Steeping Grains and Wort Boil Time

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Steeping Grains and Wort Boil Time

Postby rjcortez » Mon May 21, 2012 7:55 pm

I've always gone with 1 hour steeping grains and 1 hour boil. I steep 1 - 2 lbs of grains. My boil is approximately 3.5 gals. My question is for extract brewing what affect does the length of time have on the wort? What benefits are there to longer periods of time if any?

As always thanks in advance for your comments.

Bob
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steeping

Postby slothrob » Mon May 21, 2012 8:11 pm

If you are steeping Crystal Malts, it probably isn't necessary to steep more than about 30 minutes, but it shouldn't hurt to steep longer.

If you are steeping with base malts, an hour or more might help maximize conversion of starches into sugars.
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steeping and boil

Postby rjcortez » Mon May 21, 2012 10:25 pm

Today's brew was 1/2 lb each American 2 Row and Crystal Malt 10L steeped for an hour at 165 or so. So if I understand you right, an hour is long enough, longer wouldn't yield any better results?

Also, how about the length of the boil? I've seen some recipes that call for a 90 minute boil. What's the benefit of 30 minutes longer when I'm not doing a full boil anyways.
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mash and boil length

Postby slothrob » Tue May 22, 2012 6:17 am

There can be some gains from a longer mash. You might get a little more starch conversion if your conditions are less than ideal, for example, if the grain is coarsely ground or if the mash is particularly thick or thin. Also, you will tend to get a slightly more fermentable wort from a longer mash.

As a technical point, once you start including base malts, like your american 2-row, you are mashing, not steeping. Since you are then having starch conversion into sugar, you want to try and keep the temperature in the 145-162°F range. 150°F is a good intermediate temperature.

Boiling for 90 minutes is primarily reserved for Pilsner Malt based recipes, because it helps remove DMS (a canned corn-like odor) that can be a problem with very pale malt. A longer boil can also be useful when doing full-volume boils on higher gravity beers because it allows you to collect more wort then boil it down to the same target volume.

Longer boils are generally not recommended for extract based beers because it will tend to darken the extract and may increase the kettle "caramelization", which may lead to an off-flavor known as "extract twang".
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Mashing for extract brewers

Postby rjcortez » Wed May 23, 2012 2:00 am

So much good and valuable information in your post for me slothrob. Thank you.

Lower temperature for longer period when I mash. I'm sorry but with each answer I have more questions. Should I use less water in my mash or continue with my 3 gals? I ask because I'm not sure what you mean by "thick or thin" mash - since I've been doing this the same way not even realizing that I was mashing at all. I figured that was an all grain thing. I'm sure I can find a list of base malts, but it would be helpful if they were designated in BeerTools for people like me.

This is a picture of my brew yesterday, showing off it's happy yeasties. We're calling it "Episode Of Blonde".

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Steeping vs. Mashing

Postby slothrob » Wed May 23, 2012 5:48 am

Congratulations, you thought you were steeping, while you were actually performing a partial mash!

If you are going to include base malts along with other grains, somewhere around 2 quarts per pound of grain is probably about ideal, but you can go a quart in either direction without having too many problems. Thinner is probably better than thicker.

Here is a list in How to Brew by John Palmer, which you should definitely own. It's generalized, but it helps give you an idea of what types of grain fall into each category. Be aware that the non-base malt grains that "need to be mashed" require base malts in the same mash in order to supply enzymes.

Steeping base malts, and other grains that require mashing, in conditions that don't allow for conversion can result in starch haze and risk of spoilage in the final beer.
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