Mash Temperature - The Decider

Friday, January 4, 2013

When brewing all grain beer there is a lot of science involved but not much is more important to the final product as the mash temperature. Not only will this effect the grain bitterness (tannin levels) and your extraction efficiency but the temperature even controls the body of the beer as well. After the jump we'll briefly discuss the benefit (necessity) of having a good thermometer and the effects of a range of temperatures on your beer's personality.

You Need a Good Thermometer if you want to brew all grain. Without it you're lost, with a crappy one you're wasting your efforts - so please, please buy one; like the one above from Sur la Table.

The Range of mash temperatures for brewing most traditional beers is between 148 F and 158 F. The lower end of the range will allow for a more complete, though longer, conversion of the sugars and a lighter beer. The higher end of the range will create more unfermentable sugars and a heavy bodied beer. If you haven't guessed yet, right in the middle with give you a middle of the road beer! Medium in body and flavor.

It is Important when creating a recipe to keep in mind the target body so that you can shoot for the right temperature range in your mash. Just as important as selecting the right temperature is maintaining it. This can be a challenge for those of us that don't have beer sculptures or mash tuns that we can heat but even with a simple and cheap option like the DIY Mash Tun you can maintain an almost constant temperature for the entire hour of your mash period. I have no issues doing this with my cooler tun, so neither should you! No need to spend extra on those fancy burners and buckets.

Whether you're designing a beer or brewing from a recipe, don't forget the importance of mash temperature! You'll thank me later.

Cheers-

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