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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > General Techniques > am I steeping or mashing?
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Old 10-13-2005, 04:24 PM   #1
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Default am I steeping or mashing?

I've never understood the difference between a simple steep and a single step infusion mash.

Let me describe how I use specialty grains, and some of you veterans can tell me what I'm actually doing; steeping or mashing.

  1. I bring about 1 to 2 quarts of water to 175°F in my kettle.
  2. I put my grains (1 to 2 lbs) in a bag and drop them into the kettle. (This results in a mixture in the upper 150's°F.)
  3. I let this sit (occasionally dunking the bag about) with the lid on it for 45 minutes, give or take 10 minutes.
  4. I remove the grain bag and put it into a strainer.
  5. I slowly pour 2 to 4 quarts of 175°F water over the grains and allow it to drain into the kettle.
  6. I discard the grains and crank up the heat to a boil, and then proceed with adding extract and hops in the standard fashion

-walker
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Reason: corrected my water volumes for what I actually USE
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Old 10-13-2005, 04:31 PM   #2
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You're steeping.

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Old 10-13-2005, 04:33 PM   #3
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and what would turn this into a single-step infusion mash? it seems to me that I am doing all the same basic things (hold at the proper temp for a while, use proper water to grain ratios, and rinse the sugars out with sparge water), I am just not using any special equipment.

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Old 10-13-2005, 04:55 PM   #4
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In order for it to be considered mashing, you need to use some grain with active enzymes. These enzymes will convert some of the starches to sugars. IE 2 or 6 row barley. To do this, the general rule of thumb is 1 quart (1/4 gallon) per 1 lb of grain. So if you have 2 lbs of grain, you need to mash with apx 2 quarts (1/2 gallon) of water to get optimal efficiency. Generally, steeping grains add flavor and color to your beer. The mashing has already been done for you (in the form of your extract) so all you are doing by steeping grains is adding some character to your brew.

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Old 10-13-2005, 04:59 PM   #5
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I never said what kind of grain was in the bag. Maybe it's a mixture of 2-row base, biscuit, and victory. This will contain enzymes. They should convert starch to sugar.

I also know the water to grain ratio. (Going by guidelines in the complete joy of homebrewing.)

so......... what do I need to change?

this is important for me, because I am going to brew my fat tire clone tonight and I have grains that need to be mashed.

NOTE: my original post contains wrong numbers. I start with soaking the grains in 1.5 QUARTS of water. (1 quart per per pound of grain.) I edited the original post to contain accurate numbers.

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Old 10-13-2005, 05:04 PM   #6
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Well I'm not the one to explain mashing, but in reading any of the how-to's on mashing, you can see that sparging is not anything like rinsing. Pouring water through a bag that's already been drained is just going to let the bulk of the water channel down quickly into the pot. You're essentially getting first running and not much else. Beer Recipator estimates that you get 40% efficiency from steeping.

That's just the difference in rinsing/sparging, then there's temp maintenance, and other diffs. You're not mashing, you're steeping. Still you could go all grain that way if you really wanted too...you'd just have to use twice as much grain.

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Old 10-13-2005, 05:08 PM   #7
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ok, so if I do my best to mimic the lauter tun with what I have on-hand (and so a slower sparge with grains 'floating' in water, reciruclating the first runnings) I have made the last step to mini-mashing?

The temp maintenance is fine. My water holds in the upper 150s during the initial soak when all the important bits are happening with the starch->sugar conversion.

other differences?

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Old 10-13-2005, 05:50 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by El Pistolero
Still you could go all grain that way if you really wanted too...you'd just have to use twice as much grain.
Maybe I'll just do that instead of worrying about it. Grains are pretty damn cheap, so if I can use $1.50 worth of grain and steep it instead of $0.75 worth of properly mashed grain, I can live with that.

If I feel creative one of these days, maybe I'll cobble together something 'proper'. For tonight, however, I think I'll just double the grains and steep them.

Thanks El.P.

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Old 10-13-2005, 05:56 PM   #9
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It is my understanding that if you are soaking malt at the productive temperature for either alpha or beta amylase enzymes approx range 141-158 degrees or resting at temps that are ideal for protien or acid rests you are mashing. steeping , the way I learned it, is dropping your grains (in a grain bag) in the brewing liquor as you heat it up and removing them just before the liquor reaches the boiling point before adding extract.

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Old 10-13-2005, 06:00 PM   #10
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*sigh*

and this is the kind of thing that has always left me confused about the difference. one source says my method is pretty close to a mash, one says it's just a steep.

I consider it a mash with a poor-man's sparge.

If I could just find out how much effeciency I am getting out my method, I would end my internal debate.

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