From the HBD Archive
From: Darryl Richman <>
Subject: re: mashing temps and beer body
Date: 1989-01-25 17:17:49 GMT

Jeff Miller <> writes:
"> To get high body, you must mash low; to get thinner body, mash high.
"Are you sure about this? I don't have a good memory and my books are at
"home but I thought it was exactly opposite this.

This is what happens when you get off into the subject and aren't feeling
well enough to go back and edit properly. This statement needs to be qualified
you right now that Dave Line and Greg Noonan will say exactly the opposite,
but I have my reasons for this:

First of all, my mashes are much shorter than any book I've read. Noonan
goes on for a minimum of 3 hours (and up to 9!) with his decoctions. Line
recommends letting the thing sit over night! I can't remember spending
more than an hour in the saccharification range, and usually it's more like
30-45 minutes. I almost always get a negative iodine reaction at about
the 15 minute point or before. Counting a protien rest and a mash off,
my mashes generally go for about 2 hours.

Next, I use the step mash technique. I can make step raises very quickly
as well. So I'm not adding any water to raise temperatures, and Noonan
will tell you that thick mashes are more efficient. I mash in with about
1 quart per pound of malt, which is a very stiff mash, and I add about a cup
per pound when I raise to saccharification range. Perhaps this is why
my mashes go so quickly.

Also, it is a chemistry rule of thumb that reactions proceed at twice the
speed for every 10C the temperature goes up. So mashing at a higher
temperature (e.g., 158F) runs considerably faster than at a lower one
(e.g., 148F). And since, as I mentioned, I'm going to step again
after saccharification to about 170F, I'm going to go through the
high end anyway. So my technique brings me through the complete
temperature range regardless of the emphasis of my mash.

So the difference here is that if my emphasis is at the low end of the range,
I'll get some maltose production, but mostly I'll have long chains of sugar
left over at the negative iodine point because alpha amylaze hasn't been
too busy. Even at 148F beta amylaze is going to denature after a while,
so as I proceed to raise the tempurature for mash off, the alpha amylaze
will have a brief opportunity to bust more long chains into shorter
chains, but I'm not going to get much more maltose.

If I'm going for a thinner bodied beer, I'll raise directly to the high
end of the range, where alpha and beta will be extremely active. Beta
will be coming apart as well, but it is protected to some extent by the
thick mash. While the beta is still available, however, the alpha is
making a tremendous number of sugar chain fragments available for
conversion to maltose. The result is a wort with very few long chain
dextrins left, a great deal of very short chain sugars, and a good dose
of maltose.

It is very important to understand what a brewer does, how this affects
the techniques employed and the results obtained. My short mashes
are a positive feature in that it shortens the brewing day a bit; I'm
not losing efficiency of my mash as a result (from what I read in
Zymurgy, the 1.030-1.032 I usually get from a pound of malt in a gallon
of water is very good); and I have produced winning beers as a result.
I might have to take a second look at my technique if I wanted to make
a very thin beer, such as an American Premium or Japanese lager, but
I haven't tackled those.

I hope I have explained my surprising results to the satisfaction of
those interested without completely boring those who aren't. If you
still have questions, try mailing to me. I promise to respond to

--Darryl Richman
(The Falcon's Nest homebrewer's BBS sysop 818 349 5891)

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