Whether you’re visiting your favorite NH brewery or taking a go at DIY beer brewing, there are certain stages your process takes you. One of the first stages is referred to as Mash Conversion or mashing. In this article, we’re bringing you behind the scenes of stage 1 in the ultimate beer brewing process.
Milling the malt
Technically, brewing begins with a drying and heating process of raw grain. During this process, grains are opened, helping to extract starches that are needed during the mashing process. We call this milled product grist.
Mashing is the act of producing mash. Mash is the process of combining a mix of grains (barley, rye, etc.) – or the grist – with water and then heating the mixture. Depending on multiple factors, the heating temperature can range anywhere from 100 degrees Fahrenheit to 170 degrees. Another notable here is that the process typically doesn’t occur at a consistent temperature. This is where the art of brewing kicks in – a NH brewery may gradually increase the temperature before allowing the brew to rest.
Why? Well, different temperature levels react in different ways to the given enzyme of the particular grain being utilized. Temperature affects the release of proteins and fermentable sugars, which are both crucial to the integrity of the finished product’s foamability.
Mashing allows the natural enzymes within the malt to break down the starches in the grains and convert them into sugar. These sugars eventually become alcohol. Over a few hours, brewers are left with a malty liquid known as wort.
Primary methods of conversion
As with anything in life, there’s not a one size fits all solution when it comes to brewing beer. There are two main methods used in mash conversion: infusion and decoction.
Infusion mashing heats the grains in one vessel, whereas decoction mashing separates and boils a portion of the grains in a mash kettle before returning them to the mash. If you’ve ever heard of a double, or even triple decoction, it means this process was repeated to achieve a fuller result.
However, most breweries use the infusion method to achieve temperatures changes with the addition of hot water.
Mash tun, Mashing-in, and Mashing-out
The final stages of mash conversion involve resting, adding water, introducing grist, heating, resting, and testing. We’ll get into stages in future articles, so be sure to check back into our blog frequently!
Next time you’re looking for a premier NH brewery that offers a unique experience with exceptional brews, be sure to stop into Stark Brewery! Located at 500 Commercial Street in Manchester, our daily specials and events keep all of our customer’s smiling!