Sep
07
2016

Does full volume mash affect maltiness and body of the beer ?

I came across a very interesting discussion on the effect of full volume mash on the fermentablity of the wort and resulting maltiness and body of the beer in BIAB brewing on HomeBrewTalk.

My approach is to mash with about 2/3 of the water with 1/3 reserved for sparging. I have considered doing a full volume mash, which is the more traditional BIAB approach, but haven’t tried it yet.

Original poster, Bassman2003, who switched to full volume mashes noticed some beers lacking maltiness or body and asks ‘Do you think BIAB results in more fermentable wort? Do you find the need to mash a little higher? if so, how much higher?

The first response, from dmtaylor, is interesting – ‘If you find your beers are lacking in body, perhaps your efficiency is too high? Or your water too hard? Your mill gap too tight? Mashing too long? I’ve been mashing for only 40 minutes for the past 10 years with no ill effects because it’s a waste of time to mash longer than that for most styles (except maybe Belgians). If you mashed for much longer, like 75-90 minutes, this would certainly hurt body.’ His theory that mash length and efficiency affects body/maltiness is interesting. I am aware that the temperature is a major factor with a lower mash temperature producing more simple sugars and hence a more fermentable wort, but hadn’t considered mash length as important in this regard. My thinking was that mash length and/or efficiency was just about getting more sugars out of the grain and hadn’t considered whether the additional sugars tended to be biased towards complex unfermenatble sugars or the simpler more fermentable sugars.

Gavin C, chips in, ‘No alterations to recipe/mash profile other than the obvious slightly altered mash pH considerations are needed if doing full volume mashes’. He cites an experiment by Braukaiser on the topic of fermentability and mash thickness – ‘Contrary to common believe no attenuation difference was seen between a thick mash (2.57 l/kg or 1.21 qt/lb) and a thin mash (5 l/kg or 2.37 qt/lb). Home brewing literature suggests that thin mashes lead to more fermentable worts, but technical brewing literature suggests that the mash concentration doesn’t have much effect in well modified malts’.

Another fellow, wilserbrewer, mentions an approach that I think might be very practical and worth a go – ‘Another approach I have used, mainly to save heating time while making large batches, is to mash in with around 60% of the total water, then after 40 minutes or so add the remaining water to the mash at say 160 – 180 degrees, stir well, wait a few minutes, stir well again and remove the bag.’ I like the idea of this approach, it eliminates the sparge but does not alter mash thickness. Also this is very practical for me because I have to lift the pot onto the gas burner after the mash and this approach makes the weight that I have to lift more manageable.

On the subject of mash PH Gavin C notes ‘Thinner mashes are more dilute meaning all other parameters being equal they will have a higher pH than a thicker mash’ and ‘an often overlooked method to increase a mash pH is to mash thinner’.

Brulosophy also has done an experiment on sparge vs no sparge. The results of this were somewhat inconclusive. The sparged beer was noticibly more hazy and 14 out of 26 testers were able to detect a difference. 7 out of the 14 preferred the sparged version. Overall though it seems the differences in the final beer were quite minor.

There are so many variables in brewing but luckily I’m not too much of a perfectionist or it would drive me insane. I tend to go with the practical, easy, approach that gets good results and as a result of this discussion I will be trying out the approach mentioned by wilserbrewer, that is to mash with usual volume but add the extra water towards the end of the mash in lieu of sparging.

Oct
30
2014

Kettle trub in fermenter – could it actually be beneficial?

I used to strain out the trub with a sieve when transferring the wort from the kettle to the fermenter but on one brew I got lazy and just dumped it all into the fermenter, every last bit of trub – hot break, cold break, hops debris and every single drop of liquid and solid material that was in the kettle. The result? Great beer, nice and clear, no off-tastes that I could tell. After that I never went back to attempting to prevent trub from making it’s way into the fermenter. I’ve been getting good clear beer and have made some of my best beers since then.

So when I came accross a blog post detailing experiments done on this – The Great Trub exBEERiment – I read it great interest. The article refers to a reasearch study done on the impact of kettle trub on levels of isoamyl acetate (banana) and ethyl acetate (nail polish remover) compounds. Surprisingly, the study found the that wort with the most trub actually produced a beer with significantly lower levels of these compounds! The author details his own experiment and discovery that the beer fermented with the kettle trub actually came out significantly clearer than one that had the trub carefully removed.

So why do brewers go to the trouble of seperating out the trub by whirlpooling, straining etc? I guess most brewers would assume that doing so will improve the clarity and reduce off-tastes but now it seems that not only is it not the case, but the opposite may actually be true.

I’ll keep on doing it my way, trub and all, but now with the knowledge that it’s not just a lazy shortcut but something in my process that may actually be beneficial to my beer.

May
21
2014

Etching volume markings on brew kettle

I added permenant volume markings to the inside of my brew kettle using a simple electrolytic acid etching technique that I discovered on the Home Brew Talk forum. Here’s how I did it:

1. Mark 10 litre volume increments in the kettle using electrical tape. I measured the water volume accurately by weighing it (1L = 1Kg). The side of the kettle needs to be dry for the tape to stick so I carefully dried it to the water line with paper towel and then line up the electrical tape with the water line.

_P1010617 Continue Reading »

May
13
2014

Brewing Checklist

I find it very helpful to use a checklist to make sure I don’t miss out any key steps in the brewing process and to track the important brewing data. This is the checklist I use:
Continue Reading »

May
12
2014

BIAB All Grain Brewing Process

This is the process that I use for brewing all grain beer. I used to do this in the kitchen as a split boil in smaller pots before I got my new 50L brew kettle and a gutsy gas burner. But now that I have better equipment it is a much smoother process and it doesn’t steam up the whole house since I do the boil outside on the deck. I use an electric urn as a HLT for heating strike water and sparge water.

Prep prior to brew day

  1. Print out recipe and double check all ingredients
  2. Make sure equipment is clean and available:
    • grain bag
    • brew kettle
    • sufficient gas
    • immersion chiller
    • fermentor and fermentor parts
  3. Crush grains

Brew Day

  1. Put water for mashing grains on to heat up in brew pot or HLT. Use at least 3L per kg of grain OR determine water volume from brewing calculator. I usually go with a wetter mash and less water for sparging. For an average grain bill I use 22L.
  2. Continue Reading »

Aug
13
2012

First All Grain

I just finished my first attempt at an all-grain brew tonight. The process was similar to my partial mash process except no malt extract was used. Due to the restrictions of brewing on top of my stove and available pots, I went for a smaller batch volume of 13 litres. I think it all went fine but the proof will be in the drinking. It will be very interesting to compare this with my previous partial mash batch which was a similarly hopped pale ale.

I mashed 3kg of grain, which I crushed in my converted pasta maker grain mill, in a bag in my 20L pot with 9 litres of water. I was shooting for a mash temp of 68C but the temp had actually crept up into the low 70s by the end of the mash due to me leaving the inner ring on at the lowest setting. Next time I’ll leave it off and see how well the pot holds the temp wrapped in a towel and ski jacket.

I batch sparged in my 12L pot with 7 litres of water poured over the top of the grain in the bag. Then I mixed the runnings in the 20L pot and got about 14 litres. I split these between 2 pots for the boil. My SG was 1.049, giving me a brewhouse efficiency of around 73% which I believe is quite decent for this type of mashing process.

I had a little bit of trouble getting a good rolling boil in my 20L pot as the bottom of the pot has a concave center which I think makes it much less efficient on the ceramic electric stovetop. Later on in the boil, when the volumes had reduced, I ended up ditching it altogether and putting the extra wort into another 5L pot.

I cooled in ice water. It took 30 minutes to get it down to 16.5C, so I overshot a bit (22C would have been fine) and didn’t actually need to spend quite as long cooling.

I ended up with about 11L in the fermentor after evaporation loss so I topped it up with cold water to my 13L target. After giving it a good shaking to aerate, I pitched the US05 yeast that I had harvested from the previous batch.

Fermentation got off to a quick start – the airlock was bubbling and krausen had formed as soon as I checked it in the morning.

See the recipe and specs here.

Apr
16
2012

Getting ready to do All Grain on the cheap

I’ll admit it, I’m a frugal home brewer. One of the original attractions to home-brewing for me was the cost savings aspect. But I notice a lot of home brewers get carried away by the hobby and spend a small fortune on all sorts of fancy gear. The home brewing experience for these gear obsessed home brewers turns into another avenue for excessive consumerism and materialism. If you worked out the total costs of some of these elaborate setups, I reckon some homebrewer’s beer ends up costing way more than the best craft beer you could buy. That would be a major ‘off-flavour’ for me. The fact that my beer costs a fraction of what I would have to buy it for is a great incentive for me and perhaps even does more for the perceived flavour of my beer than any fancy equipment could.

To date I’ve been brewing with a bare minimum of equipment: mostly just a 12L pot and and the original plastic fermenter + accessories kit that I first purchased to get into the hobby. With this minimum of equipment I’ve been able to make some pretty decent beer using extract and partial mash brewing methods, beer that I really enjoy making and drinking. Continue Reading »

Nov
25
2011

My Partial Mash Brewing Process

The next step in home brewing that I’m going to take is to do a partial mash. I’ve discovered a partial mash is actually quite similar to doing an extract brew with steeping grains. It just involves more grains soaked for longer time with a bit more attention to temperature and ratio of water to grain. And I don’t need any additional equipment, so really it doesn’t seem like a major step to make, but I’m writing up the process anyway in order to highlight the differences. Since it’s quite similar to extract brewing and I’m using the same equipment I’ll use my extract brewing process as a basis for this. Continue Reading »

Feb
21
2011

Updated Extract Brewing Process

The second extract batch went smoother and quicker than my first one and the brewing process was much more relaxed and enjoyable. The biggest improvement in the process was changing my sanitiser from sodium metabisulphite to iodophor. The sodium metabisulphite requires 1 hour of air drying to work, iodophor just requires 1-2 minutes of contact time, so it’s a hell of a lot more convenient to work with as you can sanitise on the fly instead of having to carefully plan your sanitisation in advance.

A significant difference in the process this time was the yeast preparation. Last time I rehydrated dried yeast, this time I had some yeast harvested from the last batch so I had to make a starter for it the day before. By the way, I found some helpful videos on a website called billybrew.com for how to harvest yeast and how to make a yeast starter.

So here’s the new improved process:
Continue Reading »

Jan
14
2011

Third Batch Fermenting – first foray into hops and grains

This one is going to be interesting, I’ve got my fingers crossed and hoping for the best. That’s because when I tasted the wort, it was a bit, well, scary. I totally realise this may not mean anything but the wort from my previous two batches actually tasted good but this time I tossed out my OG samples after a little taste. But the first two batches were pre-hopped kits so it might not be a good comparison. This time the wort was very bitter and had a very concentrated hops taste. So I’m hoping this is normal and that the fermentation process will turn it into a nice tasty American Pale Ale. Otherwise I’ll probably be more inclined to stick with the pre-hopped kits, they are a lot less work and I have already got great results – my first batch is a very nice drop and it hasn’t even fully aged yet. Continue Reading »

Jan
11
2011

Extract Brewing Process

To make sure that I don’t miss anything important for my first extract batch and end up running around like a chicken with it’s head chopped off, I have written up my process in advance. This process is my version of the extract brewing process based on best practices that I gathered from various sources and tailored to suit the ingredients and equipment that I have available. Continue Reading »