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Old 12-29-2012, 02:54 AM   #1
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Default Steeping crystal malts vs. mashing, the differences?

Sorry to create two threads asking questions but this one really needed its own.

I was wondering what the difference is between mashing specialty grains vs. steeping them separately and adding them and mixing them into to the mash before first runnings. I ask because I recently did an AG version of my extract Weizenbock, and while it came out good it wasn't anywhere near as complex as my extract version. Now, I fermented a lot cooler so that can be the majority of the differential, but I got to wondering and looked it up and found a test that was done by an HBT member that showed a difference in conversion/fermentability - notably that when mashing the specialty grains there is a close to 10% more fermentability as a result of the conversion.

I was wondering the difference between doing as I did and mashing the crystal malts as opposed to steeping them like I did prior in the extract version. I'd done the extract version several times and it was always an amazing beer, I even proudly posted the recipe on here. My AG version however, while clean and fresh and certainly good, is far more one dimensional whereas my extract version had several flavor layers.

Now, last thing I'll say is for my AG version I used the same crystal malts and I even used the same Briess malts and balance as found in the extract I used.


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Old 12-29-2012, 03:59 AM   #2
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I'm not convinced that mashing with base grains vs. steeping alone would have such a huge impact on the beer. It can be argued that there are some more complex carbs that are not broken down into fermentables when steeped (that would otherwise be when mashed where more enzymes are available for conversion) that could attribute to more sweetness/flavor/mouth feel - this could be partially concluded if the FG of the extract brew were higher than the AG brew. But, there are many other factors that would affect that as well (quality of extract). Another possible factor could be the use of extract vs. AG somehow producing a more pleasing beer - type of grain used, mash temp, or fermentation parameters as you alluded to.

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Old 12-29-2012, 04:56 AM   #3
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I think you nailed it. I forgot to mention lower efficiency since I hadn't at that time been tightening my mill tighter for wheat, I only got 69%. I've since been tightening my mill for wheat and have been getting my usual 81% as I get with barely based brews. I haven't done the Weizenbock again since the low efficiency but I guess that, plus the cooler fermenting temps, thus eliminating the banana favors, resulted in the more one dimesional beer. Good thing I posted this. Sometime we overlook the obvious and simply need someone else to smack us in the back of the head and say "DUH!!!". Thanks Barleyhole!!


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