Using Speciality Grains

Our extract beer will be made with an unhopped malt extract and further to this we will steep grains in hot water to add further complexity to the malt extract base. The steeping of special grains, such as chocolate and black malts, will turn an ordinary pale malt extract beer into a dark porter.  Alternatively the same pale malt extract beer can be given a more complex malt flavour by steeping crystal malts to make a flavourful light coloured pale ale. These are just examples and the tip of the iceberg regarding the scope there is for creating some unique beers.

Steeping GrainSteeping Process

Before you can steep your special malts they need to be crushed. Most home brew shops will be able to supply you with crushed grain so you don’t have to invest in a grain mill, just make sure you buy the crushed varieties.

To enhance the steeping process and extract the most flavour from your malts hot water is best. A temperature range of around 60°C and 75°C is ideal and will get the most flavour from your malts without extracting unwanted flavours that hotter temperatures can sometimes encourage.

To steep the special malts you will need a large stock pot and a steeping bag as specified in the equipment section. Heat up water at around a ratio of 4-6 litres per kilo of grain in the brew pot and when you are just above the target temperature add the malt in the grain bag to the pot.

At this point stop heating, give the grain a good mix to get everything wet and then secure the bag opening. The malt now needs to steep much like you would a tea bag.

Allow the malt to steep for around 30 minutes then lift the bag and allow to drain on its own. It’s best not to squeeze the bag as this can affect the clarity and extract tannins which will affect the taste of the finished beer.


The grains can now be discarded and what we are left with is essentially a grain tea in our stock pot. We can now move to the next part of the brewing process which is the boil.