2cnd Essential Step Into All-Grain – All Grain Series

The next part of the all-grain series is a basic overview of some main terms that are used to describe aspects of all-grain brewing.  While right now it may seem as you are looking at random puzzle pieces, trust me the picture will start to become more clear as we work through everything and get up to your first batch.  Soon enough everything will be more connected.


Mashing is a term for when grains are steeped in hot water, much like steeping for extract with specialty grains. The difference is that when all-grain brewers mash we are actually creating the malt extract that extract with specialty grain brewers are using.  This is actually the only difference in the whole process, this one step.

During mashing you are breaking down starches and enzymes.  This is where your level of control comes into play.  Depending on what you are trying to accomplish you can work your mash at different temps.  While we could really get into the different levels control at the different temps, you really won’t need to know a lot of the enzymes broken down at different temps.  Just go by a rule of thumb with this.  You will want to mash your brew most likely between 149-156.  When looking at this range, know that the lower the temp range (149) will get you a thinner beer with more fermentable sugars (higher alcohol).  On the upper range (156) it will give you a sweeter beer with less fermentable sugars (lower alcohol).

Mash Tun/Lautering Tun

This is the vessel which the grains and strike water go into.

Strike Water

This is the water that is added in with the grains to make the mash.  This water is crucial to get at least close to what you are looking for when looking at the mash temp.  If your feeling like SWAGing  (Scientific Wild Ass Guess) it for what temp you need to heat your water up to feel free, but there are free calculators out there to help you out as well.  What you end up doing is heating the water up to the designated temp, and then adding it in with your grains.  You should be pretty close to the mash temp that you want.  There are ways to adjust if your not.

Too Hot – Stir like crazy until it drops in temp

Too Cold – Add hot water

Single Temp Infusion

This is the type of brewing that we are going to be doing for the first batch.  This type of mashing is by far the simplest and should give you the results that you are looking for most beer styles.  Usually the way it works is that you will mash in at about 155 for an hour.  The way to maintain temp for an hour is a cooler which will be converted into a mash tun.  We’ll show you how to build that in a future post.  Some where on the internet I read that about 90% of the beers today are brewed this way.  I’m not exactly sure about that, I can just tell you that it wouldn’t surprise me.

Multiple Temp Rest Mashing

This gets a bit complicated and we won’t be doing it for the first batch.  But I still it’s worth knowing about at least a basic level of understanding.   Pretty much in a nutshell you end up starting at a lower temperature and you will add heat to the mash and letting it sit at different temps for a period of time.  If you know what your doing, you can build the sugar profiles to exactly what you’re looking for.  If you’re working out of a picnic cooler for this technique it’s a bit of pain.  The ideal set up is something like a pot, with a false bottom where you can add heat via propane rather then by water.  So at the end of this, don’t worry you won’t be doing it for your first batch.

This procedure really works well for doing some pretty cool lagers, but like I said, you can brew just about everything with the single infusion method.

Setting The Mill For The Right Gap

The thing with all-grain is that the better the crush of the grains the better your mash is going to be.  You need it so the husk are broken off but intact, not to turn it into flour.  If you are not looking at buying your own grain mill then your homebrew shop should be able to crush grains for you.  Just assume that they are going to be crushing at the correct level.

If you are looking at getting your own set up, I love barley crushers.  To me these really set the standard.  You can adjust the distance but I believe they come ready to go.  There are fancier ones out there but they cost more.  We have one at the shop, and it’s crushed thousands of pounds of grains; not a peep of discomfort out of that thing yet.  If you wanted to adjust the distance between the rollers you want to go somewhere between .035-.042 inch.  The way to measure the distance you need a feeler gauge.  They’re cheap don’t worry ($5).  Oh by the way, if you get your own mill, just hook a drill up to it.  Makes life better then cracking 15lbs of grains by hand.

Grain Bed

This is where the grains will settle out in your mash tun.  Don’t disturb the bed.


This is a technique to get the beer cleared up.  What you end up doing is recirculating the beer until it looks like unfiltered apple juice.


While all of these terms may mean nothing to you at the moment, they are part of the vocabulary for all-grain.  In extract with specialty grains you learned “steeping”, with all-grain brewing there is a bit more of a vocabulary.  You end up using these words when going through the process.  It will all start to make sense in a little.  All that’s left is learning how to convert your recipes from extract into all-grain and also how to build the equipment.  After that we’re good to go for the first all-grain experience.  It may seem like a lot at the moment but at the end you’re going to breeze through your first all-grain batch and also be able to share this knowledge with others.



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  1. 1st Essential Step Into All-Grain – All Grain Series | Jay's Brewing Blog - January 6, 2012


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