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You are here: Home --> Forum Home --> Brewing Forum --> Brewing Discussion --> Cold Steeping Dark/Roasted Grains

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Charter Member
Eden Prairie, MN
301 Posts

So we've had some prior discussion on cold steeping dark/roasted grains to reduce its harshness and astringency.

Mary Anne Gruber of Briess Malts researched and publicized the technique, having presented it at the 2002 National Homebrew Conference and in the January/February 2002 edition of Zymurgy ("Cold Water Extraction of Dark Grains"). Gordon Strong probably did the most to popularize the technique by touting it in Brewing Better Beer.

To recap the technique, the idea is to steep crushed dark/roasted grains in 2 quarts of water per pound of grain at room temperature for at least 12-18 hours, and then to add the resulting dark wort into your main boil with just enough time to sanitize the dark wort.

@Matt has said that he doubles the amount of dark/roasted
grains in order to get the same yield as ordinary hot steeping. My technique is to crush the dark/roasted
grains in a coffee grinder, and then filter the dark wort after two days of cold steeping for short-term refrigerator storage. I feel like my yield (color, aroma, flavor, and extract) has remained roughly the same as hot steeping normally-crushed grains.

Anyway, I ran across this purported statement by George Fix on the topic, and was hoping to prompt some discussion and experiential observations.

"The upside of cold steeping is that it works. The downside is that it is very inefficient both with respect to extract and color. In my setup I am using 2-3 times the malt that would normally be used. As a consequence I have been using it for "adjunct malts" such as black and crystal. I also am very happy with the use of Munich malts with this process when they are used as secondary malts." (Emphasis mine; source.)

Discussion Points:

1. Have you tried cold steeping?

2. Do you increase the amount of dark/roasted
grains when cold steeping?

3. Do you feel you can get the same yield from cold steeping in terms of color, aroma, flavor, and extract as hot steepnig? If so, what adjustments do you have to make.

4. Have you tried cold steeping other specialty grains, and what were the results?

Posted 34 days ago.
Edited 34 days ago by chino_brews

Charter Member
Normal, IL
341 Posts

1. Yep! As you know. 

2. Also yep, double.

3. Honestly, I feel like my cold-steeping results are more subdued. However, I do a coarse grind when I cold-steep, so that probably contributes. And my adjustment is doubling the grain, all the color!

4. Nope, but I really like the idea of it. 

I remember Brulosopher mentioning that a buddy of his cold-steeping his roasted grains for a dry stout, doubled the grain bill and all, and universally received feedback that it wasn't roasty enough. 

Posted 34 days ago.

Charter Member
Birmingham, AL
2480 Posts

I'm cold steeping this weekend for try #2 on the oatmeal toffee stout.  I only upped my grains by 50%... we'll see how it goes.

Posted 34 days ago.

Bastrop, TX
485 Posts

Something to consider... after judging we had a long BJCP oriented discussion about several so-called coffee stouts that presented very strong green pepper flavor. Drew B weighed in and mentioned that he had the same when cold steeping both dark grains (for a stout) and seperately coffee. He believes that he narrowed it down to steeping lightly roasted coffee - apparently the greener coffee + the dark roast malts caused the green pepper flavor to show - and only after fermentation.

So to the discussion points:

1.) Tried both, prefer the roast in the mash personally. But of course, that means I have to moderate the amounts and manage the pH issue.

2.) Yes - about double as mentioned.

3.) See #1 - everything seem subdued, except for color. I got more ruby-like highlights when using the steeped grains (chocolate, pale chocolate, roast barley) which I expect is just less color contribution.

4.) I tried cold steeping crystal and such once in partial mash extract beer... worked out well.

Posted 34 days ago.

Charter Member
The Internet
314 Posts

1. Have you tried cold steeping? Yes

2. Do you increase the amount of dark/roasted grains when cold steeping?  I have, but I'm not entirely sure it's necessary.  Think of it this way, if you dump a bunch of sugar into a glass of water, where will it dissolve faster; hot water or cold water?  Of course it takes longer for the cold water to dissolve, but it will eventually all dissolve up to saturation point.  If you're dumping more grain in and getting more flavor out, it doesn't mean you need more grain, it shows that you need to be more patient and possibly give the steepings a stir or two.  That said, if you're in a hurry and you just need to get things done, nothing wrong with upping the amount you steep.

3. Do you feel you can get the same yield from cold steeping in terms of color, aroma, flavor, and extract as hot steepnig? If so, what adjustments do you have to make.  Eventually, yes, you can get pretty close to the same color.  I don't think you can ever get the exact same flavor because you're going to extract different things once you get the grains hot.

4. Have you tried cold steeping other specialty grains, and what were the results?  I've just done roasted grains and midnight wheat.  I don't use much caramel malt anymore.  I think you get a more interesting flavor from the cold steep, but it's definitely not what everyone is looking for.  If you want more subtle and complex coffee and chocolate notes, cold steeping is for you.  If you're looking for more of an acrid bite like one might expect in a dry stout, cold steeping is not for you.

Posted 34 days ago.
Edited 34 days ago by uberg33k

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