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Dec 12, 2010 03:23 PM

Question from Novice about Homebrewing process

I been been brewing ales for about a year and have been satisfied with my results in both partial grain and full grain processes. I now want to make a Baltic Porter. The recipe calls for liquid extract, dry malt extract, specialty grains (various crystal malts), and lactose and malto-dextrin as flavoring ingredients. I've never used DME, lactose, and malto-dextrin before and would appreciate your confirming my understanding of where they enter the process.

Specialty grains- steep in 160-170 degree water for 30 min and strain into brewpot with extracts at beginning of process
Liquid extract and DME- goes into brewpot with required amount of boiling water
Lactose and malto-dextrin-go into pot with extracts at beginning of process

And some more detailed questions:
1. Are there any tricks to using DME? I'm thinking that since it is a powder, it might clump up going into the water.
2. Does it matter when the lactose and malto go in the pot?
3. Is there a drawback to steeping specialty grains for an hour as long as the water is below 170? This question is related to my all grain brewing. The homebrew store mills the base grains and specialty grains together so they both get mashed.

Thank you for your help.

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  1. 1 - Not usually an issue, but you could make a paste in a bowl and then add it if you're concerned about lumps

    2 - No

    3 - No, I rarely mash for less than 90 mins; 30 seems too short to extract all the sugar to me.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Steve_K

      1- The DME is so soluble, I wouldn't worry about it. It's gonna dissolve, unless you're doing a reduced volume boil (and then still just maybe).

      3- if you're doing all grain, the specialty grains will get mashed for that long, but I don't think you have to. Just make sure you aren't steeping anything that really needs to be mashed. Haze lies that way. Also, just for clarity's sake, unless you're mashing base malt, you aren't doing all grain.

    2. DME can clump up if you dump it into warm water. Slowly add it to the water while beating with a whisk and you're good to go.
      I haven't used malto-dextrin but I have used lactose. Lactose is an unfermentable (milk) sugar that adds "creaminess" to the brew. The recipes I've used allow for the addition of lactose at the beginning of the boil.
      I believe that specialty grains are steeped to add color and some flavors to the brew rather than sugars. Typically recipes call for a steeping temp. of around 160F for 30 minutes, whereas a mash has an ideal temp. of 150F for at least 60 minutes. Depending on the grain bill, a mash might reach 120 minutes. I think you might want to consider whether there is an advantage to steeping for 60 minutes rather than 30.
      I haven't tried it so I don't know, but considering that the amount of grains steeped for an extract recipe is relatively low, my guess is that a longer steep may result in a slightly darker color due to mild carmelization which may slightly affect the flavor. I don't think there is an advantage or disadvantage to a 60 minute steep. Maybe you could try it and let us know.

      1. I've seen recipes that use as little as 3 lbs for a 5 gallon batch and as much as 6. It depends on how all grain you want to go. One of the advantages of DME is it is a bit easier to store than LME. Some people say they can taste the difference. LME is largely water, so I think you get more value for your buck using DME. DME will clump but it dissolves pretty quickly in hot wort. Just watch out for boil overs. DME forms a layer at the top, this is protein, this will go away after you reach a boil. LME does this too, but much less so, it dissolves a lot faster. I only use DME when I need to adjust the gravity.