Author Topic: Steeping Grains, Water Chemistry question  (Read 2302 times)

Offline goudron

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Steeping Grains, Water Chemistry question
« on: January 23, 2012, 04:18:55 PM »
In my first kit I had some chocolate and caramel 120L grains to steep.  I did that in about 3 gallons of distilled water.  After searching around about water chemistry and steeping grains, I think I will try a similar recipe, but steeping the grains in about 2 qts of per pound of grain.  I will also add some minerals to the distilled water, and add the same ratio of minerals to the distilled sparge water.

I understand that the grains should help keep the pH in line and keep from getting nasty flavours from the grains (can't remember from what atm - tannins?).  I used the EZ Water Calculator spreadsheet found here: http://www.ezwatercalculator.com/ and discovered my pH was really low on my first kit.  Maybe it won't taste too bad, we'll see.  My first kit will have to taste really bad for me not to like it.

My question is, since the grains are not going to be in the wort when I add hops and extract, do I need to treat my 3 gallons of boil water with the same minerals as I will with the grains and the sparge water?  Does the danger of off flavours from poor pH control go away when the grains themselves are removed?

Offline tygo

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Re: Steeping Grains, Water Chemistry question
« Reply #1 on: January 23, 2012, 06:22:12 PM »
I used the EZ Water Calculator spreadsheet found here: http://www.ezwatercalculator.com/ and discovered my pH was really low on my first kit. 

I'd be careful assuming that this spreadsheet, or any water calc spreadsheet, will tell you what your pH will be or was.  Only way to know that for sure is to test the wort with a properly calibrated pH meter. 


My question is, since the grains are not going to be in the wort when I add hops and extract, do I need to treat my 3 gallons of boil water with the same minerals as I will with the grains and the sparge water?  Does the danger of off flavours from poor pH control go away when the grains themselves are removed?

I wouldn't worry about pH too much at that point.  Only add the salts if the water appears to need it.  Look at the concentrations in ppm that will be present in your final batch volume based on the additions you make.  And a lighter touch with those salts is better, especially when you first start messing around with water modification.  Undershooting will be much more forgiving in the final beer than overshooting.
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Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Steeping Grains, Water Chemistry question
« Reply #2 on: January 23, 2012, 08:13:59 PM »
You extract tannins when the pH AND temperature are high.  You said your pH was low from the spreadsheet.  You did not say how much and what you added as far as salts.  I might not worry too much.

You can boil the grains if you are doing a full mash.  That is called a decoction.  The beer does not turn out astringent since the pH of the mash is <6.0, more in the 5.5 range if done properly.
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Offline goudron

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Re: Steeping Grains, Water Chemistry question
« Reply #3 on: January 23, 2012, 09:45:53 PM »
Quote
I'd be careful assuming that this spreadsheet, or any water calc spreadsheet, will tell you what your pH will be or was.  Only way to know that for sure is to test the wort with a properly calibrated pH meter.
Absolutely, I don't have one though, I was using the spreadsheet to see what might have happened.  I'll likely use paper next time, I have some that changes colour at each pH, so I will at least know approximately where I am.

Quote
I wouldn't worry about pH too much at that point.  Only add the salts if the water appears to need it.  Look at the concentrations in ppm that will be present in your final batch volume based on the additions you make.  And a lighter touch with those salts is better, especially when you first start messing around with water modification.  Undershooting will be much more forgiving in the final beer than overshooting.
Thanks, I will definitely take the undershooting approach.

You extract tannins when the pH AND temperature are high.  You said your pH was low from the spreadsheet.  You did not say how much and what you added as far as salts.  I might not worry too much.
Well temperature was not too high, and pH was low so I guess tanins will not be a problem.  I did not add any salts, and it was just distilled water.

Quote
You can boil the grains if you are doing a full mash.  That is called a decoction.  The beer does not turn out astringent since the pH of the mash is <6.0, more in the 5.5 range if done properly.
I was thinking of replacing a small part of my extract with 2 row malt to keep the other grains company - no full mashing on my horizons yet :)

Thanks for the feedback and information!

Online mtnrockhopper

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Re: Steeping Grains, Water Chemistry question
« Reply #4 on: January 24, 2012, 07:43:52 AM »
I was thinking of replacing a small part of my extract with 2 row malt to keep the other grains company - no full mashing on my horizons yet :)

If you are only steeping chocolate and crystal malt - those are fully converted and all you need to do is soak them to extract sugars and flavor. I don't know anybody who worries about pH for steeping converted grains unless they know that their water is really bad.

Adding 2-row will add unconverted grain and then you will need to worry about mini-mash temperatures, pH, proper conversion etc - with little benefit.
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Offline goudron

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Re: Steeping Grains, Water Chemistry question
« Reply #5 on: January 24, 2012, 04:48:34 PM »
I'm pretty good at worrying about stuff.

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Re: Steeping Grains, Water Chemistry question
« Reply #6 on: January 24, 2012, 05:39:59 PM »
I'm pretty good at worrying about stuff.

Then you'll make a great brewer. ;D
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