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Question on steeping grains

I’ve got a Northern Brewer extract kit with crushed grains. The instructions say to heat 2.5 gals. of water. Then pour crushed grain into mesh bag, tie knot and steep for 20 minutes or until water reaches 170 F.

My question is: what should the temperature of the water be when you put the crushed grains into it?
Cold or at 170 F or somewhere in between?

Thanks in advance for your help.

[quote=“lazy ant brewing”]I’ve got a Northern Brewer extract kit with crushed grains. The instructions say to heat 2.5 gals. of water. Then pour crushed grain into mesh bag, tie knot and steep for 20 minutes or until water reaches 170 F.

My question is: what should the temperature of the water be when you put the crushed grains into it?
Cold or at 170 F or somewhere in between?

Thanks in advance for your help.[/quote]

When I brewed extract I would put them in the water around 150 and heated it up slowly and just kept an eye on it to make sure it stayed below 170 for the 20 minutes.

The grains can go in when the water is cold, or after it’s warmed up. The real work is done while the water is at perhaps 145 - 160°F. The important thing is to pull the grains out before the water hits 170°F.

Some folks intentionally heat their water to this range, add the grains, and try to hold at these temperatures for a period of time.

Other folks put the grains in as they begin steadily heating the water for the boil, then pull the grains out before it hits 170.

I am not sure exactly why, but I lean towards the FIRST way to do it that brick listed. I get my water to about 160-165 then add, and usually either turn heat way way down or just off altogether. if it goes from 165 down to 158-160 range I pump the heat back on. I try really hard to keep it away from that 170 level. usually isn’t too hard to do

i don;t really know what adding at either cold or much earlier than 160 would do anyways, so I just do it the way i stated above.

It depends on your water chemistry but if you have very hard water, you risk tannin extraction if you put it in cold water. As the water heats, the pH lowers and there is less of a risk of tannin extraction.

I prefer to keep things simple. I do stove top brewing, so I heat the water to 160 F, turn off the heat, drop in the grain bag, set the timer for 20 minutes and then enjoy a glass of home brew. After 20 minutes the temperature is usually between 150 - 155 F. I then lift the grain bag, let it drain out into the kettle, give the bag a nice squeeze by wrapping it around my stirring paddle like a giant tea bag, turn the heat back on and bring the kettle to a boil.

You can do it either way. The simplest is to heat the water to about 165°, turn off the heat, drop the grain bag in, and cover the kettle to retain heat. Stir the bag of grains around a bit to thoroughly soak and loosen any clumps before covering the kettle.

Starting with cold water you need to stay at the kettle to move the grain bag around as the water heats. Boiling temperature can be reached at the underside of the grain bag if it is stationary on the bottom of the kettle.

most instriuctions are junk that come with kits.
Only use maybe .75-1g of water at most for steeping and keep it in the 150 range and you will be fine

[quote=“grainbelt”]most instriuctions are junk that come with kits.
Only use maybe .75-1g of water at most for steeping and keep it in the 150 range and you will be fine[/quote]

Hmmm, I’m not sure what your rationale is for saying this. One gallon of water won’t extract nearly as much of the flavor and color as 2 1/2 or 3 gallons will, all else being equal.

[quote=“65SS427”][quote=“grainbelt”]most instriuctions are junk that come with kits.
Only use maybe .75-1g of water at most for steeping and keep it in the 150 range and you will be fine[/quote]

Hmmm, I’m not sure what your rationale is for saying this. One gallon of water won’t extract nearly as much of the flavor and color as 2 1/2 or 3 gallons will, all else being equal.[/quote]

thats not how it works, you want to use roughly the same ratios as AG brewing when steeping grains for extract.
the amount of water is not extracting more flavor and color

[quote=“grainbelt”][quote=“65SS427”][quote=“grainbelt”]most instriuctions are junk that come with kits.
Only use maybe .75-1g of water at most for steeping and keep it in the 150 range and you will be fine[/quote]

Hmmm, I’m not sure what your rationale is for saying this. One gallon of water won’t extract nearly as much of the flavor and color as 2 1/2 or 3 gallons will, all else being equal.[/quote]

thats not how it works, you want to use roughly the same ratios as AG brewing when steeping grains for extract.
the amount of water is not extracting more flavor and color[/quote]

I’m afraid it is how it works, All else being equal, (and proper amount of steeping water aside) the more water, the more quickly the steeping process occurs, and the more material will actually be steeped out for a given period of time. If your premise was correct, for an example, adjusting hop schedules for a full five gallon boil versus a partial boil would have no effect. However, it obviously does…

Also, if, as you argue, the amount of water is not extracting more or less flavor and color, why does it matter?

[quote]I’m afraid it is how it works, All else being equal, (and proper amount of steeping water aside) the more water, the more quickly the steeping process occurs, and the more material will actually be steeped out for a given period of time. If your premise was correct, for an example, adjusting hop schedules for a full five gallon boil versus a partial boil would have no effect. However, it obviously does…

Also, if, as you argue, the amount of water is not extracting more or less flavor and color, why does it matter?[/quote]

tannins, ph, hitting your gravity and other undersirables, if more water pulls out more flavour and color and sugars by your theory every brewery would be doing it and would save tons of time and money, there are pound to grist ratios that are followed for a reason

You are confusing steeping with mashing. They are two separate processes to achieve an end. The only thing in common is keep both below 170°.

you can extract tannins from steeping to, dont beleive me on the water amounts give it a shot for yourself

you can extract tannins from steeping to, dont beleive me on the water amounts give it a shot for yourself[/quote]

It is true that tannins can be extracted during steeping. It is not the volume of water that causes the extraction but the hardness of the water. Steeping very light crystal malts in water that is very hard can extract tannins. Temperature is still a function in this extraction. Water that is to soft can extract other flavors that are perceived as harsh.

you can extract tannins from steeping to, dont beleive me on the water amounts give it a shot for yourself[/quote]

It is true that tannins can be extracted during steeping. It is not the volume of water that causes the extraction but the hardness of the water. Steeping very light crystal malts in water that is very hard can extract tannins. Temperature is still a function in this extraction. Water that is to soft can extract other flavors that are perceived as harsh.[/quote]

like i said give it a shot for yourself

I just read over the “Mechanics of Steeping” in John Palmers’ How to Brew. Here’s what he wrote on the matter:

“The crushed grain is soaked in hot water(150 to 170 degrees F) for 30 minutes…For best results, the ratio of steeping water to grain should be less than one gallon per pound.”

“Steeping differs from mashing in that there is not enzyme activity taking place to convert grain or adjunct starches to sugar. Steeping specialty grains is entirely a leaching and dissolution process, the addition of existing sugars to the wort. If grain with enzyme diastatic potential is steeped, that’s a mash.” (134-135)

I’ve stuck with that advice and have been satisfied with the results. I bring my water up to 155 or so, add the bag, and continue steeping for 25 minutes. I lower the heat once it gets close to 165.

[quote] I just read over the “Mechanics of Steeping” in John Palmers’ How to Brew. Here’s what he wrote on the matter:

For best results, the ratio of steeping water to grain should be less than one gallon per pound."

[/quote]

guess I need to change my name to John Palmer to get people to beleive me… :blah:

[quote=“grainbelt”][quote=“norcalniner"For best results, the ratio of steeping water to grain should be less than one gallon per pound.”

[/quote]

guess I need to change my name to John Palmer to get people to beleive me… :blah: [/quote]

Was this quote from John Palmers new book? I don’t have Palmers new book. Your post triggered a look see around the internet for information that looked to be more than an opinion. I found this from BYO magazine which has infers a relationship to the Palmer quote.
BYO:
“The key differences in the actual processes of steeping and mashing lie mainly in the thickness, temperature, duration and method used to separate the grain from the liquid. Mash thickness, or the ratio of malt to water, is important in mashing because enzymes are affected by the concentration of starch. If it’s too high, the amylase enzymes lack the water needed to hydrolyze starch (hydrolysis is a term used to refer to breaking chemical bonds by the addition of water). If the mash is too thin, the enzymes are less heat-stable and are more susceptible to denaturation (enzyme destruction). Most mashes use between one and two quarts of water per pound of malt (~2 to 4 liters/kg). When it comes to steeping, thin is good and it is common to use ratios as high as six quarts per pound (~12 liters/kg). The thin steep not only improves the efficiency of steeping, it is also convenient since the steep water is usually used to dissolve malt extracts after the steeped grains are removed.”

I will try the 6 quarts per pound with my next steep and then rinse with 165°water to come up to my boil volume. The next brew use Palmers recommendation and then rinse to come up to my boil volume.

I’m willing to change when hit over the head with a 2x4 to get my attention.

I know this is an older post but I googled to find this discussion and think I have something important to add:

With the NB (and any other) kits, you get a pretty small steeping bag that makes the “ball” of grains a little bigger than the size of a softball. I have about 20 batches under my belt now and invested in a digital thermometer about 5 batches ago.

What I found that is germane to this discussion is this: I used to leave the temp probe in the water while steeping. Then, 5 batches ago, I inserted it into the bag of grains and was surprised to find that the temp in the middle of the grains was 20 to 30 degrees cooler than the water itself. So while the water may have been at 165, the grains in the middle of the bag were only 130.

So, I’d count that as an argument in favor of putting the grains in at the beginning while the water is cold so ALL the grains can get up to temp. You may also wanna squeeze the bag a few times while it is at proper steeping temp to get the hot water circulated into the core of the ball.

I’d also suggest tying the bag so that the grains are as loosely packed as possible rather than tying it so the ball is packed into a tight ball.

Some folks get a large swatch of muslin, fit it over the kettle, then drop the grains in the pot so they are as loose as they can get. My bag isn’t that big so I’ll deal with what I gots.

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