask myself whether or not a step mash is going to be really necessary. For most beers a single infusion is perfectly adequate. I single infuse my alt and dubbel with great results.

Well, that's not entirely true, I add a portion of boiling water to the alt to raise the temp to 158 for 20 minutes.
« Last Edit: August 16, 2010, 01:17:36 PM by majorvices »
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Offline bluesman

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Re: Direct heat step mash - info for first-timer.
« Reply #17 on: August 16, 2010, 02:28:18 PM »
I'm building a RIMS system and all of the research that I've done indicates keeping the grain off the bottom of the pot using a false bottom and recirculating the wort is the most practical and consistent means of mashing if using direct fire. YMMV.

I have been a batch sparger for many years using a single infusion in a cooler and will continue to use it as needed,  I really like the simplicity of batch sparging but I want to automate my process so I am using a RIMS.  I am in the process of finishing my Brutus stand.

« Last Edit: August 16, 2010, 06:22:00 PM by bluesman »
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Offline gruversm

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Re: Direct heat step mash - info for first-timer.
« Reply #18 on: August 16, 2010, 04:49:29 PM »
If you can possibly buy a false bottom for your pot, I would do it right away.
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Offline MDixon

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Re: Direct heat step mash - info for first-timer.
« Reply #19 on: August 16, 2010, 05:17:11 PM »
+1 - in fact I am usually spot on and never varying more than a degree or two.

Well, which is it? Spot on or varying a few degrees, sounds like the latter which is certainly not spot on. I can hit it dead on every single time and probably could get it to a half degree if I cared to. In reality it really doesn't matter that much, most brewing came from places using Celcium and a single degree Celcius is a couple of degrees Fahrenheit, but I hate it when someone speaks of being precise when in reality they are not.  ;)
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Offline witsok

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Re: Direct heat step mash - info for first-timer.
« Reply #20 on: August 16, 2010, 05:33:52 PM »
For most beers a single infusion is perfectly adequate.

Very true.  For the most part I only use step mashes for Belgians.  For American and British ales, I stick with single infusions.  The VOM I doing later this week will be a single infusion.

Offline majorvices

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Re: Direct heat step mash - info for first-timer.
« Reply #21 on: August 16, 2010, 05:35:22 PM »
+1 - in fact I am usually spot on and never varying more than a degree or two.

Well, which is it? Spot on or varying a few degrees, sounds like the latter which is certainly not spot on. I can hit it dead on every single time and probably could get it to a half degree if I cared to. In reality it really doesn't matter that much, most brewing came from places using Celcium and a single degree Celcius is a couple of degrees Fahrenheit, but I hate it when someone speaks of being precise when in reality they are not.  ;)

1 or 2 degrees is not going to make a big enough difference for me to stress about. Now, that said, YMMV indeed, Mike.  ;)
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Offline gordonstrong

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Re: Direct heat step mash - info for first-timer.
« Reply #22 on: August 16, 2010, 05:45:58 PM »
I love talks about accuracy and precision.  Like using a digital thermometer is better because it shows you more decimal places.  It could be totally wrong, but boy it looks like it knows what it's talking about.

For those who worry about very specific (accurate and precise) temperatures in their mashes, I just have one question: do you have a consistent temperature reading throughout your mash? 

Try moving an instant-read thermometer around in your mash (preferably one with a long probe so you can test various depths).  If you do get a consistent reading, how long does it take you to get there?  What do you think is happening to the mash while the temperature is stabilizing? Different zones are getting different levels of enzymatic activity. If you're doing a short rest, how long do you think you're actually resting at that temperature?

If you see how the temperature varies throughout your mash during the entire mash schedule, I think you'll interpret this thread in a new light.
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Offline witsok

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Re: Direct heat step mash - info for first-timer.
« Reply #23 on: August 16, 2010, 05:52:15 PM »
I can hit my temp each and every time exactly

Well, which is it? Spot on or varying a few degrees, sounds like the latter which is certainly not spot on. I can hit it dead on every single time and probably could get it to a half degree if I cared to.

Yes, which is it?  Couldn't resist.  ;D

Precise, accurate, horse shoes or hand granades...  Before the advent of the thermometer, people were making beer.  The more you brew and gain proficiency on your system, the closer to your targets you should be able to achieve.  I don't believe there is one right way to mash.  We may very well do things differently, but the key is to enjoy the hobby.  It's suppose to be fun.

Offline gordonstrong

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Re: Direct heat step mash - info for first-timer.
« Reply #24 on: August 16, 2010, 05:54:13 PM »
Quote
We may very well do things differently, but the key is to enjoy the hobby.  It's suppose to be fun.

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Offline bluesman

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Re: Direct heat step mash - info for first-timer.
« Reply #25 on: August 16, 2010, 06:31:35 PM »
Being in the QC business, one of the first questions I'll ask someone who is learning the ropes is what is the difference between precision and accuracy.

For example, if I have a digital thermometer that consistently reads 210F in boiling water, I can say that the thermometer is very precise.

However is it accurate?  The answer is no because water boils at 212F.

I always recommend calibrating your digital thermometer with a calibrated lab thermometer to assure accuracy when measuring your mash temps..
« Last Edit: August 16, 2010, 06:39:51 PM by bluesman »
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Offline bluesman

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Re: Direct heat step mash - info for first-timer.
« Reply #26 on: August 16, 2010, 06:33:25 PM »
Quote
We may very well do things differently, but the key is to enjoy the hobby.  It's suppose to be fun.

1st kit tag, Denny-level wisdom

I couldn't agree more with Denny's wisdom there.
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Offline tschmidlin

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Re: Direct heat step mash - info for first-timer.
« Reply #27 on: August 16, 2010, 06:36:16 PM »
For those who worry about very specific (accurate and precise) temperatures in their mashes, I just have one question: do you have a consistent temperature reading throughout your mash? 

Great point Gordon.  I've done it and it's not pretty.  I mash in a direct fired tun.  I know my malt temp and how much water I'm using.  I calculate what temp the water needs to be to hit my mash temp, then heat the water to that.  I stir really well to make sure the water is well mixed, then add my malt and mix as best I can.

For a batch or two I was stressing because the temp in the tun was off, so I fiddled with it - more heat, cold water, whatever to try to get the temp.  I made some beer that was not so great.

Now I just trust physics - once I mix in the malt I don't pay too much attention to the temp.  The last batch I brewed was 6 degrees under when I put the lid on the tun, but I left it alone.  Trying to stir my mash with a thermometer sticking 1/3 of the way into the tun and a false bottom with more than a gallon of water under it just doesn't work that well.  Physics works though, I stick with that.
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Offline MDixon

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Re: Direct heat step mash - info for first-timer.
« Reply #28 on: August 16, 2010, 06:58:00 PM »
As far as temp readings, I'm stirring to ensure it's homogeneous.

Wit - sorry, I should have been more precise  ::)
I'm going for the even temp, not the decimal places. Gordon is correct of course it all depends upon your thermometer's accuracy. I forgot my digital is only good (accuracy) to +/-0.5F. Of course that's better than those folks using Celcius  :P ;D ;)
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Offline bonjour

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Re: Direct heat step mash - info for first-timer.
« Reply #29 on: August 16, 2010, 07:05:08 PM »
I check my mash at 1-15 minutes to see if I'm grossly off and then at the end of the mash just before I sparge.  Like several others I'm always close except for when I misread the thermometer.
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