Author Topic: Steeping vs.Mini Mash  (Read 2380 times)

Offline dbagnall

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Steeping vs.Mini Mash
« on: February 24, 2013, 11:08:22 AM »
I am new to brewing (I have produced three batches, all using liquid extract and steeping grains, and I am doing full boils now). I am researching brewing methods using more grain. I don't feel I can afford to purchase the all-grain equipment right now but I have noticed there is a technique called mini-mash brewing. In terms of results (efficiency, taste, quality of beer ect) is Mini-mash all that different than steeping? Is it worth experimenting with mini-mash when I am already steeping and will probably get into all grain system by the end of the year?

Thank you for your advise and opinions!

Offline hokerer

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Re: Steeping vs.Mini Mash
« Reply #1 on: February 24, 2013, 11:35:59 AM »
I am new to brewing (I have produced three batches, all using liquid extract and steeping grains, and I am doing full boils now). I am researching brewing methods using more grain. I don't feel I can afford to purchase the all-grain equipment right now but I have noticed there is a technique called mini-mash brewing. In terms of results (efficiency, taste, quality of beer ect) is Mini-mash all that different than steeping? Is it worth experimenting with mini-mash when I am already steeping and will probably get into all grain system by the end of the year?

Thank you for your advise and opinions!

The advantage of mini-mash (aka partial mash) over steeping is that you're actually doing a true mash that converts starches to sugars.  Because of that, you can partial mash grains that you wouldn't be able to with just steeping.  Plus, it's a warm up to full all grain brewing.
Joe

Offline dbagnall

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Re: Steeping vs.Mini Mash
« Reply #2 on: February 24, 2013, 01:42:22 PM »
So does steeping only add color but not fermentable sugars?

Offline bboy9000

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Re: Steeping vs.Mini Mash
« Reply #3 on: February 24, 2013, 01:49:12 PM »
So does steeping only add color but not fermentable sugars?

Steeping specialty grain does add some fermentable sugar.  See the chart in Chapter 12, Section 4 of John Palmer's How to Brew/

http://www.howtobrew.com

EDIT:  Chapter 12.4, in Section 2.

« Last Edit: February 24, 2013, 01:53:30 PM by bboy9000 »
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Offline euge

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Re: Steeping vs.Mini Mash
« Reply #4 on: February 24, 2013, 02:09:20 PM »
You can always use some base grain in the steep, but keep to the established water ratios and you're really just doing a mini-mash.

I have a 2 gallon mash tun that is real tricky to use unless it is just a mini-mash- which I'll either no-sparge or batch. I'd rather just use a bag and a pot of water.
The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool. -Richard P. Feynman

Offline denny

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Steeping vs.Mini Mash
« Reply #5 on: February 24, 2013, 02:15:09 PM »
For going all grain on the cheap, take a look at www.dennybrew.com
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Offline bboy9000

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Re: Steeping vs.Mini Mash
« Reply #6 on: February 24, 2013, 03:08:30 PM »
For going all grain on the cheap, take a look at www.dennybrew.com

It's also easy and efficient.  I used the method outlined in Palmer's book for my first 11 all-grain batches.  Last weekend I followed the procedure on dennybrew.com and my efficiency increased from 70% to over 81% with less effort.

To get back to the OP, when I went all-grain I went from extract with specialty grains right to all-grain.  A friend picked up a 10G Igloo cooler for $1 at a flea market and I spent about $5-10 at the hardware store on a plastic ball valve and other supplies to make a mash tun.  If you already have the ability to mini-mash (an extra bucket and a paint straining bag) then go for it.  Otherwise, I'd just go all grain.
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Offline erockrph

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Re: Steeping vs.Mini Mash
« Reply #7 on: February 24, 2013, 07:28:45 PM »
If your kettle will support full-volume boils, then you might as well give BIAB a try. The only equipment investment is the bag, and you can then produce All-Grain batches even more easily than mini-mashes.
Eric B.

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Offline mtnrockhopper

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Re: Steeping vs.Mini Mash
« Reply #8 on: February 25, 2013, 07:02:45 AM »
So does steeping only add color but not fermentable sugars?
You really should only steep certain grains that have had their starches converted to sugars in processing, which includes crystal malts and roasted malts. Mini-mash will let you use any grain so you'd have far more grains to experiment with.  As noted, you can also to a partial or full mash with minimal investement in equipment.  Money spent on expensive equipment does not buy better beer.
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Offline kgs

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Re: Steeping vs.Mini Mash
« Reply #9 on: March 03, 2013, 08:34:50 AM »
You can always use some base grain in the steep, but keep to the established water ratios and you're really just doing a mini-mash.

I have a 2 gallon mash tun that is real tricky to use unless it is just a mini-mash- which I'll either no-sparge or batch. I'd rather just use a bag and a pot of water.

I too have a 2-gal mash tun (in addition to my 5-gal for AG) and last night, doing an extract batch for the first time in several years and not wishing to fiddle with the little MLT, I went #nopants on my grain-steeping. I warmed the water to 160 in a large saucepan, poured in the steeping grains, put a lid on the pan, set it on two potholders on a kitchen work table, and covered it with an inverted Trader Joe's insulated grocery bag. The temp held fine. I strained and sparged through a large kitchen strainer lined with a 1-gallon paint strainer bag. I have a super-duper-large strainer and 5-gal paint strainer bags that I could have used if I had a couple pounds of grain.

To get back to the OP's main point, I spent a while doing mini-mashes and I agree, try going to all-grain. Remember, you don't have to make 5-gallon (or larger!) batches and you definitely don't have to spend loads of money. I see a lot of people doing 3-gal BIAB. As erockrph says, all you need is a bag. I personally would rather deal with my 5-gal cooler than a wet, heavy bag, but it's a very cheap entry point.
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