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Old 06-10-2008, 09:36 PM   #1
TwoHeadsBrewing
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Default Mash Thickness: Questions

So, I recently upgraded my 5gal MLT to a 10 gallon this past weekend. At 5 gallons, my MLT pretty much maxes out with 12-13lbs of grain at 1.25 quarts or water per pound of grist. I've read in How to Brew and other books about how mash thickness will effect fermentability and efficiency, and therefore the final gravity of the end product. I was thinking on doing an experiment where I would take the exact same recipe, but mash each batch separately at two different temperatures. It would be a fun experiment, but if someone else has already done this, I'd love to hear of your experience and results.

I batch sparge, and get around 70% efficiency. I want to do one batch at 1.25 quarts/pound and then the other at 1.5 quarts/pound. For the following recipe, which is a simple Pale Ale I should end up with the following numbers:

Batch Size: 5.5 Gallons
OG: 1.053
FG: 1.013
ABV: 5.24%
IBU: 36.1

Simple 5 gallon West Coast Pale Ale recipe:
Grain Bill
9.0 lbs 2-row Pale Malt
2.0 lbs Vienna Malt
0.5 lbs Crystal 60L

Hops
.75 oz Centennial - 60 min
1.0 oz Willamette - 15 min
1.0 oz Willamette - 05 min

Wyeast 1056 Activator
Irish Moss (1/2 tsp last 15 minutes of boil)



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Old 06-10-2008, 09:51 PM   #2
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I think the change in temperature is going to have more effect on the differing products then the water to grist ratio.. Regardless, the kind of controlled experimenting you suggest is really useful in learning as you make your own choices about how you want to make your beers.



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Old 06-11-2008, 03:18 AM   #3
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If you ever want to do an English style Pale Ale or Bitter, you may want to go for a thick mash (0.9 - 1 qt. per lb.) I find that reducing the mash water from 1.25 to 1 qt. per lb. has more effect than increasing the mash temperature by 4 - 5 degrees. This probably wouldn't work so well for an APA, and I've never tried mashing with more that 1.25 qt. per lb.

I agree with Brewpastor, that experiments like this are really useful (if you take notes).

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Old 06-11-2008, 04:36 AM   #4
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as i understand it, a thinner mash will result in a more fermentable wort. does more fermentable = higher OG or does it mean sugars have been broken down further than dextrose to simpler, more fermentable sugars?

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Old 06-11-2008, 06:34 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by ajf View Post
If you ever want to do an English style Pale Ale or Bitter, you may want to go for a thick mash (0.9 - 1 qt. per lb.) I find that reducing the mash water from 1.25 to 1 qt. per lb. has more effect than increasing the mash temperature by 4 - 5 degrees. This probably wouldn't work so well for an APA, and I've never tried mashing with more that 1.25 qt. per lb.

I agree with Brewpastor, that experiments like this are really useful (if you take notes).

-a.
For what reason do you recommend doing this? Does it help with the final gravity, or just taste overall? At some point I would like to make a english style bitter, but I think I'll stick with an APA for this experiment. For no better reason than it is the style I like to consume the most . If I get nothing else out of the experience, I'll have 10 gallons of good stuff!
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Old 06-11-2008, 06:41 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scottfro View Post
as i understand it, a thinner mash will result in a more fermentable wort. does more fermentable = higher OG or does it mean sugars have been broken down further than dextrose to simpler, more fermentable sugars?
From what I understand about this, the more fermentable the wort, the lower your final gravity will be. I know the final gravity is also influenced by temperature, length of fermentation, and the attenuation of the yeast used. However, you've hit my question right on the head; I'm not really sure what will happen but I hypothesize that the thinner mash will result in a more fermentable wort and lower gravity. Not sure about this though...it could just mean better efficiency. Either way, I learned something and made beer!
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Old 06-11-2008, 11:41 AM   #7
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More fermentable" means lower FG, and a lighter, drier tasting beer.
The thicker mash at 150 - 152F works really well for my normal (English) brews, but I tried it in an APA some while ago, and the results were not good.

-a.

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Old 06-11-2008, 12:42 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by ajf View Post
I find that reducing the mash water from 1.25 to 1 qt. per lb. has more effect than increasing the mash temperature by 4 - 5 degrees.
Based on my experience, I would say the opposite is true. I think your mash temperature has much more effect on how the enzymes work and the fermentability of the wort than the thickness of the mash.

4-5 degrees in your mash can make a substantial difference in the enzymes at work. I don't see how 1.25 vs 1.00 qt/lb mash thickness will make nearly as much of an impact if the temps are identical.
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Old 06-11-2008, 01:40 PM   #9
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I tend to agree in the big picture and really would encourage doing all you can to peg specific mash temperatures and see what differing temperature does to a recipe. Once you have that pegged, if you want to look at thickness you will be able to do so with a richer base knowledge based on mash temperature.

The other piece that really should not be ignored is fermentation temperature control. But that is a whole other can of worms isn't it?!

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Old 06-11-2008, 02:03 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ajf View Post
If you ever want to do an English style Pale Ale or Bitter, you may want to go for a thick mash (0.9 - 1 qt. per lb.) ...
Quote:
Originally Posted by TwoHeadsBrewing View Post
For what reason do you recommend doing this? Does it help with the final gravity, or just taste overall? ...
I think the reason for mashing English style ales thicker is historical, as it supposedly produces a beer that is more "authentic". Thick mashes for English ales are recommended in Designing Great Beers by Ray Daniels and Mild Ale by David Sutula

As for the effect of mash thickness, here is what John Palmer has to say:

Quote:
From How To Brew by John Palmer (Chapter 14, Section 6)

The grist/water ratio is another factor influencing the performance of the mash. A thinner mash of >2 quarts of water per pound of grain dilutes the relative concentration of the enzymes, slowing the conversion, but ultimately leads to a more fermentable mash because the enzymes are not inhibited by a high concentration of sugars. A stiff mash of <1.25 quarts of water per pound is better for protein breakdown, and results in a faster overall starch conversion, but the resultant sugars are less fermentable and will result in a sweeter, maltier beer. A thicker mash is more gentle to the enzymes because of the lower heat capacity of grain compared to water. A thick mash is better for multirest mashes because the enzymes are not denatured as quickly by a rise in temperature.
Thin mash = more fermentable wort, ligher beer
Thick mash = less fermentable wort, sweeter, maltier beer.

It's interesting that English ales are mashed thick, but often (not always) at low temps (like 150 to 152, on average). The interplay between temp and thickness might be what gives English ales their unique malt character.


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Last edited by Beerthoven; 06-11-2008 at 02:14 PM.
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