Friday, September 21, 2012

Five Gallons At A Time: Turbid Mashing

I don't have the vengefulness or organizational skills to maintain a list of pending threats, but I do remember them occasionally. Like this one about turbid mashing (side note: a follow-up on my daughter is here). Mwahahahaha!

When I brewed my first lambic in the summer of 2011, I used Wild Brews as my guide. The book is great, but feeding its turbid mashing instructions to my calculations resulted in wildly different mash temperatures:

Book                        Me
113 degf          113 degf
126 degf          149 degf
149 degf          172 degf
162 degf          182 degf
172 degf          181 degf

I ended up following the book's strike volumes but ignoring its strike temperatures, and I'm glad I did. By trusting my math and adjusting my strike temperatures accordingly, my mash temperatures turned out very close to the book's recommendations. The only issue, which I've had with both of my batches to-date, has been removing enough wort from my mash tun for the first stage of enzyme destruction. In both cases, I tried a bunch of methods before settling on pressing down on the mash with the lid of a wide pot and pouring the pooled wort into the auxiliary kettle. The first time, it was simply messy and frustrating. The second time, it was messy and frustrating and my final lauter got stuck. Next time, I'm going to ignore the book's strike volumes and dough in with enough water to perform all of the lauters without special equipment. My turbid mash calculations (Turbid_Mash.xlsx at the usual place) are already configured as such, but you can adjust the rests if you want to be a hard traditionalist.

Aside from reading Wild Brews and using my mash calculations, my only other recommendation is to heat the wort in your auxiliary kettle as quickly as possible. The goal of turbid mashing is to ensure that your final wort is starchy, and having the wort in your auxiliary kettle spend too much time at starch conversion temperatures will defeat that purpose. I may have made that mistake with my second batch, but time will tell. For what it's worth, my first batch tasted like flat Cantillon Gueuze after a year in a carboy. Much better than I expected! If the second batch doesn't turn out as well, I'll keep it out of my gueuze blend and either find another use for it or dump'er in the name of hack science.

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