Mashing converts the starches released during the malting stage into sugars that can be fermented. The milled grain is mixed with hot water in a large vessel known as a mash tun.
In this vessel, the grain and water are mixed together to create a cereal mash. During the mash, naturally occurring enzymes present in the malt convert the starches (long chain carbohydrates) in the grain into smaller molecules or simple sugars (mono-, di-, and tri-saccharides).
This “conversion” is called saccharification. The result of the mashing process is a sugar rich liquid or “wort”, which is then strained through the bottom of the mash tun in a process known as lautering. Prior to lautering, the mash temperature may be raised to about 75–78 °C (167–172 °F) (known as a mashout) to deactivate enzymes. Additional water may be sprinkled on the grains to extract additional sugars (a process known as sparging).