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steeping grains - is more better?

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jwalker1140

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Is there a benefit to using more than 1 lb of steeping grains in extract recipes? I've noticed that the extract recipes at my LHBS generally call for 1 lb of steeping grains, while recipes at other shops sometimes call for 2+ lbs for the same type of beer.

I'm trying to decide which Irish Red Ale recipe to use. Is it reasonable to assume the one with more steeping grains would taste better, or at least be more flavorful, all else equal?

Thanks,
Jason
 

jaycount

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It definitely makes flavor and color contribution from those grains more powerful. Whether or not thats "better" is pretty subjective to tastes and style.
 

nandemo1

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Your steeping grains are going to add specialized flavors, color and gravity points to your brew. There could be an excellent beer with a very basic, extract heavy malt bill and a horrible beer with a highly complex, specialty grain heavy malt bill. It's all how the components work together.
 

PT Ray

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You have to take it case by case. Let's take something simple like a dry stout. A classic recipe is pale ale malt, flaked barley and roasted barley. Since flaked barley is not really a steeping grain that just leaves roasted barley. So to me, all you really need is about 6 lbs pale extract and .75 lb roasted barley for a traditional dry stout. One popular kit has crystal, chocolate, flaked and roasted barley. Totally not necessary but maybe the idea of using different grains sells better than just one.
 
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jwalker1140

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Thanks for all the helpful input. I totally get that I'm asking for a 'yes-no' type of answer to something that is probably more subjective or conditional.

I just find it curious that some stores feature recipes that tend toward uniformity in the sense that most call for 1 lb of steeping grains while other stores feature recipes that are all over the place. It almost seems as if the 1 lb recipes are designed with a primary emphasis on easy execution for novice brewers while a store that features recipes that tend to vary are designed with more of an emphasis on the result, but I could be totally wrong about that.
 

daksin

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It's kind of like asking "Cinnamon: is more better?" Use the correct amount for your recipe, some styles need more and some styles need less.
 
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jwalker1140

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It's kind of like asking "Cinnamon: is more better?" Use the correct amount for your recipe, some styles need more and some styles need less.
I get that, but let me ask a specific. The Irish Red Ale kit at Northern Brewer comes with 1 lb of steeping grains while the Irish Red Ale kit at MoreBeer comes with about 2.25 lbs. What is the "correct amount" and how would I determine that in this case without being able to taste the finished product before buying? Both kits get good reviews and both are Irish Red Ales, so why the difference? Without having an opportunity to taste before buying, should I just buy the MoreBeer kit if I want a "more" flavorful beer (no pun intended)?
 

jaycount

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There are many different ways to skin a cat... It's 2 different beers with 2 different recipes, they just happen to be the same style.

Why don't you buy and brew them both then do a blind taste test to see which one you like better?

Also, how did you determine the amount of specialty grains in the MoreBeer kit? I don't see it listed on the product page...
 
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jwalker1140

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Jay, the MoreBeer recipes are offered as an add-on with BeerSmith 2, and you can find them in the recipe section of the MoreBeer.com forums.
 

daksin

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I get that, but let me ask a specific. The Irish Red Ale kit at Northern Brewer comes with 1 lb of steeping grains while the Irish Red Ale kit at MoreBeer comes with about 2.25 lbs. What is the "correct amount" and how would I determine that in this case without being able to taste the finished product before buying? Both kits get good reviews and both are Irish Red Ales, so why the difference? Without having an opportunity to taste before buying, should I just buy the MoreBeer kit if I want a "more" flavorful beer (no pun intended)?
Just difference in recipes. Sometimes, you can substitute certain grains at certain amounts, say if I had a recipe that called for Crystal 40L and I only had a darker crystal, I'd use less of it to get to the SRM I wanted. It wouldn't be the same thing but it could potentially be similar and still be within style guidelines.

There are lots of ways to make the same beer.
 

toxdoc49

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Well this is a good site! If you look long enough you can find the answer to just about anything! I've gotten to the point in my experience where I wondered the same thing. As in, pushing the grain bill a bit in those extract recipes. Just one recipe I tried, a pumpkin spice ale kit from NB, I opted for the additional grain and real pumpkin in the recipe; it has really helped the flavor in my opinion. I agree the best answer is to just try it and see what it comes out like. I may try pushing the grain bill a bit with a pale ale recipe. Just have to see what happens!
 

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