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Steeping Grains question!

I brew extract. I start with 4 gallons. I’ve always just thrown the sock of steeping grains into cold water as I start my brew day. (When I set the pot on the burner I put in the grain sock.) I steep them until the temp reaches 160, then remove them.

I just brewed an IPA and had second thoughts about the way I was doing my steeping grains. I actually filled my kettle with hot water. It was probably 130 degrees. I put the steeping grain sock in and brought water to almost 160, then shut off the gas and let the grains actually sit there for 30 minutes.

Does it matter? Can I just steep my grains in water as it’s heating up and then remove them when the temp gets close to 160? Should I make sure they steep for longer than 15 min? Should I steep them at a somewhat constant temp for a certain amount of time?

I’ve got a keg that’s just waiting to be turned into a kettle. I’ve also received a weldless ss valve, as well as a Blichmann weldless thermometer. While reading the paperwork that came with the thermometer, I saw this:

“Steep: When steeping, the water to grain ratio should preferably not exceed 1 gallon per pound of grain to avoid possible off-flavors from the grain husks”.

Is that true? If so what’s the reasoning behind the thought that full boils are the way to go? I don’t know of many extract recipes that call for 4 to 5 pnds of steeping grains. Should I steep with a smaller amount of water, then top it up to 4 or 5 gallons and start the boiling process? Is this why NB and other companies that sell kits usually work with 2.5 gallon boils?

Sorry for all the questions. Just wondering the best way to get the most out of my extract brews.


As long as you’re steeping and not trying to do a mini-mash, then no. It only takes a few minutes for the goodness to be extracted from the grains.

Full boils are overrated IME, but that’s a separate issue. The basic idea is that if the “mash” becomes too dilute, the pH may get high enough (>6) to extract tannins from the husks.

I think that’s probably because most new brewers have, at most, a 5 gal kettle.

When I did extract I steep like you did with your IPA. I would wait till the water was up to around 120* and steep for 30 mins. If the water got up to 155* I would kill the burner and wait.

As far as the Blichman. I’ve seen it listed both ways. When I did extract I only used full boils and NEVER had issues with off flavors

The reason why most homebrew shops work their kits around 2.5 gals is so people can use their stoves as a full boil requires a propane burner.

I can’t find a reference… I thought you want to limit the water volume to avoid extracting tannins. In the online version of “how to brew” John Plamer also states 1g/lb. He mentions heat the water to 150* and then add the grains, soak for 30 min.

I see no issue with putting the grain in and shutting off the heat when it reaches 150*. The set the timer for ~30min.

For the full boils. Yes, start with 1g/lb of water. Then add water to start your boil. You could do the steeping on the stove top. Then add it to the boil kettle with the additional water and extract.

Thanks for the replies. I haven’t been making ‘bad’ beer at all. I just want to know if there’s a chance to make ‘better’ beer, ya know?

I guess I’ll see for myself if the steeping of grains at a constant temp for an allotted amount of time tastes any different than steeping from cold to 160 no matter what the time…

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