How to Steep Your Grains

The process of steeping grain is extremely similar to brewing tea. Boil water, insert the grain or tea and wait for it to brew. Brewers just have to be more careful than tea makers because they are dealing with larger amounts. Tracking the amount of water added to the pot is the key to steeping grain. When dealing with gallons of liquid, brewers have to be extremely particular to make sure that there is not too much or too little water. For the quality of the beer to be good, the amount of water has to be just right.

The Kind of Water

Not everyone lives near a clear mountain stream. If you are lucky enough to be in an area like Northwest Washington, the water coming out of your tap is the same water they bottle upstream. Brewers who live in other areas should just make sure that the water they use is soft, clean water. If the water is too hard, try using brew salts or purchase bottled water.

Once you have found soft water, you should heat it up to 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Since it takes a while to heat up two gallons of water for steeping, you can do other things while you wait. Try preparing your grains or sanitize the brewing equipment while you wait.

Preparing the Grains

The perfect bag for steeping grains is made of muslin. You can buy this bag, make it or take the one that came out of your home brewing kit. Place the grains in the bag and tie it off with a knot. Once you have tied it off, the bag will expand and look like a balloon. While you wait for the water to finish heating up, clean out your strainer by soaking it in Iodophor. If the equipment you use is dirty, the taste of your beer will suffer.

Heating up the Water

As soon as the water is at least at 155 degrees Fahrenheit, you can gently put the bag in the water. The bag needs to be placed so gently in the water that it does not disturb any of the grains. Never squeeze the grain bag or push it down. You can stir the water, but be aware of where the grain bag is. You do not want to push it into the current or deeper into the water. Stir the water every now and then for about 25 minutes.

Rinsing the Bag

While you are steeping the grains, heat up some water in the microwave for one minute. You should also place your sanitized pot and strainer in one spot. The strainer should be placed above the pot so you can strain the grain’s liquid into it.

Removing the Grain

Once the 25 minutes are up, take the grain bag out with tongs. You can also use your hands if you have a high heat tolerance, but always be careful not to squeeze the bag. Place the grain bag over the strainer and get the cup of water you heater up. Pour the cup of water over the grain bag and let the liquid drip into the pot. This bag should be left in the strainer for a few minutes until every last dredge of flavor has fallen out of it.

After all of this is complete, you can move on to cooling and aerating the wort. If you have steeped the grain correctly, you will be able to make a great tasting mug of beer in no time!