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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > All Grain & Partial Mash Brewing > Pre-soak before mashing?
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Old 08-01-2007, 06:33 PM   #1
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Default Pre-soak before mashing?

I'm still trying to master the single step infusion. Sure, I've made plenty of good beers with the process, but I'm still tweaking and refining it for my equipment.

My efficiency has always been very low so I wanted to tweak the process a little. First, I tightened down my rollers a bit. This will be an all-malt batch anyway whereas my previous few were wheat beers.

But I was thinking about another possible source of a poor conversion. The time it takes the mash temp to even out. You see, if you dump 170 degree water onto the grains, it will take a bit of time for the grains to absorb the water and heat. During this time, whatever the water touches will be in the upper portion of the mash temps, if not outright destroying the first enzymes it sees.

This seems, in part, to be the reason for using the rests at near-room temperature (pardon me for not recalling the name of that rest period). So I was thinking about tossing in about 6 quarts of room temp water in with the grain before striking and letting it sit for 10 minutes or so. My logic is that the pre-moistened grain should be much more capable of transferring heat quickly through out the grain. Of course, I'll have to account for the extra water mass in my calculations.

Any thoughts?

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Old 08-01-2007, 06:53 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Damn Squirrels
…But I was thinking about another possible source of a poor conversion. The time it takes the mash temp to even out. You see, if you dump 170 degree water onto the grains, it will take a bit of time for the grains to absorb the water and heat. During this time, whatever the water touches will be in the upper portion of the mash temps, if not outright destroying the first enzymes it sees.
…[/B]
I did two things to improve my single step…

First, I moved a hell of a lot faster when assembling my mash. Instead of opening each grain package separately, I dumped the whole lot into a big empty bucket so I could just dump the grains in half at a time. This is probably not an issue for you since you crush and probably use a bucket to hold the grains. And instead of dumping a pot of water, a pot of grains a pot of water and so forth, I got more aggressive…half the water…half the grains…quick stir…then repeat. Stick the thermometer in and I would get pockets of temps from 152 to 156. Another quick stir and the temps evened out around 154.

Second, I let my mash sit longer and recirculated my (batch) sparges a few times before running off to the pot. This really made a big difference because I was more careful to truly rinse down the grains of all the sugars before draining.

Whatever you decide to do, you may want to try one change at a time, otherwise you may not nail down which process change worked.
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Old 08-01-2007, 06:55 PM   #3
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Damn Squirrels - What you are saying makes sense, and I think it is called "Doughing In".

From John Palmer's "How to Brew" (quoted without permission):

Chapter 14 - How the Mash Works
14.3 Doughing-In
To the best of my knowledge, the temperature rest (holding period) for phytase is no longer used by any commercial brewery. However, this regime (95-113°F) is sometimes used by brewers for "Doughing In"- mixing the grist with the water to allow time for the malt starches to soak up water and time for the enzymes to be distributed. The debranching enzymes, e.g. limit dextrinase, are most active in this regime and break up a small percentage of dextrins at this early stage of the mash. The vast majority of debranching occurs during malting as a part of the modification process. Only a small percentage of the debranching enzymes survive the drying and kilning processes after malting, so not much more debranching can be expected. With all of that being said, the use of a 20 minute rest at temperatures near 104°F (40°C) has been shown to be beneficial to improving the yield from all enzymatic malts. This step is considered optional but can improve the total yield by a couple of points.

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Old 08-01-2007, 06:59 PM   #4
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Good call brloomis... I knew I read about it SOMEWHERE before....

I think I'll give it a try.

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Old 08-01-2007, 07:09 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BierMuncher
I did two things to improve my single step…

First, I moved a hell of a lot faster when assembling my mash. Instead of opening each grain package separately, I dumped the whole lot into a big empty bucket so I could just dump the grains in half at a time. This is probably not an issue for you since you crush and probably use a bucket to hold the grains. And instead of dumping a pot of water, a pot of grains a pot of water and so forth, I got more aggressive…half the water…half the grains…quick stir…then repeat. Stick the thermometer in and I would get pockets of temps from 152 to 156. Another quick stir and the temps evened out around 154.
I still don't "get" that. I've never been able to get my mash pockets within 10 degrees of each other (highest reading vs. lowest). Even after 10 minutes. I'm mashing in a cooler.

I think that, given this issue, the doughing in is the only way to go. Should go far towards resolving this issue.

Quote:
Second, I let my mash sit longer and recirculated my (batch) sparges a few times before running off to the pot. This really made a big difference because I was more careful to truly rinse down the grains of all the sugars before draining.
You recirculate the entire sparge?


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Whatever you decide to do, you may want to try one change at a time, otherwise you may not nail down which process change worked.
Well, I'm expecting the fine crush to improve efficiency. I'm expecting the dough-in to improve temperature consistency. So I think I'll be able to analyze the two changes rather independently. But I totally agree with what you are saying there.
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Old 08-01-2007, 10:37 PM   #6
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Well, I tightened my rollers and presoaked. Mashed at 155 degrees.

55% efficiency.

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Old 08-01-2007, 11:06 PM   #7
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Wow.

Give us some details...grain bill, recipe, boil volume...sparge techniques.

Maybe you're doing too heavy a beer for your boil volume and need to sparge out 7.5 gallons (for a 5-gallon batch) instead of 6.

Might be that you need to sparge in, stir, let it set for 10 minutes and then drain...recirculating 5 or 6 pot fulls first to rinse the grains better.

I started relying less on the "wash" cycle (mash in) and more on the "rinse" cycle(sparge out) to get the sugars washed out.

If I had to guess, I'd say you're converting plenty of starches in to sugars, but ineffective "rinsing" is leaving too much sugar behind.

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Old 08-01-2007, 11:31 PM   #8
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11.0 lbs Maris Otter
0.5 lbs Special B

3 quarts of 120 water into the grain bucket, stir up as best I could (still had dry spots, of course), let sit for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Measured temp was around 80 degrees.

20 quarts into a preheated cooler/mash tun, combined with grain, stirred up, top closed for 10 minutes, measured the temp, and it was at 155.

Wait an hour, drain the wort, collected a hair under 4 gallons.

Add 10 quarts of 168 degree sparge water. Run it through twice (10-15 minutes rest each time).

Collected just over 6.25 gallons of wort. Boiled down to 5 gallons. OG: 1.050


(That's 60% efficiency, not 55%... sorry. But still.....)

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Old 08-02-2007, 12:10 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Damn Squirrels
11.0 lbs Maris Otter
0.5 lbs Special B

3 quarts of 120 water into the grain bucket, stir up as best I could (still had dry spots, of course), let sit for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Measured temp was around 80 degrees.

20 quarts into a preheated cooler/mash tun, combined with grain, stirred up, top closed for 10 minutes, measured the temp, and it was at 155.

Wait an hour, drain the wort, collected a hair under 4 gallons.

Add 10 quarts of 168 degree sparge water. Run it through twice (10-15 minutes rest each time).

Collected just over 6.25 gallons of wort. Boiled down to 5 gallons. OG: 1.050


(That's 60% efficiency, not 55%... sorry. But still.....)
23 quarts of total water at mash in? That's nearly 6 gallons. Sounds like your mashing in with too high a volume and not sparging with enough.

I do 10-gallon batches and my initial strike volume is a hair over 6 gallons. When I did 5 gallon batches, I would mash in like 3 - 3.5 gallons...then do multiple batch sparges with 2.5 - 3 gallons.

I'd suggest three things:
1) Shoot for 1.5 quarts of initial water for each pound of grain. In your case that would have been just a bit over 4 gallons.

2) Do a minimum of 2 batch sparges, using 3 gallons of 175 degree water each time...let rest 10 minutes and drain.

3) Aim for a total boil volume of 7 gallons next time, using the two sparges.

This should make sure you get two good "rinses" out of the grain bed. Then shoot for a 5.5 post boil volume to allow for loss to trub and sampling.
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Old 08-02-2007, 12:28 AM   #10
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Thanks BM... I'll give it a try next week when I do my triple batch...

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