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Beginner's question about measuring specialty grains

I am about to make my first home brew that is not a prepared kit. I am having trouble figuring out how many pounds or possibly ounces to use in my steeping grains. I am not making a 5 gallon batch but a 1 gallon batch. Is there some sort of equation to use in order to find my answer? Also I am making a pale ale, I don’t know if that helps with solving the problem. Thanks!


Can you elaborate a little?

The answer would depend on the type of specialty grain and the style of beer. It will also be somewhat subjective. For example, in a pale ale I would not want to use more than 5% crystal/caramel malt (as a percentage of the overall grain bill). In an amber ale I it’s fine IMO to increase that amount to maybe 10%. Some brewers will say higher amounts are acceptable.

Generically speaking, I suggest a couple things that will help:

  • Look at recipes to get an ideas. I suggest started with a copy of Brewing Classic Styles if you want to adhere to style guidelines.
  • Use brewing software like Beersmith 2 to construct your recipes. There are also online and iOS/Android recipe apps that you can use.

I ammaking a pale ale. I was thinking of using the Briess Organic 2-Row and the Briess Caramel 40L. I don’t know if that is a good combination or not, I am not too keen on how to utilize all of the different grains. I am self teaching myself as I go along. Thanks for the help again.


If we are talking steeping grains for an extract beer, the 2-row will not work. It has to be mashed. Of course there is the option of doing a partial mash with some base malt and specialty grains.

BMS Thanks for that information. I guess my first batch would have ended up tasting like poop if I hadn’t had that little nugget. Since I am using extract at the moment would I just use the caramel 40L? I so how do I know what amount to use?

Your beer wouldn’t have tasted like poop it just would have had tons of starch haze.

Use enough crystal malt to get the color you want. As mentioned above, the general rule is to not go much above 5%. However, some people use much more (say 10-12%) and like it. Its a matter of taste.

One thing I would caution you is to watch what Extract you use because this too could contain crystal malts. So, you would have a ton of unfermentables.

Michael- I have to agree with the above suggestion to tryout a recipe generator. Lots of people talk about, and seem to like, Beersmith. There are several other $ ones as well. I personally use It’s free(yeah I’m cheap).
Basically what they will allow you to do is plug in the style you are interested in brewing, and then you can build a recipe using extract/steeping grains/adjuncts/ and when you eventually get to the place you are comfortable, mashing grains.
I get the basic idea of what I want to brew by reading J.P.'s and Charlie P.'s books as well as spending a lot of time on this forum, plus HBT forum. Then I go to brewtoad and construct my recipe(which I usually change several times before brewing).
Coming up with YOUR recipe, then brewing it, is a lot of the fun of this obsessive hobby. :cheers:

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