Author Topic: Understanding the Mash (for noobs like me)  (Read 3439 times)

Offline astrivian

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Understanding the Mash (for noobs like me)
« on: May 20, 2011, 03:12:34 PM »
I have been reading about the process of mashing and i think i am missing some details. After talking to people it sounds like there is a lot more to it. I have been told that a great deal of the profile of the final beer depends on the mash, but up to this point i just use a single step with direct heat (on the stove).

Okay, so the seriously noob questions are
  • Why do multiple steps in heat in the mash?
  • Do you have to always step up the temperature? Is there anything to be gained by going down?
  • How many steps is reasonable? Two? three?

I do pretty high gravity stuff so i usually mash at 147 using 2 quarts of water per pound. Is this the right idea?
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Offline astrivian

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Re: Understanding the Mash (for noobs like me)
« Reply #1 on: May 20, 2011, 03:29:15 PM »
I did some more reading an i get more of it now. So different enzymes are at work at different temperatures (beta and alpha).

So lets take two hypothetical brews, one mashed at the single temperature of 147 and another at 147 then 158 (i am just making up these numbers, but i think you get the idea). What, do you think, would be the difference in the finished beer assuming everything was the same (yeast, hops, grain, water/grain ratio, etc.)?
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Offline a10t2

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Re: Understanding the Mash (for noobs like me)
« Reply #2 on: May 20, 2011, 03:40:53 PM »
So lets take two hypothetical brews, one mashed at the single temperature of 147 and another at 147 then 158 (i am just making up these numbers, but i think you get the idea). What, do you think, would be the difference in the finished beer assuming everything was the same (yeast, hops, grain, water/grain ratio, etc.)?

I'd expect the two-step mash to have slightly higher fermentability than the single-infusion. Maybe also slightly higher efficiency, if the pH wasn't quite right. Of course, the precise temperatures do matter, at least when talking about variations of more than a degree or two.
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Offline bluesman

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Re: Understanding the Mash (for noobs like me)
« Reply #3 on: May 20, 2011, 06:47:04 PM »
Here's some great info. from a great brewing mind.

http://braukaiser.com/wiki/index.php/The_Science_of_Mashing
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Offline tom

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Re: Understanding the Mash (for noobs like me)
« Reply #4 on: May 20, 2011, 07:38:54 PM »
And welcome back!
Brew on

Offline astrivian

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Re: Understanding the Mash (for noobs like me)
« Reply #5 on: May 21, 2011, 10:30:06 AM »
Thanks! It is good to be back.   ;D

Thanks for that link. I will check it out in detail.

Okay so i have a follow up question. I used to mash on the stove but i could only keep the temperature +/- 10* of where i was supposed to. Based on what you were just saying, that was bad.

I have heard another method is to use a cooler, which is what i will probably start doing. However, for a two step mash, what is the best way to raise the mash to the next step? I guess i could do decoction or i could just add some hot water.
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Offline jamminbrew

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Re: Understanding the Mash (for noobs like me)
« Reply #6 on: May 21, 2011, 10:48:18 AM »
Thanks! It is good to be back.   ;D

Thanks for that link. I will check it out in detail.

Okay so i have a follow up question. I used to mash on the stove but i could only keep the temperature +/- 10* of where i was supposed to. Based on what you were just saying, that was bad.

I have heard another method is to use a cooler, which is what i will probably start doing. However, for a two step mash, what is the best way to raise the mash to the next step? I guess i could do decoction or i could just add some hot water.
Start with a slightly lower amount of water for the first step, and when ready, add boiling(or near boiling) water until you hit your desired temp.
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Offline astrivian

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Re: Understanding the Mash (for noobs like me)
« Reply #7 on: May 21, 2011, 10:57:46 AM »
Okay thanks. So would around 1.25 qt/pound be good for the start?

Also, I am reading more and i understand a bit more of what is happening. But let me see if i am understanding this correctly. At lower temperatures (like 143) the mash is producing more fermentable sugars (this is "beta" enzymes right?). At higher temperatures (like 158), the mash is in alpha producing unfermentable sugars.  So a low temp mash produces a dry beer, and higher temps produce a sweeter beer. Is that about right?

So more steps resting at different temperatures in the mash create more complex flavors with regards to sugars?

Also, once the temperature is raised, are the enzymes at the lower temperature destroyed? For example, if you started at 158 and went down to 143 would that work? Just curious on that one. Every recipe i have seen so far goes up in temperature. 

Thanks all!
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Offline a10t2

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Re: Understanding the Mash (for noobs like me)
« Reply #8 on: May 21, 2011, 11:26:44 AM »
I think you'll find the answers to all those questions in chapters 14 and 16 of How to Brew.

http://www.howtobrew.com/section3/chapter14.html
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Offline oscarvan

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Re: Understanding the Mash (for noobs like me)
« Reply #9 on: May 21, 2011, 09:14:33 PM »
I'm a single infusion/batch sparge brewer and so far have not felt the need to change that.
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Offline astrivian

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Re: Understanding the Mash (for noobs like me)
« Reply #10 on: May 21, 2011, 09:55:44 PM »
I think you'll find the answers to all those questions in chapters 14 and 16 of How to Brew.

http://www.howtobrew.com/section3/chapter14.html

oh wow. i didn't realize the whole book was online. i just thought it was a teaser.

Reading it answers most of my questions. Thanks for that post.

One last question though regarding the pH. Back in my days as an aquarist i bought a submersible electronic pH and temperature tester (see it http://www.instrumart.com/products/31861/hanna-instruments-hi-98128-waterproof-ph-tester?gclid=CI_G96vi-qgCFRx3gwodQlFNUA). Do you think this would work for testing the pH of the wort?
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Offline malzig

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Re: Understanding the Mash (for noobs like me)
« Reply #11 on: May 22, 2011, 05:59:38 AM »
One last question though regarding the pH. Back in my days as an aquarist i bought a submersible electronic pH and temperature tester (see it http://www.instrumart.com/products/31861/hanna-instruments-hi-98128-waterproof-ph-tester?gclid=CI_G96vi-qgCFRx3gwodQlFNUA). Do you think this would work for testing the pH of the wort?
Sure, just cool the wort first, since that's only rated to 140°F.

Offline astrivian

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Re: Understanding the Mash (for noobs like me)
« Reply #12 on: May 22, 2011, 09:08:56 AM »
One last question though regarding the pH. Back in my days as an aquarist i bought a submersible electronic pH and temperature tester (see it http://www.instrumart.com/products/31861/hanna-instruments-hi-98128-waterproof-ph-tester?gclid=CI_G96vi-qgCFRx3gwodQlFNUA). Do you think this would work for testing the pH of the wort?
Sure, just cool the wort first, since that's only rated to 140°F.

Sweet, now i can take this thing from the shelf and dust it off :)
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Offline astrivian

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Re: Understanding the Mash (for noobs like me)
« Reply #13 on: May 22, 2011, 09:15:16 AM »
One final question regarding the mash-out. I read somewhere that if you go strait to the boil you don't need to mash out. What i have done in the past is just lauter when the mash timer goes off without raising the temperature.

Agree? Disagree?
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Offline denny

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Re: Understanding the Mash (for noobs like me)
« Reply #14 on: May 22, 2011, 09:23:37 AM »
One final question regarding the mash-out. I read somewhere that if you go strait to the boil you don't need to mash out. What i have done in the past is just lauter when the mash timer goes off without raising the temperature.

Agree? Disagree?

Agree, although most homebrewers don't do a true mashout even when they try to do one.  You need to hold 170F for 20 min,. to truly denature enzymes.
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