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Specialty Grains and Water

Is it ok to steep specialty grains in distilled water? On my last brew I steeped 1 lb of grains in 1 gallon of distilled water. I read that it is better to steep in less water to reduce the chance of tannins. So I heated the rest of the water for the recipe in another pot. Then after the grains reached time/temp I added it to the main boil. The instructions weren’t all that clear and said to steep grains for 20 mins or until water reached 170 degrees. I didn’t put the grains in til water reached about 80 degrees for 20 mins and water reached about 160 in that 20 mins. Is there a better way to steep grains? I ordered my next kit today Chinook IPA and wanted my 3rd batch to be the best so far.

You are doing fine. You can begin steeping cold at 60 F if you want with no adverse effects. You are correct that steeping in a smaller volume is theoretically beneficial.

Steeping specialty grains is not the same as mashing. You are extracting color and flavor from the specialty grains. You are not converting starches to fermentable sugars. Steeping can be done in any volume of water, unless the volume of water is to small to make a thin gruel of the grains.

Tannin extraction is a combination of the temperature being over 170° and pH >6.0.

Actually I think flars is right about this. Volume doesn’t really matter if you’re just steeping. But as soon as you want to try a mini-mash, then you’ll need to worry about volumes. For example, if you want to “steep” or mash any Munich or base malts then you should limit the water to grain ratio to 3.0 qts/lb or less, and of course hold it at 150 F for at least 40 minutes. But for any darker roasted grains or crystal malts, this mashing process is not necessary. Hope I’m not confusing anyone.

[quote=“flars”]Steeping specialty grains is not the same as mashing. You are extracting color and flavor from the specialty grains. You are not converting starches to fermentable sugars. Steeping can be done in any volume of water, unless the volume of water is to small to make a thin gruel of the grains.

Tannin extraction is a combination of the temperature being over 170° and pH >6.0.[/quote]

So are you saying as long as the temp. is ok, steeping grains in water that is above pH 6.0 is not a problem? I always considered it unwise to steep in the full amount of water for say, a full boil. If a mash at a high pH can extract tannins, why can’t steeped grains? Or is it the amount is negligible?

The dominating reason is time. Grains are normally steeped for 30 minutes or less.

Should have added; You are right about the amount of extraction being negligible.

I brewed the Chinook IPA a week ago. I added the specialty grains to 1 gallon of water after temp reached 150 degrees. I brought the temp up to 160 degrees and keep it between 160-165 for 20 minutes.

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