From the HBD Archive
From: Darryl Richman <>
Subject: re: digest of 1/16/89, mashing
Date: 1989-01-17 15:17:12 GMT

Andy Newman <NEWMAN@Venus.YCC.Yale.Edu> writes:
"3) (Big question) I've recently become interested in trying
"my own mashing. Up until this point I've been making beer
"from various combinations of extract and adjuncts that already
"have undergone starch conversion. My local brew supplies
"store claims that "it's not worth the trouble...the beer
"kits are much better these days"...even if he's being
"truthful, I'd still like to try it. My two questions on
"this topic are:

Good for you. It IS more trouble than working from extract, and you'll
have to find or build a couple of pieces. It takes substantially more
time to brew. But the materials are a whole lot cheaper.

"a) What equipment should I buy? What's mandatory,
"what's nice to have, and what's a total waste of

You have to have a boiling pot big enough to boil the full volume of
your beer + 20% (headroom and evaporation) at least; the more the
better. I have an 8 gallon pot that works well for 5 gallon batches.
You need to buy or build a lauter tun. The one shown in Charlie
Papazian's Complete Joy should work real well: it is 2 plastic
buckets, one fitting most of the way inside the other. The inside
bucket's bottom is drilled with zillions of little holes. There is a
tap at the bottom of the outer one. The one I use is a 10 gallon
bucket with a tap at the bottom. I have a round piece of sheet metal
that has been drilled with tiny holes and the outside covered with a
rubber ring so it doesn't scratch the plastic. There are a variety of
other designs as well. If you don't have one, you'll need a wort
chiller. (I used to cool my 5 gallon batches in the sink for about an
hour; I never lost a batch, but I worried a lot.)

"b) What is the relative cost of, say, pale malt
"versus canned malte extract and DME? My supplier
"charges about 8 dollars for a can of low-brow
"extract (3.3-3.5 pounds) and the same 8 dollars for
"4 pounds of DME. He doesn't stock quantities of
"unconverted malt.

My local shop charges $1/lb. for 2 row malt. 2 row is probably the easiest
and lightest colored malt to work with. Maltose Falcons members get 20%
discount on meeting day. We have bought it from the maltster as a coop
and the price was more like .30/lb., but we have to come up with a 500lb
min. order. As a masher, you can expect to recover about 27-32 specific
gravity points per gallon of water per lb. of malt. In other words, each
pound you put into 5 gallons returns about 6 specific gravity points.
If you are getting 1.055 out of two cans of malt, it'll take roughly 9
pounds of malt ot equal that. Depending what price you can get, that is
at most half the cost. Great Fermentations in Santa Rosa and The Home
Brewery in San Bernardino both do mail order, *crushed* grain at reasonable
prices. (You must crush the grain properly, and a rolling pin, coffee mill,
or blender is not going to work.)

Dave Hollenbeck <dbh@hpesdbh> writes:
"I've seen it said that the specialty grains (dark and crystal) don't need
"to be added during mashing - they can wait until the boil.

This is true to a certain extent. The reasons vary with the grain
being used. For example, crystal malts have already been mashed for
you by the maltster, which is why they are sweet when you get them.
There are no starches or enzymes left in them. Black malts such as
chocolate, black patent, and roast barley, haven't got any starches,
sugars, or enzymes left. So they don't need the starch to sugar
conversion that is the main purpose of mashing.

But boiling isn't the best treatment for grains, because with the
higher temperature, other chemistry starts to leak out, such as tanins
and oils.

"I've also
"seen it said that the dark grains contribute to a proper pH level during
"the mash. Does anyone have any facts to share on this subject?

If your water is alkaline because of carbonates, your mash may not get
acidic enough for the enzymes to do their jobs. This is the problem
early Munich brewers faced. But darkly roasted malts are acidic on
their own and can eat up the buffering power of the carbonate water.
This is why Dunkel is the daily beer of Munich.

Hardness, per se, hasn't got much to do with it. It just so happens
that that is how brewers used to determine what kind of water they had,
and it is (apparently) easier to explain it this way. What is
important is the acidity of the mash--it should be in the low 5s, or
else the enzymes don't perform well. Brewers have resorted to all
kinds of tricks to get there, and dark malt is just one of them.

"I'd also be interested in hearing about time/temperature profiles that
"people think are good or bad.

Good or bad for what purpose?

--Darryl Richman

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