Amount of specialty in extract recipe?

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Jan 14, 2008
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Raleigh, NC
Hello all,

I'm a newcomer to homebrew. Right now I have a steam beer kit in my primary, going on day number 5. I've been looking at extract recipes, and I would like to know why I never see more then about 2 lbs of specialty grains in the recipes.

If you have more specialty grains does that move the recipe to the partial mash side of things.

Also, as you can see by my moniker I love rauchbier. And batch #2 will be some sort of smoke beer.

Most beers use very little specialty malt and a vast majority of "base malt." As an extract brewer, your "base malt" is the malt extract you use. You then add the specialty malts which give most of the color and malt flavor profiles to your beer. For example, the Scottish ale I just brewed used 8 lbs of English Pale Malt (the base malt) and 3 ounces of Black Roasted Malt (the specialty malt). Yes, 3 ounces of specialty malt for a 5 gallon batch. It's deep brown with a rich malt profile. The amount of specialty malt depends on the style and type of specialty malt, but rarely exceeds 10 - 20% of the grain bill even for something like a Russian Imperial Stout.
I've been reading around (including the above responses), and I believe I may be having a misunderstanding.

In extract-steeping recipes does the term specialty grain apply to all the grains that are steeped, or is it a certain category of grains.

For example: In the steam beer that I brewed last Sat, would the 1/2 lb of dark crystal grain be considered a specialty grain or is it just a normal grain

Or is a specialty grain considered to be one of the odd (maybe not the best word) ones, i.e. peated, chocolate, rauchmalt, etc

Thanks again, this site has been very helpful.
Crystal grain is definitely a specialty grain. The regular grains are what you would consider "base grains"- just like your malt extract. They are what provides fermentables and it's the base of the beer. The specialty grains provide additional color, flavor, and fermentables, but are strongly flavored or too dark to use much of. In a few recipes, you might only need maybe 4 ounces of chocolate malt, and maybe 8 ounces of crystal is common in others.

specialty grains aren't considered "odd" grains, but they are grains that aren't "base malts'.
specialty malts are malts that go through a certain process so they can derive a certain flavor, color, etc.

base malts are there for fermentables. basically, they contain the enzymes to convert the starches to sugars.

most specialty malts can be steeped, but some need the enzymes from the base malts to get the most out of them.

any times you have base malts (in the right quantity) in your steep, you are basically doing a partial mash.

EDIT: Yooper, you are just too quick! ;)