Author Topic: naive newbie question about steeping grains  (Read 825 times)

Offline bernardsmith

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naive newbie question about steeping grains
« on: June 03, 2014, 12:26:13 PM »
The books I am reading suggest that you steep specialty grains for around 30 minutes in water that has reached 160 degrees but the recipes in kits sold by Northern Brewers all suggest that you add the grains to be steeped to the water and then heat that water to 170 degrees and then discard the grains. Is this essentially the same thing or are these two methods designed to achieve different results? Is the NB version a kind of sparging in the kettle (reaching 170 degrees )


Offline Steve in TX

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Re: naive newbie question about steeping grains
« Reply #1 on: June 03, 2014, 12:43:01 PM »
Seems to me like two paths leading to the same destination. I have added grains to heated water and added grains to cool water that I then heated to a specific temp, removing the grains when that temp was reached. Both seemed to have the same result. I only brewed a dozen or so extract batches, so not enough to determine which is better or easier.

Heating to 170 is what most would call a mash out. It heats the enzymes to the point of denaturing them and stopping any further conversion. Personally, I never mash out, don't see the point really. People often sparge with 170 degree water, or higher, which may be where you got mixed.

Offline Joe Sr.

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Re: naive newbie question about steeping grains
« Reply #2 on: June 03, 2014, 12:50:25 PM »
These are essentially the same thing, and NB is streamlining the process for you.

All you are getting from the specialty grains is color, flavor and whatever small amount of sugar is easily obtainable.
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Online denny

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Re: naive newbie question about steeping grains
« Reply #3 on: June 03, 2014, 12:50:36 PM »
It doesn't really matter.  Either way will achieve the same result.
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Offline pete b

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Re: naive newbie question about steeping grains
« Reply #4 on: June 03, 2014, 01:27:07 PM »
The books I am reading suggest that you steep specialty grains for around 30 minutes in water that has reached 160 degrees but the recipes in kits sold by Northern Brewers all suggest that you add the grains to be steeped to the water and then heat that water to 170 degrees and then discard the grains. Is this essentially the same thing or are these two methods designed to achieve different results? Is the NB version a kind of sparging in the kettle (reaching 170 degrees )
I think the cool water method would save you time. Once the water is up to temp you are done rather than getting the water to temp and waiting 30 minutes. Also to keep it the same temp for 30 minutes you would need futz around with the burner a bit. If starting cold make sure you are checking the temp frequently so you don't go way over.
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Offline bernardsmith

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Re: naive newbie question about steeping grains
« Reply #5 on: June 03, 2014, 03:31:07 PM »
Thank you for your responses . They are all very helpful and I can see how adding the grains to cold water saves about 20 or 30 minutes.

Offline santoch

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Re: naive newbie question about steeping grains
« Reply #6 on: June 03, 2014, 08:32:36 PM »
I agree with the others about the time savings, etc, you'll gain by going the "heating up" route.

I will point out, though, that once you get bitten by the bug, you'll likely want to move on to more advanced techniques.  At that point, you can practice for future mini-mash batches simply by going through the exercise of heating to a target temp and steeping your grains there while maintaining temperature for the allotted time.

While this will not make a difference in an extract batch, you can still hone your skills on batches where temperature is not as crucial.  Then, you'll be one step ahead when careful temp and pH control become much more important (ie, a couple degrees can noticeably alter the finished product).

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Offline mattybrass

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Re: naive newbie question about steeping grains
« Reply #7 on: July 21, 2014, 07:34:56 AM »
One thing you want to be careful of if using the add then heat to temp method will be to not scorch the grains/muslin bag on the bottom of the pot from direct contact with the heat source, especially if using an electric stove.

Make sure the grain bag is suspended above the bottom of the kettle before you start heating the water if using the heat to temp method.

Offline happywanderer

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Re: naive newbie question about steeping grains
« Reply #8 on: July 24, 2014, 11:27:26 AM »
I would be careful about steeping over 160 degrees.  I didn't know for my first batch, but above 160 you can extract tannins from the grains.  My first brew was definitely tanniny because I steeped at 170 degrees (actually closer to 180). 

Bring water to temp of about 162 degrees.  Drop in bag with grains and turn off heat.  "tea bag" the grains a bit.  Put lid on pot.  "Tea Bag" every 5-10 minutes.  I usually only steep for 20 minutes.  30 minutes for porter/stout.