Great technique for improving mash efficiency

During the mash, enzymes attack complex carbohydrates in the grain and break them up into more simple sugars that yeast can digest. If all (or most) of the available complex carbohydrates are modified by the enzymes and extracted in the wort, a 'high efficiency' is achieved. If much of the total available carbohydrates remain in the grain and are not extracted to the wort, a 'low efficiency' is achieved. An extraction of greater than 70% of total sugars into the wort is considered good, with above 80% considered high.

While many factors play a role in mashing, mixing of the grain in the water at the start of the mash period is important to high efficiency. Enzymes need water for accessing the carbohydrates so a thoroughly wet and fluid grain bed is important for maximizing the exposure of enzymes to the carbohydrates. If the grain is not thoroughly wet and clumps of dry grain exist (sometimes referred to as 'dough balls') mash efficiency will be lower as the enzymes will not be able to access the carbohydrates in the dry grain. Similarly, if the grain bed is compact, water will not move easily around the grain and enzymes will access the carbohydrates only very slowly—this also will contribute to poor or low Proper crush size for mashingefficiency as only a smaller percentage of total sugars in the grain will end up in the wort. (This is why a proper crush size is so important. A small crush results in a high surface area and better exposure of the complex carbohydrates in the grain, but leads to more compaction and 'stickiness' in the grain bed. A large crush size is very fluid and harder to compact, but has less surface area and therefore poor exposure of the complex carbohydrates inside the grain. A good compromise is a crush size of 1.1-1.2mm/0.043-0.048" which opens up the grain without pulverizing it. The picture on the left shows a good crush. See a high definition image on this page.)

Properly mixing the mash is necessary for wetting the grain and creating as 'light' a grain bed as possible for good water/wort circulation. Our Mash Mixers are the very best tool we have found for mixing the mash thoroughly and properly setting the grain bed. And being operated by a drill is a lot faster and easier than a mash paddle...and without the blisters.

Other tips include not adding the grain too fast (which then requires excessive mechanical agitation which ironically can end up with a more compact bed), adding toasted or dark malts after the light malts to keep them near the top of the grain bed (they tend to fragment more when crushing and will be more gummy), not overmixing the grain when mashing in (mix just enough to remove air pockets), and not moving the mixer near the false bottom on the Colander as this can force grain into the bottom (perforations or wedge wire) and plug it up. When mashing with the wedge wire false bottom (all MB Colanders), prior to adding the grain, connect the pump line and open the bottom valve to release air bubbles in the line, then tap the wedge wire to release any air bubbles that are trapped under the wedge wire.

Eight ways to improve mash efficiency

Demonstration of using the BREWHA Mash Mixer (at 2min mark)

Good crush size for high bed fluidity and mash efficiency

How to build your own grist/malt mill

5 comments

  • Hi Viktor—delivery time of 5BBL brewery and fermenters depends on how many fermenters you need. We generally try to hold inventory but do sometimes run out so there can be a bit of a wait. Email us with your desired drop date and we can give you an idea of when to place a deposit. Regarding decoction, yes, the system works really well with decoction since you can heat the wort in the cone portion (under the Mash colander) to a set temperature and then circulate that into the Colander (there are detailed instructions on this in the BIAC manual). Regarding efficiency, customers report 78-85% routinely. And Beersmith equipment and mash profiles are on our website (use the search bar to search for ‘Beersmith’).

    BREWHA Equipment Co
  • Hi guys What are delivery times for 5bbl 4-1 fermenters and brewery?

    Is it possible to brew with decoction on your system.

    What is efficiency of this system? Do you have available profiles for brewing programs?

    Viktor
  • The mash mixer is a great tool for adding oxygen to the wort just before pitching the yeast as well. Run your drill on high and skim the mash mixer on the surface to create bubbles. Be Careful not to hit the element or temperature probe

    Richard Clarke
  • Hi Nathan—it is relatively easy to perform a multi-step mash if you circulate your wort with the pump during the mash. The element can raise the temperature of the wort as it circulates down through the mash bed, past the temp sensor and heating element, out the bottom of the fermenter and is returned by the pump back to the top of the Colander.
    (The only thing to be mindful of if you want a faster temperature rise, is that since you are heating the grain bed with an addition of hot water—from the bottom of the fermenter via the pump—your technique should be more like a decoction mash where the heated water is higher than your target step temperature. This will raise the temperature much faster than recirculating AT step temperature.)

    BREWHA Equipment Co
  • are you able to do step infusions. I plan on brewing aloot of wheat beers and need to be able to have a beta glucan rest at 122 f for 20 minutes or so before going up to saccrification temps

    Nathan

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