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Old 03-18-2009, 05:53 PM   #1
Apr 2008
Posts: 60

Hey there,

I know the consistency of your mash definitely effects the character of the finished beer, but how so. somebody told me that one fosters more proteolytic activity, where the other fosters diastatic activity. Can anybody shine some light on the differences that come from mashing thick vs. thin

FYI I used to mash pretty thin, so that there was a layer of water ontop of the grains, but now I mash on the thicker side, so the mash looks like slightly soupy oatmeal. dont know why though

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Old 03-18-2009, 05:54 PM   #2
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Jun 2007
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I believe the idea is that a thicker mash means the enzymes are less diluted, so they are more available to actually convert sugars from the grains.

A thinner mash is easier to rinse the sugars during sparging, but too thin and you sacrifice efficiency. Thus you have to find that happy middle ground.

I could be wrong tho.
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Old 03-18-2009, 05:55 PM   #3
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Nov 2008
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There is a bit of discussion on the topic in this thread:

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Old 03-18-2009, 05:56 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by avaserfi View Post
There is a bit of discussion on the topic in this thread:
Hey, I was going to post that link.

No big deal, I figured it would get posted by someone.
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Old 03-18-2009, 05:58 PM   #5
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Nov 2006
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Here you go, very good information here!
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Old 03-19-2009, 04:27 AM   #6
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Oct 2008
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well I thought I was going to learn something new here I have already gone through those other threads.

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Old 03-19-2009, 05:12 AM   #7
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"At mashing temperatures the survival and activity of the proteolytic system of enzymes is extremely dependent on mash thickness."

"Changes in mash thickness (liquor/grist ratio) have significant effects on mash performance (Hind, 1950; Hopkins and Krause, 1947; Harris and MacWilliam, 1961; Muller, 1989; 1991; Table 4.14). Very concentrated mashes, (liquor/grist <2:1 ml/g), are difficult to mix and pump, extract recoveries are reduced, starch conversion is slowed down, worts are more concentrated and viscous, TSN and FAN are increased and more high molecular weight nitrogenous substances remain in solution, but a lower proportion of hydrophobic peptides (relative to the amount of extract) are present, causing `high gravity' beers to have poor head retentions (Bryce et al., 1997). In the concentrated mashes both the enzymes and their substrates are more concentrated. Some enzymes (proteolytic enzymes, disaccharidases) are more stable in concentrated mashes producing higher proportions of TSN and hexose sugars respectively."

"The high concentrations of sugars and dextrins present in thick mashes can inhibit the amylases. Enzyme inhibition is due to the reduced availability of free water as well as to the sugars acting as competitive inhibitors."

"As the grist hydrates water is bound, and there is a rise in temperature caused by the release of heat (the `heat of hydration'). As the mash proceeds water is utilized in hydrolyses, a water molecule being consumed when any bond is split. Some water is more or less firmly bound (by hydrogen bonding) to starch, to sugars in solution, to glucans, to pentosans and to other substances reducing the concentration of `free' water. In all-malt mashes and mashes made with 50 : 50 malt and barley or wheat starch the extract recovered falls very sharply as the liquor/grist ratio is reduced below about 2.5 (Fig. 4.14). Generally, altering the liquor/grist ratio at values over 3 has comparatively minor effects, but these are not necessarily negligible. In a particular case mashing with a liquor/grist ratio of 2.5 : 1 gave an extract of 291 l /kg, while at a ratio of 7 : 1 the extract was 311 l /kg. The extent of water binding becomes progressively greater as mashes become more concentrated and there is insufficient free water to permit the gelatinization of much of the starch. The addition of more enzymes to a very thick mash does not quickly convert the ungelatinized starch and so does not enhance the extract obtained."

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Old 03-19-2009, 02:47 PM   #8
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Homebrewers seem to favor very thick mashes (1.25:1 or so), for reasons I've never understood. Maybe it's the urge to cram as much grain as possible into their systems. When I see people trying to do 14 lb mashes in a 5 gallon tun, I can only wonder.
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Old 03-19-2009, 03:03 PM   #9
Sep 2008
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I've gone to a thin mash (2qt/lb) and had better efficiency.

I can't tell a difference, but I brew mostly thinner styles anyway.

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Old 03-19-2009, 03:08 PM   #10
Oct 2007
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I crammed 31 lbs into a 10g cooler once, learned never to do that again.
No matter how rich you are, you can still only drink 16 or 17 liters of beer a day.

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