Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Doughing-In with Infusion Mashing

Doughing-in/mash-in refers to the mixing of pre-measured crushed grains and heated water in order to sustain a constant mash temperature for a period of time. There are many variables to consider while doughing-in (grain weight, grain temp, mashtun temp, water volume, water temp). I'd like to take this time (brewing downtime) to write about how to reduce the number of unknown variables leading to a desired initial mash temperature in an unheated mashtun.

It seems as though many home brewers, new to all-grain brewing, go through as many as 3 methods before settling on the one that works best. I've gone through this trial period, and I think it exists because of what has been published and suggested on forums.

#1. Water over Grain: Pouring the grist into the mashtun, then pouring hot strike water over it. This method involves unnecessary variables (mashtun temp & ambiguous water temp). Following it will only result in inconsistency with every batch.

#2. Pre-Heated Mashtun: Initially, preheating the mashtun sounds like a good idea because it is an attempt to take away the question of mashtun temperature. I think it only adds more confusion. How hot are you getting the mashtun? Is it getting to the same temp every time? Plus, there is an additional volume of water to preheat. Ultimately there is still ambiguity in what the strike water temp should be.

#3. Grain over Water: Pour over-heated strike water into the mashtun, stir until strike temperature is achieved, then stir in grains steadily and evenly. This method excludes mashtun temp and water temp variables, and the only minor variable is the grain temperature. As long as you know the room temperature in your home, the grain will be very close to that.

"Grain over Water" takes all the guesswork out of planning and the brewday. I have used it with pinpoint accuracy, but will come out a little high on occasion. If the mash temperature settles too high it can easily be stirred and cooled. It's never fallen short.

Finding a good equation or infusion mashing software is important. Note that Tastybrew and Promash do not take into account mashtun temperature, so "Grain over Water" is the appropriate method when utilizing these applications.

It would be interesting to find out how many other methods brewer's have used. I would also like to know if this is helpful to you. If you have any questions, please ask.

Check out the following post about...
Tips for Better Infusion Mashing


The Bearded Brewer said...

This is good to know. In partial mashing, I used to do the "water over grain method" but have done the "grain into water" method recently. It sounds like I should keep it up.
Thanks for the post!

Kevin LaVoy said...

I never really figured I had a choice, I guess. I was in the middle of reading New Brewing Lager Beer when I did my first all grain. He had written something like: always wet over dry. I figured he probably knew what he was talking about, and that part has worked fine so far.

My technique (young though it is): I mash in a 5 gallon cooler. I preheat it by pouring a couple pint of boiling water from a teapot while the strike water is heating up. I dump that, in goes the grain, and then the strike water. I mashed in 2 degrees high on Sunday, so I added another couple pints of room temp water, gave it a good stir, and the mash proceeded as planned. Even my decoction mash out went right on. I know it's an inexact science with preheating the tun, but I think the main thing is to get it somewhat up to temperature so it doesn't suck up heat. That's probably always true unless you're using a metal tun that is exactly heated to dough in temp. Drink coolers weren't really designed to be precision brewing instruments.

That part has worked so far, so unless something happens, I'm guessing I'll stick with it for now anyway. My main advance this last brew was re-reading your post on getting clearer wort. I drained much more slowly for the vorlaufing (as you suggested), and had no problems whatsoever with the sparge. I think my main efficiency issue right now is that I fly sparge with a bottling bucket, which admittedly, does not hold temps very well at all.

Brian said...

howdy Ted!

Its funny..I actually just declared that I would never do that "god d$$#" water onto grain method anymore...my consistancy sucks!

Great post, and very timely! Thanks for the info.

Travis said...

I use the water over grain. Beer Smith takes into account mash tun temp in it's calculations and you can set it.

The way that I deal with that is to keep my grains and mash tun cooler in the basement the night before so they are the same temp every time. This is a pretty simple adjustment that has allowed me to figure out with pretty good precision what I am striking at (within a few degrees).

Also, because I brew in the garage in frigid upstate New York, the water looses temp in the process of being added to the mash tun so I try and make an "on the fly" decision about that. By the seat of my pants as always!!!

Ted Danyluk said...

the bearded brewer, sounds like you have settled into this method and it works for you. Great!

Kevin, use what ever method works for you. Perhaps you will be able to achieve consistency, but I never did with the other two methods. There is also a larger risk of dough-balls with "water into grain." Also, you are heating up another volume of water in the tea kettle (do you pour that out before the grains go in?). Also, adding more water to cool a mash increases the qt/lb ratio, so simply stirring will cool the wort sufficiently. In general, fly sparging pushes some of the fine vorlauffed sediment through the grain bed anyway (batch sparging clearly leaves it all on the top)

Brian, sounds good. I'm glad you agree, and find that it works well for you. Thanks.

Travis, using a method that gives consistency is the main goal. I do question however, the extra steps it takes to move around the equipment. But I guess you gotta bring it all outside anyways...right?

Thanks for all your input. Its great reading about where you all are coming from. Kind-of like a club meeting here. Sweet!

Travis said...


Yea, I get my stuff ground at the brew shop so I have to haul it all over the place. We have that part all mapped out. I was actually thinking about dumping the grain in with the water this time, kind of at the same time. Make sense?


Ted Danyluk said...

Sorry Travis, it doesn't make much sense. Still has temperature ambiguity, and it seems hit-or-miss.

After all-grain brewing for some time, do you have a set method that works just about every time? I posted this and the following "tips" entry to share a method that works very well in deed. But by all means, experiment to find what works for you, and gets you good efficiency.

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