Crystal malt question

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Nickhouse80

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I'm gonna ask a really stupid question now. Ready? Does crystal malt need to be crushed like all other grains? I assume it does.
 

The Pol

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I'm gonna ask a really stupid question now. Ready? Does crystal malt need to be crushed like all other grains? I assume it does.
Yes. It doesnt need to be mashed, but it should be crushed, or you will not get the goodness out of the husk. The sugars are trapped in there and you want to get them, the flavors and the color out.
 
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Nickhouse80

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Thanks for the quick replies. Another stupid question. If you don't mash it then what is the point of crushing it? What do you do with it?
 

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Thanks for the quick replies. Another stupid question. If you don't mash it then what is the point of crushing it? What do you do with it?
It can be steeped. If you're doing a mash, of course it goes right into the mash with the other grains. If you're doing an extract batch, it can be steeped without using a basemalt to convert it.
 

rsmith179

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You can also steep Crystal malts if you are doing extract brewing. Either way, you'll want the grains crushed. Steeping the grains allows you to extract some of the sugars, color, and taste from the grains without actually doing an all-grain batch.

Edit: Yoop, you beat me to it!
 
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Nickhouse80

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I'm new and having a hard time with the difference between mashing and steeping. I've actually looked them both up in a "homebrew glossary" and still don't know the difference.
 

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I'm new and having a hard time with the difference between mashing and steeping. I've actually looked them both up in a "homebrew glossary" and still don't know the difference.
It's confusing because the techniques are very similar. The differences are what's actually happening inside the liquid and grain as it sits.

In steeping, you use malts that have already had their starches converted to sugars. In grains like black patent, crystal malt, chocolate malt, you're getting color and flavor from the steep. Kind of like making tea.

In mashing, you are taking grains in a mix with some "basemalt" that has NOT already had its sugars converted for you. You use a ratio of water and grain with the correct pH and the correct temperature to cause a chemical reaction. That's what makes the starch in the grain turn into sugars that you can ferment. For some grains, this MUST be done to use them. Otherwise, all you get out of them is starch, not fermentable sugar.

Most extract brewers use steeping grains like crystal malt to give some flavor and color to their beers. This works great, and provides a better beer.
 

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1) Crushing steeping grains increases the efficiency in the extraction of the flavors and color you're try to get. Think of grinding or not grinding your coffee.

2) Steeping is just extracting the compounds that are present in the grains. Mashing is utilizing enzymes present in the malted barley to convert starches to fermentable sugars.
 

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Very helpful information, especially to a beginning brewer like myself who had the same questions.
I recently did my first brew and mashed (?) some crushed Carapils Barley at 155*F for a half hour to convert starches to sugars. However at the time I was under the assumption that mashing and steeping were the same things (haha). But what I did was a mash right? Steeping would just be allowing certain grains in the water for whatever period of time at no specific degree of temp.? Am I right on this or still way off lol?
 
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Nickhouse80

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Ahhh... Its becoming clear. So would I steep crystal malt separate from mashing my base malt? or can I do it all together? or something totally different? From what I understand a base malt is to be mashed at approximately 150 degrees for about 45 minutes or so. Would I do the same when steeping crystal malt?
 
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Nickhouse80

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ok so it doesn't matter what the temperature of the water is in a steep right? does anyone have a favorite way of doing it? proven methods if you will?
 

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Very helpful information, especially to a beginning brewer like myself who had the same questions.
I recently did my first brew and mashed (?) some crushed Carapils Barley at 155*F for a half hour to convert starches to sugars. However at the time I was under the assumption that mashing and steeping were the same things (haha). But what I did was a mash right? Steeping would just be allowing certain grains in the water for whatever period of time at no specific degree of temp.? Am I right on this or still way off lol?
You steeped. No matter what the temperature (and that's a good temperature for steeping- again, making tea), you were steeping because you didn't "mash" any base grain along with the carapils. Without those enzymes, starch cannot convert to sugar. Steeping is done at under 170 degrees, so you don't get harsh flavors from the husks. I recommend steeping at 150-155 degrees.

Ahhh... Its becoming clear. So would I steep crystal malt separate from mashing my base malt? or can I do it all together? or something totally different? From what I understand a base malt is to be mashed at approximately 150 degrees for about 45 minutes or so. Would I do the same when steeping crystal malt?
You mix all the malt together. Always. No reason to separate it out at all. The extra enzymes in the base malt will help convert the malts that have little to no enzymes.
 

davesrose

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From what I understand a base malt is to be mashed at approximately 150 degrees for about 45 minutes or so. Would I do the same when steeping crystal malt?
You don't have to mash a crystal malt, because as the way it was kilned, it doesn't have the enzymes for converting starches to sugar. I would recommend steeping your grains for at least 30 minutes just so that you can be sure a lot of the flavors are being extracted. You can also "sparge" by pouring 170 degree water on top of your grain bag as you're lifting it out.

For other grains....theoritically, you can "mash" some sugars out by steeping at 153 degrees.....but it's not going to be as effecient as really doing a mash. It's best to only steep those grains that are recommended as steeping grains, then get all your sugars from extract if you're doing extract brewing.
 

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You don't have to mash a crystal malt, because as the way it was kilned, it doesn't have the enzymes for converting starches to sugar.
No, you don't have to mash crystal because it's already converted, in the husk, during the stewing process. You CAN'T mash (just) crystal because it has no enzymes.
 

davesrose

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No, you don't have to mash crystal because it's already converted, in the husk, during the stewing process. You CAN'T mash (just) crystal because it has no enzymes.
Well the sugars in crystal malt are unfermentable: they've been caramelized from the kilning and hence don't ferment to add sweetness to finished beer. As for your second sentence, how is that an argument against my post? I believe I put in there that crystal malt has no enzymes for mashing....should I have put "CAN'T" :D
 

944play

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Well the sugars in crystal malt are unfermentable: they've been caramelized from the kilning and hence don't ferment to add sweetness to finished beer.
Unfermentable sugars can absolutely add sweetness to beer.

Saying you don't have to mash crystal because there are no enzymes is like saying you don't have to mill coffee grounds because you don't have a mill.:cross:
 

beerkrump

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Purposely being anal.

Crystal malts are not kilned, but cooked moist in a process called "stewing". This converts the starches into caramel like sugars that cannot be fermented. Malts like Roast Barley, Chocolate and Black Patent have been roasted at high temps for longer period. Base malt is kilned at a low temp to dry it and stop the malting process. Some malts, biscuit, carapils, and honey malt, are kilned to add more character, these need to be mashed.
 

davesrose

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Purposely being anal.

Crystal malts are not kilned, but cooked moist in a process called "stewing".
Well if you're being anal....crystal malts are still kilned. Anything that comes out of a kiln is kilned :D They first get wetted and roasted in a rotating drum before going in the kiln.

samantics of the English language aside....I think we can all agree that usually "steeping" grains are thought of as having little in the way of fermentable sugars and are used for flavoring.
 

davesrose

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Unfermentable sugars can absolutely add sweetness to beer.
Yes, exactly....that's why I gave the explaination about how it contributes unfermentable sugars.

Saying you don't have to mash crystal because there are no enzymes is like saying you don't have to mill coffee grounds because you don't have a mill.:cross:
When I said "you don't have to mash crystal", I was refering to AG....when you still mash all your grain at one time. We don't have some seperate steep for specialty grains because they're magically assigned as "steep" and not "mash" grains. Really this is semantics. And I don't get your analogy with a mill: crystal is an ingredient and not a necessary piece of equipment. It would be more like adding some premixed Italian spice along with specific spices while you're creating a sauce. It's not necessary to get premade Italian spice, while you can make it yourself....and you've already used specific spices as well. But whatever is convenient and adds to the flavoring of your sauce (or beer)!!
 

944play

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My analogy is to point out that you don't have to mash crystal because it's already done. Like coffee grounds are already ground.
 

davesrose

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My analogy is to point out that you don't have to mash crystal because it's already done. Like coffee grounds are already ground.
Well to get back to these semantics....yes, when a grain is being "mashed" it's enzymes are converting starches to sugar. However, when you "mash" a grainbill, you're also extracting all the flavors. My point still stands that we're doing more then just "mashing" grain when we're doing a "mash" for AG. We're also picking up all the unfermentable sugars, proteins, and flavors of all the grains as well. We don't have to do a seperate steep for specialty grains.
 

The Pol

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Yah....

You arent converting crystal malts in a mash... um, they are already converted. I actually just submitted an article to www.brewersfriend.com comparing some different malts and how they are created and how to use them based on the process by which they are formed.

Crystal malts are already converted... in the husk, even in a mash there will be no conversion.
 

hopsoda

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i have never steeped? if i was to mash my grain bill without crystal could i just steep the crystal in a nylon bag in my brew pot along with my wert to get the same flavors or would adding steeping grains change the flavor of the beer when doing a mash? ... (does that make any sense?)

so if my recipe calls for 1 lb or crystal 60 and 1 lb of crystal 20 ... but i forgot to add them to the mash ... could i put them in a bag and heat them for 15 min in my kettle with the wert to get the same results?
 

davesrose

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so if my recipe calls for 1 lb or crystal 60 and 1 lb of crystal 20 ... but i forgot to add them to the mash ... could i put them in a bag and heat them for 15 min in my kettle with the wert to get the same results?
If you just steep for 15 minutes, you probably wouldn't have the flavor concentration as if you kept it there for 30-45 minutes. But AG brewers don't go through a seperate steep....since when you're going through the "mash" step, you're also steeping out flavors from your specialty grains. The main difference between an AG mash vs an extract grain steep, is that with the mash, you're going through steps that get the most amount of fermentable sugars out of your grains. While specialty grains have varying amounts of fermentable sugars, most of your fermentable sugars are coming from your base grain. With extract brewing, your fermentable sugars are coming from the extract....so there's no concern about extracting fermentable sugars from grains...you're wanting the flavor and color characteristics.
 
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