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Mashing- Water in first, or grain?

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kmlavoy

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I'm a frequent reader of a really good blog, where I read something that gave me pause yesterday. He claimed that as a general rule when mashing, you add the water first, then the grain. It kind of surprised me, as he was way down on grain in first, and I thought that's how you were supposed to do it.

I hadn't really thought I had a choice. I had been reading New Brewing Lager Beer when I did my first all grain, and he said ALWAYS wet into dry. I figured he knew what he was talking about, so that's what I've always done.

Generally, I preheat my mash tun with a few cups of boiling water, which I dump right before the grain goes in. Then grain, then strike water. I've been real close every time so far on nailing my sacch temp.

What does everyone else do? Is there a particular reason you do it that way?
 

ohiobrewtus

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I don't really know that it makes much of a difference. My process is to heat my strike water about 15F higher than my target mash temp. I them dump the water into my MLT and use this water to heat the MLT. Once the water gets to 9 degrees above my target mash temp I dough in.

Every system is different, but this is what works for me. I haven't missed a mash temp by more than 1 degree for quite some time.
 

Blender

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I add the grain to the water. There may be less chance of dough balls but I have always done it that way.
 

WBC

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I vote water first for the following reasons.

1.) Less problem with dough balls

2.) You can fill your mash tun with te required amount of water to a mark on the mash tun or dip stick.

3.) I can go a few degrees over the strike temp when doing number 2 and allow the mash tun to pre-heat and stabilize at the strike temp. When It does not change and is at the strike temp when stirred I then add the grains, stir wait 5 minutes and stir again and I hit sac temp dead on.
 

Rhoobarb

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I add ~a gallon of water, then the grains, then the remaining water and stir. Before I did my first AG batch I had read that it helped eliminate dough balls and stuck sparges. So, I did it that way and never veered from it.
 

ajf

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I add enough foundation water to ensure that the grain is suspended above the false bottom, then add grain and water in small increments, never allowing the grain to get compacted.
When I started AG brewing, I used to add water to the grain, and often got stuck sparges. Since I changed my method, I never never had a stuck sparge.

-a.
 

BigEd

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It really doesn't matter. What's important is that the grist and water get thoroughly mixed. Commericial breweries use grist hydrators which mix water and grain together as they enter the mash tun, maybe some homebrew gearhead needs to make and market one.

I put some water in first then add some grain and keep alternating and mixing until all is nicely blended.
 

Judd

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I always do water first. Keeps the temperature more consistent. That is, it makes it easier to hit your target temp.
 

BrianP

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Palmer in "How to Brew" suggests the grain first approach, and his reasoning is that it is less of a thermal shock to the malt, aiding the conversion. He then adjusts mash temp by adding cold or boiling water.

I personally do water first for the same reasons the others mentioned: preheats the MLT, prevents dough balls.

I don't know how much of an advantage there may be to the water first option, so I'm sticking to the grain first option.
 

Bearcat Brewmeister

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I used to alternate but now I am a "water first" guy. I think the heating of the mash tun is the most important factor to me. I store my equipment in the garage and if I forget to bring the mash tun inside the night before, I have a mash tun with an unknown thermal mass. Given that, I don't know how much heat will be lost after adding the water to the grain and I want more certainty. I overheat the water, dump it in, and wait for the temperature to drop to my strike temperature.

My only issue is that I have a plastic false bottom and I have to be careful that it doesn't float a bit and get some grain under it. I got a completely stuck sparge once that way and had to scoop everything out, clean it, and scoop it all back in - huge PITA.
 
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I will heat liquor in my HLT to boiling and dump into my MT to preheat (only in the winter) then I will pump transfer that liquor back into the HLT and stabalize to my strike temp. Then I crush directly into the mash tun and add my water I have thought about water first and have done it once but I figure the big dogs go wet to dry I will go wet to dry.
JJ
 

PNWgirl

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Adding the water first allows the water and MLT temps to equilibrate. When I started I was doing grain first but I noticed that the temps would vary +/- 5 degrees in different places of the mash... I couldn't tell how close I was!

Now I preheat to 12 or so degrees above my strike temp, let it cool, then dough in. I haven't been off by more than 1 degree since I've done it that way, whereas before I couldn't even really tell what my temp was.

Do whatever works for you, but I certainly found it to give better results in hitting my temps and hitting them evenly around the entirie mash.
 
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kmlavoy

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Thanks for the replies. I was planning on sticking with wet into dry. Like I said, the guy who wrote New Brewing Lager Beer said to do it that way, and I figured he probably knew more about brewing than me.

I just wanted to get some thoughts on why one way or the other from people on the board here.
 

agentgonzo

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Am I the only one that adds them both at the same time? I preheat my MT, then open the tap on my HLT when in gets to strike temperature. I throw/spoon/pour the grist from the hopper (bucket) into the MT where the hot water is landing and mix in with a paddle until I've used all the grist. I keep the thickness of the mash at the desired level all the way through as I'm adding the grist manually. Then do a quick stir at the end.
 
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