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Old 03-10-2007, 08:40 PM   #1
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Default Steeping Volume

I am wondering, as I increase the volume for my boil to 3 gallons, what kind of adjustments do I need to make to the volume I use for steeping specialty grains. I know the volume isn't as important for steeping as it is for mashing, but it must matter to some extent right?

Do I keep steeping at 1.5 gallons, sparge, then top off to bring the volume to 3 gallons?

Do I steep with 2.5 gallons and sparge with 1/2 gal?

Any thoughts?


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Old 03-10-2007, 10:31 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheJadedDog
I am wondering, as I increase the volume for my boil to 3 gallons, what kind of adjustments do I need to make to the volume I use for steeping specialty grains. I know the volume isn't as important for steeping as it is for mashing, but it must matter to some extent right?

Do I keep steeping at 1.5 gallons, sparge, then top off to bring the volume to 3 gallons?

Do I steep with 2.5 gallons and sparge with 1/2 gal?

Any thoughts?
It depends on the amount of grain you are using, but assuming that you are steeping about 2-3 lbs, 1.5 gallons of water and another 1.5 for sparging would be fine.


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Old 03-11-2007, 01:31 AM   #3
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While temperature and water/grain ratios are not as important in extract with specialty grains recipes as it is mashing base malts, it still is important to avoid a dilute steep. The relatively small amount of specialty grains used in an extract w/sg recipe is not sufficient to lower the pH of a large volume of water and can lead to the extraction of excess tannins.

2-3 qt of water per pound of specialty grain is a good ratio that will keep the pH low enough to avoid extracting excess tannins. Sparge with another 1 qt/lb of 150˚F water. If you use the grain tea to sparge you can add up to 2 qt/lb of 150˚F water to the grain tea and sparge the grains with that whole amount of liquid.

That's what I do anyway. I saw this procedure outlined in an article about this very subject written by Chris Colby in BYO magazine last year.
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Old 03-11-2007, 07:45 PM   #4
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So if I'm doing full boils (5.5-6 gal) I should not steep using the full 5.5 - 6 gal?
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Old 03-11-2007, 08:56 PM   #5
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A lot of people will tell you that it is OK and that you will never notice any astringency from the extraction of excessive tannins from the grain husks.

Having said that, if you look at it from a purely chemical stand point, it is hard to argue against the fact that a pound or two of specialty grains is not capable of lowering the pH of a full volume boil sufficiently enough to avoid the extraction of tannins.

I also do full volume boils, but while the water in the main boil kettle is heating up, I am steeping in a smaller pot on the stove with the proper 2-3 qt of water per pound of specialty grains. The grain tea is added to the main boil kettle, and I sparge the spent grains with a little hot water from the boil kettle.

I have never done a dilute steep so I can't tell you definitively what will happen. I can tell you that I trust what I know about chemistry, and I also trust the brewers from the local club here that don't dilute steep either.
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Old 03-12-2007, 11:22 AM   #6
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My last 3 or 4 batches have been full boils and I steeped in the full amount of water. I'll try doing it the way you suggest next time and see if I notice a difference.
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Old 03-12-2007, 07:19 PM   #7
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Yeah, going forward I was thinking I would steep in 1.5 gallons as normal then sparge and top off to bring my volume up to 3 gallons total. We'll see if steeping in 2.5 gallons has an effect on flavor in a few weeks, hopefully it won't be too bad an affect.
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Old 04-10-2011, 04:29 PM   #8
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I have made four batches where i steeped in the full 5 gal and then i would sparg with an additional half to full gal (due to water loss from boiling). When i drank my beer they all seemed watered down and flavorless.
My question is besides the great advise of steeping in a smaller pot could, i steep longer to extract more flavor?
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Old 01-24-2012, 01:41 AM   #9
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I thought I would share my recent experience with dilute steeping, so I pulled up this old thread rather than starting a new one. For a stout, I recently steeped .75 lb of 60L Caramel, .75 of Chocolate, and .50 roasted barley in a full 6 gallon boil volume, at a consistent 67 F for 30 minutes. The beer is no in bottle and there is no sign of astringency whatsoever.
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Old 01-24-2012, 03:02 PM   #10
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I have now made and tasted four new batches (mostly IPA's) where i steeped my grains in 3 gal then would sparg with an additional gal and added 2 more to bring the boil volume to 6 gal. I watched my steep temp closely, I also better aerated the batches and pitched more yeast in one of the batches. All of these things had positive affects and all but one batch tasted great, the other had almost now flavor. So in short i think steeping in a larger volume of water is acceptable and does not affect the beer as much as i originally thought.


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