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Old 06-21-2011, 12:36 AM   #1
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Default Cold start vs warm start when steeping grains

I've recently brewed a brown ale and a Christmas ale that both started steeping the grains in cold water and maintained the steep until 170*F was reached. What do you gain (or lose) by this method compared to starting the steep in 150*F or so water and holding it for 30 minutes?

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Old 06-21-2011, 12:47 AM   #2
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Never steep grains higher than 158F unless you want to extract those very astringent tannins.

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Old 06-21-2011, 01:14 AM   #3
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Never steep grains higher than 158F unless you want to extract those very astringent tannins.
Why do almost of the recipes I've ever seen say to steep until 170 then?
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Old 06-21-2011, 01:16 AM   #4
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Never steep grains higher than 158F unless you want to extract those very astringent tannins.
Oh, well, my beers must really suck then because I do it all the time.

You do want to keep the steeping temp under 170.

The reason I always steeped the grains at 150-155ish was just because it meant no thinking on my part. What I mean is this- if you do every single steep with 1.5 quarts of water per pound of grain, and add the grains when the water temperature is 165, and steep at 150-155 for the time- then you've just done the technique for a partial mash. So, you don't have to think about "what grains are in here? Is this a partial mash? How should I steep this?". It's always the same. No harm will come no matter what the grain composition. It took so much out of the guesswork when I was starting out!

I've seen instructions for steeping grains to be introduced into cool water and the temperature raised to 170. I've seen adding the grains only at 150-170. It truly doesn't matter, but if you find a simple technique that works for ALL beers, that is my recommendation. Once I treated every beer like a partial mash (whether it had flaked wheat, carapils, Munich malt, crystal malt, etc), then my technique was the same all the time. That's what worked for me.
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Old 06-21-2011, 03:29 PM   #5
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OP

Mashing as you suggested can create an interesting beer, so steeping might as well. My local homebrew club did a club brew last summer that was 100% pilsener malt saison, ramped up just as you said. It took many awards. However, ramping of temperatue as you described may have more of an effect on conversion that simple steeping.

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Never steep grains higher than 158F unless you want to extract those very astringent tannins.
This is a false statement.
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Old 06-21-2011, 03:41 PM   #6
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When I do extract with steeping grain recipes, I always just throw the grain bag in the kettle while it is getting up to heat, then remove them when it hits 170.

The reason I do extract recipes (instead of my normal AG) is to save time. I don't want to have to deal with an extra 30 minute step where I could have had the burner firing full bore to get up to a boil.

All my steeped beers have turned out very good, although I cannot comment on whether they would have been better with a half hour of steady 150-155 degree rest.

My thought process comes from my personal decision of AG vs. extract, I know that some people do not have the equipment for AG.

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Old 06-21-2011, 03:43 PM   #7
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My LHB guy says to strike at room temp and raise. He claims that starting with the room temp strike provides a sort of protein rest effect. I am not sure if it does or not but it works for me and as mentioned maybe that is more important. Once I had a brewer at Boulder Beer in Colorado tell me that they mashed and boiled all their brews the same.

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Old 06-21-2011, 06:00 PM   #8
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My LHB guy says to strike at room temp and raise. He claims that starting with the room temp strike provides a sort of protein rest effect.
He's full of it. A protein rest is done at 120-133 degrees, not room temperature. Plus without diastastic power, a protein rest doesn't exist.
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Old 06-22-2011, 01:54 AM   #9
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Both of these recipes were primarily extract based. The steeping was with a pound or so of 80L crystal malt and a bit of 120 for color. I've made both several times and the results are pretty decent brews. Saving time seems to be the best reason as I see it.

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Old 09-22-2011, 04:10 AM   #10
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With the new addition to the family, my brewing times have become fewer and farther between. Every 3rd brew or so I'll do an extract as a starter for the next brews or just as a sustenance brew. I can bang one out in a little over 2 hours but sometimes this isn't even fast enough for SWMBO. I have an electric HERMS chamber and was thinking about the possibility of filtering my water at lunch and adding the steeping grains. I have a remote contactor that I could turn on when I'm an hour or so from coming home. This way I could come right home from work, pull out the grains and fire up the burner. This would shave ~45 minutes off the brew day.

Is there anything wrong with leaving steeping grains at room temp for 5 hours and ramping them up to 165F? How about if I did this over night?


Sorry to bump but I figured it was better than starting a new thread.

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