time spent getting to and from target temps during mash

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mboardman

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I have transitioned from extract to biab AG, and I use a gas kitchen stove for the heating process....curious what similar fellas do about the time you spend getting to the next target temp in a multi-rest mashing process? Do you count it as time spent at the previous temp rest, the next rest, or neither? If neither, then your total time spend with grains in the water must be almost double the times outlined for each rest, correct? Mine is....

My stove takes some time to ramp up the heat and Im also being very cautious in turning up the burner to get to those next targets....so it adds up. Not uncommon for me to spend another 15-20 mins getting from say 120, to 148-150, and then another 20 mins getting to 169-170. Add to that the fact that Ive recently learned I cannot trust the dial gauge on the outside face of my big expensive (for me) mega pot, and have been splitting the difference between that and a seperate temp probe inserted into the middle of the pot, about 4-5 inches down. I understand there might not be anything wrong with the mega pot gauge, only that it does the best it can being in contact with the outside face of the pot, and is partially reading the heat coming up from a burner underneath. Common issue Id guess, especially for those of you using a turkey fryer/propane burner setup.

Anyway, looking for others' setups and adaptations to the temp differentials and how exactly to best measure temps and times in the pre-boil process....thanks fellas.
 

doug293cz

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The bigger question is why are you doing what appears to be a protein rest (the 120 rest) and a mash out (the 168 - 170 rest)? Everything I see says a protein rest for modern, fully modified malts does more harm than good. The purpose of a mash out is to stop the increase in wort fermentability that could occur with continued enzyme action during a long fly sparge. My recommendations are to go to a single infusion mash, so that you don't have to do temperature step, and skip the protein rest and mash out. Measure your wort SG in the mash to determine when the mash is complete using the method here. Start heating your wort as soon as you lift the bag, and this will stop the enzyme action just like a mash out.

Check your separate thermometer against a glass filled first with crushed ice. and then enough cold water to just cover the ice. Place the thermometer tip in the center of the glass. This should read 32°F. Next, place the thermometer in boiling water, which should read 212°F (slightly lower if you are significantly above sea level.) If you don't get withing 2°F of the readings, either figure out a usable offset, or get a better thermometer. I would never trust the dial thermometer on the side of a kettle.

Brew on :mug:
 
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mboardman

mboardman

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The why - the AG/BIAB kits Im buying have these rests in the directions. I dont know if they are protein rests per se, but Im under the impression that they are necessary to the type/flavor of beer I bought the kit for....(belgian wit, strong blonde, etc.) else why would they be specified in the directions? The mashout (final temp 'rest') of 168 is in the directions as well, and Im aware that stops the enzyme activity, and I already do as you suggest at that point. Its the previous steps and the time in between that concerned me.

What constitutes an unmodified malt? I had assumed that referred to simply crushed grains, as Im using. (I would naturally assume LME and DME are examples of modified malts....?) .

I appreciate your reply, but I have to laugh as Im left with more questions than I started with....?
 

RPh_Guy

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My recommendations are to go to a single infusion mash
+1
A single infusion is fine for any style of beer. No reason to complicate matters.
either figure out a usable offset, or get a better thermometer
+1
You can calibrate dial thermometers. I calibrated mine at 150F against a digital thermometer so my mash temp is accurate.
 

micraftbeer

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Most dial thermometers are calibrated by a slotted screw on the back side of the dial face. Turn the screw and hold the dial face until it points to the temperature you expect.

As for the temperature rests, I have two mantras I follow. One is if you want to do something that someone passionately tells you is pointless, but you still want to do it, don't let it bother you. Chalk it up to the "artistry" side of brewing.

The other is, don't do something in process or recipe unless you have a specific reason for doing it. If you're doing it because your instinct just says do it, that counts as a reason. But if you're doing it and you're not sure why and not sure if it's giving you a benefit, try skipping it. Simplify your brewing.
 

doug293cz

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The why - the AG/BIAB kits Im buying have these rests in the directions. I dont know if they are protein rests per se, but Im under the impression that they are necessary to the type/flavor of beer I bought the kit for....(belgian wit, strong blonde, etc.) else why would they be specified in the directions? The mashout (final temp 'rest') of 168 is in the directions as well, and Im aware that stops the enzyme activity, and I already do as you suggest at that point. Its the previous steps and the time in between that concerned me.

What constitutes an unmodified malt? I had assumed that referred to simply crushed grains, as Im using. (I would naturally assume LME and DME are examples of modified malts....?) .

I appreciate your reply, but I have to laugh as Im left with more questions than I started with....?
There are an incredible number of kits that come with instructions containing unnecessary steps, or bad advice. I don't know why this continues to be the case. Many of the steps go back to practices that are historical, but have been shown to be either unnecessary, or in some cases even harmful.

Malting itself modifies the grains. It creates the enzymes that are responsible for conversion (IIRC), and makes other chemical changes in the grain (for example it changes the proteins.) Crushing is done so that the water can reach the starch, so that conversion can take place during the mash. Under modified malt, is malt that has not let the processes that occur during malting go to "completion." Most modern malts available to homebrewers are completely modified, so don't need the protein rest to modify the proteins. DME and LME have already been thru the mashing (saccharification) process to convert the starch to sugars. The difference between DME and LME is how much of the water has been removed from the wort that was created during mashing.

Brew on :mug:
 

micraftbeer

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Getting back to your original question, when I do multi step mashes, I start the timer for that may step when I reach the temperature, I ignore the ramp time. If course, depending on your temperature step control, you might start the timer when you get within a degree or two.
 

RPh_Guy

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The enzymes are being degraded (and also working) the whole time during the mash.... Your results will be different depending how long you spend heating between steps. So there is no right answer to this question.

Direct heat is not how step mashes were designed. They'd add boiling water to immediate increase the temperature; this was the process to hit particular temperature ranges before they had thermometers or modern malts. Now steps are antiquated.
 
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SanPancho

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There are a few styles where steps are really able to give you that extra something in the beer. Malty german stuff, weird uk/scottish stuff, weird stouts, etc. Most beers dont need them though.

If you really want to,do them you can use the boiling water method, the decocttion method (boiling wort), or get another heat source. If your kettle is big enough see if you can get it to straddle two burners. Otherwise you can get an electric heat stick to help ramp,faster. Just dont burn your bag.
 

logdrum

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I use a 110v RIMS and can get about 2ºF/min. I start timing the rest when I hit the target temperature. I only do a protein rest (120ºF ish) for Wits that contain 50% or more raw/flaked grains. Also do a ferulic acid rest for Hefe/Dunkle weiss.
 
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mboardman

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honestly, this is the first time Ive heard of this....maybe that makes me a noob even though Ive been brewing off and on for years. It wouldnt even occur to me to disregard the directions for a kit recipe. But I guess what you're all saying makes a certain amount of sense.

I do like the idea of simply running another kettle of boiling water to add. Obviously, this means I cant start with my usual 4-5 gallons in the main pot. No full volume mash. How much do you start with when aiming for a 5 gal batch? How much boiling water do you need to add with say, three rests from 120-145-168? Are we talking more than 2 gals added? Is there a usual amount it takes? I suppose thats also dependent on the grain bill....

I am actually brewing some Wits lately, and the 12lb grain bill is almost half oats and wheats, so the protein rests would appear to be necessary in this case...but I'll make my other brews simpler and try the single infusion single temp method at some point down the road....thanks guys.
 

Nathan Hassey

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I have been trying to find different ways of complicating BIAB myself. What I am realizing is, the BIAB method is for the ease of use. If I want to do complicated step mashes etc, the normal AG method would be better. If you are wanting the simplicity of of BIAB, then embrace it. I have read of heritage malts that are under modified (Specifically some Belgian pilsner malts) that would benefit from step mashing. But if you are wanting to do those types of brews, I would say just get a different malt where you benefit from the BIAB method.
 

RM-MN

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I have been trying to find different ways of complicating BIAB myself. What I am realizing is, the BIAB method is for the ease of use. If I want to do complicated step mashes etc, the normal AG method would be better. If you are wanting the simplicity of of BIAB, then embrace it. I have read of heritage malts that are under modified (Specifically some Belgian pilsner malts) that would benefit from step mashing. But if you are wanting to do those types of brews, I would say just get a different malt where you benefit from the BIAB method.
If you really want to do a step mash with BIAB you can use a decoction or infusion step but probably will need to shorten those steps or mill the grains less finely so the enzymes have time to work.
 

dmtaylor

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Total mash time between like 120-165 F matters much more than the specific temperature goals. Personally I aim to minimize total mash time for most styles to avoid thin, dry, lifeless body in the final beer. Protein rest around 120 F makes this even worse. You only would want a protein rest for royally undermodified malt or a huge amount of unmalted grain. I have tried to find undermodified malt but it is NOT AVAILABLE ANYWHERE in the 21st century. Maltsters don't make it at all, contrary to what some might claim. Even floor malt is well modified. Yes that's right.

As the others hinted, ignore the poor instructions from the kit, do single infusion at about 148-152 F for 45 minutes for every style (that's what I do), then all this unnecessary complication disappears and you still make great beer anyway.
 

Silver_Is_Money

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@dmtaylor, have you really noticed an improvement in mouthfeel by mashing for only 45 minutes. I will definitely need to try this.
 

kh54s10

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As to the thermometer, My HLT has one and it was off a little when I first tried it. It does allow for calibration, mine uses a 1/4 or 5/16 inch wrench. Once adjusted it is quite accurate. You might get more difference from the bottom edge - to the middle of a mash though. The heat on the outside of the kettle does not alter the reading of the thermometer.
 

dmtaylor

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@dmtaylor, have you really noticed an improvement in mouthfeel by mashing for only 45 minutes. I will definitely need to try this.
Not from 45 minutes. At 45 minutes mouthfeel will be totally normal, at least on my own brew system (simple small-batch BIAB). If you want more mouthfeel, I'd suggest mashing for just 30-35 minutes, that will do the trick.
 
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