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Old 02-09-2010, 01:31 AM   #1
Dec 2009
Blue Bell, PA
Posts: 8

While trying to read as much as I can before my first AG I stumbled upon a significant difference in the mash-in procedures. I couldn't find any discussions on the forum regarding the subject.

John Palmer "How to brew" 3rd edition, page 201:

"3. Mash-in. You want to add the water to the grain, not the other way around. Use a saucepan or a plastic pitcher to pour in a gallon of your strike water at a time and stir between infusions. Don't try to pour 4 gallons of hot water into the mash tun all at once. You don't want to thermally shock the enzymes."

At the same time a lot of posts on the forum including the AG tutorials recommend adding the water to the mash tun first and then dumping in the grain. It seems it makes it easier to reach the desired mash temperature. But according to John Palmer that shocks the enzymes which can't be a good thing.

Can anyone please comment on this?

Thank you very much,

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Old 02-09-2010, 01:33 AM   #2
Jun 2009
Philadelphia, PA, Philadelphia, PA
Posts: 73
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I follow the advice from my local brew shop which was to start siphoning the water into the MLT through the drain, then as it slowly fills up with water scoop in the grain and mix as you go. This way you don't get any dry clumps.

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Old 02-09-2010, 01:38 AM   #3
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Jul 2009
Massillon, Ohio
Posts: 814
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I tend to follow Palmer's advice. I always add water to the grain. I take a 4 cup measuring glass pour the water in with that. After 4 full glasses I will stir the grains to make sure that I don't have any doughballs or dry spots. I have never had a problem with this method.

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Old 02-09-2010, 01:44 AM   #4
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Yooper's Avatar
Jun 2006
UP of Michigan, Winter Texan
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I almost always do the exact opposite of what Palmer suggests. I used to do it his way, but found I had more stuck mashes and sparges, and big doughballs that were tough to work out. Also, I mash in a cooler so I wanted to preheat the cooler.

The easiest way for me is to add the water to the MLT to preheat it, then let it cool to my strike temp. Then I add some grain, more strike water, more grain, etc, until it's all in there. I don't know why Palmer says to always do it the other way- unless it has to do with the possible denaturing of enzymes or something? It just doesn't work out for my system to add the grain first.
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Old 02-09-2010, 01:50 AM   #5
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Aug 2006
Whitehouse Station, NJ
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What Yooperbrew says is right. It takes a mere 3 minutes of stirring to get the strike water/mash to under 160F and nothing is denaturing at that temp, that quickly.
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Old 02-09-2010, 02:28 AM   #6
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Oct 2007
Portland, OR
Posts: 3,213
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When I was using a cooler I did water, grain, water, grain and so on. Since moving to a direct fire mash tun I heat all my strike water in the MLT then add the grains. Haven't had any issues going this route. Even think I'm getting better saturation that I was the other way.

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Old 02-09-2010, 03:53 AM   #7
Mar 2008
Fort Wayne, IN
Posts: 207
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+1 to water, then grains. I mash in a cooler and I tried grains first a couple times, but had nothing but problems. Water first allows me to hit my temps easier and I seem to have no issues with dough balls.

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Old 02-09-2010, 08:30 AM   #8
Feb 2010
Melbourne, AU
Posts: 232
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Many brewers do things many different ways. Some add grain to water, some water to grain, some underlet into the tun (ostensibly still adding water to grain) and some like myself do bit by bit.

I preheat my tun with boiling water (1-2 L) , add 1/3 strike water which helps bring the tun to a good even temp, add 1/3 grain, stir gently and repeat. I can adjust temp with hot or cold water as I go (although I know my system well enough now that that's usually unnecessary). I'm not really sure that it matters that much - I have a reason for doing it the way I do and I'm sure most others do too.

My way I avoid dough balls, get the tun insulated and prevent that panicked moment of leaving the tap open and seeing grain coloured liquid flow out. I also minimise stirring. Works for me.

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Old 02-09-2010, 09:04 AM   #9
Jan 2009
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I dump all the water in, then slowly pour in the grain while stirring. No doughballs. Once I am done I am right at my mash target temp, working from BeerSmiths strike water temp. Works great.

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Old 02-09-2010, 02:25 PM   #10
Jun 2007
Posts: 143
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Like someone else suggested on here, I heat my strike water 10 degrees above what I need and dump it in to warm the MLT. I then let it cool to the desired temp and then add grains. Works great for me and really helps me hit my mash temps.


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