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Old 09-25-2012, 12:55 PM   #1
howdybilly
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Default Steeping versus Mashing

Newbie question... if I am steeping grains for my extract brew and I maintain the steeping temperature at a normal mash temperature, 155F or so for an hour, what is the difference between this steeping and mashing?

The steeping grains are in mesh bags and after sitting for 45 minutes, I dip them up and down letting the wort drain. Wouldn't this be the equivalent of sparging? I break up any clumps inside the mesh bags.

If the temperature remains steady for the appropriate amount of time, could I "steep" base malts that are normally for "mash only"? (ie pale malt, rye malt, etc)

I understand that the mesh bags don't provide as good a filter bed as a mash tun full of grain but as an extract brewer, I already have this issue because I'm using steeping grains anyway.

I also recognize that it wouldn't be practical to have a boil kettle filled with mesh bags containing 18 lbs of grain - I don't want to try to do all grain with mesh bags. I'm just trying to add variety to the types of grain I can steep.

Essentially I'm looking at doing partial mash without the added equipment and extra steps.

thanks in advance for any clarity


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Old 09-25-2012, 01:11 PM   #2
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Essentially, yes, the technique is the same for steeping and mashing.

The differences between mashing and steeping is in something you can't see- the enzyme activity going on.

The only difference between steeping and mashing is in the grain. If you use some base malt, that has enzymes available, the technique you described is "mashing".

If you use grains like crystal malt or chocolate malt, it's "steeping". Those malts have been pre-mashed, so to speak, so no enzyme activity will take place when you steep them.

If you use some base malt, it's mashing. If not, it's steeping. I hope that helps.

I used to use a mesh bag to line my bottling bucket, and did partial mashes in there. You can save money by buying some grain instead of all the extract in the recipe.


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Old 09-25-2012, 01:21 PM   #3
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thanks. I'll give it a shot. Saves me from spending more money to upgrade to a partial mash kit.
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Old 09-25-2012, 06:12 PM   #4
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You also have to use less water with mashing that doesn't matter with steeping. 1.5QT per pound of grain when mashing.
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