Steeped Grains

It’s beer time again.

My last two batches have been attempts at all-grain without the right equipment. I was trying to Brew in a Bag, which is a legitimate technique, but only if you understand how it works. I didn’t, and wound up diluting my wort and supplementing with leftover dry malt extract to get the sugar content back up. This time I did basically the same thing.

But I did it deliberately. 

So it’s fine.

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For my recipe I’m following a completely unvetted concoction from the American Homebrewers Association, because I’ve lost control of my life. And because the real recipes are behind a paywall.

It’s a steeped grain recipe, which means you soak a small amount of specialty malted grains in hot water for flavor and color, then you make up for the missing sugar with malt extract.

To start I measured out my specialty malts by weight.

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Here we have 8 oz of 20L crystal malt, 4 oz of 80L crystal malt, 4 oz of CaraVienne malt, and 5 oz of wheat malt, stored attractively in fruitcake bowls of Christmases past.

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Up until now I’ve been buying grain from the local brew supply store and milling it on site. This leads to a couple of problems, though. For one, I can only use the grains available in the store. For two, I have to mill it all at once, seriously reducing the shelf life of any grain I have leftover. It’s possible to buy milled grain online, but that only solves the first problem. To make things easier on myself, I invested in a grain mill.

I hope to one day be as rugged as the man on the box.

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This was my mill’s maiden voyage, and unfortunately it showed. The whole thing had a metallic, oily smell. Upon reading the directions, I learned you’re supposed to give it a good scrubbing first.

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So into the sink we went. Only a minor detour.

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With my mill fresh and clean, I got it all assembled (in the living room, where the table was thin enough for the clamp).

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And I got to milling.

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With a nylon sac in a bowl underneath, I ground all my specialty grains into what was probably too fine a powder for what I was doing.

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But what are you gonna do? Next time I’ll try to set it to a coarser grind.

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I tied off my bag and submerged it in 2 gallons of water at 160F for half an hour. Once the time was up, I squeezed the bag dry and set it aside.

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I added 6 pounds of light LME to make up the fermentable sugars the grains couldn’t supply, and I set the whole thing boiling.

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For my hops I used Nugget, Cascade, and Nelson Sauvin, a fancy guy all the way from New Zealand that’s supposed to have a well-defined, citrusy quality. My Cascade hops weren’t quite the recommended AA, so I had to do some serious math on the fly.

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After an hour of boiling I took the wort off the stove and aerated it by sloshing it back and forth between two pots. The real glory of working with specialty grains is that you can start with a small amount of liquid and dilute later. This meant I could pick it up and fling it around the kitchen all by myself.

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With my wort aerated, I pitched the yeast and filled the carboy up to the 5 gallon mark with water. I like to think that this method adds some much needed extra aeration.

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After that I sealed it up and left the yeast to do their thing. By the next morning the fermentation was off to a good start. Nine days later I dry hopped with more Cascade and Nelson Sauvin.

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I plan on bottling as soon as I can get my act together. I just hope the recent heat hasn’t been doing anything untoward in there.

 

 

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