Last night at the Brew Crew meeting I "tasted" (ended up drinking almost a pint of it) a porter where the specialty grains had been cold steeped. It was very smooth, no harshness at all. The person that had made the porter said the first batch he doubled his grains, but the results were excessive. The batch we were sampling, he used the quantities in the recipe that were recommended for hot steeping. This may be due to the improved conversion rates of modern grains.
The downside looks like the long steeping time, but you could start steeping when you make your yeast starter, start steeping when you brew and then boil the results down and add to the fermentor the next day or try the steeping in the primary approach. I suspect each method would give different results. I'd also be a bit worried about sanitation in the last case.
I've made coffee this way and sun tea. I may try this for my next stout.
I found this on hbd.org from 1999.
George Fix on Cold Steeping
Question to Dr. Fix:
On the Brews & Views discussion board a couple months ago, someone mentioned a talk you gave regarding cold steeping of malts like Munich. I would very much appreciate it if you would elaborate on this technique. How do you do it, what does it do for the brew, what malts are good candidates for this technique.
The talk was in the NCHF at Napa in October. Those folks on the left coast really know how to do a beer festival! The cold steeping procedure was designed to maximize the extraction of desirable melanoidins, and at the same time minimize the extraction of undesirable ones. The former are simple compounds which yield a fine malt taste. The undesirable ones come from more complicated structures. Polymers with sulfur compounds tend to have malt/vegetable tones. Others yield cloying tones, which to my palate have an under fermented character. The highest level melanoidins can even have burnt characteristics. The cold steeping procedure was developed by Mary Ann Gruber of Briess.
My version goes as follows.
(i) One gallon of water per 3-4 lbs. of grains to be steeped is brought to a boil and held there for 5 mins.
(ii) The water is cooled down to ambient, and the cracked grains are added.
(iii) This mixture is left for 12-16 hrs. at ambient temperatures, and then added to the brew kettle for the last 15-20 mins. of the boil.
Mary Ann has had good results by adding the steeped grains directly to the fermenter without boiling, however I have not tried that variation of the procedure. The upside of cold steeping is that it works. The downside is that it is very inefficient both with respect to extract and color. In my setup I am using 2-3 times the malt that would normally be used. As a consequence I have been using it for "adjunct malts" such as black and crystal. I also am very happy with the use of Munich malts with this process when they are used as secondary malts.
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