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Steeping roasted barley: grain/water ratio

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frankvw

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There are various guidelines on how much water to use when steeping grains (seeing as too much water promotes tannin extraction), but these are usually based on an average grain bill. But what when you only steep very dark (and therefore more acidic) grains?

I'm planning a stout (extract + steeped grains) for which I will steep 500 grams of roasted barley (no other grains) in 6 litres of water at 70 degrees Celsius.

Is this safe? Or should I reduce the amount of water? This will be a partial boil at a fairly low boil volume, and I'm trying to get as much flavour and extraction efficiency out of the roasted barley as I can.

Your opinions are appreciated!

// FvW
 
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frankvw

frankvw

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Yes, it'll be fine. Without knowing the water's make up that you have, there is no way to guess the pH of the steep, though.
The water is fairly hard, but I'm hoping that the dark malts will work well with that. The pH of the steep is not my main concern; I'm just wondering if I'm not being overly ambitious with my water to grist ratio.
 

IslandLizard

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I often steep larger amounts of dark grains (Porters, Stouts) outside the mash, because I don't want them boiled.
Then add the black potion after the boil is finished, when the wort has chilled to around 180-170F, then let it pasteurize there for 10-15' before chilling it down to ferm temps.

Not exactly sure why, possibly due to keeping that volume lowish, I don't go over a 2:1 to 3:1 water:grist ratio when steeping those dark grains. I sparge twice, my water is soft.

I like the results I get from doing that. So in your case that would be around 1.5 liters for 500 gram of roast.
If there's any chance of keeping your steep pH under 5.8 using (fairly) hard water, it would be by using lower volumes rather than higher ones. Or use RO or distilled water for that.

One detail, Roasted Barley is not a malt.
IOW, it's not made from malted barley but from regular (unmalted) barley. It tastes really sweet actually, not what you'd expect from such a dark roast. I'm not sure how much acid (if any) it brings to the steep.
 
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frankvw

frankvw

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Been there, read that. :) But, as I said, those (eminently sensible) guidelines are based on a more average malt bill than 100% roasted barley. Hence my question.

How to Brew, 4e (chapter 1, p 12) suggests steeping in wort (add some DME at flame-on) to help control pH and prevent tannin extraction.
I've experimented with that. I find that even a low gravity wort tends to ruin my already so-so extraction efficiency. However, for lighter grain bills I'm still going that way because my water is quite hard (it comes from a well that taps into a dolomite layer) so I'd rather sacrifice a gravity point or two than ruin a beer with tannin flavors. So I'm still with Palmer on that one. However, I've also tried to replicate his steeped grain yield experiments, and I find that I'm getting far lower extraction efficiencies from my steeped grains than his tables suggest I should get. But that's another problem for another day. :)
 
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frankvw

frankvw

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You mean from steeping? Or mashing?
Why is that? Coarse milled grist?
Steeping. And my crush is fine; I use the same crush for mashing and then there's no problem. But as I said, that's another matter. Based on the responses here I'm going to give it a go with 500 grams of roasted barley in 6 litres of water and see what happens!
 

Holden Caulfield

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Steeping. And my crush is fine; I use the same crush for mashing and then there's no problem. But as I said, that's another matter. Based on the responses here I'm going to give it a go with 500 grams of roasted barley in 6 litres of water and see what happens!
After looking into this ratio to build the factor into my brew program, 3 to 4 qts / pound seemed to be the general consensus. You are around 6, so tannin extraction potential is high. Also, average grain bill should not factor into your decision as only crystal and roasted grains are ever steeped and they both have low DiPHs. The beersmith article is good wisdom, under 4 will strike a good balance between flavor extraction and tannin mitigation.

KB
 

BrewnWKopperKat

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I've also tried to replicate his steeped grain yield experiments, and I find that I'm getting far lower extraction efficiencies from my steeped grains than his tables suggest I should get. But that's another problem for another day
Are you using your hard well water here as well?

Just curious and not making any suggestions or recommendations on anything in this topic at the moment).
 

Beer666

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I used to use 2l and rinse with 500ml left in the fridge overnight.
 

IslandLizard

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Sorry, that was not my response!
Responses. Plural. Not just yours. :)
Yeah, yeah! I just wanted to point out my opinion was quite different from all the others, and should not be grouped with them.
After rereading I may have emphasized the wrong word, should have been the one following it.

If you don't have a pH meter it will be difficult to gauge when you may start extracting tannins, if that's even an issue with roasted barley, it tastes very differently from roasted malts.
Again, if you don't know the DI pH of your roasted barley and use distilled or RO water, or soft, low mineral water for the steep, the pH should remain low enough. I'd keep the steeping volume on the smaller side, though. Maybe add a "drop" of acid for all security.

When in doubt I always do a small test, but drinking steeped dark roasted grain potion is not for the faint of heart, while it may not reveal any potential problems at that point. You could dip a snippet of pH paper in it, to get some idea, but the dark color from the potion will make any color based pH reading difficult.
 
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