Roasted grain: Mash or Steep?

I have made a stout or two every year, and have always used my roasted grains in the mash, but i recently read that they should only be added the last couple minutes or just for mashout (to reduce astrigency?). Mine have always turned out well, but will this make them even better?

Not necessarily. It depends on what your water is like. If you’ve had no problems in the past, I wouldn’t change anything. Or you could try it and see what you think. I don’t think there’s a downside to adding them later other than maybe a slight reduction in flavor from them.

I thought that was only for beers where you don’t want the character of the roasted malt, instead just the color (like Black IPAs). I would assume (like i said - assume) that introducing the roasted malts late in the mash would not give you what you want from a stout?

I’ve always mashed mine. Maybe that’s why I get more color out of them than BeerSmith predicts. I avoid the astringency by adding potassium bicarbonate to the mash water

I started added them to the mash with about 20 minutes left. I made a few stouts and porters by adding all the grains at once, but I could never get the flavor out of them that I was aiming for. They always turned out sort of one-dimensional and insipid, and I assumed that this was because I just couldn’t get the water ions into the correct range, or maybe I was just adding too many.

Anyway, I began adding roasted malts and high-lovibond crystal malts to the mash near the end. The theory being that since they don’t need to be converted, there’s really no need to mash them. I put them in with 20 minutes left in the mash, then with a 10 minute batch sparge I figure it’s the same as steeping them for 30 minutes as you would with an extract batch. I started doing all this after reading Gordon Strong’s book.

Maybe I was using a bad water calculator to figure out salt additions, or maybe it was something else, but since this method works so well I’m hesitant to try adding all the malts at once again. I’m happy with this technique.

It adds flavor to add them at the end of the mash, but not as much astringency. This is mainly done to control mash pH. What I do when I do this is build my water profile for an amber beer, amber balanced in Bru’n water, so I can get the pH right and not have it drop too low with the roasted malts. Especially if I’m brewing with RO water.