I've read that Gordon Strong believes that it's better to leave dark grains out of the mash and do a separate steep with them and add that back in later in the boil. I like the idea of reducing harshness since I'm much more a malt "head" than a hop "head", but it does raise questions that maybe somebody can help me with. If you leave the dark grains out of the mash, wouldn't that affect the pH of the mash water? If so, would you have to try to lower the pH accordingly since the dark grains wouldn't bring the mash pH down? (Specifically, how would I handle that on Brew Smith 3?). Also, how does separate steeping affect the OG? I'm guessing (but I'm not very knowledgeable about these things yet) that your OG would be reduced a bit. So in looking over your recipe, would you then have to take a lower OG into account for the resulting wort? Sorry for the dumb questions, but I couldn't find anything in Gordon's book about these issues. Maybe he did address them, but I could have missed it.
A second topic -- does anyone have any experience with electric mash tuns? I'm very interested since I could then do multiple steps as recommended for more authentic Belgian ales and, if I go that direction, for better results with Pilsner malts. For $400 - $500, it seems like a very good investment if it performs as advertised. I think I'd still boil with my gas burner, but really like the idea of a recirculating pump to increase mash temps.