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Old 08-22-2009, 07:30 PM   #1
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Default Confused about steeping vs mashing

I have been trying to figure out what exactly the difference is in steeping vs mashing. I understand that if the grain has diastatic power then you are mashing because it is converting to sugars. However my confusion is in the actual process, aren't they both essentially the same process?

I have been searching and stuff and read the partial mash sticky and it seems to me that they are basically steeped like a tea bag. I have come across some information about sparging though, is this basically pouring hot water over the grain bag after it has already steeped and into your steep mixture?

Actually let me bring up an example, Im considering making the centennial blonde recipe which includes 1.00 lb Cara-Pils/Dextrine (2.0 SRM) Grain 16.7 % and i've read that steeping dextrine will cause hte beer to have starch haze. So I don't really understand how I avoid that since both seem the same as steeping to me.

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Old 08-22-2009, 07:38 PM   #2
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Mashing and steeping are similar, though the goals are different. Mashing, as you note, is to convert starch into sugar. Steeping, however, is just to extract/dissolve the solids in the grain. In mashing, temperature control is more important than it is with steeping.

Steeping is done with grains in which starches cannot, or have already been, converted into sugars (e.g. crystal malt, chocolate malt, roasted barley).

Sparging is adding hot water to the grains to release more of the stuff you want from the grains, be it sugars or other components.

And just to be complete, lautering is the action of removing the liquid from the grains.

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Old 08-22-2009, 08:13 PM   #3
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As above.....

Steeping adds (extracts) colour and flavour
Mashing adds, colour, flavour and sugar (adds to the ABV)

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Old 09-13-2012, 03:06 PM   #4
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Ok, so at the risk of sounding retarded I get the difference here, but is the process the same? The difference is just in which grains you are using?

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Old 09-13-2012, 03:18 PM   #5
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Yes, the process is essentially the same . Grains plus hot water - let it sit.

Mashing requires more precision in the temp and volume of that hot water. That temp and ph range activates enzymes that break down starches into simpler sugars. Those same enzymes break down the starches in cara-pils to large, unfermentable sugars. These add "body" to the beer but no color, haze or flavor. If they just stayed as starches and weren't broken down, then yes, you could have haze issues.

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Old 09-13-2012, 03:19 PM   #6
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The temperature is much more critical in mashing since you are converting starches into sugars. Different sugars get created at different temperature. A low mash temp, around 149 or so creates a highly fermentable wort, whereas a high mash temp creates a less fermentable wort.

When you're steeping, the temp isn't as critical since all you're doing is extracting color and flavor...

Usually mash for an hour also...steep for 20-30 minutes

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Old 09-13-2012, 03:21 PM   #7
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And yes, the grains used can be different. All kinds of grains can go in the mash, but not all can be steeped.

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Old 09-13-2012, 04:31 PM   #8
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The process is almost identical, aside from the amount of grains used. Steeping is for extract batches using specialty grains, you're just getting color and flavor here to supplement the malt extract. Mashing is when you mash your base malt and specialty grains. Here you're not only getting colors and flavors from the specialty grains, but also converting the starches in the base malt into fermentable (and unfermentable) sugars. Similar process, very different results.

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Old 09-13-2012, 05:58 PM   #9
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You do get some fermentable sugar from steeping grains, it's just that the sugar was converted from starch through a heating/roasting process with air rather than liquid....so all you are doing is dissolving that sugar in hot water (steeping). Toss a few kernels of Crystal malt in your mouth and chew them up, you'll see how sweet they are...that's what you are extracting through the steeping process....the conversion (from starch) was already done for you. Steeping temp isn't as critically because you don't have enzyme activity to worry about.

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Old 09-13-2012, 07:32 PM   #10
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Both steeping & mashing are done between 150-165F. Higher 15x for more color/less fermentables. Lower15x for more fermentables/less color basically. But the big difference is the amount of water used. Steeping can be done in a couple gallons of heated water. But mashing uses no more than 1.5QTs per pound of grain. As was also said,steep for 2-30 minutes,mash for 1 hour. Sparge the grains with water no more than 170F. And then about a teapot full is plenty.
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