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Help with a step mash?

So im fairly new to AG and ive been trying to stick to one style until i get a result im happy about (no luck yet). Ive ordered the stuff to follow this recipe: viewtopic.php?t=40751

Equipment wise i have a 15 and 8 gallon kettle, a false bottom for the 15 gallon, and a 10 gallon cooler coverted for batch sparging.

This time around i want to be able to do temperature rests and mash on the kettle over direct heat. Ill use the cooler as an HLT. Ive only ever mashed in a cooler so its a bit daunting. Is a pump for recirculating required? How do i compensate for the amount of dead space under the false bottom and still maintain mash thickness? Should i wrap my kettle in insulation while fire is off?

Since this is my first time mashing in a kettle, how should i handle sparging/infusions? Should i use infusions to meet rest temps, or direct heat?

Sorry for the load questions, mashing in a cooler with just sacc rest has spoiled me.

Why don’t you make it easy on yourself and stick with a cooler ala www.dennybrew.com.

No step mashes, no mash out, simple batch sparge.

Do you want to brew beer or complicate a process?

I have done dozens and dozens of step mashes and i have yet to convince myself I made better beer by doing it. Yeah, that’s not the question you asked.

You can do multi-step infusion mashes. BeerSmith will calculate the strike temps for you. They have a three-week free trial. Or, you can use boiling water to raise the temperatures to your mash steps. Once the mash is complete, drain the mash tun, measure the volume you’ve collected and sparge with enough 170 F water to collect the volume you want or to hit your target OG.

Direct-fired temperature mashes are challenging. You’ll need to stir the mash a lot and avoid overly enthusiastic heating. For the mash and sparge water: Mash water = 1/2 of the volume of wort you want into the boil kettle + grain absorption + dead space. Sparge water = 1/2 the volume of wort you want into the boil kettle (or, sparge until you hit your target OG).

You don’t have to use a pump, but it will help distribute the wort better and will clear the wort easier than manually draining a bit of wort and pouring it back in the top. All the stirring required for either direct heating or infusion will require a bit of recirculation to clear the wort.

If you’re willing to invest a bit of money, consider building a RIMS or HERMS set-up. They take some of the labor out of the step mashing process.

Once you’ve done a couple of step mashes by any method, you’ll probably find that most beers are just as good and maybe better using the process described at http://www.dennybrew.com. But, the homebrew police won’t come and get you, no matter what methods you use, as long as you remember to relax, don’t worry, have a homebrew.

Haha! your’re the one that inspired my to build my cooler mash tun for batch sparging :smiley: . Its what I normally do, (and the only method i’ve used to this date). Your podcasts and website/guide are fantastic. For this hefeweizen I just wanted to really go all in. After reading all 50 pages of that post they all seem fairly convinced the step mash heavily contributed to the clove character of the beer. My hefeweizens have all been really lackluster so far and maybe I’m blaming that on batch sparging when I have a problem elsewhere.

The hobby has kind of overwhelmed me and I can’t help but tinker and throw money at new equipment.

@Old_Dawg

Thanks for the reply. I figured having a pump constantly recirculating would adequately mix the mash during heating but i could see how it might not.

My kettle/mash tun may also be too large to do 5 gallon batches and still have decent temperature control. (15 gallon megapot, very wide). The two gallons of dead space under the false bottom really concern me. I have a pickup tube installed so that it would siphon out, but wouldnt that put me two gallons over target after the mash + infusions? Leaving it in the tun seems like it would kill efficiency.

If anyone has used this pot for 5 gallon mashing let me know how it went, I’d be grateful. I plan on doing this on Saturday.

I think its possible with my previous hefeweizens I made mashing in my cooler, I didn’t pay enough attention to mash thickness. Assuming total disregard of thickness and mashing with 6.5 gallons of water (10# of grain) and then mashing out with ~2-3 gallons would flavor be majorly affected?

The recipe i used was:

6# weyermann wheat malt
4# german pilsner malt
1oz hallertau 60Min
wlp300 with starter. I probably should have under pitched here.

[quote=“Juts”]Haha! your’re the one that inspired my to build my cooler mash tun for batch sparging :smiley: . Its what I normally do, (and the only method i’ve used to this date). Your podcasts and website/guide are fantastic. For this hefeweizen I just wanted to really go all in. After reading all 50 pages of that post they all seem fairly convinced the step mash heavily contributed to the clove character of the beer. My hefeweizens have all been really lackluster so far and maybe I’m blaming that on batch sparging when I have a problem elsewhere.

The hobby has kind of overwhelmed me and I can’t help but tinker and throw money at new equipment.[/quote]

Not being a hef brewer, I overlooked that case. Yeah, I think that a ferulic acid rest for a hef can be helpful.

As to throwing money at new equipment, consider it carefully. Some you need, other you don’t. Remember, the brewer makes the beer.

[quote=“Denny”]

Not being a hef brewer, I overlooked that case. Yeah, I think that a ferulic acid rest for a hef can be helpful.

As to throwing money at new equipment, consider it carefully. Some you need, other you don’t. Remember, the brewer makes the beer.[/quote]

I think i’ll meet you half way. Ive decided to step mash / batch sparge and just start with a really thick mash so i don’t overshoot my volume. You guys give me faith. I need the practice batch sparging anyway. Thanks for all the help.

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