How much malt is enough for starch conversion?

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How much malt is enough for starch conversion?

Postby hefezelle » Tue Jul 10, 2018 12:37 am

Reading up on wikipedia about malt and its enzymes, it says that enzymes in general work as catalysts, meaning they enable or accelerate a reaction without being used up in the process.
That somehow surprises me, because from reading here (haven't walked the all-grain-path myself yet) i had the impression that one would need to use a certain sufficient amount of malt or enzmes for full conversion, as if they were used up in the process of conversion.
Could someone shed some light on this for me? Do you use your amount of malt or enzymes just so you don't have to wait too long for conversion, or is there some other reason i'm unaware of?
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Re: How much malt is enough for starch conversion?

Postby der wo » Tue Jul 10, 2018 12:55 am

In theory you only need a marginal amount of malt. In practice when you try a grain bill with for example only 5% malt, it won't work. Because:
- some processes like solving and gelatinization need heat. Heat destroyes the enzymes. So you have to finish those processes before adding the malt. But those processes and the enzymatic activity hand in hand would work better.
- you have to mash the malt at a very even and low temperature. Low temp means low activity. This means you have to stir a mash probably full 24h close to a temperature where bacterias can start to work.
Sorry for my bad English!
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Re: How much malt is enough for starch conversion?

Postby hefezelle » Tue Jul 10, 2018 1:09 am

Hmm makes sense, thanks for the answer!
Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.
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Re: How much malt is enough for starch conversion?

Postby fizzix » Tue Jul 10, 2018 1:58 am

As usual, I am in awe and appreciation of der wo's declaration.
And as usual, I need it dumbed down or approached a different way so my monkey brain gets it.

Perhaps now that der wo has presented the "why," hefezelle, I'll present the "as it is for the layman." And hopefully correctly.
Even though enzymes do not get used up, you still need a sufficient quantity of enzymatic power to assist and speed up starch conversion into fermentable sugars.
We distillers can think of, and simplify this, by using the term "diastatic power" to represent the measure of enzyme.

Here is a real life application of diastatic power. Maybe that will be a "catalyst" for understanding der wo's explanation better.
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Re: How much malt is enough for starch conversion?

Postby der wo » Tue Jul 10, 2018 2:52 am

fizzix wrote:Even though enzymes do not get used up, you still need a sufficient quantity of enzymatic power to assist and speed up starch conversion into fermentable sugars.

And this speeding up means killing the enzymes by high temp. Or most of them. They work extreme fast for a while and then die. Nothing wrong with this.
It would be possible to mash with only 5% malt. But it makes no sense, except malted barley would become very expensive. Or if malted barley would have a bad taste.
Sorry for my bad English!
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Re: How much malt is enough for starch conversion?

Postby DuckofDeath » Tue Jul 10, 2018 3:56 am

It is all about time, too little enzyme and it will take days to convert. The amount that is recommended is what should complete in an hour.
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Re: How much malt is enough for starch conversion?

Postby der wo » Tue Jul 10, 2018 7:05 am

DuckofDeath wrote:The amount that is recommended is what should complete in an hour.

Perhaps if you mash a beer. A mash for grain spirits should get more time for conversion IMO. AFAIK most t&t recipes recommend longer than one hour. I in general recommend even more time (and lower temp) than the t&t recipes.
Sorry for my bad English!
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Re: How much malt is enough for starch conversion?

Postby DuckofDeath » Tue Jul 10, 2018 9:11 am

Well if you don't denature your enzymes with a boil, they will continue to work even at low temps. Still the amount recommended is for one hour. Cut your enzymes in half next time. It will still work just will take longer.
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Re: How much malt is enough for starch conversion?

Postby der wo » Tue Jul 10, 2018 11:50 am

Well I could ask now what recipes you mean and what amounts. If I cut my enzymes in half next time, but use the same mashing protocol, but twice as long, I will get a very high FG. It doesn't need a boil to kill enzymes. Over 45°C beta amylase starts to denature.
Sorry for my bad English!
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Re: How much malt is enough for starch conversion?

Postby DuckofDeath » Tue Jul 10, 2018 5:08 pm

Doesn't change the fact that if you half the enzymes you will still get full conversion. It will just take longer. DP is calculated off of a 1 hour mash time.
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Re: How much malt is enough for starch conversion?

Postby dukethebeagle120 » Tue Jul 10, 2018 5:14 pm

I've did 10 percent with home malted wheat no problem.everyone is worried about time.it will take the Time IT takes to convert.
its better to think like a fool but keep your mouth shut,then to open ur mouth and have it confirmed
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Re: How much malt is enough for starch conversion?

Postby MichiganCornhusker » Tue Jul 10, 2018 6:59 pm

Higher temps degrade and denature enzymes.
Lots of things are interdependent here.

To just say lower DP, or fewer enzymes, will still do the job but take longer isn’t necessarily true if mash temp is 155f.
Same as saying you need at least 20% malt in your grain bill or your mash will crash.
True that DP is based on time, but at higher mash temps you only have so much time before enzymes are lost.

Time, temp, DP, pH, hydration, gelatinization, water chemistry....
AG isn’t rocket science, but it isn’t quite as simple as a+b=c.

I think 20% of grain bill is a good start for “how much malt”, it’s a forgiving amount.
Yes you can get by with less, but then you need to know more. And then you wouldn’t be asking.
4% won’t do it just by waiting longer.
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