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Need Help With Step Mash

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autobaun70

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Doing a Czech Pils which calls for a step mash. I am batch sparging in a 70qt cooler, so the only way I have to increase my mash temp is to add hot water.

Mash schedule is as follows:

20lbs total grain.

15 min at 131
45 min at 155

My boil volume will be 12.6 Gallons. What is the best way to break up the additions to hit these temps.
 

JuanMoore

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With a single step and a med-low gravity you have a lot of leeway, so it's not all that critical. For a single batch sparge, maximum efficiency happens when the run off volumes are close to equal. Assuming ~0.125 gal/lb grain absorption, that would mean an initial infusion of ~23 qts (at 142.3F for a pre-heated MLT), and adding just under 12 qts of boiling water to bring the temp up for the second rest. There are some handy free calculators online like this one that can be helpful for determining volumes and temps for step mashing.

Edit: FWIW I prefer to keep my mash thickness between 1 and 2 qt/lb if possible, and the volumes I listed above keep it within that range for both steps.
 

VladOfTrub

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Add a little acid malt, and do a 100 degree acid rest. If you have a small kettle pull a decoction and use that to hit your protein rest temp.. Then add enough water to hit your conversion temp.. You're going to need quite a bit of water to reach 168 degrees to stop conversion. That is, if your going to do that. Use soft water to keep with the style. I use a 15 gallon tri-clad as a mash tun when doing pilsners. I use the burner to reach 168. Then I transfer the mash to the lautertun. I do a triple decoction for the steps. (Only to stay true to the style.) If I don't hit the step temps, I'll use the burner under the mash tun.
 

VladOfTrub

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JuanMore, you mentioned..."He's batch sparging, so an infusion mash out would be a huge waste of valuable sparge water."...I'm not too familiar with batch sparging. Is the de-naturing temp. of 168 degrees reached before starting the run off of a batch sparge? If so, how is it accomplished? Some sort of energy and or medium is needed to raise the mash temp from 155 to mash out temps.. Or, is de-naturing not considered in batch sparging? If de-naturing is being done with boiling water. Couldn't that water, be considered part of the sparge water, since it's being dumped into the lauter tun? Also, what makes sparge water valuable? I know that it takes one BTU to raise a pound of water one degree, until change of state. A lot more fuel is needed to change state. Fuel is valuable. Or, is water valuable, from the stand point of having too small of a water boiler and finding out at the end there isn't enough sparge water? If water is being purchased from a store, that is expensive. To avoid that cost, buy a good filter and an RO system.
 

JuanMoore

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Many people who batch sparge perform a mash out, but I don't feel it's beneficial. There are several methods of mashing out; boiling water infusion, decoction, indirect heating (HERMS, etc), or direct heating. It takes holding the grist at ~170F for 20 min to denature the enzymes and stop activity. It takes much less time than that to batch sparge and have all of the runnings in the boil kettle heating up. Since hotter temps speed up the denaturing, a fast batch sparge can easily get the enzymes denatured as quickly (or even more quickly) in the boil kettle than by performing a mash out. The sparge water is valuable from a lauter efficiency standpoint. If you add a gal of boiling water for the mash out prior to draining the tun, you now need to use one gal less sparge water to reach your pre-boil volume. That gal is not part of the sparge water, because it is added to the mash prior to draining the first runnings. The less sparge water, the less effictively the sugars can be rinsed from the grain.
 
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autobaun70

autobaun70

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my typical routine for basic ales is to mash at 151 for 1 hour with 1/2 my boil volume plus the amount that the grain will absorb, and then batch sparge for 10 minutes with 185 degree water (drops down to around 175 once it hits the grain). My mash + sparge routine takes just under 2 hours including heating my mash water. My first running go into a pair of spare fermenting buckets (about 3.5 gallons each to cut down on weight). Then the sparge water goes directly onto the grain from the kettle via gravity. This way I only have to use 1 kettle. I do have a 2nd that I am planning to cut soon, eliminating the need for the buckets. I am probably going to set up my existing kettle as an electric HLT once I get the time to run the power into the garage.

With this setup I am consistently getting good results and right around 70% efficiency.

1 Kettle Gravity.jpg
 

VladOfTrub

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JuanMore & autobaun. Thanks for your input on your technique. I may try it. My system is set up much differently. It's set up for fly sparging and decoction mashing. I started to grain brew in the early 80's, quite primitivly, I may add. Back then there weren't computers and all the great stuff there is now, available. I started with a homemade cheese cloth grain bag. Crappy Corona mill. Then made a Charlie Crappasian, bucket in bucket lautertun. Did 20 minute sparges, made cloudy wort, and boiled it on my charcoal grill. All the while thinking I was brewing good, cloudy ale. Discovering Fix's and Noonan's book (God Rest Their Souls) in the mid 80's. I switched to the decoction method, brewing lagers and pilsners. Learning from trial and error..... Now, I use two 20 gallon and one 15 gallon Blichman kettles. The 15I use as a lauter tun. The others are the water heater and wort boiler. I use a 15 gallon tri-clad as a mash tun and a five gallon tri-clad as the decoction boiler....Here's my process for pilsner style. I dough in with a 70/30 blend of RO and filtered cold water. It gets me close to Pilsen water chemistry. Usually about one quart per pound is enough. Then start pulling decoctions for the acid rest thru conversion temps.. If I add water, it's only to thin the mash a little. I don't decoction to mash out. I use the burner. After mash out, I transfer the mash to the lauter tun. I let the mash rest for an hour or so to settle and clear before vorlauf. It takes two hours to run off 16 gallons if I'm using 30 pounds of grain. If I'm brewing a 13-14 Brix beer, my first run off is usually 25-27 Brix. I run off until the grav. drops to three Brix. I boil for at least two hours. Then pump the wort through a Blichman plate into the fermenter. After ferment and chilling, I run the beer thru a five and a one micron poly filters, into a Sabco serving keg for carbonating...My system will be on display at Breakers Brewery in Pa. this weekend...Again guys, thanks for sharing your techniques with me. That's what makes this site so good!!
 

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