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Old 12-16-2010, 01:33 PM   #1041
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After heating the strike water to the right temp and adding the grains, do you remove the pot from the heat all together, or do you leave it on low? Last time I tried a PM (my fist PM btw) I had a really hard time keeping the temperature at 150F-152F and found that it went above 170F a couple times (I added cold water to cool). If you remove from heat, do you worry about temp loss and do you check the temp while you are mashing.



Since I have an electric stove, I have to sit there for a few minutes (after I cut off the eye) reading my temperature to make sure it isn't rising anymore. After I hit 162-166 (depending on the style I'm going for) I lug the grains in, stir it around a few times and take five or six temp readings before putting the lid on.

Here's a nice trick that a few others do, as well. Take a couple of towels that are folded fairly thick and clamp them around your kettle. You can use those bigger spring "hand clamps" or those light plastic vice grips from Lowes/Homedepot. After I take my initial temp readings around the mash, I put the lid on and let it sit. When I get back to it an hour later, it's sitting at EXACTLY the same temp from when I covered it.

It's bittersweet having an electric stove because of heat that doesn't really stop when you turn off the eye. But the flip side is that there is some residual warmth. Personally, I think it has way more to do with the towels insulating the kettle. Also, I never take off the lid to check temps; I don't want any heat escaping. To me there isn't any point if I already know that the strike temp isn't rising anymore.

Hope this helps out a little.
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Old 12-16-2010, 01:47 PM   #1042
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If you put towels around it, make sure the burner is off. It would be safer to use something designed for heat, though. 150F is a far distance from cotton's flash point, but still, safety first!

Cotton's flash point is around 210C, but a hot burner at a lower temp can ignite it at lower temperature than that.

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Old 12-16-2010, 03:20 PM   #1043
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Yeah, absolutely agree. I keep the lowest towel at least an inch from the bottom of my of my brew pot; It's also bigger around than the eye. (flat-glass surface stove)

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Old 12-16-2010, 04:06 PM   #1044
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It's bittersweet having an electric stove because of heat that doesn't really stop when you turn off the eye. But the flip side is that there is some residual warmth. Personally, I think it has way more to do with the towels insulating the kettle. Also, I never take off the lid to check temps; I don't want any heat escaping.
I have played around a LOT with this for doing All Grain. I have covered the kettle with towels, pillows, blankets, anything I can find in my house. I too have an electric "eye" stove. I found that when I leave it on the burner (after shutting it off) it holds the heat a lot better than if I cover it in towels and remove the heat. My coutnertop is linolium, so it strips the heat from the bottom. Without even covering the kettle (usually full), just leaving it on the stove (with the warmed eye) maintins my temp much better than removing it and covering it. I haven't even bothered to cover it.

If your kettle is full like me, there is no problem with removing the cover to stir it. I like to take temps at different places in the mash as well, so this lets me do it. Maybe every 15-20 minutes. If I am worried about losing a degree or two, I put the burner on low, 3-4, just to heat the coil up, then shut it off.
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Old 12-17-2010, 02:23 PM   #1045
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Two tips that I've found here and elsewhere that I've started using with fantastic results:

1. More grain is better. The first time I tried to do a partial mash using this system, I only used maybe 3 pounds of grain in a 3-gallon pot. I had a terrible time maintaining a constant temperature with so little volume to hold heat. I've since discovered that my 3-gallon pot is perfect for mashing 5.5-6.5 pound grain bills, so I adjust my recipes accordingly.

2. Use an oven to maintain mash temperature. While I'm heating my water, I also preheat my oven to 200F. A few minutes before I mash my grain, I turn off the oven. Once my grains are in and I've verified that I hit my target temperature, the pot goes into the oven. With this, I've been able to maintain my temperatures FAR better than I was before. Two weeks ago I managed a 149F 90-minute mash and I only lost four tenths of a degree over that time (probably from me checking the temp!).

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Old 12-19-2010, 03:48 PM   #1046
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Regarding temp loss, I still recommend the blanket method, removing from heat and insulating the pot. Using direct heat applied to the bottom of the pot is far too risky, in my opinion, and I would rather have a low mash temp than a high one.

I also don't mind my mash temp lowering. Most of the time when I do small partial mashes, it drops down to 140*F by the end of my mash and all of the beers I've made with this method were fantastic.

I haven't heard anything bad about people using the oven to hold temp (unless they set it too high) so that seems like a good way to go as well.

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Old 12-19-2010, 04:47 PM   #1047
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Regarding temp loss, I still recommend the blanket method, removing from heat and insulating the pot. Using direct heat applied to the bottom of the pot is far too risky, in my opinion, and I would rather have a low mash temp than a high one.

I also don't mind my mash temp lowering. Most of the time when I do small partial mashes, it drops down to 140*F by the end of my mash and all of the beers I've made with this method were fantastic.

I haven't heard anything bad about people using the oven to hold temp (unless they set it too high) so that seems like a good way to go as well.
For a while I was removing my kettle and wrapping it in a big Towel and putting a pillow on top. It didn't work for me because I think too much heat was escaping out of the bottom on my linoleum surface, towel on the bottom wouldn't help. I decided to leave it on the burner because the burner would stay hot, but not give any heat (once turned off) to the kettle.

I only switched because a lot of my beers were over-atenuating. I was getting 85-89% attenuation because my mash temp was so low. Granted this is for all grain, and partial wouldn't have that problem, but the extra % alcohol was ruining some of the finer characteristics of the beers.

I'm never worried about it dropping low towards the end of the mash, the bulk of the conversion happens in the first 15 minutes.

DB is right though, direct heat IS risky. You need to mix well and realize that the temp on the bottom (where most of the grain is) will be higher than up top, so don't be taking the temp up top, you could be scorching the grain below.
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Old 12-19-2010, 06:49 PM   #1048
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I like a dry beer. I've been mashing very low lately, my recent roggenbier sitting at 144*F. Even for "maltier" beers, I generally use the malt character from the grain and a yeast that falls out easily and still mash low. 85-89% attenuation seems extremely high...what yeast and what mash temps are we talking here, agenthucky? And what type of beer?

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Old 12-19-2010, 08:02 PM   #1049
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I like a dry beer. I've been mashing very low lately, my recent roggenbier sitting at 144*F. Even for "maltier" beers, I generally use the malt character from the grain and a yeast that falls out easily and still mash low. 85-89% attenuation seems extremely high...what yeast and what mash temps are we talking here, agenthucky? And what type of beer?
Well, it happened multiple brews in a row, and was a problem with my last 4-5 beers. ESB, English IPA, Pale ale, amber ale, and oatmeal stout (mashed lower on purpose).

The english beers were brewing with london 3 I think, and the ales were thames valley, and the stout s-04. All were planned to mash around 152F, no heat was added. I've gone over all the variables and the only thing I can think of is the Mash temp. I have double checked my refractometer readings with hydrometer ones, the only variable left is the mash temp. Either I have a bad thermometer, or the mash temp is too low. I checked my thermometer against a floating one, both read similar temps.

In the case of my amber, it went from 1.057 to 1.005 making it 90% attenuation, and 1.5% more than I expected. Freakish, I know, but maintaining the heat worked for my last batch.
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Old 12-21-2010, 08:16 PM   #1050
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Crazy, especially with all those english strains. I'd be interested in taking a look at those recipes, if you get the chance. Especially for the S-04...that stuff leaves all my beers sweet. The stout I have right now is S-04 and Notty and the nottingham is dry as hell, but the S-04 is super sweet. I'm blending.

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