Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > All Grain & Partial Mash Brewing > Mash-In: water to grain or grain to water?
Thread Tools
Old 02-09-2010, 01:31 AM   #1
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Blue Bell, PA
Posts: 8
Default Mash-In: water to grain or grain to water?

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,

sergetania is offline
Reply With Quote
Old 02-09-2010, 01:33 AM   #2
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Philadelphia, PA, Philadelphia, PA
Posts: 73
Liked 3 Times on 3 Posts


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.

guinsu is offline
orangemen5 Likes This 
Reply With Quote
Old 02-09-2010, 01:38 AM   #3
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Newbeerguy's Avatar
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Massillon, Ohio
Posts: 811
Liked 15 Times on 15 Posts
Likes Given: 8


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.
Newbeerguy is offline
Reply With Quote
Old 02-09-2010, 01:44 AM   #4
Ale's What Cures You!
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Yooper's Avatar
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: UP of Michigan
Posts: 66,061
Liked 6242 Times on 4448 Posts
Likes Given: 1686


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.
Broken Leg Brewery
Giving beer a leg to stand on since 2006

Follow me on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lorena.t.evans
But I'm pretty boring so don't expect much!
Yooper is offline
BridgewaterBrewer Likes This 
Reply With Quote
Old 02-09-2010, 01:50 AM   #5
Vendor and Brewer
Vendor Ads 
Feedback Score: 4 reviews
Bobby_M's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Whitehouse Station, NJ
Posts: 22,832
Liked 1346 Times on 881 Posts
Likes Given: 35


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.
Welcome to BrewHardware.com. I love you.
New 100% Stainless Steel Heating Elements are IN! ULWD 5500w Ripple, 2000w, 1500w, etc
Chugger Pumps, Pump Kits, Camlocks, Sightglasses, Clear USA made Silicone Tubing, RIMS, Electric Install Parts, etc.
Bobby_M is offline
BridgewaterBrewer Likes This 
Reply With Quote
Old 02-09-2010, 02:28 AM   #6
Kwanesum Chinook Illahee
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
ShortSnoutBrewing's Avatar
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Portland, OR
Posts: 3,266
Liked 18 Times on 16 Posts
Likes Given: 1


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.
ShortSnoutBrewing is offline
Reply With Quote
Old 02-09-2010, 03:53 AM   #7
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Fort Wayne, IN
Posts: 209
Liked 2 Times on 2 Posts


+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.
earlytimes is offline
Reply With Quote
Old 02-09-2010, 08:30 AM   #8
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Melbourne, AU
Posts: 232
Liked 4 Times on 4 Posts


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.
manticle is offline
Reply With Quote
Old 02-09-2010, 09:04 AM   #9
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 1,566
Liked 43 Times on 27 Posts
Likes Given: 6


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.
KYB is offline
Reply With Quote
Old 02-09-2010, 02:25 PM   #10
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 143
Liked 14 Times on 12 Posts
Likes Given: 2


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.


griffondg is offline
Reply With Quote

Thread Tools

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
All Grain Mash/Sparge Water Calculator LakeErieBrew Beginners Beer Brewing Forum 11 12-29-2010 10:52 PM
Partial mash - what should my water to grain ratio be? bonzombiekitty Beginners Beer Brewing Forum 6 10-27-2009 02:56 PM
Is mash grain/water ratio important? beretta All Grain & Partial Mash Brewing 9 09-25-2009 03:30 AM
Mash tun: water or grain 1st? Toppers All Grain & Partial Mash Brewing 14 11-03-2008 03:45 PM
So bout Stabilizing the mash Tun Water Temp BEFORE adding Grain Technique RLinNH All Grain & Partial Mash Brewing 14 01-07-2008 03:46 AM

Forum Jump

Newest Threads