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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Beginners Beer Brewing Forum > Steeping Grains
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Old 07-13-2007, 12:08 AM   #1
CharlieB
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Default Steeping Grains

im doing a 5 gallong boil tomorrow and was wondering if it was better to steep grains in 5 gallons or 3 and then add for the rest of the boil. i brewed an IPA last week and steeped in 5 gallons and it came out a little darker than expected but is this a bad thing or just a little more color and flavor?

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Old 07-13-2007, 02:55 AM   #2
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When steeping (not mashing), it shouldn't make any difference at all.

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Old 07-13-2007, 02:57 AM   #3
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Doesn't really matter what volume you use to steep. I would do 3 because you'll get it up to temp quicker.
Darker color is more likely due to carmelization of the extract, not from steeping.

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Old 07-13-2007, 04:41 AM   #4
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Steeping volume matters a great deal. If you steep specialty grains in too large a volume of water (dilute steep) the relatively small amount of grains is not sufficient to lower the pH enough to avoid extracting excess tannins from the grain husks. There was a great article about this last year in BYO magazine, written by Chris Colby.

Steep in 2-3 qts of water per pound of specialty grains in a separate pot on the stove while you are heating up your main boil (minus the amount you are steeping). Once the steep is done just pour the 'grain tea' through a strainer (not necessary if you use grain bags) into your main boil kettle and continue as you normally would.

I like to pour 1-3 qts of hot water from the main boil through the spent grain bag in a strainer to make sure I extracted as much of the goodness as possible.

Steeping and rinsing temperatures are not as important as in mashing base malts, but it is important to not exceed 170˚F. Anything between 140-165˚F is fine.

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Old 07-13-2007, 05:12 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnsma22
Steeping volume matters a great deal. If you steep specialty grains in too large a volume of water (dilute steep) the relatively small amount of grains is not sufficient to lower the pH enough to avoid extracting excess tannins from the grain husks. There was a great article about this last year in BYO magazine, written by Chris Colby.
Interesting. Is that article online? Everything I've seen says that tannin extraction isn't an issue below 170F.
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Old 07-13-2007, 03:27 PM   #6
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That's good to know, I stand corrected. I though grain to water ratios and pH were only important when mashing, not steeping.
This will inform my future extract brews.

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Old 07-13-2007, 03:40 PM   #7
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Haven't seen the article mentioned but there is this:

"When it comes to steeping, thin is good and it is common to use ratios as high as six quarts per pound (~12 liters/kg). The thin steep not only improves the efficiency of steeping, it is also convenient since the steep water is usually used to dissolve malt extracts after the steeped grains are removed. "
http://www.byo.com/mrwizard/1026.html

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Old 07-13-2007, 05:57 PM   #8
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I couldn't find the article online, but a poster from the B3 forum copied it and mailed it to me. I'll scan it tonight and post it. I'm not sure why BYO would have two contributors give conflicting info. The bottom line is pH matters in steeping as well as mashing. Excessive temperature (170˚F +) and low pH are both contributing factors to tannin extraction. It's not an opinion, it's science.

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Old 07-13-2007, 06:22 PM   #9
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I think that you are looking for this...

http://byo.com/mrwizard/760.html
When a relatively small weight of specialty grains is steeped in a large volume of water, the result is a very thin mixture. The pH is only slightly affected by the malt (pale malts tend to lower the mash pH during all-grain mashing to about 5.4 pH). This means the pH of the solution during steeping will be higher than the pH of a normal mash, which has an oatmeal-like consistency.

though, he adds a qualification at the end:
You ask whether steeping and sparging released "unwanted tannins" in your beer. For starters, all beer contains tannins. Some tannins are implicated in haze and some lend astringent flavors to beer.
The type most homebrewers are concerned about are those affecting flavor. In any case, it is up to the brewer to decide if the level of tannins in their beer is too high. The (in)famous decoction mash is frequently recommended when a brewer is in search of more malt flavor. Decoction mashes boil malt and — among analytical brewers who are not afraid of rocking the boat with unpopular ideas — are known to increase the astringent character associated with tannins. In general I wouldn’t consider 170° F dangerously high with respect to tannin extraction. However, if you believe your beers may suffer because of too much astringency, consider adjusting your steep pH and lowering the temperature a few degrees



To add my own person experience
When I did specialty grain/extract brews, I used more of a thin steep as mentioned in the first link and never experienced any tannin extraction issues. Of course, you have to take into account my water chemistry to begin with...YMMV, ect.

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Old 07-13-2007, 06:25 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnsma22
It's not an opinion, it's science.
Well, OK, sorry we asked then. No need to go all EAC on us.

While it may be science, there seems to be reasonable disagreement over its importance when (a) BYO publishes two differing opinions on its importance and (b) as respected a source as Palmer flat out ignores it -- his sample porter recipe calls for steeping 1.25 pounds of grain in 3 gallons of water, and while he mentions several other potential contibutions to tannin extraction (temp, water chemistry, time) he doesn't mention water-to-grain ratio at all.

When I asked "where's the article", it wasn't to cast doubt on your integrity or the science behind the findings...I'm genuinely curious as to what this guy has to say, since it seems contrary to (or overlooked by) many other sources.

Hell, I don't even do steep-and-extract recipes. Just thought a more thorough understanding of the topic might help those who do.
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