Welcome to BeerAdvocate!

Looking to talk, rate or trade beer? Join today by creating your free account.

Dismiss Notice
Curious about recent updates to the site and app? Check the Announcements forum for updates.
Dismiss Notice
Love Belgian Beer?

Join us Sep 17 in Portland, Maine for Return of the Belgian Beer Fest, featuring hundreds of authentic Belgian beers and Belgian-inspired offerings.

Tickets + more: beeradvocate.com/belgian

Mashing: Water to grains or grains to water?

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by JUNCK, Mar 8, 2013.

  1. JUNCK

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2011
    Posts:
    159
    Likes Received:
    24
    Location:
    Washington
    In John Palmer's book he says water to grains. I just watched a video of him brewing a mild and his side kick was adding grains to water while he stirred.

    I use a 10 gallon cooler and I am brewing a 15lb grain bill tomorrow and I want to know what everyone thinks is the best way to mash in tomorrow.

    I'm brewing by my lonesome if that helps answer the question.
     
  2. VikeMan

    Beer Trader

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2009
    Posts:
    10,394
    Likes Received:
    6,394
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    I add grains to water. In theory that's potentially an enzyme killer, but in practice it hasn't been an issue.

    Edit: should have mentioned that the reason I do it that way is that I think it's easier to get an even mixture without doughballs that way.
     
    cavedave and OddNotion like this.
  3. JUNCK

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2011
    Posts:
    159
    Likes Received:
    24
    Location:
    Washington
    I think I will try it this way for the first time tomorrow. I'll heat my water to 170 as I normally do, pour that water in the heated mash tun and start adding the grains and stir. I am assuming I'll hit 155 like I do when I add water to grains.
     
  4. Jtc2811

    Beer Trader

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2011
    Posts:
    365
    Likes Received:
    155
    Location:
    California
    Doesn't matter as long as you hit your strike temp and stir the shit out of it. Pros probably do grain to water because of volume
     
  5. VikeMan

    Beer Trader

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2009
    Posts:
    10,394
    Likes Received:
    6,394
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Do you have any brewing software? There are algorithms that can calculate the required temp of your strike water for a given volume of water and a given weight of grain in order to hit a desired mash temp. I use a spreadsheet I tailored to my system, so don't know much about what programs would be good for this, but someone else will know.

    Edit: I just remembered that the G.B. Rackers have an online calculator...
    http://www.rackers.org/calcs.shtml
    With this calculator, I'd also recommend going 3-4 degrees higher with your strike water to account for heat the mash tun will absorb. Either that, or preheat the tun.
     
  6. JUNCK

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2011
    Posts:
    159
    Likes Received:
    24
    Location:
    Washington
    I have Beer Tools I only have Macs in the house. Wonder if that can do it?
     
  7. JUNCK

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2011
    Posts:
    159
    Likes Received:
    24
    Location:
    Washington
    Awesome! I am going to use this and takes notes now.
     
  8. wspscott

    Subscriber

    Joined:
    May 25, 2006
    Posts:
    1,524
    Likes Received:
    1,137
    Location:
    Kentucky
    I do what Vikeman does, grains to water. I use this calculator http://brewheads.com/batch.php to figure out what temp the water should be at before I add the grain. Assuming you use a cooler to mash, this lets you pre-heat the cooler to the correct temp. Basically, I add about a gallon of 165-170 water to the cooler and let it sit for 5-10 minutes. Then I add the rest of the water at the calculated strike temperature. Check the temp and it is usually close enough (within 1-2 degrees). This works much better than adding a bunch of hot water to grain and hoping that you calculated correctly because you don't add the grain until the water/cooler is at the proper temp.
     
  9. VikeMan

    Beer Trader

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2009
    Posts:
    10,394
    Likes Received:
    6,394
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    I just played around with the G.B.R. calculator, and it appears they did add some default factor for mash tun absorption, so you probably don't need to add anything to the answer. You might want to shoot for a mash temp in the middle of the road, so that if you are plus or minus a few degrees, you'll still be in a reasonable range. Once you see how far off you are, you'll be able to start dialing in your system for future calculations.
     
  10. scurvy311

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2005
    Posts:
    1,249
    Likes Received:
    811
    Location:
    Louisiana
    I also go grain into water. The first few times I couldn't figure out how I got so much malt material under my false bottom. I figured it was from pouring the water in was lifting the false bottle enough to let/force malt to get under it. I have never had an efficiency issue that I couldn't trace to some other obvious screwup first.
     
  11. inchrisin

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2008
    Posts:
    4,626
    Likes Received:
    1,844
    Location:
    Indiana
    Grain into water. For me, I use ambient temp for my grains and + 14F to my desired mash temp. If I want to mash at 150F, my strike water is at 164F. I'm usually within a degree on a standard 5 gal batch. You should heat your mash tun a touch hotter than your desired strike water temp. Let it cool to temp and add your grains pretty slowly. It shouldn't take more than a couple of minutes, but I have noticed significantly less dough balls and less time needed stirring when adding grains to the water.
     
  12. psnydez86

    Beer Trader

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2012
    Posts:
    1,738
    Likes Received:
    1,675
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    I do grain into water. My 48qt cooler soaks up about 6-8 degrees of my strike water temp. If I brewmaster tells me I need 15.67 quarts at 166f I usually put in 173-176f water and dough in once it equalize's and is at 166f. Gotta learn your own system.
     
  13. JUNCK

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2011
    Posts:
    159
    Likes Received:
    24
    Location:
    Washington
    Ugh, can't wait to get my Brew-Magic.
     
  14. nozferatu46

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2008
    Posts:
    159
    Likes Received:
    48
    Location:
    Indiana
    I do grain to water.

    My first couple all grain batches I added water on top of the grain. Once I started adding the grain to water my efficiency went up quite a bit.
     
  15. AlCaponeJunior

    Joined:
    May 21, 2010
    Posts:
    3,371
    Likes Received:
    1,448
    Location:
    Texas
    I do water to grain. Beersmith II calculates temperatures, and I've dialed them in over a bunch of batches. Note that I am only using a 5 gallon igloo, so stirring is pretty easy. If I were doing ten gallon batches this might not hold true and adding grain to water might be better. We'll see when I upgrade which way works out best.
     
  16. Soneast

    Beer Trader

    Joined:
    May 9, 2008
    Posts:
    386
    Likes Received:
    486
    Location:
    Wisconsin
    This is exactly my process as well.
     
  17. FarmerTed

    Joined:
    May 31, 2011
    Posts:
    806
    Likes Received:
    661
    Location:
    Colorado
    I've done it both ways, but have settled on grains-to-water. It's a lot easier on the back. Back wins.
     
    billandsuz likes this.
  18. mattbk

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2011
    Posts:
    860
    Likes Received:
    558
    Location:
    New York
    Also water to grain. I've had same experience using BS2 in both 5 and 10 gallon batches. Easy to get within a degree every time, no pre-heating necessary. I'm obsessive about mash temp though, and freak out if I'm more than a few degrees off - so I personally prefer the peace of mind to the hard labor of getting the mash mixed. I'll try it the other way sometime though, always looking for potential improvements.
     
  19. AlCaponeJunior

    Joined:
    May 21, 2010
    Posts:
    3,371
    Likes Received:
    1,448
    Location:
    Texas
    I don't freak out if I'm a few degrees off, lol. But I'm usually not off. :D
     
  20. WickedSluggy

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2008
    Posts:
    1,066
    Likes Received:
    857
    Location:
    Texas
    I add water then grain then more water. Then I stir. Then I circulate. I typically tend to undershoot the temp by a couple degrees and bring it up through my RIMS tube.
     
  21. utahbeerdude

    Joined:
    May 2, 2006
    Posts:
    1,343
    Likes Received:
    1,007
    Location:
    Utah
    Water to grain, but not all at once. I'll add some of the water, and do some stirring, add some more water, stir some more, etc. IMO, these incremental additions help to avoid dough balls. The reason I do it this way is it keeps my process simpler. I grind my grains into my mash tun (7 gal SS pot w/ screen and valve), and so they are sitting there waiting for the water. I use a 2 quart sauce pan to transfer water from the hot liquor tank into the mash tun. I tried water to grain once, but with my setup I had a harder time with dough balls, but that was probably because I did not stir effectively as the grain was being added.
     
  22. leedorham

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2006
    Posts:
    2,542
    Likes Received:
    4,335
    Location:
    Washington
    I hope you have money coming out your peehole.

    My respect for brewers who spring for those things is mitigated somewhat. So many other upgrades that would benefit your beer more.
     
  23. mugs1789

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2005
    Posts:
    346
    Likes Received:
    101
    Location:
    Maryland
    I add a gallon of water, my grains, and then the rest of my water. Somebody on this forum recommended that once and I have blindly followed that method ever since. The original suggestion stated that it reduced doughballs.
     
  24. GreenKrusty101

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2008
    Posts:
    3,985
    Likes Received:
    1,699
    Location:
    Nevada
    Caramel, rice hulls and roast first followed by enzymatic grains to water...unless I'm mashing high, then I'm not so anal about the order.
     
  25. cavedave

    Beer Trader

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2009
    Posts:
    7,859
    Likes Received:
    43,233
    Location:
    New York
    I do grain to water, but hold back some grain. Always afraid to shut the enzymes so I add the last 1/4 of the grain when the water is below 168. I've heard modern 2 row has enough enzyme to do the whole thing from 1/4 of the bill.
     
  26. leedorham

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2006
    Posts:
    2,542
    Likes Received:
    4,335
    Location:
    Washington
    Your instincts seem to be the opposite of mine. I dump it all in and stir fast figuring I want as much thermal mass in there as fast as possible to cool the water down. I figure if I add it in stages, the first addition will be more likely to suffer shock since it won't have enough thermal mass to bring the temp down quickly.
     
  27. cavedave

    Beer Trader

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2009
    Posts:
    7,859
    Likes Received:
    43,233
    Location:
    New York
    That's how I always did it, about 6 mo.s ago a member of the club suggested the way I spoke of. Truth told I get the same results both ways so far, some variation in efficiency, but not weighted one way or the other. Def. easier doing it the old way.
     
  28. sarcastro

    Beer Trader

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2006
    Posts:
    1,631
    Likes Received:
    1,254
    Location:
    Michigan
    Water to Grain, but have been considering switching.
     
  29. JUNCK

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2011
    Posts:
    159
    Likes Received:
    24
    Location:
    Washington
    I added grains to water for my first time today. I liked it. Missed my mash temp by 3 degrees so next time I know to heat the strike water to 168. I got 75% efficiency and came close to hitting the target 1.065 I got 1.068. Super excited to drink this all Citra Pale.
     
  30. JUNCK

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2011
    Posts:
    159
    Likes Received:
    24
    Location:
    Washington
    I have a job and a savings account.

    Benefit more than a Brew-Magic? Like?
     
  31. bulletrain76

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2007
    Posts:
    742
    Likes Received:
    978
    Location:
    California
    Grains to water. I mash in a cooler and heat my water to about 7 degrees over strike and pour it in. I give it a couple minutes to equalize with the cooler, and its usually at strike temp or a couple degrees over. If over, I just leave it open for a few minutes to cool. Then I get the grain in while stirring within a minute or so. Enzymes don't denature instantly, so if you are getting things mixed up within a few minutes, denaturation should be insignificant.

    I remember the first time I brewed all-grain I added water to the grain and it was absolutely awful to get it all evenly mixed in a shirt amount of time. Didn't want to repeat that.
     
    EdH likes this.
  32. billandsuz

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2004
    Posts:
    2,274
    Likes Received:
    1,913
    Location:
    New York
    wow.
    i learned a i have been doing it wrong for so long. damn Palmer.
    now i can't wait to hit a homerun on Sunday brewday. honest.

    thanks all.
     
  33. EdH

    EdH

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2005
    Posts:
    216
    Likes Received:
    112
    Location:
    Utah
    Same here. Pre-heating the cooler first makes dialing in the mash temp much less of a hassle.
     
  34. Jesse14

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2011
    Posts:
    548
    Likes Received:
    367
    Location:
    Massachusetts
    I've been doing water to grains based on Palmer's recommendations too. I've had no issues yet but it does seem like more work than it needs to be. The latest BYO magazine had an article that talked about this topic. It suggested a third option of adding increments of each as you go....so a gallon of water and a couple pounds of grain, mix and repeat. Haven't tried it yet but may be the best of both worlds (prevent dough balls and lessen chance of killing enzymes).
     
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • Return of the Belgian Beer Fest

    BeerAdvocate Brings its All-Belgian Fest to Portland, Maine on September 17, 2016. Tickets are on sale now.

    Learn More
  • Get the Mag

    Become a BeerAdvocate magazine print subscriber today.

    Subscribe