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Old 05-01-2011, 06:07 PM   #1
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Default Steeping/mashing with RO-DI water using LME?

Hello all!

I tried something yesterday that I want to get some feedback on... I've been going to the local market and getting 5 gallons of reverse osmosis de-ionized water for brewing, since I'm just doing extract+steeping grains at the moment. Obviously that water would not be conducive to mashing grains, being that it has no mineral content and such.

I understand that liquid malt extract is the result of properly mashed grains. When those grains are mashed, obviously the water used has the appropriate mineral content and pH conducive to mashing. As a result, the liquid malt extract contains those minerals to some extent.

What my crazy mind with bizarre logic led me to try was this: I added a small amount, probably 1 or 1.5 cups, of LME to my steeping water. I thought that by doing this, I might actually get some enzyme activity and some starch conversion in my steeping grains, kindof like a super-mini mash.

My brain is fried right now because I celebrated my birthday last night, but I wanted to get some thoughts and feedback on this subject. Thoughts? Questions? Anything would be appreciated. Cheers!

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Old 05-01-2011, 06:27 PM   #2
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No enzymes in extract. It is completely mashed, and stabilized.

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Old 05-02-2011, 01:35 AM   #3
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Right, I know that. I wasn't saying that I was using the extract for enzymes, only for minerals. I put a little LME in with my steeping grains (crystal 40, chocolate, etc), on the off chance that the mineral content of the LME would be conducive to mashing.

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Old 05-02-2011, 02:03 AM   #4
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Right, I know that. I wasn't saying that I was using the extract for enzymes, only for minerals. I put a little LME in with my steeping grains (crystal 40, chocolate, etc), on the off chance that the mineral content of the LME would be conducive to mashing.
I don't see the point at all. There aren't any enzymes to convert, and with the grains (which have minerals in them), you're only making "tea" and extracting the flavor and color. All the extract would do is make them sticky.

Steeping grains don't need to be mashed- so you can steep them. If you want to mash them, you need some grains with diastatic power- like two-row. Extract won't mash them (no enzymes for conversion) and won't give them minerals (which are in the grain in small amounts anyway).

I often use RO water for mashing and/or steeping. It's fine.
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Old 05-02-2011, 02:47 PM   #5
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Lol... again, I wasn't using the extract for enzymes.

But thanks, Yooper, I guess I didn't think about whether the grains I was steeping actually had any diastatic power, which is decidedly the more important question.

So you say you use RO for mashing/steeping... would RO-DI water be OK for a partial mash? Or would I need to start worrying about chemistry and pH at that point? I want to start doing partial mash batches, but I'm trying to cover my bases first.

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Old 05-02-2011, 02:58 PM   #6
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Lol... again, I wasn't using the extract for enzymes.

But thanks, Yooper, I guess I didn't think about whether the grains I was steeping actually had any diastatic power, which is decidedly the more important question.

So you say you use RO for mashing/steeping... would RO-DI water be OK for a partial mash? Or would I need to start worrying about chemistry and pH at that point? I want to start doing partial mash batches, but I'm trying to cover my bases first.
Sure, you can use RO/DI for partial mashing. You can always worry about water chemistry if you want, but it usually is fine to start with RO water and add nothing. The grain has some minerals already, and you should have no problems converting. If you really really want to do "something", you could add 1/2 teaspoon of calcium chloride to 2.5 gallons of RO water and use that for mashing and sparging. That would bring up the calcium level of your mash without causing any harsh effects, as well as lower the pH of the mash a tad.

I've had a water test done on my tap water, and I find that my tap water is great, except for a high bicarb level. So for stouts, I use straight tap water but for everything else I use a mix of my own tap water and RO water. For a Bohemian pilsner, I use straight RO water (no salts at all). If you don't know your water chemistry, using straight RO water is a fine idea!
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Old 05-02-2011, 03:16 PM   #7
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Awesome. Very helpful info, thanks a ton!

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Old 05-03-2011, 06:56 PM   #8
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On another, but related, note, would the fact that the steeping grains aren't actually mashing (even in an Old Rasputin clone with like 3lbs of grains) be what's causing my consistently low OG's?

I'm using Hopville's recipe calculator to make my recipes, and it always spits out a range and a specific number for an OG, and I always come within 10-15 points, and just attributed it to incomplete mixing of water and wort when I measure my OG (even after a fairly thorough shaking). FG always ends up exactly where it's supposed to be though.

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Old 05-03-2011, 09:17 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Jakemo View Post
On another, but related, note, would the fact that the steeping grains aren't actually mashing (even in an Old Rasputin clone with like 3lbs of grains) be what's causing my consistently low OG's?

I'm using Hopville's recipe calculator to make my recipes, and it always spits out a range and a specific number for an OG, and I always come within 10-15 points, and just attributed it to incomplete mixing of water and wort when I measure my OG (even after a fairly thorough shaking). FG always ends up exactly where it's supposed to be though.
Maybe Hopville is wrong? Just a thought! If you want to post a typical recipe, I'll see what Beersmith says.
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Old 05-03-2011, 09:30 PM   #10
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Well... most recently, a Bert Grant's Perfect Porter clone. I've messed around a little bit with BeerSmith, but have had a very hard time making sure all of the grains are in there... I should probably put a little more effort into it, though. It's quite probable that Hopville just isn't as flexible as BeerSmith.

5# Light LME
12oz Chocolate Malt
10oz Crystal 40L
1.5oz Briess Cherrywood Smoked Malt
1oz Carafa III

Calc. OG 1.045 (1.040-1.047), measured 1.035
Calc. FG 1.012 (1.010-1.013)

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