Multi-Step Mashing - Is It Necessary?

Many beer recipes call for multi-step mashing, but what is the purpose for this and is it even necessary?

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Multi-Step Mashing - Is It Necessary?

As an all grain homebrewer, I have always used 60 minute single step infusion mashes for brewing beer. This strategy involves heating water to a strike temperature (easily calculated using Brewgr) that is above your target mash temperature, so that when you add your grains in, the temperature will drop down to your target temperature. Then you maintain this temperature for 60 minutes.

I have recently come across a lot of recipes that request a multi-step mashing schedule including rests at different temperatures, generally trending from lower to higher temperatures as you go along. The purpose of these rests are to activate enzymes that will assist in converting starches into fermentable sugars. There are a few typical rests that can be used in multi-step mashing:

  1. Protein Rest: Typically held at temperatures between 113°F and 131°F (45°C to 55°C), the protein rest helps break down large proteins into smaller peptides, which can aid in yeast nutrition and improve head retention. It's especially useful when using grains with high protein content or undermodified malts.

  2. Beta-Glucan Rest: Conducted at about 95°F to 113°F (35°C to 45°C), this rest helps break down beta-glucans in grains like rye or barley, which have high beta-glucan content. This rest can reduce the viscosity of the mash, making it easier to handle and less prone to issues like stuck sparges.

  3. Saccharification Rests: There are generally two key temperatures:

    • Beta-amylase Rest: Held at 131°F to 150°F (55°C to 65°C), this rest favors the activity of beta-amylase enzymes, which produce more fermentable sugars, resulting in a drier beer.

    • Alpha-amylase Rest: At 154°F to 162°F (68°C to 72°C), this rest activates alpha-amylase enzymes, which help in breaking down starch into less fermentable sugars, contributing to a sweeter, fuller-bodied beer.

Is Multi-Step Mashing Really Necessary?

The answer generally is no. Multi-step mashes were important in the past because kilning and malting was not well understood, so the malt was generally under modified with low enzyme levels. Today, with modern malts have very high enzyme levels, making multi-step mashing mostly unnecessary.

There are certain recipes that could benefit from multi-step mashing, particularly ones with a high percentage of unmalted ingredients, including wheat or uncooked cereals. At some point I would like to give it a try; it would be fairly simple to achieve using an all-in-one brewing system like the Brewzilla Gen 4 because you have temperature control over the mash.

Have You Brewed Using a Multi-Step Mash?

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Beer Trivia Question

🍺 Brewed in 1967, what was the first “light” beer?

Read to the end to find out if you're right!

Homebrewing Equipment Highlight

If you’ve always wanted a fermenter that can pressure ferment and allow for closed pressure transfers, but can’t afford a stainless steel fermenter, the Fermzilla All Rounder is a great option. I personally have never used one, but I have heard amazing things, and you can’t beat the price point.

Brewgr Recipe of the Week

This is actually a cloned recipe originally from BrewBoet, but it caught my eye because I’ve always been interested in brewing a cream ale. Gennesse makes a solid cream ale, which is an ale that tastes similar to a lager. The name is misleading - a good cream ale doesn’t taste creamy at all.

I appreciate everyone who voted on this poll and gave feedback, and it was exciting to see that 63% of people said they would be interested in a Brewgr Keg! If you missed the email last week, click here and vote on the poll to give feedback.

I am still working on the 3D printed prototype, working on the IoT architecture (targeting MQTT protocol), and working out the code for the app and the microcontroller. There are quite a few moving parts so I don’t expect it to be an easy or short project, but I will provide updates in these weekly emails with progress reports and requests for feedback as they come up.

And the Answer Is...

🍺 Gablinger’s Diet Beer was released by the New York Rheingold Brewery in 1967, and was a complete flop. If you guessed Miller Lite, you get at least half credit - this was the first light beer that was a commercial success, launched in 1975 under the successful campaign “Tastes great, less filling”.

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Happy Brewing!

- Brandon, Brew Great Beer Team

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