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Mash Tun

The mash tun is where the real magic of all-grain brewing takes place. This is where the grain starches become sugar to produce wort. Wort is the liquid containing all the sugars converted from malt. To do this, I use a single infusion mash. I add the hot water from the HLT to the grain to reach a mash temperature of between 149-160 degrees depending on the style and recipe. The volume of water added can also vary for different recipes but usually is close to 1.25 quarts of water per pound of grain. The mash then needs to be held at a constant temp while the starch is converted to sugar, usually for one hour. This is why I use a cooler, it holds the temp steady the entire time. By using a built in thermo probe I can monitor mash temperatures.

After the mash is complete I add water to the MT, called mash out, to achieve equal quantities from the mash and the sparge since I batch sparge. The mash out is heated to 168 degrees. This helps the sugary wort flow freely thru the grain bed. The volume is calculated again using promash and takes into account the amount of water absorbed by the grain. Now the mash is recirculated for 10 minutes. In order to keep the grains separate from the wort I use a braided stainless hose sleeve from a sink water line on the output of the mash tun. To keep the incoming wort from disrupting the grain bed while recirculating I use a floating hose loop with holes drill around it. this dispurses the wort evenly and gently. By recirculating I create a filter bed with the grain allowing even clearer wort to be pumped to my kettle. Once done recirculating I pump the wort into my kettle and begin to heat the wort in the kettle.

Now we must sparge. Sparging is the rinsing of the grain to extract any sugars that are remaining after the mash. I batch sparge which means I pump all the sparge water into the mash tun at once and recirculate for another 10 minutes to be sure to rinse as much sugar from the grain as possible and set up the grain bed for filtering. Again, the sparge water is at 168 degrees to ensure the best sugar extraction possible. We wouldn't want to go any hotter on the sparge or we risk extracting tannins from the grain resulting in an off flavored beer. Once this recirculation is done the wort is pumped into the brew kettle with the original mash water.

That's it, the big secret of all-grain brewing has now been revealed. Let's move on to the boil.

To the Boil Kettle