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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > All Grain & Partial Mash Brewing > Steeping Dark Grains In Sparge Water?
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Old 09-25-2012, 07:53 PM   #1
BeerLogic
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Default Steeping Dark Grains In Sparge Water?

I've heard that steeping the dark grains in porter and stout recipes rather than mashing generally results in a smoother, less harsh flavor than adding the dark grains to the mash. (This seems to be my experience - my extract porters and stouts made with steeped dark grains and amber extract have generally come out better than my all grain versions.) I'm wondering whether, to maximize flavor extraction, it makes sense to do the steeping in the sparge water rather than the collected wort. Has anyone tried this?

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Old 09-25-2012, 08:46 PM   #2
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Batch sparging would extract tannins I would think, fly sparging may be a different story, depends on your process I suppose.

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Old 09-25-2012, 08:50 PM   #3
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I add these grains to the mash after the mash. seems to make a big difference. my stouts came out terrible prior to using this method.

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Old 09-25-2012, 08:55 PM   #4
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I add these grains to the mash after the mash. seems to make a big difference. my stouts came out terrible prior to using this method.
This should work fine
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Old 09-25-2012, 09:31 PM   #5
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Gordon Strong gave a talk at AHA regarding his new book, Brewing Better Beer. He had several comments about this topic ill try to boil it down. 1)Why did all grain brewers stop steeping specialty grains like extract brewers do? He uses the fresh vs end of day coffee analogy to point out harsh bittering effect of a all day heating on coffee. 2) Points out the effects of dark grains on your mash PH. "Are you adding a lot of carbonates to your mash to neutralize the acidity of dark grains?" 3) He also suggests trying cold steeping and not just adding at vorlauf, but at different times in the boil to get different effects. "Not just dark grains – any specialty grains that have no diastatic power and no significant starch to convert" I have tried it on a S English Brown. Stepped the grains in warm water (120F ish) added it to the pot half way into the boil. The resulting beer was rich with coffee/chocolate flavor, but it really cut away the harsh roasty toasty flavor. Give it a try! Oh if you are a AHA member there are links to all the talks on their website. JJ

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Old 09-25-2012, 09:38 PM   #6
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Quote:
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Gordon Strong gave a talk at AHA regarding his new book, Brewing Better Beer. He had several comments about this topic ill try to boil it down. 1)Why did all grain brewers stop steeping specialty grains like extract brewers do? He uses the fresh vs end of day coffee analogy to point out harsh bittering effect of a all day heating on coffee. 2) Points out the effects of dark grains on your mash PH. "Are you adding a lot of carbonates to your mash to neutralize the acidity of dark grains?" 3) He also suggests trying cold steeping and not just adding at vorlauf, but at different times in the boil to get different effects. "Not just dark grains – any specialty grains that have no diastatic power and no significant starch to convert" I have tried it on a S English Brown. Stepped the grains in warm water (120F ish) added it to the pot half way into the boil. The resulting beer was rich with coffee/chocolate flavor, but it really cut away the harsh roasty toasty flavor. Give it a try! Oh if you are a AHA member there are links to all the talks on their website. JJ
Interesting stuff Joe! I've been thinking about different ways to add the dark/roasted/specialty grains to the process and see what comes out the best for me.

I've often thought that a person could steep all the specialty grains like they do for extract batches and add to the boil as you suggested but never tried it. It would also cut down on the Calcium Carbonate additions to the mash to help bring up the PH levels to the 5.4-5.5 range.

That way a person could treat for the base malts and adjust with acid and CaCL and just add the dark grains somewhere at the end and still have the color and flavor just not the hassle of mash adjustments and bitter/harsh roastiness.
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Old 09-27-2012, 03:42 AM   #7
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Quote:
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I add these grains to the mash after the mash. seems to make a big difference. my stouts came out terrible prior to using this method.
So after the 60 min mash, add the dark grains and mix - then carry on as usual?
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Old 09-27-2012, 03:47 AM   #8
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So after the 60 min mash, add the dark grains and mix - then carry on as usual?
Depends on your sparging method.

If you batch sparge, yes, add them after draining the first wort and add your sparge water. I would recommend 10 to 15 minutes, maybe even 20, before draining your sparge water to ensure you get the color and sugars from the dark grains.

If you fly sparge, then sprinkle them onto the top of the bed while beginning the draining of the mash tun and then just add your sparge water as usual.

If you mash out, you can either add them before adding the water or wait until you start sparging and follow either protocol above.

My dark brews have gotten significantly smoother since adopting the Gordon Strong methods discussed in his book. So much better.
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Old 09-27-2012, 03:54 AM   #9
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I can't wait to brew my next stout using these techniques, something I've been meaning to do for awhile.

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Old 09-27-2012, 06:33 PM   #10
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After reading a bunch of other posts on this topic, I've decided to make my next stout by doubling the amount of and cold-steeping the dark grains overnight, using the liquid obtained for the mash liquor. If that's successful I'll try the same procedure, adding the liquid to the boil, maybe even at flameout. After thinking about it for a while, steeping in the sparge water unnecessarily complicates things and adds one more vessel to clean. I'll post the results.

One (probably obvious) question - Cold-steeping will still extract the acids from the dark grains, right? So my PH calculations should reflect the inclusion of the dark grains? I have extremely alkaline tap water (PH 8.5!!!), so this is rather important.

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