There are many ways to mash your grains. You can do a shorter or longer mash, different temperatures, rest lengths or multiple rests at different temperatures. You can mash in a pot on your stove or in a converted cooler. The mashing process can get complicated to say the least. With all these options, how do you know where to start to brew your beer?
To make things a little simpler, a single rest mash will be work fine for most beers. This means: Pick a mash temp and stick with it. Depending on the style of beer, you will most likely be resting your beer at a temperature between 150-158 Fahrenheit, anything higher can bring unwanted results.
If you don’t know your temperature, a good way to find a temperature for your beer style is to look up recipes that are for a similar beer. Look at reviews and people who have tried the recipe and hopefully this will give you an educated guess. There are also some tables out there that pair beer styles with mash temperatures. While these are a general guideline, this doesn’t mean that the temperature it recommends is right for your beer. A style of beer is not only dependent on the mash temperature. Pairing your recipe with the temperature is much more important because the outcome is just as dependent on your recipe approach and ingredients. There are also many things you can do post mash to get your beer heading in the right style or direction.
Along with aiding in the style of your beer, the mash temperature also aids in lautering or the process of removing the sugar from the grains. The heat from the mash lowers the viscosity of the mash allowing for an easier time draining the mash and extracting the sugars. The easier it is to extract the sugars the higher yield you will achieve from your grains. All in all there are many considerations to be made when deciding mash temperature. Just make sure you weigh all the Pros and Cons when deciding on a beer temperature. And remember, missing your beer style a little isn’t the worst thing to happen. You could still have a good beer and good beer doesn’t need to fit perfectly in a style.