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Old 09-21-2007, 12:33 PM   #1
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Default Step Mashing

Could some one please explain how to do step mashing in simple terms. I am very new to all grain and am not the happiest at the body and head retentions in my process. I am looking for more control and have heard that step mashing is the way to go.

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Old 09-21-2007, 01:22 PM   #2
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Not to not answer your question but check out www.howtobrew.com and read chapter 14. It is pretty simple and well explained. In addition, if it is body and head retention that you are looking for a step mash might not be what you are looking for. With well modified malts, it is my understanding that a step mash may even thin your beer out instead of helping it. Try adding 1/2 lb of carapils malt to your mash for body and head retention. It has worked great for me. Also be sure to nail your target mash temp and don't let it get too low, that may cause a thin beer as well.

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Old 09-21-2007, 02:51 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe028
Not to not answer your question but check out www.howtobrew.com and read chapter 14. It is pretty simple and well explained. In addition, if it is body and head retention that you are looking for a step mash might not be what you are looking for. With well modified malts, it is my understanding that a step mash may even thin your beer out instead of helping it. Try adding 1/2 lb of carapils malt to your mash for body and head retention. It has worked great for me. Also be sure to nail your target mash temp and don't let it get too low, that may cause a thin beer as well.
Joe is right, a protein rest with fully-modified malts will make your problem worse, not better. What temps are you mashing at right now? What styles of beer are you making? Without knowing I'd add 1/2lb of carapils for body and maybe 1/2lb of wheat for head retention. You could also try mashing around 155 to maximize Alpha Amylase activity, which should give you better body.
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Old 09-21-2007, 03:12 PM   #4
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I agree that step mashing probably isn't best approach (at least not right now). Watch your fermentation temperatures, calibrate your thermometers, try the addition on unfermentable crystal malts up to 10%, etc. Wheat malt is commonly used for head retention and body.

This article in particular is a great one for head retention.

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Old 09-21-2007, 03:46 PM   #5
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I was told that using a step mash and resting at cetain temps would allow me more control when it comes to the amount of sugars, body and head retention.

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Old 09-21-2007, 04:15 PM   #6
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Yes, but its not just that simple. As already stated, how 'modified' your base grain is have a major effect on whether you should bother with step mashing and protein rests.
http://www.howtobrew.com/ explains the basics in section 3 on all-grain brewing.

But you really need to give us some info about your single infusion practices. list your last recipe that turned out with weak body, and list what temperature you mashed at, sparged at, OG, FG, etc.

Also, is your thermometer calibrated?

I only have two AG brews under me but weak body sounds like a slightly low mash temp, which is mostly extracting maltose, with ferments completely.

I've done my PM and AG's with mash temp of about 153F, and so far I've been pleased with the results. And that's 153F with a calibrated thermometer. I think if you dip much below 150F you're pulling maltose only, and that'll give you a dry beer without much residual sweetness.

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Old 09-21-2007, 05:07 PM   #7
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It was a wheat beer (I don't have the recipe near me) My strike water was a 172 and when I added the grain the temp dropped to 154. while it rested it maintained that temp dropping only 1 degree over the hour. I then sparged and my temp never went lower then 152 prior to my starting to heat the wort for my boil and hop additions. The OG was 1040 and the FG was 1005. My thermometer was carlibrated and has worked well for my extract brews but every one of my AG brews (5) have been thin. I haven't been makeing yeast starters when I brew. I know the recipe had white wheat and 2-Row but as i took my notes on a seperate peice of paper i keep on a clip board next to my carboy, and i haven't updated the notes on my brew computer.

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Old 09-21-2007, 06:07 PM   #8
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1.005 is a very low FG. The more fermentables your yeast eat, the less residual body in your beer. American Wheat has a guideline of 1.008 - 1.013 FG. You might try monitoring your fermentation, and rack off the yeast around 1.010 or so......I would anticipate more body and bigger mouthfeel.

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Old 09-21-2007, 06:13 PM   #9
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Why would it be finishing so low I have it fermenting for about the same amout of time as all of my extracts. even the temp is the same within 3 degrees. yes I could take a sample every couple of days and bottle when i think it should be done. but i want to make sure everything is fermented enough so i don't get bottle bombs.

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Old 09-21-2007, 09:55 PM   #10
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time has nothing to do with how low the gravity is at the finish, nor the temperature.
its about the yeast strain's attenuation, and how much fermentable sugar is in the wort.

yeast ferments until the alcohol content is too high, or when sugar runs out.

Extracts have a controlled amount of fermentables. that's why an extract recipe lists an OG, and you really can't miss it unless you add too much water. And they can give you a nice tight final gravity range.

with all grain, its all about you setups efficiency (original gravity) and the mash temperatures (which affect fermentability).

sounds like your wort was a little too fermentable. i would guess its a little on the dry side for a wheat? not badly so, but just enough that mouthfeel suffers.

Also, that seems like too much lost heat. 174 dropping to 150 seems like a lot to me. I typically lose about 10-11 degrees on the mash-in, and 1 degree during the 1 hour rest...but I'm using a 5 gallon cooler-tun, which i pre-heat with 125F water for 20 mins pre-mash.

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