Circulating during mash

Discussion in 'General Brewing Discussions' started by Dogwood, Sep 29, 2020.

  1. Dogwood

    Dogwood Member

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    I was surfing questions this am (Damm insomnia) and someone had a link to an easy to understand brewing how to manual that was very well written and covers much. The section on mashing stated that circulating the wert shouldn't happen until after its through mashing. I have for a couple of years started circulating, herms, about 20 mins into mashing to do a step mash or just keep at the target temp and be ready to boil as soon as it's through mashing. What say you, the Brew Masters of this wonderful site. Always learning to be done!!
    Thanks
    Damm spel chacker, had to edit twice!!
     
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  2. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    It's always possible to oversimplify... The author was likely referring to the recirculation step to clear wort, vorlauf, if you're into German brewing words. With your HERMS and my RIMS, we're circulating to maintain temperature. We accomplish the same thing, clear wort, but in our systems, it's not a separate step at the end of the mash.
     
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  3. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, what Nosy said^^^... I'm circulating before I even dough-in. I get the water into the right temp range and mill into the tun as the water flows through. From there, it doesn't stop until I re-direct flow for sparge. Main concern is maintaining temp but super clear wort with good efficiency is the result.
     
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  4. Donoroto

    Donoroto Member

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    What they said ^^.
    I am also recirculating right from the start, with my Brewzilla heating the water at the bottom and the pump pushing the right-temperature water to the top to make the mash all warm and cozy. If I don't do that, I get at least 20 F temperature difference top to bottom, which is awful for repeatability.
     
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  5. Craigerrr

    Craigerrr Well-Known Member

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    I am learning that with my all in one Brewzilla that it is apparently best not to start the recirculation right away, but after 10-20 minutes and a stir or two.
     
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  6. Donoroto

    Donoroto Member

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    Interesting. And why is that?
     
  7. Craigerrr

    Craigerrr Well-Known Member

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    I wish I knew for sure. I have been struggling to hit my numbers so far (4 brews). I have been hearing that stirring the mash a few times will help with conversion, and not starting to recirculate right away will prevent the mash from being compacted. This what I am hearing...
     
  8. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    Recirculation seems to me to be more effective than stirring.... Although with my recirculation setup I don't get as great a conversion as when I was just doing passive mashes. And then, last brew, I did a mash-out using the RIMS and my conversion efficiency was back up! Stirring, breaking up the mash, might be a good idea.... This is a complex system and changing one thing may have consequences that aren't apparent elsewhere.
     
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  9. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

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    I always stir a few times during the mash. I do a step mash temperature schedule and I increase water volume at each step so whenever I go to the next temp raise, I give a good stir. Also I'll stir at least once during the main conversion rest of 148. I do a gravity check before and after and it always jumps after stirring.
    I think most brewers skip the mash-out step because it can be inconvenient. I think it contributes to efficiency but I don't know that there's any firm evidence that it does so consistently. I use the mash out step in conjunction with my vourlauf because it's easy to raise the temp with my HERMS system. My final conversion rest is 158 and I'll stir the mash one last time. After 15 or 20 minutes, depending on gravity readings and iodine tests, I'll raise the temp and thin the mash out one last time. Letting it run for 15 minutes at mash-out temp clears the wort and the thin mash allows sugars to rinse well. I always see a little jump in gravity from the beginning to the end of the mashout. I can't say that any sugars were added but I think it's likely that sugars that were already converted were more efficiently moved into solution. A thorough, careful sparge completes the process of pulling sugar molecules into solution in the wort.
     
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  10. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    It's easy when you can directly heat the wort. I hadn't done it in the past but now that I have the RIMS system, it seems something to try. It's one of those procedures the Big Guys use to squeeze a bit more extract out of the grain. My thought is at our scale it works by heating the wort through the alpha amylase temperature range, breaking down some of the dextrines. Definitely adding stirring to my mash routine.
     
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  11. thunderwagn

    thunderwagn Well-Known Member

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    I also do a mash out these days mostly because it's an easy step to include with the Grainfather mash steps. I figure why not? Adds about 15 more minutes to my brew day with no extra labor required from me.
     
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  12. 56 Firedome

    56 Firedome Active Member

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    Very interesting as I was poo pooed on this very point, recirculating to clear wort & raise temp to next temp step. (Igloo mod, hlt/mash tun). I have done this off & on for about a year. I finally got the Sparge Arm working but I haven't tried stirring. I will incorporate that next.
    The primary observation was that most recipes only have 1 mash temp & the step temp regime was unnecessary. Of my 10 most common brews 4 start at 123 F & raise to 153 F over 20 min. I accomplish this by circulation while heating in the (propane) kettle.
    It seems to me a freebie to heat & clarify at the same time. With stirring, conversIon & sugar extraction are also improved. So, why not, if you can.
     
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  13. Donoroto

    Donoroto Member

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    Good discussion here!

    I can speculate that a good stir moves the sugars into the water; the same thing happens with recirculation, although the edges of the grain bed in the malt pipe are likely under-washed while the center may be over-washed. If there is such a thing.

    I also can believe that at the start of the mash the grain temperature is mostly even and correct (assuming a reasonable strike calculation), but I strongly feed this changes rather quickly. Maybe I am a fanatic for wanting to be within a degree or two with my mash temperatures? That's why I recirculate - even and consistent temperatures.

    So, mash-out: I sparge at 170F, and that's my mash-out. The folks at the FLHBS suggested that I just add some grain and forget the sparge, but I use the sparge to adjust the pre-boil water volume to be where I need it. In my Brewzilla, 6.5 gallons is too much water, it really wants to overflow, so I always (try to) start with 6.25 gallons. My recipes typically use 12-13.5 pounds of grain, and this can be recirculated at a reasonably high rate without fear. I want 5.5 gallons into the fermentor, so I can keg 5 gallons.

    My efficiency numbers are good, sometimes higher than expected. So I am not missing much in the way of fermentables, and I'm satisfied with the gravities I'm seeing.

    All that being said, I think I have some new techniques to try next brew:
    1. Stir the mash at 20 and 40 minutes to allow the edges of the grain bed to better participate in releasing the goodness of the grain.
    2. Wait 10 minutes or so to start recirculating. OR at least, get a better temperature probe to measure what the center of the grain bed is doing, instead of just measuring the recirculation water at the top.
    3. Try a mash-out (trivial with the brewzilla) by bumping up the temperature by 15 degrees F or so, give it 15 minutes to try to heat up that much. (I can 'pulse' the big heater element, 30 sec on, 30 off, to avoid burning the wort - that has a big effect).
    4. Pay closer attention to efficiencies. Not for economic reasons, but to gauge my brew process effectiveness. (In the last 4 brews, the gravity was higher than what the recipe said; my equipment profile assumes 75% brewhouse efficiency).

    This is the stuff that makes this so damned interesting. Besides the beer, of course...
     
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  14. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    That's the point, and I was one of the poo-poo'ers. If I could have that serving of crow with a side of grilled fingerling potatoes, please....
     
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  15. 56 Firedome

    56 Firedome Active Member

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    No problem, I was going to continue circulating anyway. Works for me.
     
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  16. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    Circulation! Take back that bird, garcon! I was talking about mash-out!
     
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  17. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

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    One way of thinking about it is that the enzymes are free-floating in the mash liquor and the starch molecules they seek are hiding within the grain bed amidst all the husks and proteins. When the enzyme locks onto a starch molecule, it's interaction produces sugar and other molecules and it moves on to find another starch molecule. The more you can put hunks of starch in the way of enzymes, the more times they get to make the interactions and chemical reactions necessary. That's why I stir... it loosens up sugars but also exposes new bits of starch to the mash liquor and the enzymes within.
     
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  18. 56 Firedome

    56 Firedome Active Member

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    So, you were saying that you circulated, using the RIMS, to heat the wort to 168 F rather than using Sparge water at 168?
     
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  19. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    Yep. Adding 168 degree sparge water only heats to 160 or so, at least in my setup.
     
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  20. Craigerrr

    Craigerrr Well-Known Member

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    Much to learn, much to learn
     

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