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Thick mash- 1qt per #

I’ve always done 1.5 qt per pound and have never had a problem hitting my temp. Today I decided to try 1Qt per pound to see if I notice any difference, see note if you’re wondering why**. What a mess. The mash temp didn’t stabilize like I was used to. If I moved the thermometer left right up or down I read a completely different reading so I’d stir more and try again. After 5-10 minutes of stirring and taking readings I was getting reading between 148-153+ if I put my thermopen body deep into the mash so I shut the lid. I have no idea what my mash temp is which pisses me off. It was supposed to me 153.

Has anyone else had this type of problem with a thick mash?

**From Palmer:

The grist/water ratio is another factor influencing the performance of the mash. A thinner mash of >2 quarts of water per pound of grain dilutes the relative concentration of the enzymes, slowing the conversion, but ultimately leads to a more fermentable mash because the enzymes are not inhibited by a high concentration of sugars. A stiff mash of <1.25 quarts of water per pound is better for protein breakdown, and results in a faster overall starch conversion, but the resultant sugars are less fermentable and will result in a sweeter, maltier beer. A thicker mash is more gentle to the enzymes because of the lower heat capacity of grain compared to water. A thick mash is better for multirest mashes because the enzymes are not denatured as quickly by a rise in temperature.

First, I disagree with John. Second, even if he’s right, it’s a highly uncertain way to control the mash and beer. My experience is that mash ratio makes so little difference that you can ignore it.

There’s certainly at least some stratification of temperature and/or pH no matter what mash ratio you use.

A thinner mash gives much more even distribution of heat because the water mass is greater thus allowing heat transfer between all elements of the mash.

Place a drop of boiling water onto a pile of freshly milled grain and only the grain where the water hits will raise in temperature. Stir that pile of grain and you’ll still have only one clump of hot grain.

With a thick mash you have too much absorption immediately on dough in and the heat from the water cannot be distributed evenly no matter how much you try to stir because the heat has been transferred to the grain and has no effective way of distributing itself evenly.

Kai has written about the effects of mash thickness:

http://braukaiser.com/wiki/index.php?ti ... xperiments

I always start with 1 qt/# and then if I have more room in the cooler, add more just about mashout time. What tasty390 says makes very good sense though. I would say I vary between 0.8 qt/# to 1.3 qt/# over the course of 641 batches and have no issues with conversion or efficiency.

Just curious, at 1qt per # and less do you have problems finding a consistent temp? I use a round cooler so I wonder if that contributed to my problem because the grain was deep rather than spread out?

There’s no better source from conflicting information than home brewing. I’ll be checking purposely doing a thick mash off my list of things to try for my self. :cheers:

Just curious, at 1qt per # and less do you have problems finding a consistent temp? I use a round cooler so I wonder if that contributed to my problem because the grain was deep rather than spread out?[/quote]Yes but I make up for it by stirring better until it is consistent and then again at 20 minutes into the mash just to make sure. All in all, it takes me about 10 minutes to dough in properly with about 40-65# grain bills.

Other than maxing out one’s equipment, I find no reason to go with such low ratios - but I always say do what works for you. My batches are typically 10 gallons, so my sanke converted kegs hold all the grain I need for my smaller beers at close to 2 quarts per pound - basic recipes are 15-17 pounds of grain with 7 to 7.5 gallons of strike water. It is easily repeatable, no dough balls or extra stirring to eliminate them and pretty good conversion. I will go 90 minutes if I have a lower mash temp, otherwise 60 minutes gets the job done.

I’m not saying anyone is right or wrong, but do what you like and if you can make it easier with less work, you can spend more time on the fora.
:cheers:

[quote=“beerme11”]
The grist/water ratio is another factor influencing the performance of the mash. A thinner mash of >2 quarts of water per pound of grain dilutes the relative concentration of the enzymes, slowing the conversion, but ultimately leads to a more fermentable mash because the enzymes are not inhibited by a high concentration of sugars[/quote]
This is largely obsolete information. While it can be demonstrated, the effect is minor enough that it is negated by a change in mash temperature or time. It is often negated by the improved gelatinization of starch seen in a thinner mash which, for many brewers, can improve conversion. There are now many brewers who mash at 3-4 qts/# when doing BIAB.

A thick mash doesn’t prevent conversion, but a thin mash promotes conversion. So, you’ll always have brewers that say a thick mash doesn’t hurt their conversion, but many brewers who see improved conversion with a thinner mash.

I can’t necessarily comment meaningfully on how mash thickness affects enzyme activity, but I can definitely say from experience that it affects the sparging process, and I also find that my beers seem to taste a lot better when the mash is not too stiff. A stiff mash requires more sparge water, and also tends to clump more, where a thin mash needs less sparge water and tends to be more amenable to a smoother sparge and recirculation, at least in my experience. I used to shoot for a grist: water ratio of between 1:1 and 1:1.333 (lbs. grain: qts. water) for single temp infusion mashes, then I bought a new brew kettle/mash tun and found that I needed to use more mash water to keep the mash covered due to a relatively large space under the false bottom. Since I started using that setup, I’ve found that my beers are coming out tasting better than ever, and I have to conclude that there’s a distinct possibility that the higher proportion of water in the mash has played a major role in the flavor improvement, in addition to the improvement in the sparing process. So based on my own experience, I’m going for thinner mashes from now on.

[quote=“Slothrob”][quote=“beerme11”]
A thick mash doesn’t prevent conversion, but a thin mash promotes conversion. So, you’ll always have brewers that say a thick mash doesn’t hurt their conversion, but many brewers who see improved conversion with a thinner mash.[/quote][/quote]

I would agree with this. I BIAB, but not full volume. I do a sparge and try to get close to equal runnings. I usually get a little more from the mash, but it’s always within a gallon or so. Having said that, since I started milling my own grain (the largest factor I’m sure) and going to a slightly thinner mash between 1.5 - 2.0qt/lb I’ve seen a 15% jump in efficiency on average. For average grain bills I’m around 80-85%. For smaller grain bills of 10lbs and under I’m 85+%. And for large grain bills of 17+lbs I’m just over 70%. 70% used to be my average, but is now much improved due to the crush and thinner mash.

I only mash thick at ~0.9 qts/lb if I want to batch sparge twice to improve efficiency for really big beers >1.070. Otherwise efficiency might suffer <70% unless I really grind things up into flour. I try not to mess with my mill settings anymore if I can help it – it’s in a sweet spot. If you don’t mash thick, it’s hard to get good efficiency with big beers even with a double sparge. With double sparge, you want to try to split your runnings 33%/33%/33%. With single sparge and big beers… just mash thin as normal and take the hit on efficiency.

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