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Old 03-28-2006, 10:13 PM   #1
BeanPot Brewery
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Default Science of HB Questions

Thanks in advance for the tutorial, but I've seen many scientific terms thrown around in some of these forums that have sailed right over my head.
I admit, science was not my favorite subject. The extent of my scientific knowledge is: Too much beer - Too little sleep = Hangover.

I am curious about hot and cold breaks; what they mean and if there is a way to ascertain whether you've achieved them.

Also, I was wondering what the reason is for steeping grains at 150-170 degrees (I've seen both temps, still not sure which is best), and what that specifically accomplishes?

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Old 03-28-2006, 10:37 PM   #2
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Hot break is the point in the boil when some of the proteins in the wort settle out. There is an abrupt decrease in the amount of foaming and "floaties" are formed.

Cold break, when additional compounds settle out in well chilled beer, post-ferment. (oops, this is chill haze)

The steeping temperature is selected to allow sugars and flavor chemicals in the grains to dissolve, but avoid dissolving tannins, which give the ale a "pucker" flavor.



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Old 03-28-2006, 10:40 PM   #3
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Thanks. So I take it a good hot break, plus some Irish Moss, will take care of most of the proteins that could make a beer cloudy

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Old 03-28-2006, 10:57 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by BeanPot Brewery
Thanks. So I take it a good hot break, plus some Irish Moss, will take care of most of the proteins that could make a beer cloudy
A lot of things can contribute to a cloudy beer. Good hot and cold break removal and using IM will help. Type of ingredients, ie; wheat, oats for example can contribute to hazy beer. Infections also can cloud beer. The list goes on. Extract beer is usually worry free compared to All Grain brewing, but you can still get chill haze. The main concern is how the beer tastes and next is how does it look.
i like to have a clear looking beer, but as long as it tastes great....
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Old 03-28-2006, 11:01 PM   #5
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Science??? I think it's more akin to alchemy.........

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Old 03-28-2006, 11:46 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by david_42
Cold break, when additional compounds settle out in well chilled beer, post-ferment.
i believe you've defined chill haze, not cold break.
Cold break is the proteins that coagulate and fall out of solution after rapidly chilling the wort, prior to pitching the yeast. (in Palmer's words...)

Edit: in fact, i'm not even sure that's a good definition for chill haze, as chill haze doesn't necessarily "settle" out...but it definitely precipitates out of solution
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Old 03-29-2006, 12:04 AM   #7
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Quote:
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Also, I was wondering what the reason is for steeping grains at 150-170 degrees (I've seen both temps, still not sure which is best), and what that specifically accomplishes?
Depends on the process. Base malt (2-row) needs to be mashed (Soaked in water usually 148-156 for an hour to allow enzymes in the grain to break down sugars that can be fermented). Steeping specialty grain is different. These grains (Crystal Malts, Chocolate Malt, Roasted Barley) just need some of the flavors and colors extracted. They are soaked in 170 water for a half hour, similar to making tea. Soaking the base malt in 170 degree water will stop the enzymes from working.
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Old 03-29-2006, 04:12 AM   #8
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As alluded to above... the temperatures refer to the concept of mashing versus steeping grains. For an extract brewer to accomplish a more complete taste they will steep grains in hot water.. this water should not exceed 170F or you run the risk of extracting tannins. Why 150F water could be appropriate for some invovles the concept of mashing.. read on if you like.

Mashing basically refers to the process whereby enzymes present in certain grains will convert the starches in the barley, wheat, oats, pumpkin, potato, etc. to (mostly) fermentable sugars. Through this process you end up with a sugar rich fermentable liquid that the yeast transform into beer. There are various enzymes that do various things and they are each active at various temperatures and PH ranges. It will suffice to say that for the all grain brewer a ph in the range of 5.2-5.3 and a temp (in an infusion mash) of 153 is a generally accepted compromise. If you were doing a true mini mash as some around here do then you'd let the grains soak in water at this temp for 50 or 60 minutes - this process would result in a more "beer like" complex flavor as well as some fermentables because the enzymes effectively converted the starches to sugar. Now, if all you're doing is soaking the grains in hot water then hotter water will probably do a better job of rinsing sugar from the grains. This is, of course, assuming that you're using grains suitable for this purpose; suitable grains are those that have already had a lot of their starches converted to sugar through the malting process. Any enzymatic activity that would occur (assuming you're using grains that are enzyme rich) will be quickly halted at these higher temps as the heat will quickly denature them... this is no concern though because all you're expecting is some flavor and color and few, if any, fermentables. That's the long end of it.

Here's the take-away: If you're using grains that have already had a lot of starches converted (i.e. crystal malt) then steeping them in 170F water will remove these sugars but will not convert any remaining starches to sugar b/c the enzymes were denatured by the heat. You won't get a lot of fermentables from this process but will get a good amount of flavor. Hotter water (to a point) is better. If, on the other hand, you're using grains that have not been malted and are very starchy (i.e. oats or wheat) then simply soaking them in hot water will do nothing because there are no residual simple sugars present.. only starches. For these grains they will have to be mashed (150F) in the company of some base malt (2 row or 6 row) that is enzyme rich. The base malt will provide the enzymes needed to convert the starches in the oats or wheat to sugar so that you can then extract it and the yeast can ferment it. So, to answer your question, the appropriate temperature is part of a larger process - steeping vs. mashing - and which process you should use is really dependant on what type of grains/adjuncts your using and what you want to get out of them (and, of course, what equipment you have handy).

Hope this helps..

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Old 03-29-2006, 02:46 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brewsmith
They are soaked in 170 water for a half hour, similar to making tea. Soaking the base malt in 170 degree water will stop the enzymes from working.
Where have you ever seen to steep grains at 170? Every reference I've ever seen says steep at ~150F.
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Old 03-29-2006, 03:53 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by El Pistolero
Where have you ever seen to steep grains at 170? Every reference I've ever seen says steep at ~150F.
I'll have to dig up a source of you want proof, but I have seen brewing instructions that have said to steep grains in hot water, but caution to not let the water get any hotter than 180°F.

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