Mashing

Mashing

What is Mashing?

Mashing is a crucial process involved in making grain beers. It is the process followed for brewing beers for centuries. This is the method many commercial breweries as well as serious home-brewers use today.

Mashing involves soaking malt grains in hot water for up to two hours. The starch in the malt (which cannot be fermented by brewers yeast) is converted to sugar. Sugar is fermentable by brewer’s yeast.

In order for this conversion to occur, the mash ought to be controlled for acidity (actually a measurement called ‘pH’) and temperature.

You can get malt extract liquid in a can as well as spray dried malt.

Home brewers are able to buy liquid or dried malt extracts which are the condensed/dried wort sold in concentrated form. Whether or not you as a home brewer choose to mash your own grains or opt to purchase malt extracts, you will need to add hops and boil the hop liquid for, usually, 1 hour – 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Home brewing using malt extracts enables you, the home brewer, to choose extracts that are made from different types of malted grains, producing lighter or darker beers. Some beers are made from malted wheat as opposed to malted barley.

Dependent on what you select, you can alter the richness, colour and taste of the final beer. The use of malt extracts for home brewing also enables you to select which variety and quantity of hops will dictate the hop flavour level as well as how dry/bitter the beer will be.

You can boil the malt and hops in a normal stainless steel kitchen pan.

The main reason for boiling the wort is so that non-desirable microbes can otherwise infect it, giving the final drink an awful smell and taste. There are further reasons for boiling the wort: its boiling drives off unwanted volatile substances produced during the mashing or extraction processes. The boiling of wort can assist the coagulation of protein and nitrogenous compounds (especially for beers made from mash).

Currently, there are home brewing systems like Heat Exchange Recirculating Mash System (HERMS) available, which produce better results for the home brewer with mashing. Hereby, the liquid wort is separated from the mash and passed through a heat exchanger, prior to being returned to the mash. This process is considered to speed up the starch conversion process.

Ideal conditions for conversion are:

Temperature:

The ideal temperature is 67°C. However, a temperature between 62°C and 68°C works fine. Should the temperature be lower, you will get a dry beer. Should the temperature be higher, you will get a sweeter beer.

Acidity:

A ph between pH 4.5 and pH 5.6 is ideal. A higher pH (lower acidity) results in a sweeter beer. A low pH (higher acidity) results in a drier beer. Sweetness can be adjusted using mash temperature. A pH of 5.3 is ideal for English style beers. The ph level is measured by using pH indicator papers which are available from home brew suppliers.