First All-Grain Mash Temp???

Brewing processes and methods. How to brew using extract, partial or all-grain. Tips and tricks.

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First All-Grain Mash Temp???

Postby Causality » Thu Sep 06, 2001 6:48 pm

I've grabbed the bull, bit the bullet, etc. and decided to go all-grain after 40 odd extract batches. But I'm freakin' out about this temperature thing! No one agrees on mash temps. They vary by recipe, by author, by lots of factors. First off if they recommend using an insulated mash tun they say to increase the temp by xx degrees because the grain and tun will cool the water. Come on, they'er telling me that I'm going to get to the 151 degrees they say is critical by guessing that I should heat the water to 168 degrees to offset cooling? What's the deal? I know that the enzymatic reaction is temperature sensitive. I know that too high a temperature will leach the bitter oils from the grain hulls and "kill" the enzymes I'm after. However, I find it hard to believe that Thomas Brewer in 1327 AD was able to get the temperature to exactly 151 degrees by sticking his finger in. I've got three decent thermometers and they vary almost 3 degrees between them. I don't think that even given perfect circumstances I'm going to be able to maintain 151 degrees for 60 minutes. I am going to use a combination brew kettle and mash/lautering tun. I've got 12 pounds of Maris Otter Pale Ale Malt and 3 #s of specialty grains. All I want is to use the grain as efficiently as is reasonable without leaching the bitter oils.
1.)What temperature should I aim towards? And how long should I hold it for? I know that the temp is going to jump around a few degrees up then down then up because my burner is somewhat less than precise. Is that expected?
2.)What is the best way to lauter using the kettle? Should I heat water on the stove? Or can I just slowly add water-heater hot (135 f) water and keep the flame under the pot? I know I should collect about 1 gallon per 10 minutes. I've read many guides that recommend mashing out at 165-170 is that the lauter temp or should the lauter temp go back down to the mash temp?
Maybe I've been reading too much.
Many thanks to anyone will to tackle this monster question.
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Postby KBrau » Thu Sep 06, 2001 10:26 pm

Wow!! You and I are a lot alike. Before I started all grain I was asking all of the same questions. The truth of the matter is that you shouldn't worry about it so much. Just like extract brewing you begin with basics and employ more advanced techniques as you go. As for an optimal temp. there is none. Different beer styles benefit from different mash temperatures. If you want a drier beer stick to lower temps and for a maltier beer go with a warmer temp. A good place to start is 152 degrees, because it is right in the middle. Figuring out how hot your water should be is kind of tricky the first time because you don't know how much the temp drop will be. Considering you are using 15 lbs of grain at room temp and around 1.1 quarts of water per pound I think you should heat your water to about 166 in the kettle and then mash in your grains. If you are off just add heat or cold water to correct. I use a picnic cooler which really is great because once I get my mash temp I just seal the lid and drink beer for an hour. If you are using a pot I would insulate it with somthing so you don't have to mess with it. The conversion of starches should not take longer than an hour. Be careful with applying direct heat because the heat may scorch the grain and cause tannins to leach into the wort. When mashing out you should heat the mash to get to the range of 165-170 and sparge with water no hotter than 170. Good luck and I hope you have fun.
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First mash.

Postby Brewer2001 » Thu Sep 06, 2001 11:28 pm

You are on the right track about the enzymatic action that takes place during mashing. The temperature range 'brewers window' that is used for an infusion mash regiment may not be suitable for a step or 'decoction' mash regiment.

Realize that all brewing started as an art or craft, that untill recent times was backed by scientific doctrin. When thermometers were first used in the brewing process they just put a number reference on a process that brewers (brewmasters) had been following for generations.

Ok, back to the original question. There is no 'right answer'. The mash regiment is determined by the result that is desired. If you consider that the optimum temperature range for both beta-amylase and alpha-amylase is between 149-158 degees F this is the range you should try to maintain (I use a 6 gallon plastic pail setup with a screen and hose at the bottom with a cover that I wrap with two insulated work vests.) I loose about 2 degrees over an hour mash intreval.

By your grain bill it sounds as if you are going to make an Ale of English origin? The English malts are suited for the single infusion mash regiment. Mash in at about 170-175 degrees F at a L/G of 2/1 (2lbs. water to 1lb. malt) You should need 3.75 gallons of water to mash the 15 lbs of malt. Mash out by adding 2 or 3 qrts. of water at 175 degrees F to the mash and let stand for 10 minutes to stop the set the mash (stop the enzymatic action). Resurculate the wort through a couple of times and start your run-off. Sparge with water (pH >4.9 I adjust with acid) 165 degees F until the gravity fall to 1.010, but no lower. Then follow your procedure as you did with extract brews.

PS - You are using a well modified malt forget lautering. You may be confusing lautering and sparging. Lautering is used with less modified malt (6 row)and employed by the 'big boys'due the nitrogen content required by their use of adjuncts (corn, rice, maze, etc.) Sparging is the process of rinsing the grains to remove all the fermentable sugars after the wort has been run off.

Let me know how you make out.
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Postby Causality » Fri Sep 07, 2001 12:36 pm

Thanks guys! I do need to relax. I've been out of beer for almost a month now! Building the kettle and collecting the other gear took longer than expected. But I am detirmined to never use extract again. Brewer2001,
You're right I was interchanging sparge and lauter. Is ten minutes per gallon of run off about right for the sparge?
I appreciate the help.
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Postby Brewer2001 » Fri Sep 07, 2001 9:29 pm

I think that your run-off rate is about right.
There are two schools of thought about sparging. The pros tend to start sparging as soon as the wort level nears the top of the grain bed. This keeps constant pressure on the bed which keeps it in tact - clearer wort going into the kettle. The second method is to run all the wort out then start sparging (some traditional breweries still use this method. The problems are clouder wort due to the grain bed 'remashing', drop in temperature of the grain and oxidation at this stage. For our purpose the issues are wort clarity and temperature. The mass of the equipment we use it is harder to maintain a constant temperature. (if hot water quantity is no problem and you intend to filter you will not need to worry, but I don't think you have that much equipment yet. nor do you really need it).
As I said there are no right answers only procedures appropreate for the style and your equipment.
Last night was my first time on the site. I check out the calulators. They look pretty good.

Basic guidlines:
Mash temperature
lower mash temperature - more fermentable (thinner beer/less body)
higher temperature - less fermentable (thicker beer/more body and head retention)
Liquor/grist ratio
thin (3.5-4.0/1) low fermentability/high amount of extract
medium (best) (2.5-3.0/1) moderate/moderate extract
thick (2.0-1.0/1) high fermentability/low extract

Now you are ready. Remember keep the pH> 4.9 and stop collecting sparge at 1.010 SG.

Have fun.
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