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Old 01-26-2009, 07:52 PM   #1
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Default Grain Steeping & Wort Aeration Q's

After studying books, mags, DVD's, The Internet, etc. prior to jumping on in, I went exclusively with my LHBS for kits, advice and instructions for my first two batches per the K.I.S.S. Principle and because I trust they know their stuff. The recipe kits they provide contain LME and specialty grains. So, my Q's:

Their instrux specifically call for boiling the grains (in a bag) for 20 minutes. Everything I've seen everywhere else sez to steep 'em, and never boil grains. I'm sure the beer's gonna be fine, but this point keeps nagging at me. Any comments?

Also, they never breathe a word about aerating the wort, whereas most other sources suggest shaking up the fermenter or using the repeated pour method before pitching to give the yeasties something to breathe. Again, I'm sure the beer's gonna work out just dandy, but this point bugs me a bit also. What say ye more experienced hands?

Batches three and four are using similar recipe kits from Midwest, and their instrux have me steeping and shaking, which makes me feel a lot better since it's consistent with everything else I've seen. They also give starting and final gravity figures, something else my LHBS doesn't mention. Now, I can dig it when Revvy suggests it might be a sin to assume the LHBS doesn't know sh*t, but I'd still like to get a little more clear on these basic things.

Thanks!

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Old 01-26-2009, 08:42 PM   #2
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Steeping (not boiling) and shaking are pretty much standard. That being said, if you are just using a couple of pounds of specialty grain, I'm not sure if you could extract enough tannin to affect the flavor, and shaking perhaps isn't VITAL to beer making. However, it does bring into question your LHBS.

Unwise people at the LHBS isn't unheard-of, and there are usually 3-4 boneheads working at mine each time I go in there. Not to mention they set their grain roller to barely cleave the grains so they can sell more.

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Old 01-28-2009, 03:36 PM   #3
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I didn't get much response to my original questions, so here goes again. From the very recent Hop Pellets thread, this was said (by a guy with over 1500 posts!):

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Originally Posted by carnevoodoo View Post
You should NEVER boil grain.
Question: If I buy recipe kits from my LHBS in the future, should I stick to their instrux sheet, or steep the grains instead of boiling them (see second paragraph of OP)? I mean, I'm sure the beer's gonna come out fine and all, but I would like a better understanding of what I'm trying to accomplish here.

Incidentally, I quizzed 'em on the aeration subject, and the answer was that aeration is an advanced technique, and the kits are kept uncomplicated as possoble being specifically tailored for beginners. So maybe they think maintaining a 155 degree temp is more'n a n00b can handle. Oh, and the staff seems to range from fairly sharp to very knowledgeable.
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Old 01-28-2009, 03:54 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KDM View Post
I didn't get much response to my original questions, so here goes again. From the very recent Hop Pellets thread, this was said (by a guy with over 1500 posts!):



Question: If I buy recipe kits from my LHBS in the future, should I stick to their instrux sheet, or steep the grains instead of boiling them (see second paragraph of OP)? I mean, I'm sure the beer's gonna come out fine and all, but I would like a better understanding of what I'm trying to accomplish here.

Incidentally, I quizzed 'em on the aeration subject, and the answer was that aeration is an advanced technique, and the kits are kept uncomplicated as possoble being specifically tailored for beginners. So maybe they think maintaining a 155 degree temp is more'n a n00b can handle. Oh, and the staff seems to range from fairly sharp to very knowledgeable.
The grains should be steeped, not boiled. The need to be crushed, and then steeped at no higher than 160 degrees or so. I like to keep them in the 152-154 range, just in case there are some grains in there that can benefit from a mash. (Sometimes a small amount of biscuit malt, for example).

A simple instructions sheet should say something like, "Put two gallons of water in a pot and bring to 160 degrees. Place the crushed grains in a bag, and steep them in the hot water, dunking like a tea bag to thoroughly wet the grains. Let sit for 20 minutes. Then remove the grains and discard. Bring to a boil, and remove from heat and add extract. Bring to a boil, and add the first hops. Set the timer for 60 minutes, and add the other hops at the times indicated in the recipe. After the timer hits 0, then chill the wort as quickly as possible to 70 degrees. An ice bath works well for this. Put into sanitized fermenter, add water to 5 gallons, stir well, check the gravity with the hydrometer, add yeast, cover and place airlock. Keep at 65-68 degrees for two weeks".
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Old 01-28-2009, 03:59 PM   #5
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I agree with Yooper. There's no reason to boil the grains, it can only reduce the quality of the product. When I brewed extract I generally kept the specialty grains at 155 for 15 minutes, but anything in Yooper's region should do the trick.

For my first few batches the only aeration that the wort got was the sloshing from pouring it into the bucket. I generally think that's enough, but I do shake my carboys (set it on something soft and rock it back and forth violently for 5 minutes or so).

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Old 01-28-2009, 04:16 PM   #6
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KDM, I suggest you copy and paste Yooper's instruction, print that out and follow. And just a little advice, take some time and look for a copy of Palmer's how to brew book. Its free on the internet. It has everything you need to know!

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Old 01-28-2009, 04:24 PM   #7
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Granted I'm fairly, ok really, new at this as well but from my reading I didn't get aeration as being an advanced topic. Rather I took it as essential for some beer types and a really really good idea for all the others. Most of my knowledge comes from these forums and from How To Brew by Palmer (How to Brew - By John Palmer - Oxygen) so I can't give all the science behind it but I think it seems necessary and depending on technique easy to do. The third edition of the book has a table of parts per billion of oxygen you can expect from the multiple methods of aeration.

As far as steeping grains goes, again my previous newness and knowledge base statements apply, but I've read that specialty grains should be steeped at 150 degrees by bringing water up to the temp, removing it from the heat and then steeping for 30 minutes or so. Maintaining that temp for STEEPING is not important. Also I've read that a good ratio of water/grain is 1 gallon/1 pound.

Either of these statements are open for correction by those more experienced than me

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Old 01-28-2009, 04:45 PM   #8
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Yep, I'm on Chapter 7 of Palmer's book (latest edition hard copy), and have the Basic Brewing DVD from basicbrewing.com, so I'm halfway hip to the idea of steeping and shaking. Shaking has had the additional benefit of mixing my partial boil and top off water thoroughly so I don't get a lame hydrometer reading as with the last batch (I had gotten 1.024 as OG for a double bock).

I guess what I'm wondering mostly is if I need to avoid my LHBS as a bunch of BS artists, which I don't believe they are, or maybe fuss at 'em a bit to improve their instructions, or just let it slide and take what they say with a hefty grain of salt and call it a day? I'm thinking about the other n00bs who go there too, y' know.

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Old 01-28-2009, 05:37 PM   #9
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I'm still fairly new.. but I generally steep my grains at 155 for about an hour.. then I sparg it with water at 160.

Maybe an hour is too long though

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Old 01-28-2009, 07:59 PM   #10
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Heh, I don't know what sparging is yet, haven't gotten to that chapter. I expect I'll learn quick enough, and that partial mashes are in my future, and likely AG too eventually . . . but for the moment I'm working on getting the basic nuts 'n' bolts in place.

I just now got through bottling my second batch, everything went very smoothly, got 49 bottles out of the deal, which is preciesly the same number I got out of my first batch. A double bock.

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