RESPECT YOUR ENZYMES

Carl Heron, Craft Brewing Sales Manager at Crisp Malt and Master Brewer, explains why brewers should be obsessing about enzymes. 

Carl Heron, Craft Brewing Sales Manager at Crisp Malt and Master Brewer, explains why brewers should be obsessing about enzymes. 

Good beers start with great mashes. Understand the variables, and you can shape the final flavour, colour, body and texture with precision and accuracy. Crucial to all this is the mash and sparge temperatures. 

For amylase enzymes to break starch into fermentable sugars, the starch needs to gelatinise. The tight structures of most cereal grains need temperatures above 60°C to unfold and make the starch accessible. If you want to add rice or maize at normal mash temperatures, they must be torrefied.

Amylases work at 62 to 73°C. The temperature you choose for a single infusion system helps determine fermentability. For lower gravity beers with cleaner, crisper finishes, stick with temperatures around 62°C. To achieve higher gravity, more body and mouthfeel, try at least 68°C. Bear in mind that a more complex malt grist may require a little more time for full conversion.

Ensure sparge temperatures of 77 to 80°C to deactivate the amylases during run-off.

Important too are the crushed malt grist fractions. 

Go for grists of 50% coarse, 40% medium and 10% fine for a mash tun, and 40%, 50% and 10% respectively for a lauter tun. The finer the crush, the higher the extract efficiency – but of course you need the coarse material to act as a filter bed.

Liquor to grist ratio makes a huge difference.

The reaction rate of amylases is affected by the mash’s temperature, thickness and pH. Go for a liquor to grist ratio of 2.5 : 1  in mash tuns and 3 : 1 in lauter tuns.

It’s worth correcting alkalinity and pH.

Try adding food grade acids to hard brewing liquor to reduce alkalinity. Use brewing salts to help create the levels of minerals that will achieve the optimal pH of 5.2.

To reiterate, utterly respect the enzymes: they are the key to unlocking your mash mastery.