Ask Mr. Wizard

Steeping oats and flaked barley


Colin Henein • Ottawa, Ontario asks,

Serious brewing references say that grains like oats and flaked barley need to be mashed with base malts rather than just steeped. I have heard that steeping these grains leads to problems with haze, increased possibility of contamination and shorter shelf-life of finished beer. Despite this, I often see these ingredients in extract recipes with instructions to just steep at 160 °F (71 °C). Are the concerns about steeping these grains warranted, and these are just bad recipes? Alternatively, is there a time and place for steeping these grains and what differences can be expected from using them in this way?

I assume when you use the term “serious brewing references” you mean texts that are full of chemistry, biochemistry, microbiology and engineering principles. These serious references are totally devoid of recipes and
Response by Ashton Lewis.