Using specialty grains

I have been brewing beer for about 2 years now and I have only been using recipes that used only extract (DME) because that is what I was taught. Last fall I tried to brew a beer that called for some specialty grains and I followed the instructions but the beer ended up tasting a little off. One of my friends said that I might have gotten some of the excess flavors from the specialty grains when I had taken them out of the pot. That could be true because I wasn’t sure about what to do with them. At one point I took the bag of grains out and was letting them drip back into the pot. The end result was that the beer didn’t taste right.

My wife gave me a, as a birthday gift, a prepackaged beer recipe. The first part of the process is to cook the specialty grans for a half an hour to get the sugars out of it. I don’t want to mess this one up so I need to know more about how to deal with the grains. I know that I need to put them into the bag that came with the kit. I get the water to the correct temperature and then let the grain soak in the water. When it is time to take the grain out what should I do with it? Do I just let it sit in a strainer while the last of the water drips out? I have heard that some people will use their grain bags like a tea bag and dip it in and out of the pot to make sure that all the sugar is released. I have also head that you can pour water over the grain bag while it is in the strainer over the pot. Are these good things to do?

I am planning on brewing another batch of beer this weekend and would like to know if I am doing things correctly.

Thanks for any help you can give me.

I have made our hosts cream ale that has specialty grains with good luck. I put the grains in the bag and heat the water to 152-155 and let sit for 30 min, then remove and use the pot lid and my brew spoon to help release the water for 2 min then throw. Then I start my 60 min boil and hops additions. Never had to many problems with this method for extract brews. Cheers

You don’t get much sugar from the steeping grains. There are things you can do to get as much as you can out of them though like the previous poster mentions. The only rule for steeping grains is not to let them sit in water that’s over 170*F. I’ve heard it will pull out astringency from the grain. If you didn’t do that, then there is more than likely a different explanation for your beer tasting funny.

Agreed… As long as you didn’t leave it steeping in there above 170 degrees, I doubt the steeping grains had much to do with any off flavors. As far as the bag goes, i tie a string to mine, pull it out of the pot after 30 mins at 155 degrees, hang on to the string (so as not to burn the crap out of my hands) and just let the bag hang over the pot until it stops dripping. Then I toss the used grain into my hop garden for fertilizer :smiley:

Specialty grains should do the exact opposite for you and make your beer better not worse. They will add a bit of complexity to the beer in terms of color and flavor. As previously noted the 170* threshold is the only thing to take into account.

I like to hold the temp at about 150 f. for 20 to 30 minutes, with the grain in a bag (or bags if it’s a lot.) I’ll then but the bag(s) in a strainer and “sparge” with about 1/2 gallon hot water to get all of the goodness out.

+1 on the 170 degree cutoff.