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Old 02-08-2013, 09:42 PM   #1
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Default Planning a new brew, but what grains can I use?

Ok, I've got a bunch of grains in the kitchen and I want to make another beer while my porter is maturing in the bottles.

So I've got this:

Maris Otter Pale Malt 5 EBC
Vienna Malt 7 - 10 EBC
Munich Malt 15EBC
Caramel Malt 20 - 40 EBC
Crystal malt 120 EBC
Amber malt 125 EBC
Red Crystal 400 EBC
Chocolate malt 1200 EBC

Can all of these be steeped? Or are some of them only suitable for mashing?
I want to create a "Red Ale" with preferably a nice red color, any tips for a recipe with what I've got?

Cheers!

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Old 02-11-2013, 08:17 AM   #2
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Ok so I did some asking around and digging, and what I came up with was that:

Maris Otter Pale Malt
Vienna Malt
Munich Malt should not be steeped, they are for mashing only. The rest can be steeped.
Why they shouldn't be steeped is another question I have yet to find the answer for, but from what I gather is that since they are not caramelized they give off little or no flavor when steeped, or it may be that they give off wrong or bad flavors - not sure on this.
The other grains offer little or no fermentable sugar, so they can be steeped since their pressence is primarily for taste, so even if you mash them, very little of the starch in them convert to fermentable sugar, since most of the starch has crystalised.

In case anyone else were wondering the same as me, if I am wrong, please correct me.

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Old 02-11-2013, 08:36 PM   #3
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Mashing is sort of like a controlled steep- the temperature needs to be in a very specific range (typically 150F to 160F) where the enzymes present in the base malt are active so they can convert the starches in your grain into sugar. You also need to use a certain amount of water to mash properly so the enzymes and starghes aren't too concentrated or too dilute to work properly. That's usually 1.0-1.5 quarts of water per pound of total grain.

Crystal/caramel malts like C20 and red crystal have already been mashed and then dried out, so their starches have already been converted into sugar. For that reason, you can just steep it in water to dissolve the sugar that's already present, like dropping a sugar cube in your tea. It doesn't matter how much water you use. All grain brewers usually put all their grains into the mash and use the total grist weight to calculate how much water they need to mash with.

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Old 02-11-2013, 10:24 PM   #4
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Failing to steep base malts will not give an off flavor necessarily, it will just not give you fermentable sugars. As daskin said, you need to mash these grain so that the enzymes are active and in the right proportions to convert the starches in the grains to sugar. Using a base malt steeped does not ruin a beer, however. On my second brew ever, I decided to wing it and made up a recipe on the fly while I was in the LHBS (I bought the ingredients the very day I made my first brew). I used 2 lbs. extra light DME, 3.3 lbs. Munich LME, and steeped 1 lbs of Munich 10L. I used Liberty hops for bitterness and Saaz for flavor and aroma. The beer was very drinkable although it had a very unique flavor. My brother in law swears it was the very best beer I have ever made.

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Old 02-11-2013, 11:32 PM   #5
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Thank you guys for clearing that up for me.

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