Steeping Grains for American IPA

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mgr_stl

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My next batch is going to be a West-coast IPA featuring mostly Amarillo hops. When deciding on a blend of steeping grains, what are the main purposes each part of the grain bill serves?

For example, I know specialty grains are added for various reasons (head retention, lacing, color, flavor, mouthfeel, etc). Is there a typical thought process you should go through in order to decide which grains to use when brewing with extract and specialty grains?

Any recommendations for a specialty grain bill for my IPA?

Also, are there some grains that will give you more fermentable sugars than others during a steep at 155-160 for 30 minutes? Or is the contribution to fermentable sugars negligible regardless of the type of grain based on the small amount being used?
 

RM-MN

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Here is an excerpt from BJCP definitions of American IPA's.

Ingredients: Pale ale malt (well-modified and suitable for single-temperature infusion mashing); American hops; American yeast that can give a clean or slightly fruity profile. Generally all-malt, but mashed at lower temperatures for high attenuation. Water character varies from soft to moderately sulfate.

To me that says you don't want to steep any grains with your extract to meet the guidelines as your malt extract will have just what you need or maybe more than you need already in it. However, if you aren't entering in competitions, then you have the freedom to make it as you like.

I'd prefer a little caramelly sweetness in mine so I might steep some C-20 or C-40. That would put my beer outside the BJCP definitions but I'm not going to send my to any competitions.
 

drainbamage

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Light Crystal or Munich malts show up sometimes for color and sweetness, but in limited quantities. You probably want to keep it at less than a pound for steeping.
 
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mgr_stl

mgr_stl

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Ok, thanks guys.

Looks like the KISS method prevails again! (Keep it simple, stupid)
 

RM-MN

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Light Crystal or Munich malts show up sometimes for color and sweetness, but in limited quantities. You probably want to keep it at less than a pound for steeping.
You'd really like to know what the maltster put into making the malt extract as many of them would typically use something like Carapils in it. If you know the provider of the malt extract you may be able to find that info.
 
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mgr_stl

mgr_stl

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The extract I'm using is Maillard Malts organic light liquid extract. I'll see if I can find anything about what they put in it.
 

bobbrews

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Light Extract already has a decent portion of carapils for head retention, and sometimes a bit of crystal malt. There is no need to add more grains to Light Extract for head retention purposes in an extract version of American IPA.



For steeping, you're best bet is light crystal malt (10-40L) if using at all. 0-6% is the typical range of the grist in an AIPA. You can experiment with British and American versions of Crystal malt. British examples tend to have a richer, toastier flavor. American examples are more caramelly, light, sweet. Honey malt is another option, but it technically should be mashed. If used in small percentages, these grains will add subtle sweetness and a slight toasty character without being overbearing.

For mashing, you'll want a more controlled temperature, time, and grain-to-water ratio (as opposed to a carefree 155-160 F steep for 30 minutes in a large amount of water). Typical mashing malts for IPAs include vienna, munich, pilsner, rye, wheat, etc. If you want some of the character offered by those malts and you refuse to mash, then you could look into purchasing something like wheat or pilsner extract, or perhaps a tiny bit of Amber extract to supplement the majority of Light Extract.

I wouldn't advise relying too much on the darker/sweeter/toastier/richer malts because I'm a bit of a modern American IPA purist; but if you desire the opposite then that is always an option. A lot veteran IPA drinkers prefer the more dry, easy drinking, crisp, hop forward IPAs with a simple straightforward grist that doesn't overshadow the complexity of flavors you get from the hops.
 
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mgr_stl

mgr_stl

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Great information! Thanks Bob!
 
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