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Multi-step Mashing & Home Brew Myths

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MAH

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My personal view is that home brewing is riddled with myths and ill advice that get repeated because Joe Brewer read it some where (usually the Net) or heard it from a mate who's brother works for a brewery. Few of us take the time to test this "knowledge". And I'm just as guilty as the next.

But recently Chiller convinced me to give multi-step mashing a go. Id heard horror stories that with todays fully modified malts that low temp rests will leave your beer thin and watery with poor head retention, so I was a bit reluctant, but Chiller is a very persuasive guy.

The beer in question was a German Pilsner and the recipe was as simple as you can get. 100% Weyermann Pils malt and 100% Tettnang Tettnanger.

We doughed in extremely thick at 40C for 30mins (Acid Rest)
Next step was infusion to 50C for 20mins (Protein Rest)
Next was a combination of infusion and direct heat to 62C for 45mins (Beta Rest)
Next step was direct heat to 72C for 25mins (Alpha Rest)
Final step was direct heat to 76C for 10mins (Mash Out).

Sparged, boiled, chilled, fermented and the end result is a cracker of a beer.

In fact it made two good beers because I split the batch and pitched half with Munich Lager and half with Danish Lager.

Based on this very limited experiment I can say that the resulting beers have very good body (and are spot on for style), where not at all watery, and have some of the best head retention I've had in a beer. The head is extremely tight, thick and creamy.
I'm also not convinced that you need CaraPils in an all malt lager. Particularly if you're making a German Pilsner that is meant to be dry and crisp, why add a crystal malt like CaraPils?

So I encourage others to get out there and test some home brew hearsay.

Cheers
MAH
 

dicko

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Hi MAH,

Pleased to hear of your success with that brew.

Do you consider that beer to be clearer than an AG beer that has been made with a single infusion mash only?

Cheers
 

neonmeate

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interesting post MAH, but my question is what does the stepmashing add, apart from pH adjustment with the acid rest? Have you had haze problems doing infusions with Weyermann?

I like doing decoction mashes for pilseners for the decoction flavour but have nobody has ever explained to me the benefits of splitting up alpha and beta rests and so forth rather than just saccharifying at 65?

mashout i can see the use of though.

i mash in a rubbermaid so i do as few steps as needed, less chance of f*&%ing up the temps that way...

as for carapils, i agree in a real north german pils you don't want the sweetness. useful in small quantities if you have an especially dry yeast though.
 

Justin

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The high hop content in pilsners helps tremendously with head retention (I also see it in english bitters/IPAs too). I'm not trying to say that your step mashes weren't a factor or anything like that, I'm just commenting that the NG Pils that I have kegged at the moment has fantastic head retention and structure-it's looks bloody magic as you know.

My recipe was only a single infusion at 67C (yes, quite high-actually higher than I remember but that's what my promash recipe says so go figure) but IBUs were 38 and it has a head that will sit and stay above the rim of the glass and is with you until the end with lacing all the way. Small fine bubbles packed in tight.

My recipe was 93% Hoepfner Pils, 5% JW Ale (because I didn't have enough pils left ;) ) and 2% carapils ( :eek: ;) ). All Tettnang also (has the most beautiful aroma too).

You can't beat a beautiful crisp, clear pils. It's near 30C here today and I'm heading off home to pour myself a cold one now :D

Cheers, JD
 

MAH

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Hi Dicko

I wouldn't say it's any clearer, as the last lager I made was crystal clear. But it has dropped bright fairly quickly. It's a bit murky at the moment because I shook the bejesus out of the keg to force carbonate it.

Neomate

Not sure what it adds, but what the little experiment showed was that it certainly didn't detract from the beer. It certainly was a fast maturing beer and seemed ready a lot quicker than my single infusion lagers, but could simply be to improvements in such areas as fermentation regimes.

Cheers
MAH
 

warrenlw63

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Justin said:
The high hop content in pilsners helps tremendously with head retention (I also see it in english bitters/IPAs too).
That's a factor for sure. However let's not forget the extended cold conditioning goes a long way towards head-retention as well. Think the beer seems to absorb CO2 in a much better fashion post lagering. Bubbles and beading always look finer and tighter.

In fact any beer I make always has a far better head at say 2-3 months in the keg as opposed to 2-3 weeks.

Buuurrrp! :chug:

Warren -
 

chiller

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warrenlw63 said:
Justin said:
The high hop content in pilsners helps tremendously with head retention (I also see it in english bitters/IPAs too).
That's a factor for sure. However let's not forget the extended cold conditioning goes a long way towards head-retention as well. Think the beer seems to absorb CO2 in a much better fashion post lagering. Bubbles and beading always look finer and tighter.

In fact any beer I make always has a far better head at say 2-3 months in the keg as opposed to 2-3 weeks.

Buuurrrp! :chug:

Warren -
As we are speaking about myths and hearsay could you explain with references why you contend what you do re the head retention of a beer? And what type of beer do you refer to?

I'm not inferring you are incorrrect however you offer nothing other than your experience.

Are there chemical reactions that take place that have a benifit on the head; and if that is the case why can an ale of two weeks have and hold a magnificent head without extended cold conditioning.

Steve.
 

chiller

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neonmeate said:
interesting post MAH, but my question is what does the stepmashing add, apart from pH adjustment with the acid rest? Have you had haze problems doing infusions with Weyermann?
Neo,

There are many advantages using a step mash as you can tailor the sugar structure of your wort based on the individual enzymes activated in their optimum temperature range.

When you dough in at 38 -40 c you activate enzymes that produce weak acids that help the next group of enzymes do their work.

They all work in a very narrow range of temperature and pH.

As you decoct or step mash you take advantage of the various enzymes and the roles they play in producing your wort.

This link may help

http://byo.com/mrwizard/753.html

Step mashing is easy to do. It does add to your brew day but can improve your beer.

Steve
 

Linz

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So step mashing and decoction mashing are the same animal???
 

chiller

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Similar but definately no.

It is very late and I should be asleep so if no one else attempts an explanination I'll look tomorrow.

Steve
 

Gambrinus

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Hey!
Before two hours was ended a brewing process.
Was brewed ligth ale from 4 kg of Pilsner and 0.5 kg of 6-rows Barley.

Hops: Magnum(aa=14.5)-- 10 g and Perl(aa=3.9--5 g)
Boiling was 75 minutes:15 without a hops, 7 g of Magnum+25 min-->3 g of Magnum+15 min-->3 g of Perl+15 min-->2 g of Perl+5 min-->The end

Yeast-- Nottinghem

Must be with bittering from medium to strong and deep aroma.
 

warrenlw63

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Steve said:
As we are speaking about myths and hearsay could you explain with references why you contend what you do re the head retention of a beer? And what type of beer do you refer to?

I'm not inferring you are incorrrect however you offer nothing other than your experience.

Are there chemical reactions that take place that have a benifit on the head; and if that is the case why can an ale of two weeks have and hold a magnificent head without extended cold conditioning.

Steve.
You would be right Steve. I offer no more than my experience. Empirical fact you might say. Beer holds a better head after 3 months conditioning as opposed to 3 weeks. Particularly lagered (cold conditioned) beers in which I was mainly referring to and what the crux of this subject was originally about. Wasn't it a Lager that MAH made?

No science to back it up. Just loads of beers. ;)

Warren -
 

Darren

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MAH said:
We doughed in extremely thick at 40C for 30mins (Acid Rest)
Next step was infusion to 50C for 20mins (Protein Rest)
Next was a combination of infusion and direct heat to 62C for 45mins (Beta Rest)
Next step was direct heat to 72C for 25mins (Alpha Rest)
Final step was direct heat to 76C for 10mins (Mash Out).
Hey Guys,
Did you by any chance check for conversion (iodine test and gravity) prior to your beta rest?
By that time you would have been mashing for close to or more than an hour.
Would be interesting to see if all the enzyme activity was over or not.
cheers
Darren
 

chiller

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[/QUOTE]
Darren said:
Hey Guys,
Did you by any chance check for conversion (iodine test and gravity) prior to your beta rest?
By that time you would have been mashing for close to or more than an hour.
Would be interesting to see if all the enzyme activity was over or not.
cheers
Darren
Hi darren,

When I first started this style of mash regime I did iodine conversion tests but total conversion at the stage you indicate hadn't taken place.

Even if conversion was indicated, and I pose this as a question, iodine only indicates conversion from starch to sugar but not the type of sugar involved.

As the temperature steps increase the different enzymes do their work.

I don't advocate everyone using this method but I personally percieve a diference [although slight] in flavour profile and a slightly better extraction rate.

The myth destroying the beer head with a rest at 50c is I believe just that. A caveat is of course, no longer than 20 minutes unless you have high protein adjuncts in the grist. Above that and the head retention protiens will be affected.

I do this because I can and I really enjoy the brewing process. Why do in 4 hours something you can do in 6 :)

It is certainly worth trying at least once just for the experience of controlling carefully the mashing process.

Steve
 

MAH

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Just to bump this one back to the top. The beer I made is a lager, but it didn't undergo any lengthy lagering process. It was fermented at 10C-12C for two weeks, followed by a diacetyl rest, then straight into the keg. Due to a lack of fridge space for lagering it sat around in the keg for a few weeks before being put into my serving fridge. It sat in the serving fridge for a couple of weeks at about 10C. So no traditional lagering (and it still tastes pretty good) so I don't think head retention was affected by extended cold conditioning.

To get back to my original point, is that the practice of using a low temp step didn't destroy the head as I'd been led to believe. And the bonus, as Chiller has pointed out, is that the step mash gave us just that bit extra control over the types of sugars that were in the wort (glad Chiller knew what he was doing).

I suppose if you're an AG brewer and brew this way for the ability to have a high level of control over the process, then it doesn't hurt to once in a while test what you read on the net or hear from other brewers, as some is true and some is bollocks. You never know you might re-discover a process that gives you that little extra control you're after. I know that step mashing is an exercise I'll explore some more.

Cheers
MAH
 

mje1980

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MAH, what do you use as a mash tun??? i use an esky, and am worried if i dough in at a low temp, it will take too much boiling water to raise the temp up to the next temp rest. If there were only say 2 steps, i could do it, but anymore, and i think i would run out of room to add more water. I use a 33ltr esky by the way. I spose my question is, is the esky mash tun suitable for step mashing, as i wouldnt mind giving it a go.
 

Tim

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mje1980,
i think the best way to get around this is to take a portion of the mash and boil it, then add it back to the mash to increase the temp.
I suppose the problem is what volumes to boil to get the desired increase in temp?
 

MAH

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Hi mje1980

I was brewing on Chillers rig, which utilises a direct heated mash tun. It does make multi-step mashing easier when you can apply direct heat. But as Tim suggested you could follow a similar regime by a combination of infusion and decoction (removing part of the mash and heating directly).

Cheers
MAH
 

chiller

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mje1980 said:
MAH, what do you use as a mash tun??? i use an esky, and am worried if i dough in at a low temp, it will take too much boiling water to raise the temp up to the next temp rest. If there were only say 2 steps, i could do it, but anymore, and i think i would run out of room to add more water. I use a 33ltr esky by the way. I spose my question is, is the esky mash tun suitable for step mashing, as i wouldnt mind giving it a go.
If you would like to try step mashing by infusion it is a very simple excercise and you get to get your hands dirty - well malty.

Start at a 40c rest but dough in really thick. I use about 1kg/ l.3 litres of water.

The water only needs to be about 43 degrees

At this temp you only need a minimal amount of water and you can mix it by hand [actual hands]

The next step to 50c will need about 3 litres of boiling water. Add it a litre at a time [this time use a paddle, not your hands]. Keep the water boiling so that it doesn't loose heat.

Stir .. let the liquid mix take a temp reading. Have a litre of cold water on hand but don't freak out if the temp seems too high because you may only be reading in a hot spot of the mash.
Stir it again and check the temp.

Now step up to your sac temp of 65 - 68 and this time you'll need about 4 - 6 litres of boiling water. Add about 2 litre and mix well and check the temp then do it 1 litre at a time.
Keep the water boiling and near to the mash vessel. A couple of degrees water temp can mean you need a lot more water. More water will mean you run out of space.

If you don't have the space for the higher temp rests don't worry. Just go to the normal sparge routine that you use.

Aim to get a grain bed temperature of at least 74c. If you are batch sparging you will need water at least 80 - 85 c to get the grain bed temp required.

I am an advocate of and use 1/8 of a teaspoon of Sodium Metabisulphite at the begining of my mash regime. I is reported to be a strong anti oxidant and with added handling of the mash in a multi step method is reasonable insurance. Just a note; If you are at all asthmatic do not use this chemical. It can literally take your breath away.

If you want to try your hand at this method and want to run some figure past, please PM me and I'm happy to look at it with you.

Steve.
 

Darren

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chiller said:
Even if conversion was indicated, and I pose this as a question, iodine only indicates conversion from starch to sugar but not the type of sugar involved.

As the temperature steps increase the different enzymes do their work.


Steve
Hi Steve,
Enzymes work at a great range of temperatures. Just faster at their optimal temp.
Malt with high diastase activity will convert very quickly.
I would be curious to see the gravity reading of your mash liquor after 1hr at 40-50 C.

Just trying to ensure myths about myths don't become brewing wisdom!
cheers
Darren
 

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