Extract brewers often steep specialty grains (such as caramel or roasted malts) before the boil to add colour, flavour and body to the beer. Similar to mashing, steeping adds fermentable sugars to the brew, and the addition of steeped grains can provide a large variety of flavours and colours to your extract brew.
The steeping process is done before the boil. Grains are put in a grain bag and immersed in the brewing water. Alternatively, they can be steeped in a separate pot while the main boil is being prepared. Raise the water temperature to 65-70C and hold for 25 - 30 minutes. Keeping the temperature constant is not as important for steeping, as there is no enzyme activity occurring. The grain bag is then removed, and malt extract and hops added to the resulting tea to continue with the normal extract boiling process. Be aware that not all grains are suitable for steeping. Malts like Pale malt, Munich, Wheat malts, and some specialty malts as well as most flaked ingredients must be mashed for their full body and flavour.