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I've always added my grain to my MLT cooler first, then dumped the strike water on top (I don't have a sparge arm). I calculate my strike temps based on the grain temp and initial cooler temp, so I usually hit my mash temp without problem.

Is there any reason to add the strike water first, then my grain?

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3 Answers

up vote 8 down vote accepted

Adding your strike water first helps to reduce dough balls. If you add water to the grain/flour, at first the grain-to-water ratio will be very high, the flour will suck up the water, and you'll need to stir more to break up the dough balls. If you add the grain to the water, then you can stir after every few pounds and avoid getting dough balls at all. Aside from that, it's whatever works best for you.

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It really makes no difference beyond personal preference and which way works best for your brewing system. Some people worry about denaturing enzymes by adding grain to water, but that takes 15-20 min. so it's really not an issue here. I add water to the cooler then stir as I pour in the grain. It's very effective at equalizing the temp and preventing doughballs. But I know people who do it the other way around and it works fine for them. As with many things in brewing, you should experiment and find out what works best for you and your equipment.

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Both!

A brewmaster friend of mine runs a highly respected production micro brewery. I have had the good fortune to brew on his production 10 barrel system a number of times. Water is added first to a point, then grain is added one sack at a time and stirred in as aggressively as possible without splashing as water continues to flow into the mash tun through a sprinkler ball.

For him, at production scale, he is concerned about both keeping the consistency of the mash thin enough to work with (it's like stirring wet concrete with a giant paddle, extremely difficult) and keeping the pH/temp of the mash within his desired range throughout the mash-in process.

Although being extremely concerned with those variables may be less important to you in your home brewery, I use his technique to the best of my ability with my 10 gallon system and I am certainly pleased with the results.

I agree with the previous posts. I'm just overly particular and love to learn whatever I can from the pros!

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