[Brewery Series] The Scoop on MobCraft’s Mashing Process

[Brewery Series] The Scoop on MobCraft’s Mashing Process


Hey guys! My name is Andrew Gierczak, head of brewery operations and head brewer for MobCraft and I’m here to talk to
you about mashing. This is the Brewery Series! Welcome to MobCraft! So the first
thing we’re going to talk about is mashing and one of the important things
I always like to think about it as there’s an old -ism in the brewing
industry and that’s that the only difference between bread and beer is how
much water you add. Beer is literally liquid bread. In fact, as far as the
ancient Egyptians were concerned this was literally the case. Their bakeries and
their breweries were actually the same building and the only difference between
the two as far as the ancient Egyptians was concerned was how much water they
added. If they were making bread they’d add a little less water, if they were
making beer they’d add a little more water. Mashing is essentially the very
first step in the brewing process. It’s the part where we add hot water and we
mix it with our malt that’s been crushed in a mill. This is important because this
is the step where we actually extract sugars from the grain which is what the
yeast is going to use to actually ferment the beer.So it’s really all
about creating a sugar-rich solution which we call wort. Here at MobCraft
we get most of our malt, actually about 97% of them are actually sourced right
here within the state. We get some of them from Malteurop which is located
right here in Milwaukee. And then we get all of our specialty
malts from Briess which is located up in Chilton, Wisconsin. And then we’ll maybe
source 3% of our malts as imported malts depending on where
they’re coming from and depending on what style of beer. Malt is basically barley or, for that
matter, any cereal crop that has undergone a sprouting process. They
basically maximize the sprouting process for sugar production and then they kill
it off about five to seven days into the germination of the plant and then they
dry it down remove all the moisture and essentially biologically inactivate
all the enzymes.They don’t kill them. From that point, they’ll actually subject
the barley to a variety of different roasting or kilning procedures which
gives you all the different types of malts. For example, this is an example of a
malt that’s actually roasted just like coffee in a drum roaster. It’s called
roasted barley and unsurprisingly it actually gives a lot of the same flavors
as coffee or dark chocolate. This is what will lend color to stouts and roasted
character to darker beers. This is another fascinating malt right here this
is called crystal malt. It’s so named because it actually forms a little
caramelized pieces of sugar inside the barley kernel. What they’ll do is they’ll
actually “stew” the grains which means they’ll convert all the starch to sugar
inside the barley kernel and then they’ll kiln that and all the sugars
inside caramelize and you get a nice tasty product. The third major type of
malt that we use here is just regular plain old base malt and the base malt
is basically as close as you can get to the raw barley product. Once the barley has been germinated, they’ll dry it down and they’ll roast it
or kiln it and then this is the base malt that we get. Once the grain arrives here from our
maltsters, we need to weigh it out. The second part is crushing it and what that
crushing does is basically that crushing crushes the grain so we can expose the
inner surface area of the grain where all the starch and enzymes are located
to help convert the starch to sugar once we add hot water. The enzymes that
convert these starches are water soluble which is why it’s important for us to
add water to the grain as we’re mashing in. So we’ve weighed out all our grain, it’s
up in the top of the grist case and now we’re finally ready to start mashing.
We’ll add hot water from our hot liquor tank and we’ll start feeding our grain
in and we’ll start hydrating the grain as it goes into our mash lauter tun. As
we start mixing the grain and water together, what’s going to start happening
is those enzymes that are water-soluble are going to start activating and start
converting the starch to sugar. Once all the malt has been added and all the
water’s been added, we’re going to mix that up and then we’re going to let it
sit for about 20 minutes and let it settle and start the conversion process
of starch to sugar. This is where wort is actually created. Once we’ve let it
settle out for a little bit we’re actually going to start recirculating in
the wort from the bottom of the mash tun all the way over the top and we’re
actually going to use the grain bed as a natural filter media. What this is going
to achieve is this is going to allow us to actually filter the sugar water or
wort and get all the fines and start with something that’s relatively cloudy
and we end up with actually something that’s relatively clear which is just
really cool and fascinating. It takes between about an hour and an
hour and a half from the time we add the grain and the water to the time we’re
ready to start running our sugar water or wort off into our boil kettle. The next
process involves the process known as sparging. Sparging is where once we start
running off the primary sugar extract into our kettle we’ll actually
add more water over the top of the grain bed and that process is known as
sparging. What that sparging process does is that sparging continues to extract
sugars from the grain bed. As we start running off we are continually and
diminishingly extracting sugars from the grain bed and once we have our total
sugar concentration that we want to achieve in our boil kettle, then we’ll
cut that process off and we’ll start draining the lauter tun. As we start
draining the lauter tun, what we’ll do is we’ll take our mashout rake, we’ll drop
that and then we’ll start turning the rakes open the side manway door. We’ll
start pushing the grain out into one of our blue mash out bins then we’ll use
our forklift and we’ll carry it outside and then once our spent grain farmer is
ready he’ll actually take his trailer come on down here, pick it up, we’ll dump
it into his trailer he’ll drive off back to his farm and feed it to all the
little happy piggies on the farm or he’ll compost whatever the pigs don’t eat. In
fact a lot of people tend to think that most of the spent grain is actually used
for animal feed. In reality, you’d have to have a very large farm in order to be
able to use all the spent grain that we’re producing so what a lot of farmers
or what a lot of gardening businesses do is they’ll actually end up composting
the large majority of the grain that comes from breweries because there’s
just so much and you can only use a limited amount as a substitute for feed
for livestock.

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