To Mash Or Steep The Grains

Barley is just a seed with starches, proteins and other stuff inside the grain… In our world, we call it un-malted barley…

When a maltster takes the grain, soaks it in water, and heats it up, a number of things start to happen…

For one, the starches become available for us brewers to convert them into sugar… if the maltster heats up the grains further they actually convert the starches into sugar themselves…

That’s the difference between grains that need to be mashed and grains that need to be steeped… grains that need to be steeped have already had starches converted into sugar…

If you don’t pay attention to the type of grains that you are using when steeping, and you find yourself using grains that need to be mashed, you may just be wasting grain and adding a whole bunch of nothing to your brew…

Not all grains that need to be mashed can have their starches converted into sugar by themselves…
There are grains like Munich 20 L, that need to be mashed with grains like pale malt or other malts with enough enzymes to convert starches into sugar…

If you do happen to steep grains like pale malt, then you may not realize it, but you are actually conducting a mini-mash…

A simple way to determine whether or not you are using the right grains to steep is to find out one of two things…

Most maltsters will classify their must-be-mashed malts as base malts and high temperature kilned malts…

But that is not always the case…

So the second way to find out is to look at the malt analysis sheet and see if the malt has any diastatic power… if it does, then it needs to be mashed… if it doesn’t, then it needs to be steeped, except if you are talking about unmalted grains or adjuncts…

This should help you put together your recipes for extract brewing until you are ready to move into all-grain brewing…

If you are ready to move into all-grain, then stay tuned to this newsletter because we have a new training program coming out that focuses on conducting the mash and brewing all-grain…

Cheers

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