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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > General Techniques > Treatment of Roasted Grain: What's Your Preference?
View Poll Results: How do you prefer to treat your roasted grains?
Mash them with everything else, nothing special 39 86.67%
Cold steep them and add the liquor to boil kettle 1 2.22%
Add them to the mash 10-20 minutes before sparge 5 11.11%
Steep them in hot wort after sparge and before boil 0 0%
Voters: 45. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 01-27-2013, 11:50 PM   #1
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Default Treatment of Roasted Grain: What's Your Preference?

I'm so curious how all of you folks treat your roasted and highly kilned grains. Do you cold steep, add them in the last 10 minutes of your mash, just throw all of your grains in for the entire mash length, or something else? Please consider viewing the poll and answering whatever's closest, for fun.

The impetus for this post is that I recently received scores back from a local Dry Stout competition. I'm not a huge fan of this style and had never brewed it, traditionally at least. I received a 31, 30, and 26 from three BJCP judges. Not terrible, but one piece of feedback that all the judges gave is that my beer was slightly astringent, which I believe is the result of both not treating my very soft water and adding all of my grains at the beginning of the mash. However, the one time I tried throwing them in the last 10 minutes of the mash, on an American Stout, it resulted in a beer with very little roastiness. Your thoughts, opinions, suggestions, and whatever else are very much appreciated.

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Old 01-28-2013, 12:17 AM   #2
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I guess no one else uses roasted grains

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Old 01-28-2013, 12:29 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Brulosopher View Post
I guess no one else uses roasted grains
It's been less than 30 minutes since you asked.

Everybody in the pool. Honestly, while this topic seems to get repeated play here and at other forums I don't get it. I've never encountered any problem that would require the removal and separate steeping of roasted grains from the grist bill. If any commercial brewer on the planet uses such a grain separation technique I'd be very surprised.

Post your stout recipe along with water profile. That could supply some possible answers to the astringency question.
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Old 01-28-2013, 12:35 AM   #4
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I added my roasted grains totally separate from the mash in the last stout I made. After the mash, I steeped them in the wort. It worked well for me, but I only did this because I ran out of room in my mash tun.

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Old 01-28-2013, 12:42 AM   #5
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I've never given it much thought! But, I've never had a beer in a competition either. That being said, it does make me think about it a bit. If mashing in your darker grains gives off an astringincy or an acrid taste then why wouldn't you want to cold steep them? I've got a little free time later, I've got some chocolate malt that I'm not going to be using for anything anytime soon. I'll have to make a 'tea' from both of them and see what differences I get.

Edited: Okay, here's another question. I just saw another post regarding coffee stouts where the recipe calls for dumping already prepared coffee into the bottling bucket. Why not just mash the coffee in with everything else? Astrigincy? I'm obviously trying to draw a connection between off flavors in dark grain and coffee... Does it exist?

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Old 01-28-2013, 12:44 AM   #6
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. . . However, the one time I tried throwing them in the last 10 minutes of the mash, on an American Stout, it resulted in a beer with very little roastiness. . .
That's the issue. I have brewed red ales where I wanted color but not roasty flavor from the dark grains and achieved this by adding them to the mash during sparging.

Astringency can come about in many ways - sparging too hot can lead to harshness, tannins and astringency. Too high a percentage of dark roasted malts can lead to a harshness that might be mistaken for astringency. Water chemistry can be an issue, too.

Good luck!
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Old 01-28-2013, 12:48 AM   #7
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My last two dark beers I have gone the route of adding to the mash late in the process. Main reason was that I didn't want the acidic grains throwing my mash pH too low.

It did work out, but with some caveats. It definitely provided some roastiness, but less than I was expecting.

I have been trying to figure out what my next approach should be. I was thinking of simply upping the roast portion of the grain bill by 10-20%. Pre-steeping was something I was considering but then that's a whole other thing to pre-plan.

Curious to see if others add their thoughts.

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Old 01-28-2013, 02:06 AM   #8
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All great responses, thanks! I'm wondering what the difference would be if I didn't change my technique, but hardened my water?

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Old 01-29-2013, 03:21 AM   #9
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My last two dark beers I have gone the route of adding to the mash late in the process. Main reason was that I didn't want the acidic grains throwing my mash pH too low.
A little baking soda can go a long way to raise the pH. I added about 1g/gallon on my Courage 1914 Imperial clone, and despite a 2.75g batch containing a full pound of black patent, it was not remotely harsh.
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Old 01-29-2013, 01:19 PM   #10
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A little baking soda can go a long way to raise the pH. I added about 1g/gallon on my Courage 1914 Imperial clone, and despite a 2.75g batch containing a full pound of black patent, it was not remotely harsh.
This reminds me of something else. Being relatively new to water manipulation, I'm wondering if someone could provide the impact of different stuff on the wort pH (and other areas), particularly:

Roasted grain
Phosphoric/citric/lactic acid
Acidulated malt
Gypsum
Calcium Chloride
Baking Soda
Other stuff?

Also, feel free to go into details about when you would use the aforementioned stuff, i.e. beer types, water types, etc.

Cheers!
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