A question regarding steeping flaked barley in stouts.

Zainasheff & Palmer's "Brewing Classic Styles" lists an extract-based recipe for stout. with flaked barley and roasted unmalted barley for steeping.

However, I thought that flaked barley must be mashed: it is unmalted, and steeping will only release proteins and a lot of starch. Virtually all my google searches end up with the same result: steeping flaked barley without some base malt is a bad idea.

Supporting this view indirectly is Palmer's "How to Brew", where the given stout recipe has no flaked barley in the extract version -- only in the all-grain version.

I have bought all the ingredients for the Zainasheff-recipe. Is it a bad idea to go ahead, and make an extract beer using only flaked barley and unmalted roast barley for steeping?

1 Answer 1


You're right that flaked barley normally has to be mashed to extract the potential yield. However, the main contribution of the flaked barley isn't so much the sugar potential, but beta glucans and proteins. The beta glucans contribute to the thicker mouthfeel, and the proteins to the foam (head). While you may get a little starch in the beer from steeping the flaked barley, you're not going to easily see the starch haze in a stout, and I doubt you'd taste it either against the roasted barley.

However, if you prefer not to take the chance with all the starch, here are some options:

Reduce the quantity: The usual ratio for base malt, flaked barley and roasted barley is around 7/2/1 (depending upon the color of the roast barley.) If the amount of flaked barley in the recipe is more than a pound for 5 gallons, you may want to cut back to 12-16oz, since it plays a supplemental role when steeped.

Another alternative - since you're going to be steeping anyway, you can throw in a half pound of 6-row or a 12oz of 2-row pale malt and turn this into a mini-mash. Steep (actually, mash!) at 154F/68C and leave for 30 mins. The enzymes in the pale malt will break down most of the starch in the flaked barley.

  • This is a great answer, thanks a lot. It filled in the blanks for me. The recipe ratios are 62.5/25/12.5, so a little more flaked barley than your suggestion. I will most likely throw in some pale malt in the steep/mash.
    – Nemis L.
    Feb 3, 2013 at 17:39

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