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Old 12-22-2008, 02:10 AM   #1
rph33
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Default Question on "mashing", "steeping", etc.

Alright, so I've been HBing for about a year, done maybe a dozen to fifteen brews, and I've been doing just fine. Had some really good results, on almost all of my attempts.

One thing I'm not entirely clear on:

I hear people talking about "enzymes" in various malts, and that in order for fermentable sugars to be extracted, certain malts must be "mashed" with another malt that has enzymes.

Now, I do mainly extract brews, and I steep all sorts of grains for 30 minutes in all of my brews, maintaining 154-157 temperatures during this phase. Is this what is called a "Partial Mash" technique? And when somebody says "You need to mash that to extract the enzymes", is what I'm doing "mashing", and are these "enzymes" being extracted? I just don't know if I've been doing something horribly wrong with my technique of using specialty grains and what I thought WAS a "partial mash". Have I not been getting full-benefit of my specialty grains because I didn't know which had enzymes? AM I A BAD PERSON?!

thanks

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Old 12-22-2008, 02:24 AM   #2
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It's easy to be confused with the terms. We seem to use the interchangeably, as the process seems to be the same. What's happening though is different.

In a steep, you are using grains that are processed to already have the sugars converted. They are generally called specialty malts and include crystal malts (caramel malts), chocolate malt, roasted malts, etc.

Here's a nice quick description of those malts and how they are processed:
Guide to Specialty Grains Used in Homebrewing.

Just like making tea, steeping releases color and flavor from these grains. No actual starch conversion goes on, it's simply like making tea. It adds color and flavor to the homebrew, so it's very often used.

There are many more grains available than just those specialty grains, though. Here's a list of some of the most common: All About Grains 101

These grains mash be mashed- that is kind of like a steep but with a few differences. First, water ph is important. So, generally a mash uses less water than a steep. 1.25 quarts per pound of grain to 1.50 quarts is most common. That keeps the ph in the proper range. Also, it's temperature dependent. Mashing is the process to convert the starches in the grain into usable sugar. There are enzymatic actions that take place so the proper temperature is very important. Without mashing, any dissolved starch that isn't converted into sugars will cause a starchy haze in the beer, and also not give you fermentable sugars.

Another thing to be aware of is that some grains can convert themselves so you don't have to really worry about adding base malt, while others may not have enough diastastic power to do that. So, often a mini-mash with vienna malt or munich malt, for example, won't have any other base malts. Some recipes need some base malt (2-row usually) to get complete conversion.

Now, that all seems especially confusing when you consider the techniques used. Mashing is usually done for an hour or so at 150-156 degrees. It's done in a manner like steeping. So, while the process seems the same, what's going on inside the wort is different. If you're steeping for 30 minutes at 155 degrees, you may be steeping or partial mashing. It all depends on the make up of your grain bill and whether any conversion is taking place.

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Old 01-04-2009, 09:04 PM   #3
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I had pretty much the same question. Thanks for some clarification, Yooper!

What I'm wondering now is if the process I've been following is overkill. I've made maybe 8 batches total - all of them with extract and partial boils. In the past 4 or so batches, I've been using a grain bag. Generally, I fill my grain bag with it sitting in my empty brew pot so that the dust doesn't go everywhere. I put a knot in the bag, then pour 2g water over it, turn on the heat, let it rise to around 150 degrees and keep it there between 15-30 mins. After that, I'll pull the grain bag above the water, let it drain for about a minute, then toss it. I'll add in another gallon of water to the pot (I can only boil 3gs at a time), bring it to a boil, add the extract, and so on...

I use anywhere up to 2 pounds of grain - and I've never used anything but Chocolate, Black, 60 & 120L Crystal, Cara-Pils, and Roasted Barley. I'm further confused by the term "specialty" grains, btw. The grains I've listed are always in bulk containers at my LHBS, whereas the Vienna, Munich, 2-row, etc. are in smaller containers - so I've always assumed that they were more "special"

So, I guess I'm steeping... considering time, my typical grain bill, the fact that I'm only using the one pot, and I don't bother with sparging (not sure how I might do that - put the bag in another pot after making the initial tea with my extra gallon? - will it make a difference?)

FWIW - I went researching this question after using QBrew to calculate my est. gravity and had to select whether I was "steeping" or "mashing" my grains. If I selected mashing, my OG went up by around .002.

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Old 01-04-2009, 09:07 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kibbler View Post
I had pretty much the same question. Thanks for some clarification, Yooper!

What I'm wondering now is if the process I've been following is overkill. I've made maybe 8 batches total - all of them with extract and partial boils. In the past 4 or so batches, I've been using a grain bag. Generally, I fill my grain bag with it sitting in my empty brew pot so that the dust doesn't go everywhere. I put a knot in the bag, then pour 2g water over it, turn on the heat, let it rise to around 150 degrees and keep it there between 15-30 mins. After that, I'll pull the grain bag above the water, let it drain for about a minute, then toss it. I'll add in another gallon of water to the pot (I can only boil 3gs at a time), bring it to a boil, add the extract, and so on...

I use anywhere up to 2 pounds of grain - and I've never used anything but Chocolate, Black, 60 & 120L Crystal, Cara-Pils, and Roasted Barley. I'm further confused by the term "specialty" grains, btw. The grains I've listed are always in bulk containers at my LHBS, whereas the Vienna, Munich, 2-row, etc. are in smaller containers - so I've always assumed that they were more "special"

So, I guess I'm steeping... considering time, my typical grain bill, the fact that I'm only using the one pot, and I don't bother with sparging (not sure how I might do that - put the bag in another pot after making the initial tea with my extra gallon? - will it make a difference?)

FWIW - I went researching this question after using QBrew to calculate my est. gravity and had to select whether I was "steeping" or "mashing" my grains. If I selected mashing, my OG went up by around .002.
You are steeping- simply because you are using steeping grains. Even if you "mash" them, as you discovered, you won't get anything out of them (well, except .002 points according to qbrew!). Specialty grains really aren't all that special- they are just simply NOT base grains. They don't provide fermentables. They do give color, flavor, body, etc.
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Old 01-04-2009, 10:37 PM   #5
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I've used grains that were supposed to be mashed and I did not mash. I used my mini mash method which included pouring the tea over the grains in a strainer. I know I could do better but this works for me.

Thanks for clarifying the question...i was a bit confuzed too.

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Old 01-05-2009, 03:18 AM   #6
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Not to take anything away from Yooper, but Death Brewers post is a must read. I just did my first partial mash today following these instructions. You have to read all the posts because good information is found throughout.

http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f39/easy...ng-pics-75231/

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Old 01-05-2009, 04:04 AM   #7
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I have a bit more to add about enzymes. A barley kernel is made to grow a plant. It is basically a hardy seed in suspended animation. Barley, much like most other "cereal" type of plants store energy as starch. This is mostly so critters dont come around wanting to eat the sugary goodness.

When a kernel falls off the plant and gets wet and slightly moist, a layer called the alurone starts releasing enzymes to convert the starch into sugar. We buy malted barley. Maltsers artificially start this process. They stop the conversion when they feel fit depending on what type of malt they want to make. A regular base malt does not get converted much. A crystal malt goes through most of the conversion. To stop starch conversion, the maltster kilns the barley. The heat is low enough not to deactivate the enzymes.

We get the malted grain. A usual grain bill is mostly base malt (2 row, 6 row, pilsner, wheat, sometimes munich). These malts are mostly unconverted. The original enzymes are still plentiful however. Other specialty malts like chocolate, and black patent are kilned so much that they only add flavor and color. They are so charred there are no enzymes left. Crystal malts already have most of the starches converted. Therefore, they add flavor, color and body to a beer.

Since enzymes are activated at different temps, you have to mash them. A lot of factors play into a mash. Yooper did a good explaination, so I won't bore you. Also, you don't extract enzymes.


I highly suggest you listen to Brew Strong: Enzymes. Jamil, Palmer and Tasty spend an hour talking about enzymes and mashing.

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Old 01-05-2009, 04:46 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by histo320 View Post
I've used grains that were supposed to be mashed and I did not mash. I used my mini mash method which included pouring the tea over the grains in a strainer. I know I could do better but this works for me.

Thanks for clarifying the question...i was a bit confuzed too.
If you don't mash grains that must be mashed, you might as well not use them because all you really get out of them is starch when you steep.
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Old 01-05-2009, 07:50 AM   #9
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Ok, I used the following grains to make an Oatmeal Stout. I put them in a grain bag and kept them in 155 degree water for about 60 minutes. Would this be considered partial mashing or steeping?

The reason I ask is that according to beersmith, with the following bill, plus the 1 lb of lactose I used, I would have had to have a brewhouse efficiency of 80ish percent to reach the 1.070 OG I had. From what I understand, that is unheard of efficiency with just a grain steep.

Grains/Extract
--------------
6 lbs Amber or Munich LME
1 lb ESB/Mild Malt
1 lb Roasted Barley
.5 lb Crystal 120L
.25 lb Chocolate Malt
1 lb Flaked Oats

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Old 01-05-2009, 12:18 PM   #10
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Lactose does not contribute to efficiency. Take the lactose out of beersmith. Since it is unfermentable and because you added it in don't take it into account. Effenciency is geared more toward how much extraction you got from your grain. The only reason I add lactose into beersmith is to see how it will affect my gravity. 1 lb of lactose will raise your OG and FG since it is in solution. If you had a OG of 1.070 with the lactose, your "fermentable" OG is probably a point or so lower.

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