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-   -   Volume of water for steeping grains (http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f39/volume-water-steeping-grains-60032/)

Big10Seaner 03-24-2008 05:30 PM

Volume of water for steeping grains
As I was looking through BYO's 150 clone recipes, I noticed that the extract recipes with steeping grains had very exact volumes of water to steep grains in. How is the recipe affected by using different water amounts to steep grains?

david_42 03-25-2008 10:23 PM

I've used small amounts and I've steeped in the full kettle. Never noticed a difference.

nitrousjunkie 03-25-2008 11:01 PM

My first brew had steeping grains. i steeped them and boiled 5 gal's. when i put the wort in the fermentor, thats when i topped up back to 5 gals.

EvilTOJ 03-26-2008 10:11 AM

I've never noticed a difference in the volume for steeping grains either. I typically did two gallon steep, then poured a gallon of very hot water (not boiling) through the grain bag to rinse them as much as possible, then started my boil.

Big10Seaner 03-26-2008 12:27 PM

Yeah, I figured it couldn't make that much of a difference. I've been steeping them in about 2.5 gallons and rinsing them to bring my boil volume to 3 gallons.

john from dc 03-26-2008 01:40 PM

i used to steep in the full five gallons. then i realized how much time i was wasting waiting for 5 gallons of water to heat up. (i'm boiling inside on a gas stove)

now i steep in a ~2.5 gallon pot, while heating the remaining ~3.5 gallons on high heat. when the grains are finished the other water is usually just starting to boil. probably cut 45 minutes off the whole process.

brewt00l 03-26-2008 02:08 PM

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.


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.

To combat this problem the pH of the steep can be adjusted to around 5.4. Although all-grain brewers typically use calcium sulfate (gypsum) or calcium chloride to lower mash pH, these salts lower pH by reacting with phosphates from the malt. Steeping mixtures don’t contain much malt and lowering the pH with water salts can be difficult. Food-grade lactic or phosphoric acid are alternatives to water salts; both of these acids are sold in homebrew stores.


devaspawn 03-26-2008 05:04 PM

I suspect that when they give you the specific volumes of water for steeping they are counting on you boiling at a specific volume for hop utilization. I think they are accounting for the rinsing/sparging water getting it to a specific initial boil volume. Just a thought, though. I am relatively new so I could be wrong about that. I do know that hop utilization goes up in higher volume boils, though.


DeathBrewer 03-26-2008 07:43 PM

huh. i noticed a huge difference when i started steeping in lower volumes. i steep the same as i mash...1.25 quarts/lb of grain, then add water to boil.

i also add the extract as the water is coming to a boil, so i don't have to shut off the heat and it goes faster...haven't noticed any sacrifice in taste and it doesn't clump too bad.

i usually do a partial mash now, anyway, lately...only did one steeping grain recently. tastes like it's coming along well, tho :)

john from dc 03-26-2008 07:59 PM


Originally Posted by DeathBrewer
huh. i noticed a huge difference when i started steeping in lower volumes.

what was the difference?

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