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I started my steep at about 175 and wans't concerned but when i put the lid on the vessel to keep it constant it shot up. In the end my grains steeped at about 190 for 40 min. This is a pumpkin ale and has about 10lbs of base malt and 2 lbs of caramel malt in addition to about 8 lbs of pumpkin. is this beer destined for disaster?

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175-190! At that temp I'd think you've deactivated most of the enzymes that will convert starches to sugars for you. But as @baka noted, they most likely had time to do some work, so you will end up with beer. But I would expect the yeast to finish pretty high. What sort of mashing are you doing (not steeping if you're doing all-grain)? How did you calculate your strike temperature? –  JoeFish Dec 19 '11 at 13:52
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4 Answers

I'm still pretty new at this. It is an all grain recipe I built myself. It was a mash, not a steep.( I apologize-my terminogy was sloppy.) No iodine test. I am clueless about it.The pumpkin was cooked, so I think that'll give up some of it's sugars more easily. I did get a good bubble in the fermenter so the yeast are feeding on something.

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Starting at 175 and going up from there, you almost certainly denatured a good portion of the enzymes. You may end up with a lot of unfermentables and a very high FG.

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To add to Baka's excellent answer, did you do an Iodine test to test for starch conversion. It's possible that you may not have had full conversion or conversion may have taken significantly longer than expected.

To help avoid this in the future I would definitely recommend a good stirring of the mash and taking temp readings at several spots in the mash and using the average temp as your "mash temp" as they should all drift towards that average.

If you are direct firing your mash (it sounds like Brew in a Bag?), I would recommend using something to encourage water movement around the mash to help even the temperatures out a bit and good monitoring of those temps. A thermometer in your re-circulation pipeline would be very useful for this.

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I don't have personal experience with this, but in the end of it all, you'll still wind up with beer.

The higher temperature will encourage extraction of more longer-chain sugars from the grain, which will probably result in reduced attenuation and a thicker mouthfeel. It also has a higher likelihood of extracting tannins from the grain husks, which are the chemicals that give black tea its astringency. Tannin in a beverage can also be perceived as a "dryness".

At the top end of your range, you were warm enough to denature enzymes that convert the starches to sugars, but they also do the vast majority of their work in the first few minutes of mash-in. If your wort tastes sweet, you should have at least something for your yeast to chew on, but your beer may not wind up being the beer that you were looking for.

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