Wednesday, July 9, 2014

I Mash In My Sleep: Overnight Mashing

I'm all about cutting time out of the brewday for other, more important things like family.  One thing I have done to facilitate this is brewing multiple batches from one mash.  The other is to mash-in the night before I brew, go to sleep, then sparge and bring to a boil in the morning when the boys wake me up.

I use a cooler for my mash. I mash a fewer degrees higher than I normally would, and keep a normal pH.   Basically I follow my standard All-Grain mash with batch sparge, except I go to sleep for the night during the mash itself.  After doughing in, I wrap the cooler in an electric blanket, and then also wrap it in a sleeping bag. I lose about 1*F per hour, and usually mash 9-10 hours total.  I also mash for 10 gallon batches to get my MLT near maxed out to improve heat losses.

I don't have a pH meter or strips so I don't know what the drop in pH is, but if I don't acidify the sparge water my beers have a flabby finish from too high of a finishing pH (if I add acid to the beer in the glass it is no longer flabby). I know that it is a pH thing and not an overnight mash thing as I have had it on some recent regular 60 minute mashed beers as well. 

I have never had any lactic acid or off flavors present themselves in any of the (so far) 21 beers over 10 mashes that I have done with this method, which includes 2 Pilsners. Both of these beers were judged in BJCP comps, and one placed 3rd in category. With only 10 hours of time and temps above 130*F I've never had any issues. I have started to blanket the mash w/ CO2 before closing up just in case. I had one mash that I did a partigyle on, the second runnings beer was all GP with very low hopping, and 1056. When I burped after a swallow I could get a faint and very mild aftertaste of sour mash gone bad, not disgusting, just a very low taste like my bad sour mash Berliner from a few years ago. It didn't show up in the big beer, just the second runnings one, and again, only after a burp.

I have mashed at 149*F-152*F with no sugar added and gotten very low FG beers. I have mashed at 160*F on a 1.112 Wee Heavy (the first runnings beer mentioned above), fermented with 1968 & 1056, and finished at 1.033. I went from around 76% extract efficiency to 86%, even a couple at 90%. 

I haven't really had any issues with stuck sparges from using this method either.  I have done 28.5% Flaked Rye without Rice Hulls and had no gumming issues.  I recently did a no Rice Hull, 62% Wheat Malt, mash for 17.5 gallons preboil, and only had a small stuck sparge on the first runnings, which with that much huskless grain in the mash probably would've happened with a 60 minute mash too (I've had a stuck sparge on this recipe before).

It really does make life a lot easier; I put the boys to bed on Friday night, dough in, wrap up, have a beer and watch TV with my wife for an hour or so, go to bed, wake up with the boys, fire up the sparge water, batch sparge for 10.5 gallons post boil, either partigyle, split boil, or single boil/split ferment, and am usually done by noon, 2 at the latest when I partigyle. 

I have also used this to get a brewday in when we had plans for the morning.  There was a Saturday where we had plans from 9:45-5 out of town, I mashed in the morning, left for the day, came back and finished in the evening (can be used during week too around work schedule).


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