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Thick Mash vs Thin Mash

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Drunkagain

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Is there any benefit to having a thick or thin mash? I screwed up my math this morning when brewing and ended up with the thickest mash I've ever had. I'm just wondering if I could run into any problems because of that.
 

menschmaschine

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I don't have the book with me and I don't know the details off-hand, but Greg Noonan (New Brewing Lager Beer) speaks highly of thick mashes in certain situations. Down to 1:1, qt:lb. I can't imagine it will be a bad thing.
 

Buford

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I do all my English-style pales with a thick mash (1 qt/lb). Thick mashes tend to produce more dextrins than a thin mash at the same temperature, so you get a fuller body in the finished product.
 

Bobby_M

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Thicker mashes also lead to higher efficiencies in some cases because it reserves more of the total volume for sparging. Of course, if you go too thick, you could have conversion problems which would negate the increase but I'm talking about a reasonable 1-1.25qt/lb which I always shoot for.
 

sleepystevenson

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I tend to do everything at 1 qt. per pound. It allows me to brew higher gravity beers with my current 12 gal. cooler mashtun than I would at a higher water/grain ratio.

For what it is worth, 1 qt. per pound is what Papazian recommends in the Complete Joy of Homebrewing....course the copyright on my copy is 1991.....so...

I know a lot of my homebrew buddies use the current standby of 1.25 qt. per pound, also with good results.
 

Brewsmith

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I used to do almost all of my brews at a ratio of 1:1 qt/lb because of mash tun space. I even ran some bigger beers at 0.9 qt/lb just so it would fit. Now that I have a bigger mash tun I run 1.25 qts/lb on about anything. Assuming the mash had enough water in it to properly have the grain covered in water, I'd say you're fine.
 

ajf

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Another 1 qt per lb here.

I've never seen so many thick mashers all in one place.

GT. Do you have any proof that the mash thickness has much less affect that temperature on fermentability? I have no proof, but I believe the opposite is true, at least when comparing mashes using 1 qt vs 1.25 qt per lb.

-a.
 

Kai

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I've never considered mash thickness as a factor in fermentability. If someone has a good reference or solid experimentation to suggest the relationship b/w mash thickness (as opposed to temperature, pH considerations) and fermentability, I'd be fascinated.

Side contextual note: I plan to, starting with a yeast I have going now, do a thorough asessment of several different Belgian(-style) yeast strains, harvesting through 2 or three generations, doing a similar set of beers with each, one of which I plan to be a Saison- or Farmhouse- style that I'll try to get as bone dry as humanly possible, and I want to control everything to that effect.

It'll also be a useful bit of knowledge for everyday brewing.
 

Brew-boy

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I must be the odd duck here as I do all mine at 1.33 to 1.5 qt per pound and never had any problems. All my efficiency's are in the 82-85% range.
 

raceskier

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From Palmer:

The grist/water ratio is another factor influencing the performance of the mash. A thinner mash of >2 quarts of water per pound of grain dilutes the relative concentration of the enzymes, slowing the conversion, but ultimately leads to a more fermentable mash because the enzymes are not inhibited by a high concentration of sugars. A stiff mash of <1.25 quarts of water per pound is better for protein breakdown, and results in a faster overall starch conversion, but the resultant sugars are less fermentable and will result in a sweeter, maltier beer. A thicker mash is more gentle to the enzymes because of the lower heat capacity of grain compared to water. A thick mash is better for multirest mashes because the enzymes are not denatured as quickly by a rise in temperature.

I believe, I have another reference on this as well. I'll look when I get home tonight.
 

menschmaschine

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Kai said:
I've never considered mash thickness as a factor in fermentability. If someone has a good reference or solid experimentation to suggest the relationship b/w mash thickness (as opposed to temperature, pH considerations) and fermentability, I'd be fascinated.
Greg Noonan from New Brewing Lager Beer in Appendix B, "The Infusion Mash":

"...mash thickness will affect fermentability. The thicker the mash, the more effective the enzymes will be, and the longer their power will last. Alpha-amylase is especially sensitive to mash thickness. When brewing for a dextrinous wort, it is important that the mash be kept thick, so that alpha-amylase will not be degraded before all the malt starch is reduced to at least dextrins. The greater the degree of attenuation desired, the thinner the mash should be. It is common to gradually thin an infusion mash with boiling liquor when it is for a well-attenuated beer."
 

raceskier

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"The Science of Step Mashing" article in the Jan-Feb issue of BYO has a little more explanation of the thick vs thin mash characteristics, with the same conclusions that a thicker mash will result in a less fermentable wort.
 

Dude

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Good info here, great question OP.

Once I figured out my desired mash thickness, I was able to completely delete using carapils from any recipes. I always felt carapils was "cheating" in a sense.
 

Gnome

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"A compromise of all factors yields the standard mash conditions for most homebrewers: a mash ratio of about 1.5 quarts of water per pound grain, pH of 5.3, temperature of 150-155°F and a time of about one hour. These conditions yield a wort with a nice maltiness and good fermentability." A Quote From Palmer's "How to Brew"
 

TheH2

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"A stiff mash of <1.25 quarts of water per pound is better for protein breakdown, and results in a faster overall starch conversion, but the resultant sugars are less fermentable and will result in a sweeter, maltier beer."

I'm a bit slow.... So, does this mean that you will get a lower efficiency from a thicker mash? It says the sugars are less fermentable, but doesn't say less sugars, however, I'm automatically drawing the conclusion of less sugars, not sure why?
 

TexLaw

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You should not jump to that conclusion. You get good conversion, but more of the starches are converted only as far as the longer chain dextrines that your yeast cannot ferment, rather than the simpler sugars that your yeast can ferment.


TL
 

A2HB

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Bumping this ancient thread, this problem happened to me this morning. For some reason I only added about .9qt/# to my initial dough in, the mash was the consistency of a bowl of oatmeal. I did a mashout and am about to add my second batch sparge addition but I'm worried that I'm going to get a higher bodied beer than I was wanted. I'm making a DIPA and don't want it to be too sweet and syrupy in the mouth, but I think I might have screwed myself on that. Anyone ever done an extra thick mash by mistake, what happened with the resulting beer?
 

VladOfTrub

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Complex starch is responsible for body. A and B Limit dextrin released during liquefication of amylopectin forms body. Complex starch is heat resistant, it bursts at 169F, dextrinization occurs at 149F. When mash out was performed, due to the high temperature some of the complex starch burst, enzymes were denatured due to high temperature and the starch will end up down stream. Mash out is used in a method in which mash is boiled and where a few different temperature rests are used. Boiling bursts complex starch and during dextrinization A and B Limit dextrin will be released by Beta and Alpha, forming body.
Sweetness develops when Alpha liquefies the reducing end of simple starch, amylose. Sweetness and body are not to be confused. A and B Limit dextrin are tasteless and they are non-fermentable.
Thick mash preserves weaker enzymes, proteinase and beta. Thicker mash allows Beta the time it needs for conversion to take place. The non-reducing chain formed during liquefication of simple starch is glucose. Beta converts native sugar, glucose, released during liqufication of amylose into maltose and maltotriose. It is a molecular thing. Saccharification and conversion are not the same and iodine cannot be used to tell the difference. Starch does not convert to sugar, one type of sugar converts into other types of sugar called di-saccharide and tri-saccharide. Considering enzymatic action, forming a thick mash really isn't a mistake. In my opinion, you did not make a mistake.
 

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