Author Topic: Step mash?  (Read 8148 times)

Offline Berkyjay

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Step mash?
« on: April 08, 2010, 06:06:51 PM »
I'm curious to see who uses step mashing here.  Why do you use a step mash.  Do you use infusion on direct heat?  What is your mashing technique?


Offline BobBrews

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Re: Step mash?
« Reply #1 on: April 09, 2010, 07:34:59 AM »
I use "brew in the bag" so when I am following someones recipe I just turn on the burner until I get to the proper temp. To get to the next temp I just turn on the burner again. Very simple. I trust whoever made the recipe and follow it. I really don't think that with the newer improved grains that stepping is needed anymore but "what the heck" Why take a chance?
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Offline Berkyjay

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Re: Step mash?
« Reply #2 on: April 09, 2010, 04:17:00 PM »
I use "brew in the bag" so when I am following someones recipe I just turn on the burner until I get to the proper temp. To get to the next temp I just turn on the burner again. Very simple. I trust whoever made the recipe and follow it. I really don't think that with the newer improved grains that stepping is needed anymore but "what the heck" Why take a chance?

I think the only time I used someone else's recipe was in my first brew.  But I am on a quest to understand what techniques make a good brew and why they make it good so that is why I am curious how others out there go about their mash.  Sure, most modern grains are so well modified that a single temp mash is good enough to get a fermentable wort.  But from all of my reading and asking around, it appears that stepping your mash can give you plenty of character and a more complex flavor.  This is due to a mixing of quantities of alpha and beta amylase enzymes that occur at different mash temps....say 140F & 155F.

Any way, I appreciate the response.  I am interested in your mashing equipment.  It sounds like you use direct heat for your mash.  Could you explain how your equipment is set up for this?  I myself use a 10 gallon cooler which requires me to infuse the mash with heated water.

Thanks,

James

Offline BobBrews

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Re: Step mash?
« Reply #3 on: April 10, 2010, 07:13:26 AM »
James, I do brew in a bag "BIAB" Here is a site that can clue you in.
http://www.biabrewer.info/

I was (and still am) a traditional all grain brewer. I just use my 54 quart (cooler) mash tun as a cooler! It now belongs to my wife for bringing home cold groceries. I use a normal keggle (10 gal.). I put in the full amount of water I will need. Bring it up to 154 (or whatever) put a home made bag in with all my grain (18 lbs.)? I shut off the heat. When the hour? is up I turn on the heat. I bring it up to about? 170 degrees and pull out the bag. I hang the bag to catch the wort in a bucket (fermenter bucket)? When the bag cools enough to handel I gently squeeze out the last wort. I then dump the extra (bucket) wort into the keggle and brew traditionally.

This method is way faster, cheaper and the beer turns out exactly(?) the same. The efficiency is higher (80-85%) no stuck mashes. You can grind the grain VERY fine to get total conversion. I still will use my old mash tun (if my wife lets me) for a 20 lbs. or higher grain bill. The bag gets heavy!

I don't brew for anyone else but me. This is not a better way to brew. Just another way to brew. As long as it tastes good, Party on!
« Last Edit: April 29, 2010, 12:01:11 PM by BobBrews »
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Offline CR

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Re: Step mash?
« Reply #4 on: April 10, 2010, 09:53:51 AM »
I'll often use a two step mash
132 F 30 minutes
150 F 30 minutes
168 F Mashout 10 - 20 minutes


A lot depends on the grains you use. 

Offline BobBrews

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Re: Step mash?
« Reply #5 on: April 10, 2010, 10:59:46 AM »
I do sometimes too. But, I just raise the heat in my keggle to where I need it and turn it off. When completed I raise the temp again. Because I use all my water at once the thermal mass holds the temp steady. It's noon now! I am going to have a beer! I normally don't wait this long but I had work to do! Toodels.
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SFBeerGuy

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Re: Step mash?
« Reply #6 on: April 12, 2010, 10:48:18 PM »
What about a dual saccharification schedule such as 140F and 156F.  Something to mix the utilization of both the a and b amylase.  Is this worthwhile?

Offline MaltLicker

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Re: Step mash?
« Reply #7 on: April 13, 2010, 06:32:01 AM »
That's often used for beers that need a crisp finish, but also some body and substance.  A friend is trying something like 145F and 156F instead of doing decoction to see if the results are similar.

Offline CR

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Re: Step mash?
« Reply #8 on: April 16, 2010, 09:54:38 AM »
The only thing to be cautious about is the time you give it.
Too much time mashing time can produce an astringent and sour beer.
That alone is a  good reason to ignore all the hubbub about efficiency. Once a person starts down the path of seeking to maximize efficiency, human nature takes over,  turning efficiency into an end of its own.  At which point the brewer will be skating the razor edge between efficiency and crappy beer.    For my money it is simply not worth the effort.

So a  protein step and maybe a brief flirt with the Alpha a & b rests is plenty.
Mind you, it was not too long ago that I was captivated by the efficiency bug and learned how to destroy a great beer by mashing too long.  It's really sad when you keep telling yourself that the  yeasts just need more time to clear the diacetal and really it's just  crappy beer fit (at best) for pouring on the roses and little else. 



Offline Berkyjay

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Re: Step mash?
« Reply #9 on: April 16, 2010, 03:44:45 PM »
The only thing to be cautious about is the time you give it.
Too much time mashing time can produce an astringent and sour beer.
That alone is a  good reason to ignore all the hubbub about efficiency. Once a person starts down the path of seeking to maximize efficiency, human nature takes over,  turning efficiency into an end of its own.  At which point the brewer will be skating the razor edge between efficiency and crappy beer.    For my money it is simply not worth the effort.

So a  protein step and maybe a brief flirt with the Alpha a & b rests is plenty.
Mind you, it was not too long ago that I was captivated by the efficiency bug and learned how to destroy a great beer by mashing too long.  It's really sad when you keep telling yourself that the  yeasts just need more time to clear the diacetal and really it's just  crappy beer fit (at best) for pouring on the roses and little else. 




That's some good advice.  I always keep my mash to 1 hour, give or take a few minutes.  I mainly do this because I don't want to be brewing all freakin day.  I've never run across an efficiency issue with this hour schedule.

Offline Maine Homebrewer

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Re: Step mash?
« Reply #10 on: April 17, 2010, 04:30:56 PM »
My mashing technique is single step decoction. 
I mash between 145 and 150. 
When it passes an iodine test I remove 1 1/2 gallons or so, bring it to a full boil, and mix it back in. 
The temp tends to equalize between 170 and 175.
I let it sit there for fifteen minutes or so while I set things up for the next step.

I went through my notes and this is what I came up with. 
One one of my last batches I accidentally skipped that step.  First one in a while. 
I used 10lbs grain and a volume of 6gal.  Gravity was 1.034
Recently I used same grain with the same volume, but I didn't skip the step.  Gravity was 1.048. 
 
That isn't the only difference between those batches. 
I also gave the second one more initial recirculation than the previous, but I attribute most of the difference to mashing out.

3.5% alcohol or 5.4% alcohol from same amount of grain.
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