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Old 02-25-2005, 10:47 PM   #11
Janx's Avatar
Dec 2004
San Francisco Bay Area
Posts: 1,677
Liked 17 Times on 11 Posts

Originally Posted by t1master
that's about it mate! sorry if i sounded confused before, still learning as i go, and i lean towards the daft side at times
Doh! Woah! I was sooo confused. I guess I only read the segment of the article you posted, and for some reason I thought you were trying to use one kettle to do all and I just couldn't see it. My bad! Did I say "Doh!"

The setup you're describing sounds just like mine. I use 3 converted stainless kegs. I actually very much *prefer* a mash tun made of stainless to a cooler because the rate I brew tends to destry coolres. Eventually the heat warps them and the layers separate etc.

So, I have 15 gallons of capacity in each vessel and brew batches that end up at around 12 gallons. We just wrap a blanket around the mash tun and it holds heat just fine. Believe me, all the conversion is done in about 15 minutes anyway. I used to have a keg that had a sheet metal jacket insulated with about 3 inches of rigid foam insulation, but the thing was such a huge beast that this time I decided to just go with a blanket. Works great, even if it isn't as high tech

Another thing about the bigger mash is it tends to hold its own heat better just because of thermal mass.

I had a RIMS system before this one and it could hold temp within a couple tenths of a degree perfectly. But when I buyilt my current system, I went back to basics with the three tier infusion setup. I like the low-tech method so much more, and the fact is, if you get your mash temp pretty good, conversion always happens and works great.

As Uncle Fat said, put a spigot on every vessel and build a 10 gallon system. I also like a minifold made of a pipe of some sort with drilled holes over a false bottom, but that's just me. A filter on the outflow of your kettle is a must, as Uncle point out, for the hops. Getting hops in your chiller can really suck.

So, sorry about the confusion. I feel like a dumb a** for not thoroughly understanding where you were coming from. Stainless mash tuns are great...better than coolers as far as I can tell.

If you do get a cooler, I like the big orange Gott coolers. They make a 1o gallon one that can do a pretty big batch.

Oh don't give me none more of that Old Janx Spirit
No, don't you give me none more of that Old Janx Spirit
For my head will fly, my tongue will lie, my eyes will fry and I may die
Won't you pour me one more of that sinful Old Janx Spirit

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Old 05-09-2009, 05:19 PM   #12
May 2009
Praireville, LA
Posts: 1

Is there a thread where you describe your mash/lauter to boil kettle process in detail? I see so many people handle this process in so many different ways. Just curious how you go about the process.

You mention that a blanket works just fine for holding temps. And this works well? How important is hold temp really? The book I read said to hold between 150 and 155 for an hour.

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Old 01-25-2013, 05:56 PM   #13
Jan 2013
Posts: 78
Liked 10 Times on 8 Posts

Hey uglygoat, I've been a lurker on these boards for some time, but your question finally got me to register and post! I've been toying around with the idea of mashing in my large kettle.

I'll probably get heat for this, but here's my take on things:
  • As stated, the main advantage of using a cooler is heat retention and temperature stability. It's also a relatively simple and easy to learn setup. Best of all, it allows you to "Set it and forget it" and walk away for an hour (assuming you do a single infusion, meaning mashing only at one temperature).
  • The main disadvantage to that is that if, for whatever reason, you want to do a multi-rest mash at 2 or 3 different temperatures, it's a challenge because you can't just turn on the burner and heat it. When you read a recipe that tells you to go to 170 degrees for 10 minutes for "mash out", that's what it means. Most people who use the cooler method just skip the mash out and have their sparge water at that temperature.
  • One method of increasing the temperature in a cooler is to limit the water in the earlier stages of the mash and to keep adding new infusions of hotter water. This works, but it's a bit of a fudge because sometimes you need to have a really thick mash in the early stages, which isn't always optimal. But it works.
  • The reason so many home brewers do simpler, single-infusion mashes is because it's so much easier, but the reason that they CAN is that these days most malt his well-modified, which means that you don't need to do that lower-temperature rests (acid rest, protein restů) to release all the proper enzymes in stages. Even with a single infusion you can get to good extraction efficiency. You would get an even higher efficiency if you followed the old process, but these days most people agree, it's not worth the effort.
  • One counterargument to the design you linked to is that to really do it right you would need to either significantly insulate the kettle, which would be dangerous on an open flame, or to have a rig that runs though another pot of hot water that is essentially the opposite of a wort chiller, but it woudl require a pump, which adds to the cost an complexity.

I use a cooler. In case you're wondering why I am toying with the mash kettle approach is that I'm curious about what the impact of the simpler approach is on flavor. Everyone always focuses on the mash efficiency and gravity. However, the multiple rest stages at different temperatures have other impacts on taste and body. I'm curious as to the difference. For example, my next brew is going to be a Fat Tire clone. I decided to try the Northern Brewer recipe, which everyone agrees produces a good beer but one that isn't, in fact, all that much like Fat Tire. The recipe calls for a multi-step mash option, an my curiosity has gotten ahold of me as to whether that makes a difference, since I am sure most people have mashed it using the single infusion options. As a result of this curiosity (but also not wanting to buy new gear blindly), I am going to go down the rabbit hole of decoction mashing. My 5 Gal. MLT cannot hold the 6+ gallons of water that would be required. So I am clearing my schedule, starting early one day, and giving decoction a shot. I think the maillard reaction will also help with the Fat Tire flavor. If it works, I will consider shifting to a mash kettle setup in the future.

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Old 04-08-2014, 04:12 PM   #14
Mar 2014
, New Jersey
Posts: 4

I know I'm late- but I have to put my 2 cents in here. I saw a few people talking about a direct-fired tun like it was a no-no. A direct fired mash tun is a beautiful thing if you like or need to do a lot of step mashing. Without it, you're either going to have to decoct, or do several infusions of boiling water. Both of those options are a pain in the a** and difficult to control.
"Why would I need to step mash?" If you have a grist with a high percentage of Pilsner malt, wheat, oats, etc (adjuncts, unmalted grains and the such) you need to step mash. I've seen people who stand firm by the single infusion method- and that's great- but there is a lot to be said for step mashing. It yields great results (if you pay attention) and is (to me anyway) a lot more fun than just dumping water into a cooler and walking away for an hour or so. After all, we hombrew for fun-right? If all we wanted was good beer we could go to the bottle shop.

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