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Old 12-02-2013, 07:06 PM   #1
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Default benefits of a fast Mash-In?

I've heard of small breweries struggling to get a fast Mash-In. Even some who go so far as to mount a hopper with a trap door bottom right over their MLT's so they can drop all the grain in just a few seconds.

What is the benefit to this? Is it just for repeatability purposes or energy savings? Or is there an advantage for homebrewers?

I usually mash-in fairly slowly so I can prevent dough balls from forming. Is this hurting my efficiency or denaturing any enzymes?

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Old 12-02-2013, 07:32 PM   #2
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How slow is "fairly slow"? It usually takes me no more that 1 min to dump grains in and stir the dough balls apart. I would say nano and micro brewers problems with slow mash in would not translate to a homebrew problem. Everyone's system is different so that is not to be taken as blanket statement.

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Old 12-02-2013, 08:27 PM   #3
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I don't see how not having a 'fast' mash-in would hurt, but I wouldn't dawdle around either. As long as you're getting the grains in there and breaking up the clumps and ensuring that the mash is evenly distributed throughout and the temperature is consistent, I don't see what further benefit "mashing in fast" would provide. Someone correct me if I'm wrong?

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Old 12-02-2013, 08:54 PM   #4
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I think on a commercial scale: Time is money. For the home brewer, if you take 10 minutes to Mash-in, then I guess the first grains will be in contact with really hot water and screw up your mash temps per grain kernel. But really, I don't think it needs to be that precise. Besides, don't most commercial breweries add the crushed grain and the water at the same time? The only advantage is maybe cutting off some time from the process so you can get on to the next batch. Efficiency in business as well as efficiency in brewing.

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Old 12-02-2013, 09:29 PM   #5
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If you're adding grain to hot strike water, wouldn't you want to do it fairly quickly to bring the temperature of the strike water down? Otherwise if your mash-in is taking a long time the first grain you add will be sitting in water that is much too hot until the rest of the grain gets added. I don't know how they do things, so that's just a guess. If they're adding grain and water at the same time it shouldn't be an issue. But if they're adding grain to a mash tun that's already full of water that would make sense, right?

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Old 12-02-2013, 10:54 PM   #6
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Strike temps are usually 9-11 degrees above mash temp and ARE high enough to denature enzymes. However, enzymes do not denature instantly, so adding grains VERY slowly could cause some of your enzymes to be denatured, but unless your grist has a lot of adjuncts or specialty grains, your base malt would still have enough to convert starches. I just dump it all in a break up balls as I see them.

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Old 12-03-2013, 12:54 AM   #7
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Well I was doing a pretty thick mash for a big beer yesterday, 27lbs of grain into 8 gallons of water. It took me about ten minutes to mash in, partly because I needed some grain to become fully saturated for me to fit everything in, but also to break up any big dough balls. The strike temp was 168, and the ph was 7 (with lots of alkalinity to buffer all the dark grains) hopefully I didn't pull too many tannins from the first grains.

How fast does denaturing occur? I assume Beta is the first to go, so if I'm shooting for a full body a few denatured beta enzymes won't hurt too much.

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Old 12-03-2013, 10:39 AM   #8
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I've done a couple experimental brews to see how fast conversion occurs since I had trouble finding that information online. Note that I mill my grain very fine since I BIAB. I used the iodine test for starch as my guide for conversion. At dough in the iodine would turn dark blue, indicating starch was present (like it should be) but by 2 minutes into the mash the iodine would not change color anymore. That's how fast conversion is.

Assuming that a big brewery would want their grain milled fine (because that is where efficiency come in), the difference in dough in times would make a huge difference in the beer as the grain changed the temperature of the water. Assuming a strike temp of 162, the first grain to hit the mash would be rather dextrinous while the last grain that was mixed in at the final mash temp of 150 would be very fermentable. The longer it takes to dough in, the less fermentable their beer would be.

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Old 12-03-2013, 11:11 AM   #9
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recently our brewclub got a tour of a new contract brewery right down the road.

here is a picture of their grain hopper above their mash tun. we wondered about the need for the hopper

you can see the 6-inch PVC pipe at the top of the pic. it has an augur in it and is the transport system for the grain from the mill (in a separate room on the other side of the warehouse. don't mill where you boil!). it would obviously take some time for the full grain bill to be moved, too much time, so the hopper holds it until it's ready to mash in.

img_9054.jpg

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Old 12-03-2013, 12:31 PM   #10
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The denaturing makes sense, but I think if you're getting everything in there and mixed well within about 4-5 minutes you're probably fine. I've never had an issue and it never takes longer than that for me anyway, and sometimes I mash in as much as 42 lbs. (which slightly overflows my keggle). Just have your stuff ready to go and don't lollygag, I suppose.

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