General Category > Extract/Partial Mash Brewing

How Much Water for Steeping

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I'm fairly new to brewing, but I've been doing extract beers with specialty grains (side question: is this considered a partial mash?), and the recipes I've used thus far have been pretty standard: About two gallons of water in the primary fermenter. Three gallons in the brew pot, first steeping the grains for about 30-45 minutes, then adding the extract. But the more research I do, it seems like some people call for about 1 gallon of water per 1lb of speciality grains. Is that a hard rule? For example, the last batch (apricot blond ale) only had a half-pound of specialty grains, which means I would only use a gallon of water at most? Doesn't seem like enough water. Or do I steep the grains in one gallon and then add more water, bring to a boil and then add the extract?

My overall impression is that everyone has a slightly different method and they all more or less work ... my first few beers have been pretty good using the three-gallon method....

No, just steeping specialty grains is not considered partial mash.  In order to call it partial mash, you need to do some extra things as you're actually trying to get conversion from your grains - in steeping, all you're looking for is color and flavor.  In order to get conversion, you need to 1) control the amount of water you use - usually between 1 and 1.5 quarts per pound of grain  2)  control and hold the temperature - mashing usually holds the temp between 146 and 156 or so for usually an hour and 3) you need some base grains in addition to your specialty grains - the base grains provide the enzymes necessary for conversion.

Even for steeping, you should control the water amount in order to be sure your pH doesn't get out of hand.  I use about 1.5 qt./lb. of grain for steeping.

Thanks for the help ... so then after steeping, just add enough water to bring the wort up to about 3 gallons, bring to a boil, and then add the extract?

Yep, that's the way I approach it.


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