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The science of alcohol
The science of alcohol

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2.2 Mashing

During the mashing process, the starches released during the malting phases are converted into sugars which can be extracted for use by the yeast in fermentation. The cracked malt is mixed with hot water to create a mash as illustrated at Hook Norton in Figure 9.

This is a photograph of two people carrying out the mashing process.
Figure 9 The mashing process

During the mash, naturally occurring amylase enzymes present in the malt convert the starches (long-chain carbohydrates) in the grain into smaller molecules or simple sugars such as glucose, needed by the yeast to ferment into alcohol (Figure 10).

The chemical breakdown of starch by an amylase enzyme into simple glucose units.
Figure 10 The breakdown of starch by an amylase enzyme into simple glucose units

Mashing results in the production of a substance rich in sugar known as the wort. The sugars produced need to be extracted so, during the process of sparging, hot liquor is sprayed onto the grain to wash the sugars along with the liquid into a copper kettle (Figure 11).

This is a photograph of someone carrying out the sparging process.
Figure 11 Sparging at Hook Norton