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Mash Profiles descriptions

Mofo

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I'm a newbie, lautering my way to advanced brewer. I'd love to see more detailed descriptions of the various mash styles, including general how-tos. I find even the names of the mash styles confusing. Why, for example, is it called "Single infusion" when the brew steps call for putting water in the tun three times (mash in, and batch sparge with 2 steps)?

Even a topic pinned to the top of the All-Grain/Advanced board would be invaluable.

I know what I'm asking for isn't something truly advanced brewers need, but it would go a LONG way to helping newbies like me improve.

Thanks for reading!
 

brewfun

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Mashing is the use of enzymes in the malt to change the grain and liberate character. Sugar is one component, but protein, kilning qualities, tannin and more come from this process. This doesn't require all of the water for a batch.

Sparge is a different process. It is the rinsing of grain to get as much out of it as it will yield, as you're filling the kettle.

"Single Infusion" is shorthand for the temperature steps involved in mashing. One infusion = one temperature. You'll find a huge array of infusion or heated or separated mash processes out there. But, they all just do the thing in the first paragraph and set the stage for the second paragraph.

I understand your confusion. I was intimidated by mashing when I first started. That is, until I saw the process firsthand where a guy poured grain into hot water, then stirred with a canoe oar and said, "That looks good. Now, let's go swimming."

I was stunned. I thought there was more to it. I was merely overthinking it. Describing a mash is a little like describing how to steer a car into a right turn. When broken down into detailed instructions, it gets hard to comprehend and sounds impossible. Just show it, and it quickly makes sense.

Don't overthink beer.
 

Mofo

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Thanks BrewFun! I'm slowly catching on, but only after combing through these forums, searching for "mash profiles" and "mash descriptions" and finding gold nuggets of info. I still think there could be more explanation in the profile notes. For instance, which of the profiles can I choose from if I wanted to fly sparge? (I know I can't choose from BIAB, decoction, or temperature.)

Maybe the best way to express my confusion is to say I don't know which techniques work with which profiles.
 

Baron Von MunchKrausen

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brewfun said:
I understand your confusion. I was intimidated by mashing when I first started. That is, until I saw the process firsthand where a guy poured grain into hot water, then stirred with a canoe oar and said, "That looks good. Now, let's go swimming."

I was stunned. I thought there was more to it. I was merely overthinking it. Describing a mash is a little like describing how to steer a car into a right turn. When broken down into detailed instructions, it gets hard to comprehend and sounds impossible. Just show it, and it quickly makes sense.

Don't overthink beer.

+10
A perfect analogy

 

brewfun

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Mofo said:
Maybe the best way to express my confusion is to say I don't know which techniques work with which profiles.

I see two learning curves at work. The first is just learning to brew all grain. Lucky for you, barley does everything possible to turn itself into beer. So, from that most basic standpoint, you can't do anything wrong because all you have to do is add hot water to grain, then drain it to get wort.

Your second learning curve is BeerSmith. So, here's a secret: each of the profiles is flexible enough that it'll describe any technique.

Start by picking a mash that describes what you want to do and how you want the beer to turn out.

Single infusion? Check.
Medium Body? Check.
Those two describe your mash.

BIAB? Decoction? Temperature Mash? These describe your equipment.
Why? because these processes make assumptions about the capacity of the mash tun and whether it doubles as the boil kettle. These also describe the heat source and intensity.

Say that you're going to use two temperature rests, but heat the wort through an external source, with a pump. These are RIMS and HERMS systems where wort is continuously recirculated. This is described by the "Temperature" option. BeerSmith doesn't care what the source of heat is and you tell the program how fast the temperature rise will be.

Say you're going to use two temperature rests, but will add boiling water to achieve the second temperature. This is a double infusion. Modify that by how many infusions you want, and you've again described your equipment, because BeerSmith will show you the mash capacity needed to achieve your goals.  Same thing with Decoction, which describes a separate kettle to boil part of the mash, but doesn't reinfuse with more water to get a new temperature.

Mashout usually describes a second water infusion to stop the mash, but can be modified to be a temperature step, instead.

Then there's various BIAB, batch sparge and fly sparge techniques to get yourself to a full volume boil. Sparging is a different step, but is part of the overall mash profile because it is part of extracting sugar from grain. You simply check or uncheck boxes in any mash profile to get the sparge technique you desire. If all sparge boxes are unchecked, then BeerSmith assumes you are fly sparging and you'll see the instructions.

The bottom line is to just get in there, modify any mash template to your liking and rename it with all the detail you need. If you eff up, you can always start over.
 

Mofo

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brewfun said:
You simply check or uncheck boxes in any mash profile to get the sparge technique you desire. If all sparge boxes are unchecked, then BeerSmith assumes you are fly sparging and you'll see the instructions.

HUGE bit of information. Didn't know I could do that. Thanks, BrewFun!
 

brewfun

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Ah! Well, maybe I should have lead with that.... I'm pretty good with blatantly obvious. It's the merely obvious that escapes me.
 

grathan

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Don't feel bad. I think everyone misses the fact that it defaults to fly sparging. Not as common of a technique these days...
 
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