From the HBD Archive
From: Jeff Miller <>
Subject: ?????
Date: 1989-01-17 18:54:47 GMT

I have a couple disertations here about my opinions on glass fermenters
and ways to handle the fermenters to deal with slurry stir up. The second
disertation has to do with the various questions asked about mashing and
include comments on what I think are needed for a mashing experience,
comments on boiling grains, and a final remark on time/temperature profiles.
Sorry to be so long winded but maybe thats becoming my trade mark.

I use glass instead of plastic because I am paranoid about the
potential for scratching the plastic and ending up with a bad
batch because some nasty bacteria liked the scratch. I don't
like glass because of its weight, ease of breakage, and extreme
sensitivity to temperatures. The good things about glass is
that I think its a lot easier to clean and of course more
resistent to scratches.

To answer Andy's question about not stirring up yeast when he
tries to siphon the beer out, first I would say relax and not
to worry about it to much. I use the blow tube siphon starting
technique with my glass carbouys. I usually just set on a
high enough surface toward the end of the ferment and then just
siphon out without having to move anything. I noticed an add
in Zymurgy for a fermenting system that appears to stand upside
down. It has an air inlet (doubles as a blow off during fermentation)
and a drain in the 2 hole stopper for the carbouy. I liked the
idea so much that I made one for my carbouys but I haven't had
a chance to really use it yet. Anyway, I like these methods but
I'm not sure how you would adapt them to your tight sealing
plastic fermenter.

If you want to do mashing you had better have a supplier that will
grind grain for you or you better have access to a grain mill. It
isn't bad to grind up to 3# of grain to flavor a malt extract brew
but it would be a real mess to grind enough grain for a 5 gallon
all-grain brew with a bottle or rolling pin.

You will also need to have a method for getting your grain out of
the mash. You could try putting all the grain in a bag but I would
bet that you will run into problems when you use lots of grain. The
lauter-tun in JOHB is cheap and simple to make and it works great
for me. I have also noticed sparging bags at Semplex and they might
also work well.

If you don't have one allready, you will want a thermometer so that
you can watch the mashing temp. This may not be absolutly necessary
since you could always brew using the addition of boiling water
(again, go study JOHB, it gives some good basics).

Other things that are nice but not necessary might be some iodine
to tell if starch conversion is complete, a hydrometer to watch
the mashing as well as measure the final beer alcohol content,
and some 10 gallon garbage bags to get rid of the grain when your
done with it.

As far as the questions about adding specialty grains during the
boil instead of the mash, I have never heard the storry about them
adjusting the pH level but it would be nice to hear from anybody
else that has heard this. The bad news is that I don't think you
really want to add grain to boiling water. Grain conversion will
stop at about 170F and if you boil the grain what you will end up
with is a grainy taste with no conversion of the starches. Some
may argue that there is little conversion to be done on some of
the more highly roasted grains but I would still preach staying
away from tossing them in during the boil.

I second Dave's query about time/temperature profiles. I have
tried a number of methods and lots of times I ended up with a
starch conversion that wasn't complete. The best success that I
have ever had was with a tripple decoction mash that I hoped would
simulate the PU mashing curves (there was an article in New Brewer
awhile back that had a graph of it). The mash started at a really
low temp (maybe as low as 90F) ans slowly worked up in three jumps.
I got complete conversion and a good light bodied beer that was high
in alcohol. I'll have to look at the notes tonight to get the exact
conversion times. The big problem with this one was the time it
took to do.


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