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Old 02-07-2011, 12:42 PM   #1
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Default Which is Best: Infusion or Step

I am close to getting ready to do my first all grain recipe and have been having a discussion with a friend about which is better to do. I like the Step method but he thinks the infusion is better. And can you do the Infusion with just keeping the brew pot at 151 or do you need to use another container?

Thanks for the help.

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Old 02-07-2011, 01:24 PM   #2
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Usually a step mash is done to accomplish something, probably a protein rest. Unless you are malting your own grain, the grain you buy has been malted properly so you have little need for a protein rest. In that case, all you need to do is an infusion mash where you stir the grains into water that is heated to the proper strike temperature so the addition of the grain cools it to the 151 that you want and you keep it at that temperature or close to it for the amount of time it takes for the enzymes to convert the starch to sugar.

Keeping the pot at 151 is difficult because adding heat to the bottom causes the grain to get too hot at the bottom and too cool at the top unless you stir like crazy for the whole hour it might take for complete conversion. The usual way it to bring it to strike temperature, stir in the grain and then insulate the whole thing (winter coat or sleeping bag might do what you need) to keep the temperature near what you need.

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Old 02-07-2011, 01:42 PM   #3
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I agree with RM-NM.
For me, less complexity is more relaxing. I'd go with a single step (infusion) mash, especially for your first go at it.

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Old 02-07-2011, 05:14 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dlbarncord View Post
I am close to getting ready to do my first all grain recipe and have been having a discussion with a friend about which is better to do. I like the Step method but he thinks the infusion is better. And can you do the Infusion with just keeping the brew pot at 151 or do you need to use another container?

Thanks for the help.
for one, neither is better, and all temperature rises can be accomplished with both a MT made up of a cooler or kettle. If you have a 10-gallon cooler and want a protein rest, beta, and alpha rests, its going to take a ton water by the time you mash out... if you have a large pot and dont mind check temps all the time then go ahead and use a kettle as your MT. IMO, it dont matter... it comes down to cost of equipment.

Now, if I am brewing a beer (like a dark heavy lager) I temp mash with my kettle and pour everything into my cooler which has the false bottom ready to go... otherwise I just infuse directly into my cooler and call it a day.
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Last edited by optimatored; 02-07-2011 at 05:14 PM. Reason: correcting my verbage.
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Old 02-07-2011, 07:40 PM   #5
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Simple one step infusion. Most all modern malted grains are fully converted and ready to rock and roll at 147-158 degrees.

My method / suggestion is to have a target mash temperature, hit it, and expect a couple degree temp drop.

147-150 will give you a lighter, thinner, more fermentable beer, up around 154-158 will result in a sweeter malt forward taste and less fermentables.

And if you are just starting out have at least a couple thermometers on hand, the more the better. A 10-15 degree F swing from an off calibrated thermometer can absolutely make or break a batch of beeer.

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Old 02-07-2011, 07:47 PM   #6
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If you're like most of us, you'll be running around like a madman the day of your first all grain. The last thing you need is to coordinate multistep mashing, even though the explanation of the technique is so simple.

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Old 02-07-2011, 08:06 PM   #7
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I made the multi-step mash mistake my first mash years ago... It took me years to get over that mistake... Infusion is just far simpler and most of my beers tend to be english or american style ales which lend them selves well to this method. (thank goodness BC my multi-step experience was a disaster~)

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Old 02-07-2011, 08:14 PM   #8
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Also, unless you already use it, a software like Beersmith or one of the others are great tools especially when starting out. It will figure the temperature of the strike water you need so that once grains are added, you will hit your mash temps without a lot of headaches. It's usually spot on when I have used it.

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Old 02-08-2011, 02:47 PM   #9
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I almost always do step mashes, as it is VERY easy for me to. I make a Helles and a Pilsner that have exactly the same grain bill (but more hops in the pils) but I mash them differently and get very different mouthfeels to the two beers. I use the same temperatures for the steps, but use different lengths of time for them. When one does a single step mash at at higher temperature it is much harder to get a low FG which is nice for some beer styles. With a well done step mash one can get a beer with a very low FG, but still have lots of body.

HOWEVER, this is a more advanced technique, and it can take more time and I WOULD NOT recommend it for a first all-grain. One can brew great beer without it.

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