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Bagless steeping

Today is brew day and I have an idea I want to run past you all. Instead of putting my steeping grains into a bag, I am thinking of putting them directly into the water and allowing to sit for the steeping period. Then draining the water off into my brew kettle. I think that may give me better flavor extraction since the grains will not be bound up in the bag. Any downside to this idea?

the rinsing of the grains may not be as easy. if you are set up for extract brewing and need to steep specialty grains or adjuncts the bag will make it real easy to rinse all the flavors out after the steep. not that big of a deal. I would just run the steeped grain though a strainer and call it good.

Sounds exactly like what Papazian did in the 1970s. In the 21st century, we have bags. You can wax nostalgic if you like, but the bags work pretty well if you’ve got one. Pantyhose will also work in a pinch.

Sure, crushing the malt, putting it in a pot with water and then running it through a strainer and perhaps sparging it a little is a valid method of extracting flavors.

Whether or not it extracts more flavors is really a product of how much steeping grain you have, how big the steeping bag is and how much water you are steeping them in.

If you have a small amount of malt in a larger bag, simply dunking or agitating the bag with a spoon should be enough to extract the flavors to a favorable degree.

OTOH, If you have a large amount of malt in a small bag and the bag is very tightly packed, you may be better off sparging the bag or using the loose grain method.

Briess offers some advice on steeping grains:

How exactly do you propose to do this? If you have the means to do this without getting any grains in the mash kettle, you might as well just do a regular all-grain mash, really. I’m curious what kind of setup you’re using.

I just had a BIAB bag made up and the leftover material made into basically a grain sock. Turned out pretty big, much bigger and more open than those stretchy socks you get for steeping grain. Seemed like a good idea, no fuss trying to strain out all the grain and it’ll be re-usable. Haven’t tried it yet but I have another order of stuff coming in so we’ll see.

OK, so here’s what I did. I have a Farberware cookware set and with it is a pasta boiling system. It has a big pot and and an insert that allows you to boil pasta and when you are done you pull the insert out and it drains the pasta. So it’s a metal insert with a bunch of holes in it, like a metal collander. It fits rather well in my 4 gallon brewpot with 3 gallons of water in it. So I heated the water up to 165 degrees and put the inert into the 3 gallons pot. Then I added the loose grains into that insert. After 25 minutes I took my siphon and began to siphon the water from the 3 gallons brewpot (along side the insert) into my new 8 gallon Megapot. As I did that I added some clear water over the top of the loose grains in the insert, almost like what I thing sparging would be like. It worked well. Also, I have a funnel that has a fine mesh strainer in it. I siphoned into that funnel to remove any fine particulate from the wort. It all seemed to work well and I had a full 5 gallon boil. I guess only time will tell how it turns out. I took a gravity reading after the grain steep and it showed only a very small amount of increase. Maybe it was 1004 after the grain steep. But the water had a very nice flavor after the steep. I am letting the wort cool right now and have smacked my yeast pack. Another hour and a half till that’s ready to pitch. I have high expectations and will update as time goes by.

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