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Best method to steep specialty grains

Getting ready to brew NB’s St Paul Porter extract this weekend. I’ve done several kits with specialty grains and just followed the directions for steeping that came with the kit. But the more I read on the forum, the more I’m convinced there could always be a better way than the instructions give, so my thought is that steeping the grains in cold- but- getting -warmer water for 20 minutes might not be optimal. I’ve been studying all grain methods, so I’m thinking–if these grains were in an all grain mash, they’d get mashed for an hour at around 150* f. So…

Any advice from you seasoned veterans on what method would be best to extract optimal flavor from these steeping grains? Actual grains are .5lb english chocolate malt and .5lbs english dark crystal.

Thanks for any help.

Ron

Not a seasoned vet here but I’ll respond. I do mostly partial mash kits now but occasionally an extract kit with grain. I follow John Palmer’s advice. I usually always do a full boil and bring the 5 gallons up to about 155º and steep for the full time recommended. Doing a Power Pack Porter from NW on Saturday and they recommend 15-30 mins at 155 and I will go the full 30 mins.

Thanks, SDog. That’s kinda what I had in mind. Just needed an Amen!

Ron

I usually start the steep at 155-ish too, and leave it for 30 minutes or so. Sure, if you’re all-grain or PM, then they should just go along for the whole mash ride, but I’m honestly not sure what the max benefit time is for specialty grains. I’m sure it’s like tea, where you can leave the tea in the pot, but it’s not getting any stronger

Are you doing a full boil or partial boil? One thing to consider when steeping specialty grains is you shouldn’t be doing it in more than 1gallon per pound as anything more than that will possibly cause tannin extraction from the grains causing astringency off-flavors.

Thanks, guys. Since I have a pound of grains, sounds like I should heat about a gallon of water to 155*, steep for about 30 min, then add more water before starting the boil. I do partial boils, so I usually have between 2.5 and 3 gallons of water in the boil before adding any malt.

I also use distilled water, so should I consider water additives, or should I be good to go? I assume since these grains don’t have to be mashed, the water profile is not quite as important?

Ron

I brewed that porter yesterday …brought a full 5 gallons to 155º and steeped for the full 30 minutes. It turned out great, the wort was really dark and aromatic even before I added the LME. The OG was 1.066 so I’m optimistic this will be a kick-ass beer. From what I have read it’s better to do a full boil if you can and for the specialty grains it’s also ok to steep in the full 5 gallons.

Wow! 1.066 is awesome. Did you add some extra malt outside the recipe? I think it targets 1.052 as OG. I went ahead and used 1 gal water to steep the grains but did steep for 30 min starting at about 160* and ending at about 150*. My pre LME wort was also very dark and aromatic (or as my wife puts it, "oh my gosh that stinks!) I really wonder about people who don’t like the smell of beer brewing.

Anyway, just waiting for fermentation to start (blowoff tube in place).

Ron

Wow! 1.066 is awesome. Did you add some extra malt outside the recipe? I think it targets 1.052 as OG. I went ahead and used 1 gal water to steep the grains but did steep for 30 min starting at about 160* and ending at about 150*. My pre LME wort was also very dark and aromatic (or as my wife puts it, "oh my gosh that stinks!) I really wonder about people who don’t like the smell of beer brewing.

Anyway, just waiting for fermentation to start (blowoff tube in place).

Ron[/quote]
For that specific porter 1.066 was exactly where I should have been and I followed the recipe. As much as I enjoy brewing partial mash kits I would like to find a extract kit (with specialty grains) that was as good. Good for when I don’t have so much time.

I’ve never heard that? I re-read the chapter in Palmer’s book on specialty grains and steeping and he mentions keeping temp between 150-170, keeping it in no more than 30 min and also types of water to prevent off flavors but he never specifically mentions using 1 gal per pound to prevent tannins or off flavor? He’s (Palmer) doing a 3 gallon partial boil on his kitchen stove top with 1.25 lbs of grains and steeps it in the 3 gallons for 30 minutes. It appears he’s only doing 3 gallons because he has a small pot.

I’ve never heard that? I re-read the chapter in Palmer’s book on specialty grains and steeping and he mentions keeping temp between 150-170, keeping it in no more than 30 min and also types of water to prevent off flavors but he never specifically mentions using 1 gal per pound to prevent tannins or off flavor? He’s (Palmer) doing a 3 gallon partial boil on his kitchen stove top with 1.25 lbs of grains and steeps it in the 3 gallons for 30 minutes. It appears he’s only doing 3 gallons because he has a small pot.[/quote]

Which version of the book did you refer to? The online version is a very old version. In the print edition of the book (3rd edition) on page 135 JP states…

So basically it’s a matter of pH (which is a combination of water chemistry, tempurature, and grains being steeped). Using a smaller amount of water puts you in a “safe” range to prevent tannin extraction.

[quote=“mattnaik”]

Which version of the book did you refer to? The online version is a very old version. In the print edition of the book (3rd edition) on page 135 JP states…

So basically it’s a matter of pH (which is a combination of water chemistry, tempurature, and grains being steeped). Using a smaller amount of water puts you in a “safe” range to prevent tannin extraction.[/quote]
Matt…OK I see where there is a difference between the book and online. I still don’t see what difference it would make assuming your alkalinity was neutral? I’m not sure I understand exactly why steeping in 1 gal vs. 5 gal would make a difference assuming a good water profile? But I do thank you for posting and I will definitely keep this in mind.

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