Monday 2 December 2019

Extract Brewing with Speciality Grains

Extract Brewing with Specialty Grains

When brewing using extract, a great way to add a bit more depth and character to your brews is to steep speciality grains. This is essentially the process of soaking, or "steeping" the grains in warm water to extract the goodness from them to enhance your brewing wort. The steeped water can then be added to the rest of your wort for the boil.

In all grain brewing, the grain bill will typically consist of a large majority of "base malts" - eg. light, dark, or amber, with a small percentage then being made up of speciality malts - such as crystal, wheat, munich etc.

With extract brewing, our liquid or dried malt extract make up the majority base, but we can still mix in specialty malts using the process below to enhance it.

It's important to maintain a certain ratio of water to grains in order to get the best flavour results from your steeping. The recommended ratio is approximately 1 gallon of water per pound of grain.

For those working on the metric system (as I do), that works out to 3.8L of water per 453g

453g - 3800ml
1g = 8.4ml

So, if I was using 250g of grain, I'd use 2100ml of water (8.4 x 250 = 2100) or 2.1L. This is meant as a rough guide, so I'd round it down to 2L in this case.

All you need to do this is a saucepan and a hop or grain sock to put the grains in. You could theoretically put the grains straight into the saucepan and then strain them out using a colander or sieve, so if you want to try this method then go for it.

  1. Calculate the amount of water you require as outlined above (roughly 8.4ml per gram of specialty grain). Add this volume of water to a saucepan and put on a stove to heat up
  2. Heat the water to approx 71C
  3. Once you've reached 71C, remove from the heat then submerge the grains in the water. If using a hop sock or bag, you can move/swirl it around in the saucepan (like a giant tea bag) to ensure all the grain is wetted
  4. Leave the grains to steep for 30 minutes. Obviously the temperature will drop from 71C during this time (as the saucepan has been removed from the heat) - this is fine and expected.
  5. If using a hop sock or bag, you can agitate the bag a little every 5-10 minutes to help with extraction
  6. After 30 minutes, remove the grain from the pot or saucepan
  7. Put the grains (in hop sock or not) into a sieve, and then rinse/sparge with 1L of hot tap water back into the pot
  8. Don't squeeze or wring the bag (if you're using one), this can cause bitterness in the extracted liquid
  9. Discard the grains - you don't need them any more
  10. Add the water from your steeping and sparging to your wort that you are going to use for your boil

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