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Old 08-29-2012, 12:56 PM   #1
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Default ? about something I read in BYO

So reading over the Sept. Issue of BYO in the Trouble Shooting article there is a chart. Under the astringency category for extract is says this can be caused by steeping grains in to much water (over 3 quarts water per pound grain). I do full boils, around 6.5gal to start with. Therefore if I have 1lb-2lb of specialty grain I have way to much water based on this chart. Can anyone give some feedback on this. I have only been doing this for a year and only have 12 batches under my belt. I have one now that has a strong bitter aftertaste, NB tongue splitter. I figured it was the nature of the beer and over dryhopping in the keg. Thank you for the feedback.

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Old 08-29-2012, 01:01 PM   #2
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I just had to pull my copy of that issue out as I never really had thought of too much water creating astringency (pour mash efficiency sure, but never though about astringency). My best guess is that somehow due to the lack of enzymatic activity (a reason you don't want an incredibly thin mash) it creates an environment favorable to the extraction of tanins from the grain. I could be way off though, that's just an off the top of the head guess.

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Old 08-29-2012, 01:02 PM   #3
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I guess two much water could be an issue if your specialty grains are actually converting sugars, but not all specialty grains convert - they are just adding flavors. I guess it would depend on the grain.

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Old 08-29-2012, 01:31 PM   #4
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This is in regards primarily to the PH of the water. As in mashing and in steeping if you have too much water the grains cannot correctly adjust the mash PH to the level that prevents tannins from being extracted. You really do need to use no more than 3 quarts per lb for steeping then you can add the rest of your water for the full boil or you *might* get some tannins.

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Old 08-29-2012, 01:36 PM   #5
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This is in regards primarily to the PH of the water. As in mashing and in steeping if you have too much water the grains cannot correctly adjust the mash PH to the level that prevents tannins from being extracted. You really do need to use no more than 3 quarts per lb for steeping then you can add the rest of your water for the full boil or you *might* get some tannins.
But isn't one of the requirements for extraction a high temperature? That is why it's recommended to sparge at no higher than 170F.

Steeping grains are commonly steeped at around 150 or so.
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Old 08-29-2012, 01:38 PM   #6
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So would it be adviseable to steep my grains on the stove top in a small pot since I am only looking at 1 to 2 gallons and then add it to my 10 gallon brewpot with the other water and bring it to a boil. Also, would it hurt to take this gallon or 2 of 155 degree water and add it to water that is either a lot colder or a lot hoter. Thanks for the input.

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Old 08-29-2012, 01:49 PM   #7
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Homercidal, that is something I see commonly mentioned about the temperature. I personally have not seen this when sparging as I do use water hotter than 170F, but I do know that it is mentioned often. The main reason I believe is that PH changes as the temp changes, so if your PH isn't spot on where it needs to be and you increase the temp you could throw your PH out of range and increase your tannin extraction. Since PH is the primary factory and PH is affected by temp, both are important.

Also it seems more important in steeping than in mashing since you often don't use grains high in enzymes that might affect the PH as much so you don't get as much of a stable PH so it is more highly affected by high temps than in a mash.

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Old 08-29-2012, 01:52 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by jritchie111 View Post
So would it be adviseable to steep my grains on the stove top in a small pot since I am only looking at 1 to 2 gallons and then add it to my 10 gallon brewpot with the other water and bring it to a boil.
That is what I do. I heat up the water in the boil kettle while steeping the grains on the stove top so I don't waste as much time waiting for the water to boil. When I brew I would estimate that at least half my time is spent waiting for the water to heat up before the boil and the wort to cool down after the boil.
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Old 08-29-2012, 07:51 PM   #9
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Do your steeping grains in the oven at the lowest setting for 30 minutes using 1.5 to 2 quarts of water per pound. It's flawless and you don't have to mess with it.

The problem is pH related...once the water-to-grain ratio becomes too high the grains no longer have the buffering capacity to keep the pH in the 5's. The pH shoots up into the high 6's or low 7's and the tannins start coming out. If you must steep in your kettle; after adding your grains, stir well and adjust your water pH to 5.2-5.4 using Phosphoric or Lactic Acid.

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Old 08-29-2012, 08:05 PM   #10
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You need both energy (aka temp) and high ph to get the tannins. Using to little water per lb woudl alow the ph to go up, also so would boiling the grains alow the energy to release the tannins to go up. - although as anyone who has made sun tea can tell you, it is more ph dependant, than energy dependant (ie the tannins come out even in low temps if the ph is over I think 5.8... tannin itself is an acidifier and will cause the ph to drop, I think tea can be as low as 4.5)

OP- I'd recomend if you have cook space, to do a 1 to 2 gallon heat for the steeping (aobut 150F) for about 30 mins - or your usual steep time, while simultaniously starting the remainder of your 5 or so gallons to boil. I suspect it will take most of that time to get the other water up to temp anyhow (saving you time).

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