Carapils - Mash Or Steep?

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Hi All,

I've been reading a lot of conflicting views on weather carapils (dextrin malt) should be mashed or steeped.

John Palmer writes the following in Section 2, Chapter 12 of the online version

"Dextrin Malt 3 L Also known as American Carapils, this malt is used sparingly and contributes little color but enhances the mouthfeel and perceived body of the beer. A common amount for a five gallon batch is 1/2 lb. Dextrin malt has no diastatic power. It must be mashed; if steeped it will contribute a lot of unconverted starch and cause starch haze."

Many others suggest that mashing is not required.

Does anyone know the story here??
I.M.O. Cara pils is a specialty grain and need only be steeped. But i was wrong once before so it could happen again. But i am sure there is a story out there somewehere.
It has never worried me a i mash all my grains together anyway
Hi corey,
The weyerman carapils or hoepfner caramal pils malt i believe does not acually need to be mashed.
But in the US theres a maltster called briess which state on there web site that there carapils malt needs mashing.
Their malt may work well enough steeping also but i think their just covering there arse by saying it does need mashing. Reason being is the conversion may not be complete like the darker crystal malts.
some degree of conversion will have taken place in the briess carapils but they do not guarantee full conversion.

anyway, it is my understanding that the lightest crystal malts we get here in oz can be steeped and will give you a satisfactory result.

My opinion here is if your gunna steep grain you might aswell add some pale malt and do a small mash. Read this is my perfectionist opinion. :eek:
The carapils, if you do mash it i 'think' will need some pale malt for the enzymmes, if it does need mashing at all.

Cheers Jayse
Carapils, carapilsner or just plain dextrin malt is a crystal malt that has been lightly kilned but not roasted to the point of caramelisation. It is used to add both body and head retention to lighter coloured beers - and especially low acohol beers. It can be steeped or mashed just the same as any other crystal or roasted malt.

Is 500g of carapils mashed with 5kgs of grain too much for a 20 L batch
Green Iguana said:
Is 500g of carapils mashed with 5kgs of grain too much for a 20 L batch

The Weyermann site say 3-5% typically. I use 4.5% in my pilseners

Green Iguana, it depends what you are trying to achieve - for more body and better head retention you only need about 5%. Remember there is virtually no colour pickup and certainly no flavour as such - just lots of body from the dextrins.

Wes grain bill was 5.5kg...which would be 0.275kg of carapils at 5% as you suggest...i used 0.5kg......although i mashed it....problem is i used whitelabs english ale yeast which attenuates less than other ale yeasts (about 63-70%)......under attenuating yeast + heaps of dextrins...will b intresting to see how it turns out....learnt my lesson...
Hmmm I would definitely mash any carapils/dextrine malt other than the Weyermann stuff

Jovial Monk
Howdy Wes,
This is sorta thread-hijack but it is close to the topic.
Showing my ignorance here but, does B-amylase break down dextrins?
If it does and you add dextrinous malt to the mash you would lose the benfit of adding it.
Am I way off here?
Who say that? Some knowledgeable homebrewers (mainly brewrats)
Jovial Monk
Corey said:
I've been reading a lot of conflicting views on weather carapils (dextrin malt) should be mashed or steeped.
1. Steep a small amount.
2. Do an iodine test for unconverted starch.
3. Report back.

At least this way you'll know for sure who is right and who is perpetuating another homebrew myth.


Commercial experience provides a credible answer!

We need to be certain of our information before confusing genuine knowledge seekers with incomplete information.

Wes is correct, as is Jayse. I don't know of anyone in OZ that carries the Briess Carapils.
If you manage to get hold of some, Breiss say that THEIR version of carapils requires a mash.

The Hoepfner and Weyermann versions do not. Having said that, if you are doing a mash you put them in anyway.


Commercial experience provides a credible answer!

Having said that, if you are doing a mash you put them in anyway.
This is what I am asking. Do you mash the crystal just because you are doing a mash?
Will the enzymes in the mash breakdown crystal sugars?
I bet the big boys DONOT mash their crystals.
I've got some left over iodine from the last bout of tonsilitis.

The truth will be revealed!!!!!

I'll report back when I use Carapils next. Note that this may not be for a few weeks.
Warning: The following is a long winded explanation to Darren's question

Starch is generally insoluble in water at room temperature. Because of this, starch in nature is stored in cells as small granules which can be seen under a microscope. Starch granules are quite resistant to penetration by both water and hydrolytic enzymes due to the formation of hydrogen bonds within the same molecule and with other neighbouring molecules. However, these inter- and intra-hydrogen bonds can become weak as the temperature of the suspension is raised. When an aqueous suspension of starch is heated, the hydrogen bonds weaken, water is absorbed, and the starch granules swell. This process is commonly called gelatinization because the solution formed has a gelatinous, highly viscous consistency.

Once in this state the starch molecules can be broken down. Starch molecules are glucose polymers linked together by the alpha-1,4 and alpha-1,6 glucosidic bonds. Depending on the relative location of the bond under attack as counted from the end of the chain, the products of mashing are dextrin, maltotriose, maltose, and glucose, etc. Dextrins are shorter, broken starch segments that form as the result of the random hydrolysis of internal glucosidic bonds. A molecule of maltotriose is formed if the third bond from the end of a starch molecule is cleaved; a molecule of maltose is formed if the point of attack is the second bond; a molecule of glucose results if the bond being cleaved is the terminal one; and so on. The initial step in random depolymerization is the splitting of large chains into various smaller sized segments. The breakdown of large particles drastically reduces the viscosity of gelatinized starch solution, resulting in a process called liquefaction because of the thinning of the solution. The final stages of depolymerization are mainly the formation of mono-, di-, and tri-saccharides. This process is called saccharification, due to the formation of saccharides.

What does all this mean? The principle enzymes active during mashing are alpha and beta amylase. These work by breaking the long strings of glucose molecules in a starch into shorter strings. However these amylases are only capable of breaking alpha-1,4 links. Dextrins, found in crystal malt, also have side branches off the linear chains, which are connected by alpha-1,6 bonds, which can only be broken by another enzyme, dextrinase. Dextrinase is present in malt but is very temperature sensitive, and therefore eliminated in the kilning of even light malts. The result of this is that glucose chains or molecules are broken off the ends of a dextrin until a 1,6 branch is reached, at which point the amylases are unable to break any more bonds. The resulting dextrin is called a limit dextrin because the amylase enzymes cant break it further. Therefore there should be no problem with mashing crystal or dextrin malts because the body and head retention result from limit dextrins which remain even after an extended starch conversion rest.


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