Palmer instructs us to add the grain to the MT first and then add the strike water 1 gallon at a time. I’ve been adding the water first and then dumping all my grain at once and stirring immediately afterward thinking the water will cool down quite quickly with that much cold grain creating quite a heat sink. I’ve also figured that there would be less problems with dough ball formation. What is the best strategy? Am I shocking my enzymes? Thanks.
I always add the grain to the water but I don’t know if it much matters.
I personally add my grain to my water. I usually add it in halfs or thirds, stirring and crushing dough balls in between.
This is a question that seems comes up from time to time. The consensus of the brewers on this board has always been that they add the grain to the water. I do the same, but I don’t think it really matters. The main thing is to get the mash mixed thoroughly without any dough balls.
I don’t think it matters unless it’s taking a half hour to do it. I crush and dump grain in tun first and then dump water. I give it a good quick stir to break the big ones up but there’s always a few small balls. Close it up and rest 5-10 minutes (wait for temp to stabilize) and stir and take temp and I find dough balls are gone…
I started out adding grains to the strike water, but the last couple of times I’ve added the grain to the mash tun and then gravity fed water from the HLT through the ball valve at the bottom of the mash tun. Worked great! Much easier (for me) than trying to slowly pour grains into the water while stirring with the other hand.
I dump in all my water then dump in all my grain and stir. I usually make sure my strike is a degree or two higher than I need to account for loss while I’m stirring and breaking up and dough balls. If I still end up a little high I just stir some more to cool it down.
Small grain bills / or 5 gal batches really doesn’t matter. Large batches / grain bills. it is much easier to add grain to water, stirring along the way.
In terms of enzymes and beer quality, it doesn’t matter at all. I get better mixing, though, by adding grain to water.
I’ve tried it both ways, and found I get less dough balls by adding grain to water.
That said, you get the very best mixing by using cool water instead of hot, and then heating to mash temperature. Sometimes for certain step mashes I do that, and am always amazed at how smoothly the process goes - and it doesn’t matter at all what goes in the mash tun first. But I don’t do that often, the convenience of a single step mash is just too alluring, despite the occasional dough ball.
I get hardly any dough balls by adding water to grain. You can get them with either method. Conclusion: It doesn’t matter at all. Do whichever you think is easier.
Yep. I slowly pour in the crushed grain while I stir. Almost never any doughballs. If I get some, they’re few and easily dealt with.
Either way - but you are required to have a home made red oak mash paddle to take out any dough balls. It also helps to keep it hanging in the garage when my kid’s friends come over.
Grain to water for me. I’ve found that doughballs depends on the type of grain.
Marris Otter is the worst for me. Don’t have a problem with GW 2-row, wheat or rye malt.
Grain to water for me is easier to control the mash temp. Heating the mash tun always has some variability. Get the mash tun to the desired temp first then add the grain in.
I usually pour my hot water into the tun a couple degrees above my desired strike temp and wait for the cooler to obsorb some of the heat and drop to strike temp. I’m not sure how to do it when adding the grain first. Maybe you would need to add the water hotter if the grain is in the tun, not sure if the calculator I use would work if my tun were cold.
Yes, water is hotter. You need to to calculate your tun’s thermal mass. From memory, start with doing a mash without grain. Add a typical amount of heated water at a typical temp to tun. Dump it in and let it sit 10-15m and measure it. Divide it by the strike temp, subtract it from 1, and that is your thermal mass. Dig a bit and there alot of guys who have published theirs and chances are your cooler is there. I found I needed to make some slight tweaks a few batches after but after that (10+ years) it’s pretty accurate. There are slight variations with brewing season and batch size but it works surprisingly well. Mine is .22 for Igloo Ice Cube with a custom insulated lid. Once you have the figure, plug it into your software. For a typical batch, I heat 4G of water to 170F and hit 154F with 10lbs grain dead on. 167F for 150, etc.
I add maybe about a gallon of my strike water to my cooler before anything and let it sit to absorb some of the heat. Then I add my grain followed immediately by the rest of the strike water. I try to err on the side of caution, so I aim a little higher with my strike water. Have been right on with the estimations provided by Beersmith, so I see no reason to change it. Beersmith also has you estimate the temp of your grains as well, I guess because if you have cold grains that were sitting in your cold garage, the water will need to be hotter to get to your mash temp.
Only time it gets tricky is if you decide to do a step mash for whatever reason. Tried that with my hefeweizen and it turned out OK, but I think next time I’ll skip the step mash. I think with BIAB in a kettle or mashing in a large kettle with a false bottom, on a burner, you can do a step mash a little easier than in a cooler tun. Just my thoughts, although I’m sure someone has it figured out perfectly
Yes, water is hotter. You need to to calculate your tun’s thermal mass. From memory, start with doing a mash without grain. Add a typical amount of heated water at a typical temp to tun. Dump it in and let it sit 10-15m and measure it. Divide it by the strike temp, subtract it from 1, and that is your thermal mass. Dig a bit and there alot of guys who have published theirs and chances are your cooler is there. I found I needed to make some slight tweaks a few batches after but after that (10+ years) it’s pretty accurate. There are slight variations with brewing season and batch size but it works surprisingly well. Mine is .22 for Igloo Ice Cube with a custom insulated lid. Once you have the figure, plug it into your software. For a typical batch, I heat 4G of water to 170F and hit 154F with 10lbs grain dead on. 167F for 150, etc.[/quote]
If you are using brewing software, this is the way to do it. I’ve got a 72 qt Coleman Extreme, and my thermal mass is 0.15. I put that into ProMash, and it tells me what I need for strike water temperature exactly every time. It takes into account things that would mess you up if you are doing it seat-of-the-pants like batch size or recipe specifics.
I crush straight to the cooler
I siphon my strike water onto the grain bed