MEGA Newsletter – March 2016

MEGA Newsletter – March 2016

Next Meeting is Sunday, March 13

2:00 pm

Fiddler’s Hearth, South Bend

Tasting Styles: Barley Wines, Old Ales, Belgians


Meeting Agenda

  •  Start Meeting
  •  Education Topic: Specialty Grain Steeping
  •  Feedback Tasting of Monthly Styles
  •  News

o Old Business

o New Business

  •  Feedback Tasting of Homebrews
  •  Door Prize Drawings
  •  Tasting of everything else

From the President’s Mug: Dark Malts: Steeping vs Mashing

Dark grains are one of the more interesting ingredients in homebrewing. Like hops and yeast, they can have a great impact on the overall flavor of the beer. Most styles wouldn’t exist without the ability to brew with dark grains. In this article we will explore different options for getting the most out of your dark grain additions, specifically including in your mash, adding during vorlauf and steeping.


Mashing Dark Grains

Most all grain brewers mill and mash their dark malts with the rest of their grains. For our purposes, let’s use the term dark grains to refer to roasted grains, crystal malts, and other dark specialty malts. This is a simple way to mash, which is why many of us use this method. But the extended exposure in the heated water can produce acidic and bitter flavors.

These grains have no diastatic enzymes and whatever fermentable sugars are present in the malt have already been broken down during the roasting process. As a result they do not actually need to be mashed.


Adding Dark Grains to the Vorlauf (Recirculating)

In this variation, one does not mash the darkest grains, but instead steeps them in the vorlauf at the start of the sparge process and then recirculates the steeped wort back through the mash tun. The advantage of this method is that is avoids the long hot steep of the mash, and the dark wort from the vorlauf is recirculated through the mash tun again further reducing astringency.


Steeping Dark Grains

A third method is to steep dark grains separate from the mash, and then mix the resulting “grain tea” after the boil. This is perhaps the most innovative of methods as it allows you to very finely crush the grains since they no longer need to be mashed. You can also vary the water used, steep time and temperature to achieve a desired flavor profile.

The most popular steeping methods are hot steeping and cold steeping. When hot steeping, the finely ground dark grains are mixed with hot water in the 165 F range, steeped for 5-10 minutes, then strained with a filter or kitchen strainer. The dark extract is then chilled and added to the fermenter at the start of fermentation.

When cold steeping, the grains are mixed at room temperature and left to steep for a day or more, before adding them to the fermenter. In most cases this results in a milder flavor than hot steeping.

The bottom line is that because of the nature of dark roasted grains, they need not be mashed and therefore can be added at any point in the brewing process prior to fermentation. Steeping dark grains separately from the mash will generally result in less acidity, astringency and a little less color. While a dark roasted bitter coffee flavor may be desirable for certain darker beer styles, steeping the dark grains separately may be an ideal solution for those brewing milder styles. The techniques outlined above also provide more flexibility to precisely control the flavor and color that dark grains add to the beer.

Club News

MEGA Work Shirts MEGA is pleased to announce that we are planning another order of the popular MEGA Work Shirt! These shirts are great to wear at events or just to represent MEGA during your brew day.  The work shirts are Dickies-branded short sleeve blended material  (65% polyester/35% cotton, Moisture-Wicking).  Color is charcoal with gold and white MEGA logo on left chest and large on Back.  Sizes available are S, M, L, XL, 2X, 3X

-MEGA Sample Glasses – MEGA is planning to place an order for sample glasses again.  At this time, we are only getting pre-orders to see if there is enough interest in placing an order.  The price on the glass below is estimated to be $4.50 for members.  This may change at time of ordering due to promotions and quantity ordered.  This price is based on a target order of 42 glasses.

-Bulk Grain Buy – MEGA is planning a bulk grain buy for those who may need grain.  Details, pricing, and sign up are posted to the forum.

-Big Brew Day – This year, AHA’s Big Brew Day falls on the same date as Mayfest.US.  At the February meeting, it was voted to keep the date rather than move the date.  This year, The Crooked Ewe is not able to host this event at their location.  We also decided that the event should be a public event rather than just a club event.  Therefore, we are in need of a location that would allow us to use.  If anyone has any ideas of a location, please join in the discussion on the forum.

For the most up to date MEGA information, visit the website at Here you will find club news, announcements, events, homebrewing resources, and forum discussions.

Upcoming Events

Art of Beer Festival (MEGA Event)

March 19, 2016  5-10pm

Lake Michigan College, Benton Harbor

Blue Chip Brewfest (MEGA Event)

April 30, 2016  12:00pm CST

Blue Chip Casino, Michigan City


Mayfest (MEGA Event)

May 7, 2016


*For the Mayfest, we will need MEGA booth volunteers (with homebrew) and also volunteers for set-up/tear-down and to work different stations at the event.


Science of Fermentation

May 20, 2016

ETHOS Science Center, Elkhart
Homebrewing Presentation and Competition

Bottlecaps & Corks Beer & Wine Competition

Big Brother Big Sisters of Elkhart County

May 21, 20.16

Wellfield Botanic Gardens, Elkhart

Homebrew Competition

August 27, 2016

St Joe Farm, Granger IN
1st Annual event featuring small intimate craft/homebrew festival with music and food
See event listing in calendar

Zoo Brew

October 1, 2016

Potawatomi Zoo, South Bend
MEGA will have a booth at this event
More information will provided when available


Weko Beach Brewers Festival

October 29, 2016 1pm

Weko Beach, Bridgeman, MI

More information will be provided when available

*More information regarding these events can be found on the calendar on the website