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Mash Thickness


read 1520 times • 20 replies • posted 2/19/2012 11:36:02 PM

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OldStyleCubFan 77:15
I always thought the 1-2qt/lb was more a product of MLT size vs. a lot of science. The research Iíve read on the Beer in a Bag setups that are mashing at 3-4qt/lb show greater efficiency, slightly maltier wort, and less risk of tannins due to the lack of sparging. Its all 1st runnings basically. I think no sparge is something commercial breweries canít do economically but works a great in a home setup. I think water/grain ratio is one of those areas homebrewers try to emulate commercial brewers but should really take advantage of the smaller scale and mash thin/no sparge to save time, get higher quality wort, and save on equipment costs (ie no HLT)

Also, I think you can get the higher or equal efficiency with the high water/grain ratio because you can crush a lot finer due to the lack of sparge.
2/20/2012 10:36:03 AM

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HornyDevil
Originally posted by OldStyleCubFan
I always thought the 1-2qt/lb was more a product of MLT size vs. a lot of science. The research Iíve read on the Beer in a Bag setups that are mashing at 3-4qt/lb show greater efficiency, slightly maltier wort, and less risk of tannins due to the lack of sparging. Its all 1st runnings basically.


One would think that oneís efficiency would be worse due to not being able to pull extra sugar from the grains when you run off the higher sugar concentration with the first runnings. With no sparge methods you basically reach a certain sugar concentration and then run it all off and you donít have a chance to rinse the grains any further.

Originally posted by OldStyleCubFan
I think no sparge is something commercial breweries canít do economically but works a great in a home setup. I think water/grain ratio is one of those areas homebrewers try to emulate commercial brewers but should really take advantage of the smaller scale and mash thin/no sparge to save time, get higher quality wort, and save on equipment costs (ie no HLT)


Quite possible as far as homebrewers trying to emulate professional brewers goes, but it really doesnít hold any water. Mainly because many professional operations are getting efficiencies in the 90s. Most homebrewers, even those who arenít sparging, arenít.

Originally posted by OldStyleCubFan
Also, I think you can get the higher or equal efficiency with the high water/grain ratio because you can crush a lot finer due to the lack of sparge.


Why would your not sparging affect how finely you crush?
2/20/2012 11:14:14 AM

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SamGamgee 2452:182
By increasing the attenuation limit, it means you get a more fermentable wort. Thatís just the German way of saying it (I pulled that out of a german brewing science book). And the Thermal degradation point is that at higher mash temperatures, a thicker mash slows down the denaturing of amylase enzymes (mostly beta, which denatures at over 150F). So if you are doing a high single infusion, you will get poorer beta activity with a thinner mash. For doing lower gravity beer, a thin mash shouldnít be a problem because you are already looking for less fermentabiity in most cases. 3 quarts per pound is high, but not out of this world for typical German mashing programs, which are usually thinner because the mash has to be pumped between vessels for lautering/decoction.

7.9pH is pretty high for brewing water and I would get some test strips to see what you are getting. Since you arenít sparging, you would probably just want to get the mash down under 5.6 or so, but 5.2-5.4 is the general target. With all pale malts, you need water that is high in calcium/low in carbonates in order to hit the optimal range without acidification. 1% of sauermalz is supposed to lower mash pH by 0.1 so if you measure your next mash, you can get an idea of how much of it to add after mashing in. Then add the sauermalz and check the mash again and see if you need more. Higher pH extract more tannin and you might like the smoother flavor that you get with an optimized mash pH. Youíll also probably get ever better efficiency.
2/20/2012 3:05:20 PM

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Erlangernick 1:2
Very interesting, thanks/danke/cheers!

I do run a cooler mash, keeping it under 150F in the attempt to maximize dryness.
2/21/2012 1:00:29 AM

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HornyDevil
Originally posted by SamGamgee
And the Thermal degradation point is that at higher mash temperatures, a thicker mash slows down the denaturing of amylase enzymes (mostly beta, which denatures at over 150F). So if you are doing a high single infusion, you will get poorer beta activity with a thinner mash.


How does this occur?

In my mind 150F is 150F, so the enzymes should denature symmetrically regardless of mash thickness.

Apparently this thinking is wrong, but I would like to know why it is.

Any input or links to check out?
2/21/2012 6:03:21 AM

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SamGamgee 2452:182
Iím not completely sure other than the enzymes are just more concentrated. This BYO article has a lot of good mash- thickness information: http://www.byo.com/stories/techniques/article/indices/9-all-grain-brewing/1091-make-those-enzymes-dance
2/21/2012 6:41:03 AM

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HornyDevil
Originally posted by SamGamgee
Iím not completely sure other than the enzymes are just more concentrated.


Thatís essentially all they say in the article.

The entire article, however, runs counter to what I initially was taught. That being that thick mashes produced more dextrins and thin mashes were more fermentable.

From what they are saying in the article, thick mashes produce less dextrins and yield lower efficiency and thin mashes produce more dextrins and yield greater efficiency.
2/21/2012 7:59:03 AM

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NobleSquirrel 3437:209
Originally posted by HornyDevil
Originally posted by SamGamgee
Iím not completely sure other than the enzymes are just more concentrated.


Thatís essentially all they say in the article.

The entire article, however, runs counter to what I initially was taught. That being that thick mashes produced more dextrins and thin mashes were more fermentable.

From what they are saying in the article, thick mashes produce less dextrins and yield lower efficiency and thin mashes produce more dextrins and yield greater efficiency.



FWIW, I tend to mash on the thick side (1-1.3qts/lb) and find that my beers are more fermentable. The concentration of the enzyme allows the reaction/conversion to happen faster, at least based on what Iíve read. Also, I think that you can maintain temperature better with the thicker mash due to the thermal capacity of the saturated grains basically insulating the mash.
2/21/2012 8:16:09 AM

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SamGamgee 2452:182
Originally posted by NobleSquirrel
Originally posted by HornyDevil
Originally posted by SamGamgee
Iím not completely sure other than the enzymes are just more concentrated.


Thatís essentially all they say in the article.

The entire article, however, runs counter to what I initially was taught. That being that thick mashes produced more dextrins and thin mashes were more fermentable.

From what they are saying in the article, thick mashes produce less dextrins and yield lower efficiency and thin mashes produce more dextrins and yield greater efficiency.



FWIW, I tend to mash on the thick side (1-1.3qts/lb) and find that my beers are more fermentable. The concentration of the enzyme allows the reaction/conversion to happen faster, at least based on what Iíve read. Also, I think that you can maintain temperature better with the thicker mash due to the thermal capacity of the saturated grains basically insulating the mash.


The article agreed with everything Iíve read in professional brewing texts. I think part of why a thicker mash leads to more fermentability, especially in a single infusion mash of say, a typical 152F or so is that the concentration of enzymes and substrate allow beta amylase to get more work done before it becomes denatured to the point of losing its effectiveness compared to alpha amylase. In a thin mash at a higher temperature, the lower concentration will slow beta activity and more enzymes will be denatured before more conversion can proceed, allowing alpha amylase to take over more of the conversion and create more dextrins.

Enzyme destruction takes time once you pass the denature threshold, and itís happening all at once. So the best thing I can come up with to interpret what seems to be a universal statement in brewing science, is that the increased concentration of enzymes and substrate in a thicker mash at a higher temperature allows accelerated activity and therefore more beta-to-alpha activity to proceed before the beta is significantly denatured and the alpha is left to finish conversion.

2/21/2012 3:42:40 PM

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HornyDevil
Originally posted by SamGamgee
In a thin mash at a higher temperature, the lower concentration will slow beta activity and more enzymes will be denatured before more conversion can proceed, allowing alpha amylase to take over more of the conversion and create more dextrins. Enzyme destruction takes time once you pass the denature threshold, and itís happening all at once. So the best thing I can come up with to interpret what seems to be a universal statement in brewing science, is that the increased concentration of enzymes and substrate in a thicker mash at a higher temperature allows accelerated activity and therefore more beta-to-alpha activity to proceed before the beta is significantly denatured and the alpha is left to finish conversion.


So . . . this explains the difference in dextrin formation/fermentability.

Any idea on why a thick mash will result in less extraction/efficiency as opposed to a thinner mash at identical temperatures?
2/22/2012 6:06:09 AM

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