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> temperature control on steep to convert process, Brewer's Best Witbier recipe
Polakbrews
post Jul 28 2013, 09:46 AM
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I'm trying my first "intermediate" kit by Brewer's Best and it calls for steep to convert process (at temperatures between 148-152 degrees but never higher than 155). Being that I over prepare, I decided to set up an experiment. I used a pot with just half a gallon of hot water and placed it on the electric stove. I found out that in order to get the temperature to 150 degrees I only needed the stove setting to the lowest setting.

I have two thermometers, an electronic and a standard dial thermometer. I found out that the reading varied quite a bit. First, I placed both thermometers side by side (using a clip that attaches to the outside of the pot) and the readings were off by a 2-3 degrees. As I moved the thermometers towards the center of the pot, the temperature increased, if I placed the tip at the bottom of the pot, the temperature shot up. I realized in order to get the most consistent temperature reading, I had to stir the water. In addition, because I am using an electric stove, the heating unit automatically turn on and off quite often.

So here are my questions for you pros:

1. Should I be using a gas heating unit in order to keep the temperature as consistent as possible?
2. Since all of the grains will be steeping at the bottom of the pot, should I only concentrate on reading the temperature at the bottom of the pot (most often the reading at the bottom of the pot was about 160 degrees).
3. Should I continuously stir the water to maintain constant temperature?

Thanks everyone (IMG:style_emoticons/brewboard/beerchug.gif)
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dmtaylor
post Aug 1 2013, 07:38 AM
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Do NOT continuously stir. You lose a lot of heat that way, and contrary to what seems to make sense, it just makes the temperatures go all over the place. The truth is, mash temperature will never been consistent at different points in the mash due to the geometry of the mash tun/kettle/whatever. As far as I'm concerned (and it's worked very well for me), measuring mash temps is all about waiting 5 minutes after combining the malt and hot water, then taking the temperature in 3 or 4 spots and taking the average. I skip the first 5 minutes as the mash needs time to stabilize. It's totally okay to have some points at 158 F and some at 142 F as long as the average is right in the range. After the first 5 minutes, you will find that the temperatures are more consistent anyway and the average certainly does not change all that much the less you mess with it. I always wait 5 minutes after getting the grain wet, then make sure the average is 148-152 F (exactly like your instructions say!), adjust the temperature with added heat or cold or hot water IF necessary (with practice and good software you won't need to), then *maybe* check the temperature once again after another 5 minutes just to make sure. And then, just don't touch it anymore, just forget about it for ~30 minutes (yeah, that's right, I only do 40 minute mashes, as 40 minutes has always been good enough). Temperature checking and adjustment should normally only take the first 5-10 minutes of the mash. After that, it is best to put the lid on and just leave it alone. If the temperature drops 5-10 degrees from the beginning to the end of the mash, just don't worry about it! Your beer will turn out fine. I promise. I've been brewing for 14 years and I've learned (somewhat!) not to fret so much about it.
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Polakbrews
post Aug 18 2013, 09:34 AM
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(IMG:style_emoticons/brewboard/goodidea.gif) solid advice DMTAYLOR! Thank you for your input that made me sleep a lot better... hehe... tasting is coming up soon so hopefully it will turn out well.
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