An all malt mash

Production methods from starch to sugars.

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When making an all-malt mash, should one boil to reduce volume?

Yes.
4
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No.
15
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Total votes: 19

RadicalEd1
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An all malt mash

Post by RadicalEd1 » Sun Apr 13, 2008 10:56 am

Ok, so I know that for a mixed grains mash that fermenting on the grain is the preferred method, but I'm looking to do an all malt batch for some scotch. And the majority opinion on that seems to be to sparge as per tradition.

Now I've brewed many a batch of beer, so the ways of sparging are no mystery to me, but I am puzzled by one nagging question: should I, or should I not, boil to reduce volume? In my head, it goes something like this:

Yes, you should:
-larger boil means more sparge water means more efficiency.
-most starches are already converted, so whether the enzymes are denatured or should be irrelevant

No, you shouldn't:
-Boiling the wort (slipping into beer lingo here) might caramelize some of those hard-won sugars...fine for flavoring beer, caramel doesn't make it up the column. Bad for distilling!
-there might be some starches floating around still, so we don't want to denature the enzymes
-this is distilling, we don't boil!

So, oh wise ones, should I, or should I not, boil the 'wort'?

Also, what mash temperature should I target? Beet usually calls for 152*f, but I seem to recall that the lower you convert the more efficient it is. Perhaps just shoot for 152 and let it slowly cool in the cooler mash tun I have?

As an aside, I'm looking at 20lbs 2 row and 5 lbs peated barley for a 10 gallon recipe, estimated OG of 1.063.

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Post by BW Redneck » Sun Apr 13, 2008 11:32 am

I really don't think that you need to. Boiling it, as you've said, will caramelize the sugars and make them less usable. Also, whenever you boil, it has this sort of "cooked taste" about it. Besides, it's just a little bit more space in the fermenter, isn't it?

I ferment on the grain with everything that I do. The enzymes will be in contact with the starches longer, the fermented grains are easier to strain through, and most importantly, the flavor is stronger. I've never done a scotch-type before, so I really don't know much about it.
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glassman
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Post by glassman » Sun Apr 13, 2008 12:38 pm

well ed, you do your scotch and i'll do my irish and we can compare. i won't be boiling. gman

SK
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Post by SK » Sun Apr 13, 2008 1:06 pm

Hey Ed,

Like you Im not a stranger to brewing beer but distilling is new for me. I wouldnt bother boiling the wort, there is still the same amount of sugar in the wort pre and post boil so it wont make a difference to the final alcohol % outcome. As you said more water will mean higher efficiency and in preparation of starting some larger mashes for whiskey I got myself a 60L (15G) fermenter, normally only use 30L fermenters for 20L batches of beer.

Another way of looking at it is that the yeast will have an easier time converting the fermentables at a lower OG, as long as you pitch the correct quantity of yeast.

After Ive had some practise with my new pot still Ill be doing some mashes and will only just bring it the wort to the boil to sterilise and then chill into the fermenter. Coming from a beer back ground I dont think I could handle not boiling... for now it just seems wrong :lol:

Cheers
SK
Last edited by SK on Mon Apr 14, 2008 12:59 am, edited 1 time in total.
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RadicalEd1
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Post by RadicalEd1 » Sun Apr 13, 2008 1:26 pm

All right then, looks like there's a pretty strong "don't boil' sentiment out there. So I'll forgo that step. I've got my water heated and my grain ready to grind :p. Really, I just need to fit it all into 2 6 gallon containers, that's my biggest worry.

Who knows, maybe if I'm getting decent gravity runoff after I hit my target I'll keep collecting and make a batch of beer with it :p.

Glassman: If I had more accessible access to unmalted barley I'd love to give Irish whiskey a shot too. Let us know how it goes!
Last edited by RadicalEd1 on Sun Apr 13, 2008 1:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Old_Blue » Sun Apr 13, 2008 1:28 pm

Boil to reduce to get your SG right if you want: 10~12% is good.
I don't think it affects the sugars. Low attenuation is due to the yeast, not caramelizing the sugar.

Once starch is converted it is just that and no more will remain.

One advantage to boiling is to precipitate proteins during the hot and cold break. It will help with foaming later on.
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Post by wineo » Sun Apr 13, 2008 1:50 pm

I also think a short boil would be good for trub removal and less foaming.
If you boiled too long,I think it would effect the flavor.
Heres another way to raise the gravity without boiling.Its called reinterated mashing,and how it works is once you do your 1st mash,drain it,sparge it,and reheat it to strike temp,and start a new mash with the wart you collected.You can do this 2-3 times to get a higher gravity wart.
Theres some brewers making barleywines this way.I havent tried it,but plan to someday.
Higher gravity will give you a little more booze,but with less flavor than you would get at a lower gravity.I have found that with the lower gravity mashes or washes{1040-1060SG}You get more flavor to carry over from the potstill.I plan on making some all fruit,low gravity brandys this fall,and I am also going to do a lower gravity rum wash in hopes of more,and better flavors.

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no

Post by Uncle Jesse » Sun Apr 13, 2008 7:36 pm

this isn't the same as making beer where you can boil your wort down to a desired specific gravity. don't boil your malt.
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Post by Dnderhead » Sun Apr 13, 2008 7:47 pm

If you want higher sg why not just use more grain/malt?

muckanic
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Post by muckanic » Mon Apr 14, 2008 9:31 pm

One point in favour of boiling (in conjunction with rapid wort chilling): less sulphide production. Otherwise, make sure you have plenty of copper in the still head. OTOH, a trace amount of sulphides can actually add some complexity.

A further issue that doesn't seem to receive a lot of discussion is mash stiffness. Stiff is generally good, as it helps the enzymes find the starch (although some of the no-cook folks don't seem to care). The initial mash run-off gravity prior to sparging is normally 1080 or higher, depending on the mash stiffness. This is getting into the barley wine strength range where more fermentation byproducts are produced. So, whether or not you sparge, it may still be an idea to dilute at the end of any cooked mash.

Lastly, some folks would maintain that mashing-out (10 mins @ 75C) is a good idea for the sake of sanitisation, even if a full boil is not conducted. That process, however, has the side-effect of denaturing the enzymes, and it also may contradict attempts to get a souring lactic ferment happening without the benefit of an existing culture.
Last edited by muckanic on Sun May 04, 2008 4:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.

RadicalEd1
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Post by RadicalEd1 » Tue Apr 15, 2008 11:47 am

Thanks for all of the replies, gents. I see the topic isn't so one sided after all, but my batch is now happily bubbling away, with no boil. I ended up with 5 gallons of 1080, 5 gallons of 1050, and 2 of 1030. Wort was still coming out at 1028 when I stopped, but I had absolutely run out of fermenter space :p. I mixed these as best I could to even out the gravity. My efficiency seems up from usual, though. I guess that 5.2pH stuff actually works :D.

I mashed in with 9 gallons of 170*f water, hitting 151*f. After an hour, I was at 150*f. I sparged 3 times with 3 gallons of 190*f water, which brought up the grain bed to ~ 170*f.

Dunderhead, the reason that beer makers boil their wort down is to increase the gravity of a beer by reducing volume. In my case, the reduction in volume would have served one primary purpose: it would have allowed me to sparge more, and thus attaining a higher efficiency. This, in turn, would allow me to choose to either use less grain, or achieve a higher SG with less money. So basically it's a cost thing, and I happen to be a cheap bastid :D. Malt is expensive. :p

My apartment smells like a malty bog right now. I don't know whether it's delicious or not. But the product is sure to be!

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Post by glassman » Tue Apr 15, 2008 12:01 pm

so what i'm reading rad-ed is that you are getting more than one lot of beer by sparging the grains?

i am thinking that if my grain bill of ~45lbs will yield an sg of ~1.060 in 100Liter water that will be all that i could get from that amount of grain. can i sparge the grain for more yield? was going to ferment on the grian. gman

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Post by punkin » Tue Apr 15, 2008 12:07 pm

glassman wrote:so what i'm reading rad-ed is that you are getting more than one lot of beer by sparging the grains?

i am thinking that if my grain bill of ~45lbs will yield an sg of ~1.060 in 100Liter water that will be all that i could get from that amount of grain. can i sparge the grain for more yield? was going to ferment on the grian. gman
I am far from knowledgeble on this subject, but if you are fermenting on the grain, do you think you could ferment, drain, distill. Then refill your fermenter with water, and sugar dissolved in some backset to get another batch of a different whiskey from the same grains?

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Post by Tater » Tue Apr 15, 2008 12:38 pm

[quote="punkin"
I am far from knowledgeble on this subject, but if you are fermenting on the grain, do you think you could ferment, drain, distill. Then refill your fermenter with water, and sugar dissolved in some backset to get another batch of a different whiskey from the same grains?[/quote]---------------------------- Sure ya can. Can do it if ya distill on grain as well.Read of fokes sugaring it back as many as 6 or 7 times.Most Ive ever done it was 3.I couldn't taste much corn after that .That was way shinners trying to get most outta corn for likker would do.Then mix all together and sell as corn to the yankees :D .I wonder some times as to what would of been the law on grain bills on all bourbons and whiskeys in old days if sugar was cheep then as now.
Last edited by Tater on Tue Apr 15, 2008 12:42 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Post by Dnderhead » Tue Apr 15, 2008 12:39 pm

yes Punkin you can do that but it would be for "flavor" only the second time
" much like JGSM" since all the starch/ sugar is used up And maybe I'M
missing something but if you want higher gravity just use more grain or
less water I usually shoot for 3lb per gal more or less and Iv dun as much as 4lbs per gal but I do make my own malt ( about 10$ for 50 lbs)

RadicalEd1
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Post by RadicalEd1 » Tue Apr 15, 2008 8:24 pm

Glassman-If you are going to ferment on the grain, you won't receive any benefit from sparging; all of the sugar in the grains will be in contact with the yeast. You only sparge if you decide to ferment off of the grains, in which case rinsing the grains will let you extract more sugars from them. I guess the tradeoff is that I won't be losing any alcohol to the grains post-ferment :D.

Dunderhead: using more grain or less water would indeed increase the gravity of the wash, but would decrease the efficiency of extraction. Not really a concern if you can make 50lbs of malt for $10, but I'm working off of $38 for the same quantity. Even a 10% increase in efficiency works off to a couple extra batches worth of beer by the end of the year :D.

BTW, would you mind showing us your malting setup? I'd love to try that at some point in the future, but sadly I'm tiny-apartment bound for the forseeable future. I've seen a few 1-2 lb hobby setups, but if you can malt 50lbs at once (or for all I know, more) I'd be fascinated by your setup and process.

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Post by muckanic » Wed Apr 16, 2008 6:54 pm

At the risk of stating a couple of bleeding obvious points, the reason that brewers sparge is that grains hold sugar internally, and both boiler size and fermenter size are constant practical limits on production. In general, the boiler needs to be roughly 50% larger than the fermenter(s) in order to accommodate foaming, boiling down, etc, leaving open the question of whether the brew boiler is suitable for doing double-duty on the spirit run(s). One advantage of fermenting on the grain is that fermenter capacity can be smaller for the same amount of grain. In other words, the volume occupied by the grain is usually less than the volume of additional sparge water required to extract the residual sugar.

However, there is a gotcha, as was previously observed. If grains can hold sugar, then they can also hold alcohol. So, for full efficiency, there is no alternative to sparging, either pre-ferment or post-ferment (or running the grain, of course). The upside is that a post-ferment sparge can probably be performed with something comparable to the grain volume. Either way, it still means an increase in boiler capacity requirements, and possibly enduring the tedium of multiple runs if the boiler is not significantly larger than the fermenter(s).

The least efficient thing one can do is to drain the sugary grains and toss them. That is where recycling the grains for the next batch makes more sense. Brewers occasionally use the first high-gravity runnings to make a barley wine (possibly with added sugar), and then use the sparged runnings to make a smaller beer. However, draining the grain bed completely is not generally advisable, as it can lead to compaction and difficulties with subsequent sparging.

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Re: An all malt mash

Post by bagman » Mon May 19, 2008 4:57 pm

The only reason brewers boil the wort is to extract the acids from the hops for bitter flavor. Boiling wort does nothing to improve the sweetness.

Since there's no hops in whiskey, there's no need to boil the wort. Just ferment it after sparging, and you're good to go.

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Re: An all malt mash

Post by muckanic » Mon May 19, 2008 6:24 pm

bagman wrote:Boiling wort does nothing to improve the sweetness.
If you can wreck a wash by scorching it, then it follows that a more controlled caramelisation could in principle produce useful volatiles. Do a search on furfurals. There seem to be a few unresolved issues here, such as how much these substances are essential to the Scotch style, how much these substances derive from the boil vis a vis the barrel, and whether the alcohol boiling of the spirit run is as adequate as a pre-ferment water boil. In either case, a number of factors would be expected to have an impact, like gravity, ratio of simple to complex sugars, boiler construction (eg, sheet copper vs double boilers), and type of heat (eg, gas vs electricity vs steam).

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