Intermediate Extract Brewing - Specialty Grains

Extract with Specialty Grains Brew Day

Extra Equipment Needed:

  • Nylon Grain Bag

 For a slightly more advanced brew day, brewing and extract beer in conjunction with specialty grains (using the steeping method) an excellent technique to fine tune a beer to the exact style you are looking to brew. Then adding pellet hops and select yeast to the fermentation step will also impart further flavour and allow for a variety of aromas to really create an extract craft brew.

 This is a very similar technique to a Partial Mash in the sense that you will be soaking crushed malt in hot water, where the latter involves a mash step designed to convert starch into fermentable sugars that the yeast will then use to turn into alcohol (see our Partial Mash blog post), specialty grains do not need to be mashed, as their starches have been already converted to sugar by heat when they were kilned.

 Brewing with specialty grains requires a few additional pieces of equipment and some added work, though the results are definitely worth it if you are now confident with your brewing.

Specialty vs. Base Grain

Specialty grains differ from base grains in a few ways. Base grains are primarily used to provide fermentable sugars when creating the wort and need to be mashed to convert the starch. Specialty grains provide added flavour and aroma to the beer. They are usually darker in colour than base grains and also impart this on the beer. There is a huge range of roasted specialty grains available like chocolate, roasted barley and black patent and you will notice that the longer a grain has been kilned, the darker it will be.  Due to the roasting these grains do not have the enzymes to convert starch into fermentable sugar


Our recipe will be based on an American Amber Ale, with the Cara Red grains intensifying the overall colour, the Cara Pils grains increasing head retention and the chocolate malt will add some nice cocoa notes to the palate. As a general rule of thumb, we recommend that the specialty grain bill does not exceed 15-20% of the total (including the extract weight).


  1. Brewing with specialty grains only really requires one extra step to a regular extract brew day that you are familiar with. This additional step involves steeping the specialty grains in 65°C – 75°C (150°F – 168°F) water for 30 minutes prior to adding your malt extract.
  2. If you have read the previous blog post on a Partial Mash we used a nylon/mesh steeping bag there too, which just makes it a good deal easier to remove the grains after the steeping step has been completed.
  3. Heat up 3.5 L (1 US Gal) to around 70°C (160°F) and keep the heat on steady, it doesn’t have to be super accurate.
  4. Add the bag of all your specialty grains to the water and move it around to make sure all the grains have been immersed in water and are wet.
  5. After 30 minutes, remove the bag of grains (ideally lift it up and left drain for a minute or two over the pot to get all the remaining water out).
  6. Check the temperature of the water and heat up to close to boiling.
  7. Next follow the general instructions included with the Mangrove Jack’s Brewing Pouch. Basically the next steps follow a normal extract brewing process, hop addition and fermentation. However your wort has now had all the sugar from the specialty grains extracted into it from the steeping step, which will add to the flavour of your beer.