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We are steeping 5# of grain. Is the time the grains should steep based on the weight? We were just going to do 30 mins. Is this the correct amount of time or should it be more or less? This is for an IRS.

Sorry, my original question was so vague. These were specialty grains for an extract brew.

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4 Answers 4

up vote 2 down vote accepted

For truly steeping some specialty grains for flavor and color 30 minutes is generally a good rule of thumb, independent of weight. But you need to ensure good water to grain contact. So putting the 5lbs in 2 or 3 grain bags with plenty of room for expansion is the key here.

But if you are infact using some base malts then you are mashing and not necessarily steeping. Maybe an edit to your question with the recipe or at least just the grains you are steeping would be helpful.

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the time to steep grain is typically not determined by weight. if the volume of grain being steeped is too large to be efficient, break it up into smaller amounts and steep them seperately. for my system 'too much' is about 5lbs or anything that increases the volume in my pot by 1/4.

typically 20-30 minutes is fine for steeping grain as a part of a partial mash brew. much less than that and you won't extract as many sugars from the grain, which is a waste of grain. much longer, and the grains can start to leach tannins and proteins that add to chill haze.

something that can be much more important than the time of steeping is the temperature of the water. I aim for about 150-160 F. the purpose of this is to activate the enzymes that turn starch into sugar so the most sugars can be extracted from the grain.

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Steeping and partial mash are very different things to me. The original question talks of steeping. To me I have to infer then that he is steeping grains which have no sugas to convert, i.e. specialty grains like roasted malts and crystals etc etc. –  brewchez Jan 24 '10 at 13:36
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I agree the two things are different and it was sloppy of my to lump the two together without differentiating them. I think that more info is better than less without knowing what is truly being asked. –  gaurdro Jan 25 '10 at 6:57

In addition, you should steep grains in about the same amount of water you'd use if you were mashing them in order to avoid too high a pH and the risk of tannin extraction. Grains will naturally reduce the pH of the water, but if you use too much water there won't be enough grain to get the pH down into the proper range. Stay in the 1.5-2 qt./lb. range to avoid that.

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I have found that it is easy and effective to place the bag of grain in the cool water as you begin heating it up. When the temperature reaches 170f-180f. (30-40 mins.) turn off the heat, remove the grains, stir in the extract and turn the heat back on to bring to a boil. My 2 cents.

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I used this technique in the past too. However I found I had to suspend the bag off the bottome, because a few times too many the bag got scorched onto the bottom of the kettle and tore a bit trying ot remove it. So if yo want to steep while heating the water, I recommend clamping the bag to lip of the kettle to suspend it off the bottom. This takes a few measurments and bag size planning in advance. –  brewchez Jan 29 '10 at 13:22

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