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I have been using mashing procedure described by Charlie Papazian:

30' at 56C
60' at 68C
15' at 70C
mash out at 75'

It seems to work great, but it is rather long since it requires a whole two hours to perform. Is there any alternative procedure that can produce good results in less time (let's say one hour)?

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2 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

The step mash procedure described above is really not necessary any more. With today's highly modified malts, almost any recipe can be made with a single infusion mash. The reason for this is that the maltster has in effect done the first step for you by making sure the malt is highly modified. The eliminates the need for a low temperature protein rest. A mashout is almost never needed, especially if you batch sparge. The purpose of the mashout is to denature enzymes which will halt conversion and fix your sugar profile without further breakdown of long chain dextrins. When you batch sparge you start to boil so soon that there is little to no additional breakdown. Even if you fly sparge, which takes longer, the effects of not doing a mashout will be barely noticeable. The concept of mashout is a leftover from commercial brewing, where it make take 2 hours or more to lauter the mash. All of that time is spent at mash temp unless you do a mashout. You could easily skip the 56 and 70 steps and save 45 min. In addition, if you batch sparge, you can cut your sparge time from an hour to 15 min. Neither change will have an adverse affect on the quality of your beer.

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Sigh, I guess people don't bother reading answers longer than a paragraph - I mentioned dropping the 56 and 70 steps to save 45 mins, plus some other tips that can shorten the time. –  mdma May 13 '13 at 12:08
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Yet you didn't explain why. Remember - multiple (good) answers is a good thing. –  fire.eagle May 13 '13 at 13:52
    
Nor does this answer state why - just states that it can be done with highly modified malts. Why is that? –  mdma May 13 '13 at 20:11
    
Look better after the edit? –  Denny Conn May 13 '13 at 20:25
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I do not want to displease neither of our graceful admins :) but this answer was to first one to get to the point imoh. –  Paolo May 14 '13 at 12:10
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The speed of the mash is mainly down to enzymatic activity, and this is influenced chiefly by temperature and then by pH. Naturally you don't want to change your temperature, so the next thing is to be sure your pH is within 5.1-5.5 pH.

As well as enzymatic activity, there is the time it takes for the enzymes to leach out of the grains into the mash liquor. A finer crush may help to some degree but I doubt it will anywhere near the 50% reduction you're looking for.

To get any significant reduction, you can skip the 30 minutes at 56C, which is at the top end of a protein rest. Modern malts have had many of the proteins already broken down as part of the germination process - in fact performing a protein rest on these malts can reduce body and head retention. A mash out rest isn't strictly necessary either - it's there to lock in the current sugar profile by denaturing the enzymes to prevent further conversion. The mash out can be combined with the sparge. Cutting both of those rests will reduce your mash by 45 mins.

Lastly, rather than just waiting for the full rest, you could do a starch test with iodine to determine if there are still unconverted starches or not. Pull off a few drops of wort (without grain particles) and add a drop if iodine. If the iodine doesn't turn black, you're done.

Personally, I always do 90 minute mashes, longer for bigger beers. I set enough time aside so that I can give each step the time it needs.

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