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Can I mash my extract?

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Argyll Gargoyle

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It seems like one of the advantages of AG brewing over extract or partial mash is that an AG brewer can tailor the mash temp to adjust fermentability.
So if I do a partial mash, I can have some impact over the 1-2 lbs of grain, but I’m still adding a lot of extract that I can’t adjust for fermentability.
What if I were to add the extract in during my mash? Would the enzymes from the malt be able to work on the sugars in the extract?
 

day_trippr

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Mash enzymes convert starches to sugars. Your DME or LME is already "converted".
I suppose there may be some small reducing effect on whatever longer chain sugars that are in the DME exposed to mash enzymes but I rather doubt it...

Cheers!
 
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Argyll Gargoyle

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I guess if this worked, it would only allow you to increase attenuation - you couldn’t achieve the effect of mashing higher than the extract maker did. You probably also take an efficiency hit since more sugar is tied up in your spent grain
 
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Argyll Gargoyle

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Mash enzymes convert starches to sugars. Your DME or LME is already "converted".
I suppose there may be some small reducing effect on whatever longer chain sugars that are in the DME exposed to mash enzymes but I rather doubt it...

Cheers!
Aside from conversion, isn’t there some breaking down of long / less fermentable sugars as well? I seem to recall a rambling explanation by Palmer talking about chopping up tree limbs with garden shears or something. Have to admit to glossing over a bit of that...
 

dmtaylor

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This works. I have done something like this with partial mash. The best way to do it is to complete a minimash then run off as normal, then add the extract and hold at mash temp for another 30-60 minutes. This works fine if you don’t mash out because most of the enzymes stay in the liquid part of the mash anyway, not the solids. It helps fermentability as you theorized.
 

Kent88

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Check my signature. I think the podcasts include Palmer talking along those lines.

An overwhelming majority of those long/less fermentable sugars are broken down already in your extract. If you add extract to a mash you might shave 0.001 or 0.002 from your final gravity, but in most cases I doubt you'd notice.
 
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Argyll Gargoyle

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I suppose extract makers probably mash at the optimal temp for efficiency - what’s that, 152? How much does mash temp impact efficiency?
Edit: This is probably too oversimplified to be a useful line of reasoning - but I can see Kent88’s point that most extract should be high on the scale of fermentability.
 
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day_trippr

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Aside from conversion, isn’t there some breaking down of long / less fermentable sugars as well? I seem to recall a rambling explanation by Palmer talking about chopping up tree limbs with garden shears or something. Have to admit to glossing over a bit of that...
?

[...]I suppose there may be some small reducing effect on whatever longer chain sugars that are in the DME exposed to mash enzymes but I rather doubt it...
 

BrewnWKopperKat

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So if I do a partial mash, I can have some impact over the 1-2 lbs of grain, but I’m still adding a lot of extract that I can’t adjust for fermentability.
A while back there were a number of kit providers (Northern Brewer generally has instructions online) that made extract+steep Brut IPA kits. Using an enzyme product, rather than enzymes from the mash, would likely provide greater control over the process.
 

waldoar15

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I suppose extract makers probably mash at the optimal temp for efficiency - what’s that, 152? How much does mash temp impact efficiency?
Edit: This is probably too oversimplified to be a useful line of reasoning - but I can see Kent88’s point that most extract should be high on the scale of fermentability.
You would think that. But one of the many reasons I went to AG way back was because my extract brews almost always finished with a higher FG than they were supposed to.

People used to rationalize it by saying that the extract makers added a good bit of dextrine malt to their mash. Who knows if that was true or not.
 

BrewnWKopperKat

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People used to rationalize it by saying that the extract makers added a good bit of dextrine malt to their mash. Who knows if that was true or not.
FWIW, some makers of malt extract include what malts they use in their product information at their web site.
 

RPh_Guy

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It seems like one of the advantages of AG brewing over extract or partial mash is that an AG brewer can tailor the mash temp to adjust fermentability.
The only reason to reduce fermentability is to produce a low-alcohol beer.

What if I were to add the extract in during my mash? Would the enzymes from the malt be able to work on the sugars in the extract?
Yes, without a doubt.

I guess if this worked, it would only allow you to increase attenuation
You could create a low fermentable wort with your grain, if you wanted.

You probably also take an efficiency hit since more sugar is tied up in your spent grain
Right, if you add the malt extract to the mash. ... But who cares? The difference in cost would be minimal.

This works fine if you don’t mash out because most of the enzymes stay in the liquid part of the mash anyway, not the solids.
Mash-out (76°C or lower) does not denature the enzymes (specifically alpha-amylase; beta-amylase denatures during the mash).

Adding the malt extract at the beginning of the mash would provide the largest increase in fermentability due to the action of beta-amylase. Adding the extract in the kettle would only be exposed to alpha-amylase.

Another option is to not boil the mini mash, and just add this wort to the fermenter. Assuming you use a single infusion, both alpha amylase and debranching enzyme could then degrade the dextrins in the malt extract over the course of fermentation.

I suppose extract makers probably mash at the optimal temp for efficiency - what’s that, 152? How much does mash temp impact efficiency?
I'd wager they're using a Hoch-Kurz mash, not single infusion (isothermic).

With single infusion, the maximum extract is obtained at 144–151°F (62–66°C). Higher or lower temperatures will decrease mash efficiency.

Using an enzyme product, rather than enzymes from the mash, would likely provide greater control over the process.
That's an interesting idea, but it still wouldn't be easy to control.

The ideal enzyme to increase fermentability is fungal alpha-amylase, which is not generally available to home brewers.

Glucoamylase in the mash or kettle is an option, but you'd need to leave it sit for some period of time and since there's no way to monitor the progress of dextrin degradation, it's a total crap shoot.
 
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