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I've recently moved from extract-only to extract + steeping grains. I'm making a recipe now and wondering if there is a max limit for steeping grains as part of the total grain bill? For a double witbier, right now I have this profile for my total fermentables (steeping = 30%, non-malt sugar = 30%, malt extract = 40%):

  • 2lb CaraPils (20%)
  • 1lb 2Row (10%)
  • 4lb Extra light DME (40%)
  • 1lb Candi Sugar (10%)
  • 2lb Honey (20%) Does anyone have any insight on this? Is 30% too much to rely on steeping?
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For what its worth, this is a really unusual looking recipe. What are you trying to make here? 2lb CaraPils + 3lbs sugar is kinda bizarre. –  Graham Sep 19 '12 at 12:24
    
@Graham, I'm trying to make a Double Wit. I'm new to the recipe game, and did kinda feel that the combo was weird, but between trying to keep the SRM down and not feeling comfortable mashing yet, I came up with this combo. Maybe I should look into partial mash instead –  Scrimothy Sep 19 '12 at 14:29
    
My suggestions: For a Wit, the key is Pilsner Malt plus Wheat (usually flaked). CaraPils will give the beer more body, which is NOT what you want. I'd go 3lbs each on Pilsner Extract and Wheat Extract (sub the X-light for the Pils if you need to), with 1lb sugar too. For the steep, 1lb each of Pilsner Malt and Flaked Wheat. That gets you around 1.056OG, add some more sugar or extract to go higher if you wish. I'd do a single 60min addition of something like .75oz Hallertaur for 15 IBUs. Use BrewFerm Blanche dry yeast for traditional Wit flavor, or US-05 for Blue Moon flavor. –  Graham Sep 19 '12 at 16:47
    
Oh, and go easy on the spices if you use any. Some Wits taste like citrus-bombs to me. Use fresh Indian coriander and a little orange zest/peel, but go light, like .25oz coriander and a few teaspoons of zest. You can always add more, but you can't take spice out of a beer. –  Graham Sep 19 '12 at 16:53
    
@Graham, thanks for the tips! –  Scrimothy Sep 19 '12 at 17:13

1 Answer 1

There's no upper limit in terms of how much speciality malt you can actually use and still extract sugar - the limit is more to do with taste.

To my mind, in an extract brew, 20% is the maximum amount of caramel/crystal malt that I would use in a recipe, simply because of the amount of residual sweetness left, which is on top of the sweetness left by the malt extract that typically leaves behind 20%-40% unfermentables.

20% carapils is on the high side - 5-10% is more typical, although if you want a fuller mouthfeel, as is desirable in a wit, then 20% is the way to go.

Some other points about the recipe:

  • The 2 row makes this a mini-mash rather than a steep. The difference is that you are converting starches into sugars, rather than simply leeching out the sugars with a steep.
  • There's no need to steep the honey - you can just put it into the boil. It's almost entirely fermentable.
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Thanks for the help. I didn't realize 2-row would automatically mean mashing. I just found this list of steeping vs. mashing malts. Would you agree with this? –  Scrimothy Sep 19 '12 at 14:24
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I don't think a wit should have any carapils at all. –  Denny Conn Sep 19 '12 at 15:59
    
I agree - in a AG batch I wouldn't - just mash higher and use oats, but in an extract batch that's not possible. Carapils can approximate the thicker mouthfeel in an extract brew. Is there another way to get the a thicker mouthfeel? Maltodextrin perhaps? –  mdma Sep 19 '12 at 16:26
    
@Scrimothy, yes that list looks good. You'll see 2 row at the top under mash only. –  mdma Sep 19 '12 at 16:29
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Ok, so I just read through this step-by-step to partial mashing. To me, it doesn't seem much more involved than steeping. I've read outside of this post that I'd need all sorts of other equipment (cooler, false bottom, sparge hose, etc.etc). If this is really how I can PM (and get decent conversion), do I not need any extra equipment for it? –  Scrimothy Sep 19 '12 at 17:11

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