Originally written for homebrewtalk.com – please find the link here: http://www.homebrewtalk.com/introduction-to-cereal-mash.html
Many all-grain brewers seem to be put off when anything beyond a single infusion comes up in a recipe. Terms like “triple decoction” conjure up images of steampunk laboratories, mad scientists, and hump-backed henchman. Cereal mashing seems to get the same response, which is understandable as just about every article on the subject is filled with diastatic calculations, gelatinization temps, etc. which no one having a beer on brew day wants to remotely contend with.
At this point, I should tell you that the benefit of cereal mashing is simply that you, by adding an hour or less to your brew day, will be able to use any grain, flour,or other cereal in your beers without exception. Wheat flour, corn meal, sorghum porridge, millet flour, Ethiopian teff, triticale meal, rye flour – even garbanzo bean flour (if you happen to be so inclined)! Considering the versatility of this simple process and what it could do for all home brewers, I did the noble thing and booted all the science out the window! Here I’ll present you with just the bare-bones process in 4 easy steps. Should you be feeling somewhat intelligent, which might include the homebrew-imbibed type, there is a “DETAILS” section after each step which explains what and why we are doing what we’re doing. The only calculations you will be doing are the ones you already do in all-grain brewing on a single infusion recipe, and I have included a recipe of a delightfully crisp Cream Ale to practice with. Well, let’s get on with it then…
Extra Equipment You’ll Need:
An extra 3 gallon or larger pot (extremely technical, I know).
A note regarding your adjunct of choice: Whatever grain you choose to add to your beer, it is highly recommended that you grind it as fine as possible – or you could just buy it ready made as either a meal or flour. For example, in this type of procedure corn meal is preferable to corn grits because it’s been ground finer and you’ll get a bit more out of it.
A note regarding the amount of barley to use in the cereal mash: Simply take the weight of all the barley malt for the recipe, remove 10% of it and add it to the cereal mash pot.
STEP 1: The “Dump Everything in a Pot” Step
What we’re are actually doing? We are making a thin, watery porridge from your adjunct, 10% barley malt mix and cold water.
What to do in this step: Add your adjunct (the flour, meal, grain of your choice) to the pot, 10% of your barley malt mix and simply add water until it becomes quite watery and pours like cream. You can test this by scooping some up and pouring it back into the pot. If there were noticeable lumps, add more water. Was it a smooth pour? Great!
Step 1 Details: We need to hydrate the adjunct mixture to the point that it absorbs all the water it can, while remaining liquid. This will allow both gelatinization of the grain, as well as enzymatic activity from the malt enzymes to occur in the following steps. Note: The amount of water is not important, only the consistency of the mix.
STEP 2: The “Dealing With the Stickiness” Step.
What are we actually doing? We are heating the mixture to a certain point and leaving it there for 15 minutes.
What to do in this step: Turn on your burner / stove / heat source, and heat the “mini-mash” to 122°F or 50°C. Close your pot and wait 15 minutes. The rate at which you heat the mix is up to you; you can either heat slowly, stirring gently or heat quickly and stir like a madman…it’s up to you. After this step, you’ll notice that your mash doesn’t stick or clump at all anymore – clever, huh?
Step 2 Details: We are heating the mixture to a point where the peptidases in the malts become active (namely 45°C to 53°C for long chain proteins). Beta glucans are also reasonably active at this temp and help get your mixture to flow freely.
STEP 3: The “Squeeze Them Sugars” Step.
What we are actually doing? Heating the pot again to a certain point and leaving it there for 15 minutes.
What to do in this step: Turn on your burner / stove / heat source and heat the “mini-mash” to 149°F or 65°C. Close your pot and wait 15 minutes.
Step 3 Details: As there are starch particles suspended in solution that are able to be converted at this point, a saccharification rest converts them and assists in increasing efficiency in your overall mash procedure.
STEP 4: The “Final Boil” Step
What we are actually doing? We are boiling the mixture for 30 minutes.
What to do in this step: Turn on your burner / stove / heat source and boil the “mini-mash” for 30 minutes.
Step 4 Details: Irrespective of the specific grain you decide to use, boiling will gelatinize ALL of them. Gelatinization allows the alpha and beta amylase from the main mash to convert the newly gelatinized starches to sugars.
STEP 5: Combining Your Mashes
What we are actually doing? We are combining the separate mashes to perform the usual single infusion mash.
What to do in this step: At this point many books make references to keeping your main mash going and adding the boiling mix to your other mash to raise the temperature to the correct temperature – which is not all as easy as it’s cracked up to be for most hobby brewers. Here is the easy way:
- Calculate your temperatures for your single infusion mash as normal.
- Dough in your remaining malt into the main mash tun as per usual.
- Add cold water in little bits to your cereal mash pot until it is at the same temperature as your main mash.
- Dump in your cereal mash from the pot to your main mash tun.
- Go get another beer.
Step 5 Details: Many books will tell you to cereal mash in such a way, that it works almost like a decoction i.e. where you keep your main mash at a protein rest and then throw your boiling cereal mash in to get the entire mix to saccharification temperature. While that method is by far the most efficient, it also takes a lot of very good timing to get it right – not the kind of thing that would help most people get used to this kind of procedure. Instead, I have opted to keep all the processes simple and “single infusion” as possible, which simply means the only drawback of my procedure outlined here is that you would take an hour longer to brew – or as most would understand it, drinking 2 to 3 homebrews more than usual (hardly a reason for complaining). If you want some more info on how the cereal mash is calculated, please see the trailing section below on diastatic calculations…
Kruger Brewer’s Universal Cereal Mash Cream Ale recipe
This is a very easy recipe that you can use to get used to a cereal mash procedure. In addition, you can swap out the yellow corn meal and replace it with any other adjunct (unmalted grain) you like – a very good way to get to grips with the flavors of different adjunct ingredients!
Batch Size: 5 gallons (19 liters)
Estimated efficiency: 70%
- 2kg (4.4 lbs) 6 Row malt
- 1.5kg (3.3 lbs) Pale malt
- 1kg (2.2 lbs) Yellow corn meal (or any other flour, meal, etc. you feel like)
- 10g (0.35 oz) Falconer’s Flight hops ~ 60 min bittering addition – 13.5 IBU
- 10g (0.35 oz) Liberty hops ~ 30 min flavoring addition – 4 IBU
- 1 packet Safale US-05 yeast
Single Infusion at 149 °F or 65 °C for 75 minutes.
The amount of barley malt to remove in the recipe above for your cereal mash is 350g (about 12 oz) for Step 1. The first step in this recipe is to complete the cereal mash as outlined in the article above. Once you are finished with the cereal mash boil (Step 4), you can continue to prepare your main mash as you normally would. Next, mash in your grains and get to the required temperature in a single infusion scenario. While your main mash is in the mash tun at saccharification temperatures, cool your cereal mash to the same temperature – namely, 65 degrees Celsius or 149 degrees Fahrenheit – and simply add to your mash tun within the first 15 minutes of mashing. (Please see Step 5 for more info).
I sincerely hope that you will use the methods and information outlined above to your advantage and that you will use your newly acquired skills to make some truly amazing brews! Good luck!