Author Topic: Mashing confusion  (Read 5055 times)

Offline sharg54

  • Cellarman
  • **
  • Posts: 88
    • View Profile
Mashing confusion
« on: December 14, 2010, 11:37:06 PM »
Ok this appears to be a big debate around here. Why are you step mashing why not do a single infusion? Are you using fully modified grains or not or an adjust.   Correct me if I'm wrong but there are advantages to step mashing such as if I'm making a lager that is going to be in the fridge for say a month and a half, I would want to start out between 113 F and 122 F to beef up the enzymes the yeast thrive off of to help them through the long hall of a cold fermentation. Also from what I understand it helps out the mash and can give a better efficiency for starch conversion to fermentable sugar. You can control body and alcohol content, dryness and head retention depending on the temps and the times you keep at various temps. If you want a dry lite body beer like a CAP with higher alcohol content than you may want it at say 153 F for 20 minuets and 158 for 10 minuets. If you want a  stout you may want to reverse it to get more body and less fermentable sugar. I guess my question is really why all the hubbub about multi step mashing and single step mashing?   Sure single step is fine and works for most beers but isn't the idea to control and craft the beer the way it should be rather than just one shot everything and say " look I got Beer"? Or am I missing something? ???
People keep telling me it's not rocket science... I like rockets..

Offline euge

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 7223
  • Estilo Casero
    • View Profile
Re: Mashing confusion
« Reply #1 on: December 14, 2010, 11:47:50 PM »
My opinion and suspicion is: how one learned to brew. Some people learned fly-sparge and step mash. Or no-sparge single infusion. I'm a batch sparger myself. The most I'll do is a decoction but not to manipulate the temps.

As I know it and have been taught is that modern malt doesn't need step mashing- even for a protein rest. I do like your manipulation of the upper range 153-158. Might have to play with that.

I think you also answered your own question LOL but to me it's how one learned, what makes sense and/or a combination of the two.
The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool. -Richard P. Feynman

Offline sharg54

  • Cellarman
  • **
  • Posts: 88
    • View Profile
Re: Mashing confusion
« Reply #2 on: December 15, 2010, 12:15:32 AM »
Guess I'm a tinker at heart and like to play with things to make them work better. I can see your point though about being a matter of how you are taught. Guess not having a teacher and learning it on your own makes you investigate more and ask a lot of questions. To me it's a cross between chemistry and cooking two things I love, and if you can make it good one way how much better can you make it if you tinker with the temps and times a bit to push it in the direction you want it to go. It may take a little longer but I think it's worth the effort. I had a friend of ours come over after I made my first porter. Woman hated beer of any type she said and was a mixed drink girl . She drank 3 bottles before she left that night and raved about it. Now that was time well spent. lol.
People keep telling me it's not rocket science... I like rockets..

jaybeerman

  • Guest
Re: Mashing confusion
« Reply #3 on: December 15, 2010, 12:23:13 AM »
1. To me it's a cross between chemistry and cooking two things I love
2. Guess I'm a tinker at heart  

1. Don’t feel alone
2. Umm that sounds like personal info that might be better left unsaid, or perhaps you're a tinkerer? ;D
« Last Edit: December 15, 2010, 12:37:28 AM by jaybeerman »

Offline tschmidlin

  • I must live here
  • **********
  • Posts: 8130
  • Redmond, WA
    • View Profile
Re: Mashing confusion
« Reply #4 on: December 15, 2010, 12:34:24 AM »
Correct me if I'm wrong but there are advantages to step mashing such as if I'm making a lager that is going to be in the fridge for say a month and a half, I would want to start out between 113 F and 122 F to beef up the enzymes the yeast thrive off of to help them through the long hall of a cold fermentation.
I assume you mean peptides or amino acids instead of enzymes?  Why not just add a little yeast nutrient instead?  And why is the lager taking 6 weeks to ferment, are you talking about cold conditioning?  You should rack off of the yeast before lagering.

There are good reasons to step mash, but those reasons can be addressed in a single infusion with ingredient changes.  Do it however you like, that's part of the art/science of brewing ;)
Tom Schmidlin

Offline sharg54

  • Cellarman
  • **
  • Posts: 88
    • View Profile
Re: Mashing confusion
« Reply #5 on: December 15, 2010, 01:35:28 AM »
Yeah your right tschmidlin on both counts. I only ferment a lager for two weeks max the rest of the time is in a secondary but the yeast is still working there as well so why not help it out? Adding chemicals to the beer to me is short stepping things just like one stepping the mash but than that is personal preference besides I have put enough chemicals in me over the years I don't need more. With proper steps and care you can do the same job with out adding things to the brew. After all they didn't have yeast additives in the past did they? So why spend the extra money on additives if you don't need to? Save the money and buy a new brew pot of something. People use Irish moss to clean up a brew and it's perfectly exceptable and a lot of people do it but did you know it causes ulcers? You can do the same thing with quick cooling the wort and moving into a secondary after fermentation than leaving a little beer behind when you bottle or keg. Sure it's a few extra steps and you have to plan a little more but so what. I'm not in a rush. Some of the terms are confused but like it shows with the one star and like I have said I'm new at this and learning on my own, proper terms will come in time though I don't find it very important at this time, besides you knew what I was talking about. My point is really quite simple, brewing is a craft and an art form if you will. If your short stepping things and that makes you happy that's fine by me but if you really want to get a feel for it, do it old school and make the extra effort, you may find you enjoy it more, or you may not. You make really good beer now, but could you make fantastic beer by taking a few extra steps? It's your brew and your way and that's cool... Yo Jay spelling is not my strong point it looked wrong to me so I short stepped it. lol.  ::)  
« Last Edit: December 15, 2010, 01:37:12 AM by sharg54 »
People keep telling me it's not rocket science... I like rockets..

Offline denny

  • Administrator
  • I must live here
  • *****
  • Posts: 11660
  • Noti OR [1991.4, 287.6deg] AR
    • View Profile
    • Dennybrew
Re: Mashing confusion
« Reply #6 on: December 15, 2010, 09:03:47 AM »
I think you overlook something...personal experience.  I've brewed a lot of batches with a step mash and a lot of batches with out.  while I think that _possibly_ there's something to be gained in _some_ beers from a beta/alpha step mash, I've also found nothing to be gained and possibly damage to the beer from a low temp protein rest step.  Now, if you've tried both ways and carefully evaluated (as in a blind triangle tasting) the results and found you prefer the protein rest and want to keep doing it, more power to you.  Many people just take what they've read and do it without an evaluation, blindly believing that if they did more work the beer MUST be better.  I've done a lot of research on that phenomenon and can provide you examples if you wish.  But to say that people who disagree with you are "short stepping" is just plain wrong.  You say you are a new brewer, and as a new brewer I once believed as you do.  With experience comes knowledge.  You'll get there.

And Irish moss causes ulcers????????
Life begins at 60.....1.060, that is!

www.dennybrew.com

The best, sharpest, funniest, weirdest and most knowledgable minds in home brewing contribute on the AHA forum. - Alewyfe

Offline sharg54

  • Cellarman
  • **
  • Posts: 88
    • View Profile
Re: Mashing confusion
« Reply #7 on: December 15, 2010, 10:12:11 AM »
not accusing anyone. Like I said it's your beer. Short stepping is just a term not an insult. One stepping a mash works and works well 90 percent of the time and if that's what you do and like than more power to you. I step mash you don't, both work well and it's what we do. Euge said it best I think, it's how you learned to brew. It's an exchange of ideas and information is all. I have tried both ways and the one thing I did notice is I get better results with less grain step mashing. Better conversion from a solid to a liquid state and a much higher OG on my worts. Guess the book was right, when ever you talk about mashing you open a can of worms. No harm intended.
People keep telling me it's not rocket science... I like rockets..

Offline tschmidlin

  • I must live here
  • **********
  • Posts: 8130
  • Redmond, WA
    • View Profile
Re: Mashing confusion
« Reply #8 on: December 15, 2010, 10:48:53 AM »
Google says Irish moss is a treatment for ulcers and gastritis.  And one website I read says the dose is 1 to 1.5 tsp in a cup of water 3x per day, compared to the tsp per 5 gallons that we use, most of which settles out.

Tom Schmidlin

jaybeerman

  • Guest
Re: Mashing confusion
« Reply #9 on: December 15, 2010, 11:00:16 AM »
Yo Jay spelling is not my strong point it looked wrong to me so I short stepped it. lol.  ::)  
Lol, yeah it just so happens that we use to call a, well built and anger prone, co-worker "tinker" (i.e. tinkerbell).

1. But to say that people who disagree with you are "short stepping" is just plain wrong.
2. Now, if you've tried both ways and carefully evaluated (as in a blind triangle tasting) the results and found you prefer the protein rest and want to keep doing it, more power to you.  Many people just take what they've read and do it without an evaluation, blindly believing that if they did more work the beer MUST be better.  I've done a lot of research on that phenomenon and can provide you examples if you wish.  .  You say you are a new brewer, and as a new brewer I once believed as you do.  With experience comes knowledge.  You'll get there.

1. [edit; deleted due to my misreading the original post]
2.  This is always an interesting topic.  I suppose I fall somewhere in the middle between you and sharg54 on this topic. Denny, could you list styles that you feel would benefit from a step or decoction mash.  Are there styles like wheats, german beers, etc. that you've found to NOT benefit from step or decoction mash?  I do want to say that I agree with the thought that sometimes what seems to be BETTER technique can be frivolous or even harmful.  That said, I often argue the flip-side because I do feel that "The enemy of excellence is proficiency."  cheers, j  
« Last Edit: December 15, 2010, 11:46:40 AM by jaybeerman »

Offline euge

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 7223
  • Estilo Casero
    • View Profile
Re: Mashing confusion
« Reply #10 on: December 15, 2010, 11:05:56 AM »
Or "the enemy of good is better."  :o
The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool. -Richard P. Feynman

jaybeerman

  • Guest
Re: Mashing confusion
« Reply #11 on: December 15, 2010, 11:18:57 AM »
Or "the enemy of good is better."  :o

Oh man!!! Damn!  Now my mind will be bogged down with internal debate, so many things to consider!  :)

Offline sharg54

  • Cellarman
  • **
  • Posts: 88
    • View Profile
Re: Mashing confusion
« Reply #12 on: December 15, 2010, 11:37:43 AM »
Now that would be a good idea Denny. When to step when not to, that would really help out. The irish moss thing, the wife showed it to me on line at a medical site she uses. She's a little strange about things like that. LoL  I don't think it's a matter of whos right or wrong and I would bet you can locate sites on both sides of the coin. Just information and ideas and a matter of what you like to do. My self if I want to use something to clear up a beer I used gelatin. Didn't like the mess stuck to the bottom of the carboy but it did the trick.
People keep telling me it's not rocket science... I like rockets..

Offline tschmidlin

  • I must live here
  • **********
  • Posts: 8130
  • Redmond, WA
    • View Profile
Re: Mashing confusion
« Reply #13 on: December 15, 2010, 11:38:52 AM »
If your short stepping things and that makes you happy that's fine by me but if you really want to get a feel for it, do it old school and make the extra effort, you may find you enjoy it more, or you may not. You make really good beer now, but could you make fantastic beer by taking a few extra steps?

This time you've just misunderstood his comment
Are you sure?  Because that reads to me like he's saying single infusion mashes are the lazy way of doing it.  Ultimately I get his point, but this is hard not to read that way.  No harm done though :)

And I know you directed this at Denny, but as for beers that benefit from decoctions, I would say many German beers do, including hefeweizens and the bock family of beers.  I don't include that as step mashing in my head though, even though you raise it through a series of steps.  The decocting process is just way different than adding boiling water or gentle heating (RIMS, HERMS, direct fire) to increase your mash temp - to me those are step mashing, and decocting is decocting.
Tom Schmidlin

Offline denny

  • Administrator
  • I must live here
  • *****
  • Posts: 11660
  • Noti OR [1991.4, 287.6deg] AR
    • View Profile
    • Dennybrew
Re: Mashing confusion
« Reply #14 on: December 15, 2010, 11:43:11 AM »
 Are there styles like wheats, german beers, etc. that you've found to NOT benefit from step or decoction mash?

Off the top of my head, based on my experience and experiments, I can think of witbier, dunkel, maibock, and German pils as styles that I found did not benefit from step or decoction mashes.  There may be others, but I'm not in a position to look at my notes at the moment.
Life begins at 60.....1.060, that is!

www.dennybrew.com

The best, sharpest, funniest, weirdest and most knowledgable minds in home brewing contribute on the AHA forum. - Alewyfe