Mashing is a step in thebrewing processthat combines crushedMaltswith hot water in amashtunto convert complex starches into simple sugars that are more readily fermented. There are many variations of mashing, but thesingle infusion mashdescribed below is easily done with home equipment, and suitable for most popular beer styles. During themaltingprocessbarley grains develop many enzymes that are needed for mashing. These enzymes, when heated with water in themash, react with the starches in the malt and producemaltose. Maltose is a favorite food for yeast during fermentation. After the mashing process, hot water is used to extract the sugars from the grain in a process calledspargingto produce a sweet liquid calledwortfor brewing.
Most breweries useinfusionmashing, in which the mash is heated directly to go from rest temperature to rest temperature. Some infusion mashes achieve temperature changes by adding hot water, and there are also breweries that do single-step infusion, performing only one rest beforelautering.
Decoction mashing is where a proportion of the grains are boiled and then returned to the mash, raising the temperature. The boiling extracts more starch from the grain by breaking down the cell walls of the grain. It can be classified into one-, two-, and three-step decoctions, depending on how many times part of the mash is drawn off to be boiled. It is a traditional method, and is common in German and Central European breweries. It was used out of necessity before the invention ofthermometersallowed simpler step mashing. But the practice continues for many traditionalbeersbecause of the unique malty flavor it lends to the beer; boiling part of the grain results inMaillard reactions, which createmelanoidins that lead to rich, malty flavours.
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