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According to Palmer's popular list of typical mashing and steeping yields, pale crystal malt (25-40L) has a typical steeping yield of 22 PPG. Slightly darker crystal malt (medium, 60-75L) weighs in at 18 PPG when steeped, and dark crystal (120L) at 16 PPG. Fine, that makes sense: darker crystal malts have lower steeping yields, consistent with how they behave when mashed.

But then we get to roasted barley and black patent malt, which both have a much lower yield when mashed, but are both listed as having typical steeping yields of 21 PPG.

What causes this apparent anomaly? I.e. why do these very dark malts have a lower mash yield but a higher steeping yield than crystal malts?

  • Have you done the test yourself? I.e. steeping to obtain 100 mL (or 250 mL) steeped wort and then measured the gravity? – chthon May 3 '19 at 6:09
  • Nope. Palmer did (30 mins at 160F) and everyone's been using these figures for years. While Palmer is not always 100% correct in everything (but then who is) I imagine this is reliable so I haven't redone it myself (yet). – Frank van Wensveen May 4 '19 at 7:29
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Based on Palmer's supposed test setup (he describes it at the base of the table), I suspect the steeping thing might be related to the friability of the malts. For a simple steep those roasted malts are more brittle and crumble when crushed. For a steep this might yield more apparent extract than the other malts that are less fragile and need the extended time of a mash to completely give up their apparent extract.

That's the only thing I can come up with.

This is a good example of how we give Palmer a lot of credit for a lot of things, but he isn't the best teacher at times. Some of his stuff is confusing in the written format and only makes sense when you hear it from him in some of the recorded podcast formats he's a part of. This table is one of those times I think.

  • It's the only thing I could think about, too, so it's interesting that your thoughts parallel mine. I also totally agree with your assessment of Palmer. However, let's remember he's a metallurgist by trade who's home brewing hobby went out of control. As a former IT guy who now runs a home brewing shop I can sympathize. :) – Frank van Wensveen May 9 '19 at 9:55
  • So funny you mention the metallurgist thing, I too came to that same reality a while back. – brewchez May 13 '19 at 18:11

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