Small AG brewing: How to extract the most fermentables from malted grain?

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jkpq45

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Hello All,

Sorry for the noob question--I've seen so many recipes which call for varying steeping/mashing temperatures. I know there has to be a science to it--what I'm looking for is a way to estimate how long and at what temperature grains/malted grains should be steeped to extract the best combination of fermentables and flavors from them.

Of course, I'm experimenting with several different methods now, but would appreciate general advice on how to get the most out of my grains.

Thanks,
jkpq45
 

TelemarkBrew

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mashing lower will create more fermentable sugars. You don't necessarily get more "flavor" with higher temperatures though, just more unfermentable sugars that will leave the beer a little sweeter after fermentation.
Freshness would be my main concern for getting the most "flavor".
 

BioBeing

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First off, steeping is to extract colour and flavour only, not fermentables.

Mashing is the extraction of fermentables. How you do it will depend on the final product you are aiming for. Mashing at lower temps will get you a drier beer; higher temps, a fuller bodied beer.

Your equipment and process will contribute to the efficiency you achieve. The key is to aim for consistency rather than absolute conversion (too high, and you might start getting tannins out of the grain too). Once you have done a few batches, see how consistent you are, and adjust the grain bill accordingly.
 
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jkpq45

jkpq45

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So what's a "lower" temperature to get the most fermentables out of base grains? 130*F? 145*F? Should the adjunct/specialty grains be started in cold water and raised to mash temp all at the same time? Would it harm the beer to mash at the lower temp, then raise the whole mass to a steep temp of 160*F or so to get the color/flavor from specialty grains?

I'm basically looking for a decent place to start. I've done some research on decocting--there has to be an easier way to get the most efficiency out of my grain bill.
 

Bobby_M

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Assuming you already understand that base grains differ from specialty malts in their diastatic power (contain enzymes necessary for starch to sugar conversion), you basically only need to keep the temperature and water to grain ratio within a certain range. The range varies depending on exactly what you want to do, but 1.5 qts per pound of grain is about right and the temp should be 148-156F. Doing this with a grain bill with a large amount of non enzymatic malts with little or no base malt is worthless. IOW, there's a difference between steeping and mashing.
 

david_42

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YMMV, but the folks running the OSU Fermentation Science's pilot system say using 2.5 quarts of water to a pound of grain consistently gives them an extra 8% in extraction efficiency.

(They use metric there, so it's a much simpler 5L/kg)
 
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