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Steeping grains w/o Grain bag

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Palmetto33

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I am going to give an IPA a shot this weekend. It will be my second brew (the first one's in the secondary).

This recipe calls for steeping some grains before adding the LME. However, their method for the steep is different than what I've been reading everywhere.

They say to bring a gallon of water up to 155 degrees, add the crushed grains (w/o a grain bag), remove the pot from heat, wrap in towels to insulate, and put a lid on it leaving it for 30 minutes. At the same time I would be bringing a gallon to a boil in my actual brewpot and adding the LME and hops as normal, and then add the strained grain water to it. Boil as normal.

Does this method have any potential problems associated with it that I wouldn't have with the use of a grain bag?

Also is a grain bag something I could get at a Wal-Mart or something similar? The local Homebrew store is not local.
 

Crazytwoknobs

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If it's not a huuuuuge amount of grain, I've used those gauze hop bags for grain.

Heck you could use an old t-shirt, so long as whatever you're using is clean and won't melt or dissolve.
 

cd2448

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Yeah - as you have to strain the water into the main pot, I don't see a problem with this approach. You'd need a pretty fine colander or a sieve to keep as much grain out as possible.
 
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Palmetto33

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Alright, sounds good. I'll try to find something that'll work. If not then I'll just follow the original directions.

By the way, if any of you are around Charleston, SC and have the urge to start a Homebrew store there, feel free. It would be nice.
 

PeteOz77

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I have been using a "Delicates" bag and it works a treat! This is one of the bags they sell for laundering Bras in, so they don't get hooked and tangled in the other delicate laundry.

Zippered, made of nylon, perfect! It doesn't pick of the colors or odors at all.
 

HP_Lovecraft

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cd2448 said:
You'd need a pretty fine colander or a sieve to keep as much grain out as possible.

The LHBS had colanders with an ultrafine mesh. I've been using it for years. The end result is all the same though.

nick
 

Poindexter

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Chinois is the thing for the serious PM brewer. Stainless steel, fine enough mesh to stop the dissolved gelatin in beef broth. Under $20. BRBR with linky. If I have a big enopugh grain bill Iuse my mesh bag....

You know what, $6.99 for the pillow case sized nylion mesh bag will handle a lot more grain, cheaper, than a fussy kitchen thing... But I also strain my hops out of the wort with it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinoise_(utensil)

Thar ya go. When straining pelleted hops a decent chinois will need more opr less constant gentle scraping with a rubber spatula because the hops particles will plug the mesh. Works great for whole hops though.

Get the grain bag first, cheaper and higher capacity.
 
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Palmetto33

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These are all good suggestions.

Obviously a lot of you steep the grains directly in water and then strain them out. Getting to another part of my question though...

the process given to me by the LHBS says to just heat water to 155 degrees, add grains, remove from heat, wrap in towel, yada yada yada for 30 min.

Will this maintain the heat at 155 cause I've read to keep it at somewhere b/w I think 150 and 170 for the duration of the steep?

My main question is should I leave it on the heat as long as I maintain temperature, or should I just do what they said and quit thinking about it?

Thanks
 

EricK The Red

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Palmetto33 said:
These are all good suggestions.

Obviously a lot of you steep the grains directly in water and then strain them out. Getting to another part of my question though...

the process given to me by the LHBS says to just heat water to 155 degrees, add grains, remove from heat, wrap in towel, yada yada yada for 30 min.

Will this maintain the heat at 155 cause I've read to keep it at somewhere b/w I think 150 and 170 for the duration of the steep?

My main question is should I leave it on the heat as long as I maintain temperature, or should I just do what they said and quit thinking about it?

Thanks
Is your stove gas or electric? On my gas stovetop I can maintain 150-170 pretty easily. I keep my brewpot on the burner and turn the burner on & off during the 30 min.
 
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Palmetto33

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It's electric. Guess I'll just leave it on taking the pot on and off of the heat. I don't really trust the towels to maintain the heat for half an hour. But maybe I'm wrong.
 

Poindexter

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To me the towels are just a fire hazard. What I do and encourage is use your steep brews as practice mashes.

When you can consistently steep at say 150-155 for an hour, you are ready to try a PM grain bill and your beer is gonna taste better.

So get a thermometer. When your water gets to 160, turn off the heat and dough in your grains. Put the lid on the pot. Come back in ten minutes, check the temp. Come back in another ten minutes, check the temp.

Once the temp in the mash gets down to 150, turn the burner up to high - while stirring your mash - until the needle starts to move. When the needle moves, turn the burner off, keep stirring, and see what temp the needle stops moving. Ease it back up to 155.

Once you can do this good while you are drinking beer you are ready to step up your game.

Straining the wort from the grains is just one time tool use. Pick one. Mashing while pounding brew is an art form.
 

San_Diego_Matt

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in a 5 gallon boil, I only lose a few degrees while steeping and I don't insultae at all, but I would think that 1 gallon would cool down much quicker than 5 gallons.

I think you're going to quickly drop out of the ideal steeping range
 
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Palmetto33

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Yeah, Poindexter, that sounds good. Thanks for the thorough explanation.

One question. I keep reading 30 min to steep (from Palmer's How to Brew in particular). I'd actually prefer to do it for an hour if that would improve the quality of the beer but will the extra time bring out these tannins I've been hearing about?
 

cd2448

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I think it depends on the grain you are steeping - what's in the kit? I doubt if you will get tannins in any case as you'd keep this grain at the temp for 60 minutes if this were a partial mash.

But if it's only speciality grain, it probably adds nothing to do this for 60mins, you get the colour and flavour extractions already with 30mins.
 

Poindexter

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cd2448 said:
But if it's only speciality grain, it probably adds nothing to do this for 60mins, you get the colour and flavour extractions already with 30mins.
Right, if it is only specialty grains all you are doing is practicing. Keep it under 170°F and you wont have to worry about tannins. If your temp dips or spikes out of mash range you won't hurt anything, cause all you are really doing is steeping.

When you can do it consistently you are ready to add some base malt to the mix.

I do agree, when using the same kettle, it is easier to control the temperature of a three gallon PM than a one gallon steep. The three gallons of water has more thermal mass, so it cools more slowly and then heat back up more slowly when you turn the heat back on.

If you are having a really hard time maintaining temps in a narrow range, try a smaller pot.
 

Craig311

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I usually steep without a grain bag on my electric stove then strain into my boiling kettle. I agree the towels don't seem like the safest idea. I take the pot off the burner and then check the temp after 10 and 20 minutes. If it's low, I'll put it back on the burner while stirring until it's back at the right temp.
 
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Palmetto33

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The only description of the grains is "Bag of crushed grains." <---Any idea what these may be for an IPA??

I assume that they are just specialty grains as there are two 3.3 lbs. boxes of Amber LME provided with the kit as well.

Either way I've got a better feel for what I'm doing now: small pot, grains directly in, maybe 1.5 gallon to help me maintain temp., move on and off burner as needed for 30 to 45 min., strain through a sieve after adding the LME and first round of hops to the main boil.
 
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