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Old 11-23-2008, 01:45 PM   #1
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Default Mashing - Temp Controlled "Step Mashing" ?

So I'm reading "the Bible" (Complete Joy of Homebrewing) and I start reading about mashing. He lists 2 methods that are practical for the homebrewer...

a. 150-158F one-temp mash, for highly modified malts.

b. Step-Mashing, with protein rests and all that jazz. This is supposedly for unmodified malts.

Any grains we're likely to find are going to be modified, right? No reason to do a step mash? Specifically, I'm talking about 2-row and Munich right now, but I'd like to know for future reference if there's any grains out there that would require a Step Mash?

Does anyone actually do Step Mashes? Is there a benefit to be had by doing one even if you're using modified malts?



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Old 11-23-2008, 02:03 PM   #2
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I have done step mashs before, but with todays highly modified malts there is no real need, you can just pick a temp between 147 and 156 and dough in and you will be good to go.



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Old 11-23-2008, 03:30 PM   #3
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excellent. so is that part of the book just outdated? you said you've done 'em before - ever see yourself doing another?

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Old 11-23-2008, 04:05 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by WheeledGoat View Post
excellent. so is that part of the book just outdated? you said you've done 'em before - ever see yourself doing another?

It's still a popular book but practically the entire book is outdated. Joy was updated some years ago but it is still mostly the same book originally written in the early 1980s. It is still useful and fun but get yourself a more modern homebrew textbook. Palmer's "How to Brew" is very good for a solid, basic reference.
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Old 11-23-2008, 04:38 PM   #5
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+1 on Palmer's How To Brew.

I read Papazian's TCJOHB first and while it was very informative, I feel I got a little more out of reading How To Brew


As far as step mashing, there are some who do step mash. Watch Yuri's videos.

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Old 11-23-2008, 06:29 PM   #6
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I doubt I would ever do another step mash. If I am going to go out of my way to make mashing difficult I would do a decoction mash or turbid mash and make a lambic.

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Old 11-23-2008, 07:38 PM   #7
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I still step mash most of the time but I'm getting away from that. I've got a direct fire mash tun which makes it a lot easier. I've done some three-step mashes (40-60-70 deg C or 104-140-158 deg F, 30 min each rest) which Palmer actually recommends somewhat. I've noticed some improvement in yield but if you don't have an easy to step up, I probably wouldn't bother. I sort of ended up step mashing almost by accident/default by doughing in around 104 and having to raise mash temp anyway.

In the meantime - unless you're using a bunch of pilsner malt or some funky undermodified stuff, I wouldn't bother. The differences I've noticed have been subtle and the brew-day is disproportionately more complicated. But then - unnecessarily complicating one's brew day is often the point...

Gordie.

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Old 11-23-2008, 08:57 PM   #8
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Step mashes can increase yield with a lot of pils malt which tends to be less modified than say, 2-row, though you have to consult the malt analysis (% soluable nitrogen, or SNR) to tell if a protein rest will even help. Over an SNR of 42 or so, which even some German malts meet, a protein rest won't help much. Most domestic malts have an SNR of 45 or more. When I want to do a step mash (decoction) I choose a brand of malt which has a low SNR and do a short protein rest at 131*F as suggested by Noonan in New Lager Brewing.

A protein rest is a requirement if you have a high percentage (30% or more) of unmalted, ungelatinized adjuncts, for instance my Witbier which is nearly 50% raw, whole de-husked, unmalted wheat.

Pre-gelatinized adjuncts such as flaked wheat, torrified wheat or flaked corn do not need a protein rest; highly modified malts will give similar yields with or without a step mash.

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Old 11-23-2008, 09:16 PM   #9
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+1 to Saccharomyces. I guess the bottom line is, unless you know why you're doing a step-mash, it's probably best not to do one. You'll here about commercial breweries doing step-mashes and people trying to clone those beers might think they need to do it too, but it's not necessarily the case.

For example, Moortgat does it for Duvel, but they specifically buy several different pilsner malts, some undermodified, to get the benefits of a step-mash. One reason to do one might be if you have relatively high pH water and no acid or 5.2 buffer to bring it down... you could do an acid rest first to get the mash pH down.

But for protein rests, like Saccharomyces said, unless you have your malt analysis and have a good reason for doing one, practically all the barley malt available to homebrewers is modified enough (SNR is 38 or more) to not require it... and in some cases it would be detrimental depending on the SNR and rest temps.



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