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Old 12-03-2011, 12:43 PM   #1
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Default To stir mash or not to stir?

On pages 203-205 of the latest edition of How to Brew, John Palmer says to stir the mash to ensure all sugars are rinsed out. Weather fly or batch sparging I thought the grain bed should be left alone to act as a filter. Both methods seem reasonable but opposites.

Helping a friend make an all grain to day so any thoughts would help.

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Old 12-03-2011, 12:57 PM   #3
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I batch sparge so stir then wait 5 min for it to settle some what then vorluf then let it drain.... I would think to stir would be the best to rinse all the sugar. As long as you re set the bed no biggie.

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Old 12-03-2011, 02:00 PM   #4
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Can't think of a single reason not to stir the mash at some point. Like others have said. Stir while mashing. When it comes time to sparge, leave it alone. The only draw back to stirring while mashing in a cooler is the loss of heat every time you take the lid off. So, doing it once or twice.

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Old 12-03-2011, 02:09 PM   #5
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Agreed. Stir REALLY WELL when everything first goes in - doughballs don't work - "each grain must be thoroughly wetted". I usually just stir once or twice during the mash as Hammy said - just to ensure no doughballs or cold spots and because it smells AWESOME. Then I stir at the end, give it ~5mins to settle, vorlauf & batch sparge.

I think the most important stir is right when you first add the grain. The second most is when you add your sparge water for single batch sparging - gotta make sure everything is rinsed. But no stirring once you open the valve & start running off. If you must stir, let it settle & vorlauf again.

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Old 12-03-2011, 02:14 PM   #6
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I thought stirring releases unwanted starch, tannins etc. scratching my head now !

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Old 12-03-2011, 02:23 PM   #7
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Hmm...I've never had an issue with that, but I've never tested it one way or the other.

I'm not stirring it like I'm beating egg whites or anything, more like making gravy - I stop once the doughballs are gone and once sparge water is nicely mixed.

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Old 12-03-2011, 02:36 PM   #8
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Sure, while you're introducing your grain to the water you need to make sure all the grain gets water. But, while sparging, why wouldn't you stir? Just be careful not to beat it to death. You wouldn't want to break down the grain any further and have it transfer into your kettle.

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Old 12-03-2011, 02:38 PM   #9
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I was thinking that you were stirring throughout the sparge. I was told to only stir to mix well and to even out temp, let mash for a hour then fly sparge without touching grain bed. So you stir again before the sparge ? It makes sense to me, but I wonder now why I told not to stir. Huh !

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Old 12-03-2011, 02:54 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jamming View Post
I thought stirring releases unwanted starch, tannins etc. scratching my head now !
If you have starches that can be released by stirring you didn't get good conversion in your mash. That could be due to a poor quality of crush, wrong temperature, or not long enough mash time.

To extract tannins you have to let your mash get too alkaline and have too hot of water to sparge with. If you use boiling water and sparge multiple times to try and get better efficiency you could get the grain bed to lose its acidity and extract tannins. If you mash is acidic you cannot extract tannins or if your water is below 170 F you cannot extract tannins.
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