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Specialty Grain Steeping Before or After adding dry malt extract?

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xinunix

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So one thing I am still unclear about is when to add the LME/DME when the kit includes steeping/specialty grains. Almost all of the kits from my LHBS come with steeping/specialty grains. The instructions with the kits say to add the LME/DME and steep the grains right at the start and remove the grains when you reach boil.

However I have read a few things that say you should steep grains at 155 for 30 minutes BEFORE adding the LME/DME. Would really appreciate the advice from others on the best process here, I am not sure of advantages/disadvantages of either approach...
 

double_e5

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Steep at 155* for about 20 minutes and remove the grain. Then bring your water to a boil, remove from the heat, and then add your extract.
 

katja

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I steep my grains before adding extract. That way, after you're finished with the specialty grains, you can take your pot off the heat for a minute to add your extract so it doesn't burn to the bottom of your pan. Also, if you add the extract earlier, then you will likely be removing some of the extract with your grain bag when you take it out of the pot.
 

aaronbeer

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I usually just start steeping around 140-150 and steep for 15-20 or before it starts to boil. DO NOT BOIL THE GRAINS. Then pull out the grains before the boil turn off the gas, add the the extract and stir then return to boil. now i am still pretty new, on my 4th brew, so you might get different advice.
 

Henny

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You should "steep" the grains for at least 30 mins at 155* then REMOVE and DISCARD!

Next bring to a boil, then add your lme/dme to boiling wort. BE CAREFUL! IT WILL WANT TO BOIL OVER until it gets the sugars broken down. This is called hot break, once hot break is achieved, another 30 minutes is typical boil time.
 

Kungpaodog

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I don't know that it would hurt to add the LME first, but it has always worked for me to steep the specialty grains around 160 for about 30 minutes, and then remove the grains and bring to a boil, then add LME/DME. The easy lazy way (that I have used) is to put the grains in the cold water, turn up the heat, and remove the grains when the water reaches 160.
 

mahilly

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Seems like 155 to 160 is the standard for steeping grains. Curious to know what is the "science" behind this temperature range? Why not 120, or 180? And what happens if you boil the specialty grains?
 

brian_g

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Seems like 155 to 160 is the standard for steeping grains. Curious to know what is the "science" behind this temperature range? Why not 120, or 180? And what happens if you boil the specialty grains?
At 150 certain enzymes are activated in the grains which convert the starch in the grain into sugar. If it is too cold the enzymes wont be activated, too hot and they will be destroyed. Too hot will also extract some bitter off flavors from the grains.
 

JuanKenobi

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At 150 certain enzymes are activated in the grains which convert the starch in the grain into sugar. If it is too cold the enzymes wont be activated, too hot and they will be destroyed. Too hot will also extract some bitter off flavors from the grains.
Steeping grains used in extract recipes (crystal, chocolate, etc.) do not contain enzymes. Enzyme activity occurs with base malts during mashing for partial and full mash recipes, commonly at similar temps. Maybe that's where this range originated? Really the 150 - 160 range is just the optimal range for getting what you want out of the grains. Think about making a cup of tea. The hotter the water, the faster the tea is made. The reason for not going hotter is because it can extract tannins from the grain husks that can impart off-flavors.
 

aaronbeer

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Try this. Make some tea with hot water, cold water and boiling water and see what tastes good. The boiling water tea will taste bitter. The cold water wont taste as rich!
 

ScottyT

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The tannins start leeching out at 170. I usually bring my water to 160 and just turn off the heat. Temperature stays above 150 for the whole 45 minute steep.
 

theonecynic

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Any reason you should bring the liquor to the boil before adding the extract? Is it just to make it easier to get it to dissolve? Or is there some other reason?
 

llazy_llama

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I never do, personally. I steep as directed above, then shut off the flame, remove my brew kettle from the burner, and add my extract. Adding in extract when your wort is too hot can result in scorched extract, and off flavors.
 

GuitarBob

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Some of you said you steep grains for 30 minutes, the directions I got in a kit from my LHBS say to steep them for 20 minutes. Is there any advantage to steeping them longer? And is there a downside to steeping them longer?
 

brian_g

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Steeping grains used in extract recipes (crystal, chocolate, etc.) do not contain enzymes. Enzyme activity occurs with base malts during mashing for partial and full mash recipes, commonly at similar temps. Maybe that's where this range originated? Really the 150 - 160 range is just the optimal range for getting what you want out of the grains. Think about making a cup of tea. The hotter the water, the faster the tea is made. The reason for not going hotter is because it can extract tannins from the grain husks that can impart off-flavors.
Thanks for the clarification. So if you add two-row, you have to worry about enzyme activity, but with crystal malt you don't? What happened to the enzymes in the other grains?
 

JuanKenobi

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Thanks for the clarification. So if you add two-row, you have to worry about enzyme activity, but with crystal malt you don't? What happened to the enzymes in the other grains?
The starches in crystal (or caramel) malt are broken down into fermentable sugars during the malting process which also removes the enzymes. As far as darker specialty malts, I believe that the enzymes are essentially cooked off during the roasting process.

Also, the purpose of steeping specialty grains is to add to different characteristics of the beer (mouth feel, head retention, etc.) rather than add fermentables.
 
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