From the HBD Archive
From: Glenn T. Colon-Bonet <gcb@hpfigcb.hp.com>
Subject: MicroMashing
Date: 1990-05-02 15:16:40 GMT

In Homebrew Digest #404 Bill Crick mentioned the idea of
using a microwave oven with a temperature probe to mash
small batches for use in mash + extract recipes. I tried
out the technique last night using a 2.2 gallon microwave safe
container holding 5 lbs grain (4 lbs English Pale Ale, 1 lb
dextrin). I added warm water to fill the container and mixed it
thoroughly with the grains, yielding a nice thick mash. The starting
temp was 95 F. I used the temperature hold capability (at full power)
of my microwave to protein rest at 125 F for 15 minutes and
then proceeded to saccharification temperature of 158 F for about
45 minutes. I had to stir the batch every 10-15 minutes or so because
of the very uneven heating of the microwave (temperature gradients
of more than 15 degrees across the batch). After 45 minutes a starch
test indicated complete conversion, so I raised the temperature to
167 F for sparging and rinsed the grains through a sieve to yield
about 3.5 gallons wort. I added 1 can of Alexander's to the brew
kettle, and O.G. was 1.055. I have used Alexander's often and it
consistently contributes 1.025 to the gravity for 5 gallons, so
the MicroMash contributed 1.030 to the final gravity. Using Noonan's
calculations for extract efficiency, I came up with 64% efficiency
for the MicroMash portion! Typically I get 55-65% extraction
efficiency from infusion mashing, so this is right up there.
It may be possible to improve the efficiency even more by doing a
better job of sparging than I did. But it was very easy and convenient
to use the microwave because of the temerature hold capability.
You just type in the temps and times and then stir every so often.
It takes about 1.5 hours, so it's not a huge time saver, but it
was pretty easy! Of course, I still don't know how its going to
taste... will they say "This beer tastes like it's been microwaved!
Yuck!" ? As Bill mentioned, the temperature gradients are enough
that some parts of the mash actually come to a boil, so it may
have some characteristics of a decoction mash, but I don't think
it'll be quite so pronounced. I'll let you know how the MicroMash'ed
batch tastes in a couple of weeks, so stay tuned!

Does this make my house a micro-brewery? :-)
-Glenn


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