EXTRA STEPS: MASH EXTRACT BREWING
Mash-Extract brewing is like brewing
with extract alone except for the need to soak grain at
certain temperatures to convert the starches in the grains
to sugars. You will also have more grains to work with
than a typical extract brew- usually between 2 and 5 pounds.
Filling the grain
MASHING THE GRAIN
There are several methods for mashing grain. The
easiest is called an infusion mash, and requires
soaking the grain in water at a temperature range
of 148- 154 oF. All of the mash- extract
recipes for our beer kits use this method.
Our illustrated guide has instructions for mashing with
a large grain bag. Another way to mash is to soak the grains
directly in a brew pot, and then transfer the grains to
a lauter tun (a large straining bucket with a false bottom
to strain out the grains) to sparge. It is also possible
to use a large colander to strain the grains, although this
is the least preferred method because too many grain particles
will wash through. A colander will also do a less efficient
job of extracting the available sugars from the grains.
Weigh out the grains that
your recipe calls for, and mix them together. Place
the grains in a cotton or nylon straining bag,
and close the bag tightly. The malted barley grains
need to be crushed before using. Once grains are
crushed they should be used right away or sealed
in an airtight bag to keep them fresh. Check your
grains by smelling them- they should have a fresh
, grainy aroma, or a sweet caramel and or chocolate
smell, if they are specialty grains.
In a large pot (2 gallon at least), heat the water
your recipe calls for to 165 oF. Most
recipes call for 1 to 1 3/4 gallons of water.
If using distilled water or you have soft water,
you may want to adjust the mineral content of
the water by adding 1 or 2 teaspoons of gypsum.
You might want to make other mineral adjustments-
a good brewing book will have guidelines for
doing this. The main reason to adjust the mineral
content of the water at this stage is to achieve
the proper PH for mashing.
Because this is a partial mash and you will be adding extract,
it is not necessary to get too scientific about the water.
99% of the time, the process will work without adding any
minerals or by just adding a teaspoon of gypsum.
Starting the mash...
Pack the grains loosely in the bag and close the
top before placing the bag in the hot water.
The grain swells when soaked in water- it is
important to allow enough space in the bag for
this to happen and still allow room for water
to flow through. You may need to add more water
than the recipe calls for to completely cover
Add the grains your recipe calls for to the
water. Once you add the grains the temperature
should be 150 oF. Stir well and
allow the grains to soak (mash) for 30 minutes
to 1 hour. Try to maintain a constant temperature:
you can add heat if needed either by putting
your brew pot on a burner on low heat and (stirring
constantly while heating), or by removing part
of the mash and heating it to 180 oF,
then adding it back to the mash. Be very careful
when adding heat with a stove! Your grain bag
can melt or burn if it touches the metal bottom
of the pot which is directly on a heat source.
You should always slowly stir the mash when
adding heat so the temperature equalizes quickly.
It is very important that you maintain a consistent
temperature range. If you allow the mash to
get too hot (over 160 oF), the enzymes
that convert starch to sugar will be deactivated,
and the mash will not be successful. If the
temperature is too low (under 140 oF),
the mash will not complete. Because the mash
is thick enough to retain heat well, simply
insulating the mash container with an old thick
towel may be all that is necessary to maintain
The mash is complete when all of the starches
have been converted to fermentable sugars (see
Still Mashing (150 oF)....
Sample for the starch
After adding iodine:
the purple color means starch is still
How To Determine Starch
you first place the grains in the hot water,
you will notice that the mixture has a cloudy
appearance due to the presence of starches.
As the grains continue to soak the mixture
clears as the starches are converted to sugar.
To test for starch conversion, take a small
sample of the liquid and place it on a small
white plate or in a cup. Try to keep grain
particles out of the sample by floating a spoon
on the top of the mash and gently tipping the
liquid into the spoon. Add a drop of iodine
(the same iodophor that is used for sanitizing
works well), and swirl or mix it with the sample.
If the color of the mixture stays red, or only
changes slightly (a few grain particles can
cause this) then the conversion is done. If
it quickly changes color to dark blue or black,
continue the mash for another 10 or 15 minutes,
or until it is complete.
Sparging the Grains
SPARGING THE GRAINS
Sparging is the process of rinsing the sugars
from the grains with water.
First, heat your sparge water (1 to 2 gallons,
depending on your recipe) to 170 oF.
Open the top of the grain bag and hold it up
so that the level of the grains inside the bag
is slightly higher than the level of water in
your brew pot (see picture, left). Using a ladle
or a measuring cup, slowly pour the sparge water
over the grains inside the bag. Try to pour most
of the water as close to the center of the bag
as possible; this will extract the highest possible
amount of sugars. Allow the sparged grains to
drain for a few minutes, then squeeze the bag
gently to extract more of the remaining liquid.
If the bag is too hot to handle, set it aside
to cool- you can squeeze the bag into you brew
later in the brewing process.
It is important to not
try and wring out every last drop of liquid
from the grains, as this will add too much
solid matter to the brew and can affect the
taste and clarity of the finished beer. The
spent grains are no longer needed for the brew,
as the flavor and color have already been extracted.
The grains still have some use, so if you are
able, we recommend one of the following options:
Compost: Spent grains
have a large amount of fiber which is excellent
for building compost. Because of the high sugar
content, they can attract insects and rodents,
so it is a good idea to mix the grains thoroughly
with the rest of the compost matter.
Animal feed: Spent grains
are an excellent food source for poultry, pigs,
or cows. It should be fed to the animals fresh.
Baking: for making bread,
spent grains add barley malt sugar and fiber
(put the grains in a blender with some water
to reduce the husk size). Other foods you can
make with the spent grains include granola, cookies,
or energy bars.
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