Griz's Corner

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Tips and Myths: Lagers

All Grain Mashing

Many folks become afraid (unnecessarily) of getting into all grain beer. This activity is extremely satisfying and a good way to beat the "blues" and make something really special for your friends, your relatives and yourself.

With the right equipment, all grain brewing is not difficult. Remember our primary rule about all-grain brewing is this: DO NOT OVERCOMPLICATE THE PROCESS. Harder is NOT always better (for you Calvinists).

You do have to watch the mash temps more closely than with extract , but you donít have to be neurotic about it. Plus or minus 3° in homebrewing is far below the tasteable threshold.

Remember the main reason to do a creative activity is to relax and enjoy yourself.

Here are some Tips and Facts:

  1. It is far better to strike your mash with hot water than to raise the temperature of the mash with direct heat (flame). Itís way too hard to control temperatures, plus you have a tendency to burn or caramelize the sugar which falls to the bottom of the pot.
  2. While it is not absolutely necessary, it is desirable to "dough-in" your mash. This means that you raise the temperature of the mash to 100° - 120° for about 20 minutes.
  3. The enzymes that convert the starches to sugars would rather see a "tight mash," than a soupy, loose mash. Towards this end, use hotter water temperatures than are generally advised, 155° - 160° for the dough-in and 185° - 195° for the strike temps. This way you will use less water in the end, making a tighter mash.
  4. Use about 1 quart of H2O ± as a general guideline. This by no means is "chiseled in stone." For example, if you are brewing on your patio and the temperature is 55°, you will use more water than if you are in the kitchen and the ambient temperature is 72°. The main thing to remember, is use as little water as is necessary to obtain the proper temperature ó refer to step 3.
  5. When lautering (sparging) take your time and do it slowly. As a general guide if you are sparging less than 30-45 minutes you are rushing things. The effect of rapid lautering is less efficiency. Lauter water should hit the grain bed at 170° - 175°, then a good average temperature for this is 175°.
  6. Be sure to set up your filter, called a vaurlauf. This is done by collecting the first 2 quarts to a gallon of run-off (until the run-off starts running clear) and putting it back through the mash.

For a more complete explanation of the all grain process, refer to Lager Tips.