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Old 05-06-2011, 10:10 PM   #1
tonyolympia
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Default Steeping vs. Mini Mash?

I'm about to make an extract "real ale" and for specialty grains I have .5 lbs crystal 120 and .25 lbs biscuit malt, milled and mixed together. Should I steep the grains or do a mini mash?

I was under the impression that biscuit malt HAD to be mashed. Will it contribute any sugars or impart any character to my ale if it is only steeped? Since the biscuit is only a little more than 4% of the grain bill, would I even notice the difference?

If I do a mini mash with the whole .75 pounds of grain, do I run the risk of bitter tannin extraction because I'll have the grain in the hot water for over an hour, as opposed to 30 minutes with steeping?

All input is appreciated. This is batch #3 for this noob.

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Old 05-06-2011, 10:26 PM   #2
djsethall
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If you are going to steep anyways, you might as well do a mini mash. Instead of steeping at whatever temp (I don't steep) is suggested, I would just bring the kitten caboodle of grains and water up to 150-156 and let it rest there for 30 minutes to an hour for enzyme conversion. Just keep it at your target temp. I hear that placing the pot in a cooler helps. After sitting for enzyme conversion, stop the conversion by bringing it up to 168 or so, then remove the grains. If you can "sparge" them in some fresh water, also at 168, you will extract the sugars you want. Do this for a few batches and then ou might want to look into doing an all grain batch. The equipment for AG isn't all that expensive for a starter setup.

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Old 05-07-2011, 02:50 AM   #3
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I don't think you will notice if the biscuit is there or not from steeping. 0.25 lbs is not much.

Steeping will not add any sugars from the Biscuit. The Crystal is fully converted, so there is not much benefit from mashing.

The biggest problem with mashing such a small amount of grain is trying to keep the temperatures stable. All you would be using is 1 quart of water (use too much water and the enzymes will not be able to find the starch to convert). I have done it with 0.5 lbs of honey malt for a cider, but it was a pain.

Now, add 2 to 3 lbs of 2-row, use 1.3 qts of water per lb, and you should be good.

Don't worry about tannin extraction, many commercial breweries mash for hours.. Tannin extraction starts when you get temperatures over 170 F. Even if you go over 170, don't sweat it; I'm not sure you will notice it with a small amount of grain with all the bitterness from the hops.

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Old 05-07-2011, 06:22 AM   #4
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So we have a vote for mini mash from djsethall, and a vote for steeping from calder, do I understand right?

If the biscuit is steeped, will it lend ANY kind if character to the beer, even if it contributes no sugars?

It confused me that my LHBS sold me the biscuit and crystal milled and mixed together, but maybe that's right, and since I'm a noob I want to reserve judgement. It's just that the recipe called for special roast, and I would have thought that they would substitute something for that that could be steeped. (I was thinking brown malt?)

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Old 05-07-2011, 06:30 AM   #5
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Was it rockytop or healthcrafts? Would you like to do an all grain sometime? Here's a couple of shots of my system.



Definately anything that either LHBS hasn't ever dreamed of.

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Old 05-07-2011, 03:16 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Calder
Steeping will not add any sugars from the Biscuit. The Crystal is fully converted, so there is not much benefit from mashing.

The biggest problem with mashing such a small amount of grain is trying to keep the temperatures stable.
I'm willing to give a mini mash a try. Even if the mash doesn't serve to convert sugars in the crystal (they're already converted) it would still make them accessible to my wort, just like steeping, right?
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Old 05-07-2011, 03:37 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by djsethall
Would you like to do an all grain sometime? Here's a couple of shots of my system.
Ah, you're the Olympia Group Buy / Brewers of the Cave guy! What a setup you have! If you're inviting me to one of your brewing sessions, that would be so awesome. I've never even seen AG brewing happen. Let me know your schedule.

I hope to go AG before the end of the year, around the time I plan to brew seasonal beers. I plan on using my 10 gallon kettle for a mash tun, and I inherited from another brewer the "Zapap" lauter tun that's pictured in Papazian's "Complete Joy of Home Brewing." (It's a food bucket with lots of little holes drilled in it, dropped into a bottling bucket with a spigot.)

Honestly, it's shocking that I'm brewing at all right now, even extract. I have two small children and a lot of responsibilities at home and at the office. I'm able to squeeze in a brewing or bottling session every few weeks, usually from 10 pm - 2 am after I put the kids to bed. Still, I'm grateful to be where I am in terms of brewing. I thought I'd have to wait until my kids are older.

Keep me in mind if you do another group buy, will you? Much appreciated.

Tony
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