Free Range Mash Experiment

Post #1 made 7 years ago
I’ve often wondered about how important it is to maintain a constant mash temperature. I’ve read an awful lot about how to do that and noticed an obsession with the importance of maintaining mash temp and ways of doing it. But I don’t understand why. I can understand it would be important if you were trying to duplicate a recipe.
I’m after making my brewing as simple as possible, but I will take the extra time to do something if there is an understandable and proven benefit.
If alpha-amylase works best at higher temps and beta amylase works best at lower temps, and if 155 is a compromise that is more in favour of alpha amylase to allow more dextrin and subsequent mouth feel. Then why not give them both what they prefer with a slightly higher temperature to start with to keep the alpha happy and then allow the temp to drop (maybe even without insulating the pot) so the beta can work well. Maybe there’s a reason not to do that. Maybe that might be something to try out.
Even temperature gradients may function together with convection currents in the mash, since a BIAB mash is fairly dilute and fluid, and in different parts of the mash wort could circulate between the temperature gradients and different enzyme factories, so to speak.
I prefer lighter bodied beers that feature hops with hop bursting, so for me starting at 155 for a 5 gallon batch and then letting the mash cool to the 140’s without insulating might result in the maximum amount of fermentable maltose ... -your-beer
Am I out to lunch on this? What am I missing?

Edit: My conclusion from this thread and the experiment: For my IPA as described in the thread, there is no need to insulate or re-heat the mash when it is done at room temperature, and the beer tastes better if you don't!

(This conclusion is from a single test batch that I am very happy with. Further study required)
Last edited by GuingesRock on 31 Dec 2012, 20:33, edited 7 times in total.

Post #2 made 7 years ago

Look here it may help? Don't try to over analyze too early. The work has been done already somewhere? We just have to find it!
The enzymes will be active outside the indicated ranges but will be destroyed as the temperature increases above each range
Last edited by BobBrews on 31 Dec 2012, 21:32, edited 2 times in total.
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Post #3 made 7 years ago
I read somewhere that most of the starch conversion takes place within the first 15 minutes. If that is true, I’m even more confused as there would be very little temperature drop in that time.

This is the site of innovation and broad mindedness:
“Happy Brew Year!!! When a new year of BIAB/NoChill/FirstWortHopping/Mini/Maxi/BIABacus will Happen, and we will all be there!!!!” (quote from Joshua)

Would “free range mashing” (no blanky BIAB) have any scope for development????? :think:

Happy New Year.

(sorry Bob I already got carried away and wrote the above :) I think the enzymes are denatured around 160)

Post #4 made 7 years ago

BIAB is the simplest of brewing methods. That's why I just follow the recipe and don't stray to much from it. My beer comes out super and I am lazy so this suits me fine. The hotshots here at BIABerewer have spent a year (or two) developing software for us to use. I don't bother with it because I am not a engineer or a scientist. I have very little interest other than replicating a beer and as I write down everything that I do each and every brew I feel that is good enough for recreating a beer. Search this site and every question will be provided with an answer.
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Post #5 made 7 years ago
Good Day GuingesRock, In that chapter it shows that the enzymes cut the starch into smaller Pieces early into the mash.

Those pieces do not look like Starch, but, do not ferment, and don't help the beer.

It takes much more time for the enzymes to break those smaller pieces into Little pieces of sucrose, dextrose, and maltrose.

Then, it takes the enzymes longer to break those big sugars into glucose.

That is why at lower temperatures, the enzymes break the sugars down to make a very fermentable wort with no body. But at higher temperatures those enzymes are gone and leave the dextrose and maltrose in the Fuller body wort.

Please take a look at ... hRests.pdf to see which enzymes are working at what temperature ranges.

I hope I got this correct, and it makes sense!!!!
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Post #6 made 7 years ago
Hi Joshua, Bob,
But this link has more detailed biochemistry: ... -your-beer
I found John Palmers simplification of this issue, although nice, to be more confusing with his hedge clippers and brush cutters. I have read his book before though and I liked it.
If I’m thinking of re-thinking things and trying something I have to go back to the basics, rather than working from a book writers deductions. I pick my wife’s brains too sometimes (she’s a biochemist), but then! I noticed a biochem lecturer/researcher just joined here. Maybe I can ask you Trotts7 what you think?
Last edited by GuingesRock on 31 Dec 2012, 22:43, edited 2 times in total.

Post #7 made 7 years ago

Your right in rethinking everything brewing. We have had a makeover on this site to make our brewing a testing ground for new idea and busting myths. We have been actively trying new things to correct, adjust or eliminate past brewing procedures. There is extensive myth busting going on here but you may have to search for it. We are in the process of remodeling but now it's still the "Wild West"! Before you do anything radical ask so that you don't have to repeat something already in progress?
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Post #10 made 7 years ago
Thanks Bob. It was celebratory but it is my second time around (5 years in).

I've been thinking about this free range mashing thing and I'm thinking of trying it, as no one has convincingly told me I'm out to lunch.

I'm kegging batch 12 (all grain BIAB SMaSH with MO and late single addition cascade) this weekend. If it tastes ok I'm going to replicate it exactly, but this time without insulation and letting the mash temperature drop to where it will (I'm guessing it will be somewhere in the 140's) for an eighty minute mash (same as batch twelve). I'll compare the SG readings and the taste, and will report back in a few weeks. If it is a disaster I'll let you know, then at least we will have some evidence for importance of maintaining constant mash temperature. I'm anticipating a lighter body and higher ABV, but we'll see. I might start a new thread when I report as I feel bad about waffling on about my marriage and stuff on Aamcle's thread (sorry)

I wonder if I could ask a moderator to move my subject out (#6 forward) to a new thread please "Free range mash experiment" so Aamcle’s topic can continue undisturbed. He’s planning to build a stirrer and it’s an interesting thread.

Last edited by GuingesRock on 04 Jan 2013, 04:24, edited 8 times in total.

Post #11 made 7 years ago

The mash will go fine. Even if it loses some efficiency in conversion you will not notice it. If you have some problem with the beer it will be from something else. I regularly miss my temps and I live in Wisconsin which is a province in Canada (almost)? If I feel it's to cold outside I just turn on the burner for a few minutes about half way thru the mash. Beer is very forgiving and I have never heard someone refuse a beer because (It was mashed at 148F rather than 154F) Brew on!!
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tap 3 Czech Pilsner
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Post #12 made 7 years ago
GuingesRock wrote:I've been thinking about this free range mashing thing and I'm thinking of trying it, as no one has convincingly told me I'm out to lunch.
It's a great question GR.

There's one guy here, Crusty, who spent three or four thousand dollars on building a traditional system that would maintain his mash temp perfectly. He now BIAB's in an urn because he thinks it makes better beer. Is slightly varying mash temp the reason? Who know?

There is a lot less temperature differential in the mash in full-volume BIAB compared to a traditional mash tun with no pump and it's certainly easier in full-volume BIAB to keep the mash temp even but is a perfectly even mash temp a good thing? Who knows?

Unfortunately, like most things in brewing, finding the answer would take many side by side brews of the same recipe and a very sensitive palate. Even if you could do this, you'd then have to see if it held true for different styles. Two brews, separated by time, won't really tell you much and in fact might mislead you. For example, the water from your tap is likely to vary every day so straight away you have an inconsistency.

So, your question is good, Finding a true answer to it is very hard. As Bob said, all-grain is very forgiving so we don't have to get too worried about many things. My personal opinion is that the main thing to worry about, taste-wise, is finding a good recipe, Everything else is moonshine as they say.

Last edited by PistolPatch on 04 Jan 2013, 07:36, edited 2 times in total.
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Post #14 made 7 years ago
Is this worth adding to the experimentation section maybe :think:

i understand the theory of mashing temps, but have no first hand experience of the differences, or whether they are detectable by taste.
Has anybody tried it? Can they say what their preference is for mash temps? Is there any evidence to support it?

Over the holidays i did an Apollo SMaSH, and mashed at 69 Deg C, because i understand this should add body, but I don't know the results yet.

As PP has already said though, it would be quite difficult to carry out an experiment, but it would be a good myth to bust if it was "bustable".
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Post #15 made 7 years ago
Thanks very much mally,

Before doing detailed side by side studies and all the work that would involve, a small pilot study might indicate whether this should be dropped or taken further.

Would anyone help with a pilot study by brewing their house beer, or a beer they know well please, without insulating or re-heating, and detailing the following please:

1. Size of the batch (should be same as house beer)
2. Initial and final mash temperatures and mash time (mash time should be same as house beer)
3. Did you stir the mash...Yes/no (should keep the same as house beer)
4. Mash out…yes/no (keep the same as the house beer)
5. How the specific gravities compare to the normal brew (if available)
6. Comment on how the taste compares, and specifically which beer you like better (after drinking a few glasses to get to know it)

If anyone happens to be making two batches at the same time of the same beer. A side by side comparison would be interesting.

Anecdotal evidence would also be very useful at this early stage. Stuff like Bob and PP said above. Does anyone not insulate? Did anyone drink too much and forget to put the jacket on, and how did the beer turn out?Does anyone find their beer turns out better when they drink too much on brew day any way :)


Post #16 made 7 years ago
In "Making Farmhouse Ales" by Phil Markowski he says "Brasserie Dupont uses a different approach, favoring a rising temperature mash. Dupont starts with an initial temperature of 113 deg F (45C) and continuously heats the mash (whilst stirring constantly) by approximately 0.5 F (0.25C) per minute over the course of 108 minutes until the mash temp reaches 162F (73C)" Seems like this could easily be done with BIAB as could the reverse, which is what you seem to be suggesting GuingesRock.

Post #17 made 7 years ago
Hi Porchfiddler, thank you.
Very interesting!
If it works in reverse (going from higher temp to lower temp) it would be less effort.
Also it might work better in reverse because I think the alpha amylase working on the starch first helps the beta amylase by providing more dextrins for it to work on. I'm anticipating going from higher temperature to lower temperature the beer would have a lighter body though and higher ABV. I might be wrong.

Post #18 made 7 years ago
Love the way you are thinking GR :salute:,

Here's a ramble of thoughts for you...

porchfiddler mentions above a step mash. Such a mash is said to give you a more attenuating, drier wort. It's probably true but the more I read and learn, the less I trust what I read and learn. There are many reasons for this.

You are contemplating a 'mini' reverse of this - starting high and then dropping a few degrees. This is what happens in most 'pump-less' traditional brews but temp differentials are more pronounced there as well. Not sure what we can learn from this? (see Experimenting, Investing and Wool below ;))

mally mentioned above about moving this thread to the research section. It would certainly be a good place for it but I think BIABrewer is still trying to come up with a good structure for that forum. For example, this thread should probably be in a section of that forum called, "Can this myth be busted?" or, "Would we learn anything from this experiment?" How do you word or structure that? :smoke:

Experimenting, Investing and Wool :)

Let's think of experimenting the same way as we do as investing. In other words, we look at the risk/reward ratio. In brewing experiments we risk our time and effort hoping we are rewarded in knowledge. In this case, we are asking whether we should invest in this stock (temp control) or that stock (no temp control). That's a fair enough question, for sure.

But, if I buy stock A today and see how it fares after 4 weeks and then buy stock B and see how it fares after 4 weeks, I have learned nothing as market conditions (water, palate etc) will be different. Unless I buy those stocks at the same time (brew them side by side) I really won't know which one was the better stock.

Let's pretend that you can buy those stocks at the same time (even though most brewers can't). A market requires a group of people to set the price (quality). Any market price is a summary of subjective opinions. (Greasy wool might be great for the candle stick maker but not for the yarn spinner). Grease content, like specific gravity, is fairly easy to measure with the correct instrumentation (often dodgy for brewers) and quantity (totally lacking for home brewers) of wool.

So, even with things we can measure, we home brewers already have a problem.

GuingesRock has written a great post above (#15). I really like the thinking that has gone into it. I think though what GR really wants the answer to is point 6 of his post, "Comment on how the taste compares..."

I think this is where we come up with a real problem. When classing wool, if my memory serves me correctly, there are about 12 classes we could put a fleece into. The class is affected by many things - greasiness, length, crimp, colour, foreign matter and a heap of other stuff I have forgotten now. What's the hardest thing to measure there? Colour.

Wool colour can obviously be measured, to an acceptable degree, by eye. But what if you need a much higher level of accuracy?

If you needed a higher level of accuracy for colour and had no instrumentation, you would have women categorize the colour as they are physiologically much better at categorising colour than men. For example, ask a woman the difference between pink and mauve and they will know. A lot of men won't. (I think mauve is some light bluey colour but really have no idea and have probably spelt it wrong as well :P. There you go!)

What's my point?

I think some experiments actually can't be done by us and also that heaps can. My thinking is that GR's experiment is too ambitious for now at least. We are not only unable to buy the stocks at the same time but we also have no 'women' available to tell us whether that stock ended up being 2.0 cents or 2.05 cents after four weeks.

And that's the point.

I think the experiments we take on here, at least initially, need to focus on the most easily measured factors in brewing. For example, we still need more numbers to actually answer the very basic question, "How much more efficient is a 90 minute mash than a 60 minute mash and a 30 minute mash?" That's the easiest experiment of all and it is still very hard to collect enough solid data to make conclusions we can all trust.

This experiment game is a real thinking game (for me anyway). I think it involves thinking up and posing a lot of questions (like GR has done here), challenging them, discarding some, keeping and refining others and so on. Sometimes that is easy and sometimes it's very tedious. Humour and frustration nearly always play a valuable role. At the end of the day, correctly formulated questions are the key, the distillation of all these things.

At the end of the day, I think we also have to realise that there are some answers we'll never be able to determine for ourselves. Like women with colour, some brewers just have a knack for knowing how to 'fine-tune' a beer in a certain area. Why bother with the fine-tuning though when we still haven't built a robust aerial?

Last edited by PistolPatch on 05 Jan 2013, 02:38, edited 2 times in total.
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Post #19 made 7 years ago
I tend to agree with PP that this would be a very difficult thing to experiment with, especially on the quantitative things such as gravity/efficiency. I say this because my intuition tells me that the temperature drop for a normal 5gal batch under normal ambient conditions is small enough that you won't dramatically fall outside of the acceptable brewing temperatures. And if you do, I imagine it won't happen until most of the conversion takes place. I think gravity readings would be the only real way to measure these things and given the small expected differences and inherent variability in homebrewers brewing, this would probably take a lot of trials to be able to say anything definitive.

The part that is of more interest, flavor/body/etc, is obviously very qualitative and dependent upon heaps of variables. At best, you would probably be able to say "Allowing the mash temp to decrease slowly over the course of the mash affects the body of the beer." Notice I didn't say flavor because I think it will be minimal at best. But the part that every brewer wants to know, "What is the best option? Maintaining mash temps or allowing them to fall?" I think the answer to this will be VERY dependent upon style and at best you could say, "For dry beers, allowing temps to decrease is preferred. For heavy bodied beers, maintain mash temps." But of course this is only applicable if body is affected, even then there's probably other variables that affect that statement.

But hold on...

With all of that being said, I say give it a shot. I could be dead wrong and there is a huge difference, either preferred or detrimental.

I tend to approach things like this in a manner that tests the extremes first, then move to more normal situations if the extreme experiments warrants it. Therefore, I would allow mash temps for a batch to fall really low, like 130F or so. Do a side-by-side with another that maintained mash temps. Compare the two. If you can't notice anything different, then allowing mash temps to free fall under normal conditions, say to 145F, will probably yield no noticeable changes. At that point I would scrap the any further experiments and continue on my merry way. But if there are changes, what are they? Efficiency? Body? Flavor? That might be interesting.
Last edited by BrickBrewHaus on 05 Jan 2013, 03:06, edited 2 times in total.

Post #20 made 7 years ago
Good stuff in there BrickBrewHaus and PP. Thanks and thanks for your kindness.

I like to use extremes in practical experimentation as well, and often use extremes when theorizing, as it helps with virtual experimentation inside ones brain.

What I’m really after is I don’t want to waste time doing something that could be futile, or worse, cause my beer to be not as good as it could be.

So for now, and after your intelligent comments, which were appreciated, it comes down to personal subjective experiences, and if there were several positive subjective results reported, that may be enough for other’s to feel it worthwhile enough to give it a go. I wonder if that is the manner in which BIAB first took off, as the same issues would have been present when that was developed. One guy says “I did it, it was so easy and my beer was great”, so others try it, and so it takes off!

Word of mouth is very powerful, and certainly more powerful than a whole lot of figures in this world. Look how everyone raved about the emperors cloths. That bubble was busted, but the BIAB one wasn’t and may take over the world eventually.

Why did BIAB take off? Was it because people took a chance, and it worked out. Bit like investing in a stock that does well. You think about it and you buy some, (it’s a hunch you have, a gut feeling that is based in part on some knowledge or an interest you have), it happens to be just the thing that people want and it takes off. No amount of hard figures and facts will help you pick that right stock. I wouldn’t put my money behind the most respected investment analysts as they always get it wrong, especially the ones with rigid orthodox thinking who won’t go out on a limb.

If objectivity is needed however, I think that specific gravity readings might be of interest.

It’s cold here today (minus 15 C or so and snowing). I’m coming down there to sort this out with you PP, and then at least I can get some warmth and sunshine. For now I’m off to get a beer.


Post #21 made 7 years ago
PP, what I found interesting about the Saison Dupont brewery was that it was not a just a step mash but more of an escalator mash . Like they decided, things happen at certain temps, lets use all of them!

Post #22 made 7 years ago
Porchfiddler, That’s interesting and might be a nice conclusion for the experimental introduction, unless anyone else has any more theoretical or practical input to be put in the final paper :) Please add it if you do. Next comes materials and methods, then results, discussion and references, and an abstract to put at the beginning…Yikes! :)

I think I’m going to give it a go after all the leads and information from you all. Thanks so much. I’ll post back and would really appreciate it if anyone else feels like trying it.

It sounds like, from what BrickBrewHaus says (and Bob and PP) it won’t make much difference any way. If it gives the beer a slight edge that’s a plus, if it detracts from the beer then that’s not good, if the beer is the same that’s a plus also as it is one unnecessary step less in the process.

What you have just said Porchfiddler, gives me hope that there might be an advantage in beer quality, as well as a time saving factor.

I take note that it will likely have a different impact on different beer styles.

Have a good weekend everyone :party:
Last edited by GuingesRock on 05 Jan 2013, 10:25, edited 1 time in total.

Post #24 made 7 years ago
porchfiddler wrote:PP, what I found interesting about the Saison Dupont brewery was that it was not a just a step mash but more of an escalator mash . Like they decided, things happen at certain temps, lets use all of them!
I accidentally did a "ramp mash" (absent-mindedly threw the grain in at about ~50C)so just ran the burner during mash, ramping up to a pause at 66c then up to mashout.

Won 2nd place at a local comp.

(PS technically applying direct heat to the mash is supposed to kill the enzymes?)
Last edited by stevem01 on 05 Jan 2013, 11:25, edited 2 times in total.

Post #25 made 7 years ago
Stevemo1, Yes, if the mash is not moving, the enzymes at the very bottom of the ketlle will burn out by touching the HOT surface!! Stir, stir and Stir again!!!
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