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Hochkurz Mashing

There is an old mash technique referred to as "hochkurz" mashing, which stems from the German words for "high" and "short". This mash style starts at a higher temperatures than most and stays at each temperature for less time, thus "high temperature" and "short duration" at each temperature stage.

The idea in a Hochkurz mash is to mash in two steps. The first step maximizes the beta amylase enzyme activity, and takes place at 145F. It lasts for 30 minutes (up to 45).  The second step maximizes alpha amylase enzyme activity, and occurs at 158-162F. It also lasts for 30 minutes (up to 45 if needed to complete conversion). These steps are followed by a traditional mash-out at 170F for 10-15 minutes. This allows the mash to complete in 70-100 minutes.

Theoretically, this 70-minute mash will result in a more complete conversion than a single-step mash that runs over a longer period of time, since the Hochkurz mash gives each of the two main amylase enzymes a chance to work at their optimal temperature.

With a brewing system like The Grainfather, performing a Hochkurz mash is pretty simple. Fill the kettle with water, set the 145F starting temp, add the grain, and wait 30 minutes. Then change the temp to 160F, and wait 30 minutes more. Finally, set to 170F and sparge after 10 minutes.

If you're using hot water infusions to raise the temperature of the mash, you'll want to start with a thicker mash for the first step so that the additional hot water doesn't dilute the wort too much.

According to some of the sources I've read, this is an excellent general purpose mash schedule. While there are some beer styles (lagers in particular) that will benefit from a different schedule, most will do well with Hochkurz and will show a higher brewhouse efficiency too.

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