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General Category => All Grain Brewing => Topic started by: Kirk on December 17, 2010, 10:24:10 PM

Title: Testing Sample Malts
Post by: Kirk on December 17, 2010, 10:24:10 PM
I've been doing some tests lately, an attempt to get a better understanding of malt characteristics.  I steep a 1/4 lb sample of malt for about an hour in about 2 qts of mash temp water, remove the bag of malt, boil the wort for about an hour, let it cool some, pour a glass and taste.

This worked really well for darks (chocolate, roasted barley, black, and caraffa special), but the caramels (crystals) are puzzling me.  So far I've tried C40, C60, and C80, expecting some caramel flavor, but all I'm getting is prune and molasses.  Is the caramel flavor hidden somewhere within the prune and molasses, ready to be revealed through fermentation? 
Title: Re: Testing Sample Malts
Post by: jaybeerman on December 17, 2010, 11:34:57 PM
I've done the same thing with a french press.  Here's a few thoughts and personal observations; note that there's no right answer here since you're looking for a quick way to experience the differences between these grains/malts.  

I like your/my method for base grains.  When tasting the difference between crystal malts and roasted malts I have tried to emulate how I'd use them in a beer, just at a much smaller scale.  Think about it all these flavors will be diluted by your base grain.  So for example I'd get the cheapest and plainest american pale malt I could buy at the LHBS and mix it with say 20% by weight of the flavoring grain.  (levels can be tweaked of course).  Most of the time though, I just grab a handfull and crunch away.
Title: Re: Testing Sample Malts
Post by: Kirk on December 18, 2010, 06:48:51 PM
Thanks Jay for the response.  I see what you're getting at.
I'm surprised this hasn't generated more comments yet.  I expected to get hammered.
Title: Re: Testing Sample Malts
Post by: euge on December 18, 2010, 07:22:54 PM
Thanks Jay for the response.  I see what you're getting at.
I'm surprised this hasn't generated more comments yet.  I expected to get hammered.

This approach isn't new and people use these methods. No one's gonna hammer you.

Another is to take some malt grains, in proportion to their intended use and chew them. Maybe 10 gains. That gives a good indication also.
Title: Re: Testing Sample Malts
Post by: tom on December 19, 2010, 03:32:18 PM
I've been doing some tests lately, an attempt to get a better understanding of malt characteristics.  I steep a 1/4 lb sample of malt for about an hour in about 2 qts of mash temp water, remove the bag of malt, boil the wort for about an hour, let it cool some, pour a glass and taste.

This worked really well for darks (chocolate, roasted barley, black, and caraffa special), but the caramels (crystals) are puzzling me.  So far I've tried C40, C60, and C80, expecting some caramel flavor, but all I'm getting is prune and molasses.  Is the caramel flavor hidden somewhere within the prune and molasses, ready to be revealed through fermentation? 
I've been meaning to get off my @ss and do this too. Chewing the grains doesn't do it for me.
It could also be that that is how your tastebuds taste "caramel" malts.
Title: Re: Testing Sample Malts
Post by: Kirk on December 20, 2010, 02:56:16 AM
I appreciate the replies, but I still believe there is much value in this exercise.  I first tried it with hops, then with spices, with good success.  IMO, knowing how malts really taste on their own is crucial to knowing how they react in a recipe.  On the other hand, however, how they react with other malts has to be very important.  Cumin, for example, to my taste works well with beef, but not so well with chicken.
My original question was about the caramel (crystal), let's just call them C malts, and why they taste so much like prune and molasses.  I was really surprised by that.  The other malts haven't taken me by surprise near as much as the C's.  Maybe, that's just the way the C's are.  If so, it probably explains why some of my early stouts tasted way too much like molasses.  Come to think of it, I stopped using C malts in Black Ale and Lagers quite awhile ago.  Maybe now I know why.  Maybe there just isn't much true caramel flavor in the C malts.
I've shortened the process somewhat, to about a 1/2 hour steep and 15 minute boil, for speed's sake, and I like the idea of the French Press, but haven't tried it yet.  Anyway, cheers!
Title: Re: Testing Sample Malts
Post by: euge on December 20, 2010, 06:28:35 PM
I've tended to get the "darker" fruit flavors primarily from those malts and the caramel hint only comes through after the conditioning process. But it may be you'll have to revert (settle?) to using 10L & 20L to get a bit more of that smooth caramel.
Title: Re: Testing Sample Malts
Post by: Kirk on December 20, 2010, 07:43:03 PM
Thanks euge, good point.  Maybe what tastes like molasses after two months, tastes more like caramel after two years. 
Title: Re: Testing Sample Malts
Post by: micahepic on December 21, 2010, 06:24:00 AM
I appreciate the replies, but I still believe there is much value in this exercise.  I first tried it with hops, then with spices, with good success.  IMO, knowing how malts really taste on their own is crucial to knowing how they react in a recipe.  On the other hand, however, how they react with other malts has to be very important.  Cumin, for example, to my taste works well with beef, but not so well with chicken.
My original question was about the caramel (crystal), let's just call them C malts, and why they taste so much like prune and molasses.  I was really surprised by that.  The other malts haven't taken me by surprise near as much as the C's.  Maybe, that's just the way the C's are.  If so, it probably explains why some of my early stouts tasted way too much like molasses.  Come to think of it, I stopped using C malts in Black Ale and Lagers quite awhile ago.  Maybe now I know why.  Maybe there just isn't much true caramel flavor in the C malts.
I've shortened the process somewhat, to about a 1/2 hour steep and 15 minute boil, for speed's sake, and I like the idea of the French Press, but haven't tried it yet.  Anyway, cheers!
Title: Re: Testing Sample Malts
Post by: micahepic on December 21, 2010, 11:44:37 PM
I've tended to get the "darker" fruit flavors primarily from those malts and the caramel hint only comes through after the conditioning process. But it may be you'll have to revert (settle?) to using 10L & 20L to get a bit more of that smooth caramel.
Hey euge ive been trying recipe formulate an all grain hoppy red & get that desired red appearance without the darker fruit or burnt caramel flavor. So what ive done is used 60c with a pinch of roasted barley. I've done this lessen the burnt caramel flavor from the usual 80c used in reds and have ended up with a more coppery only slightly red appearance. Any ideas?   
Title: Re: Testing Sample Malts
Post by: euge on December 22, 2010, 08:27:21 AM
Maybe this? http://www.homebrewtalk.com/wiki/index.php/CaraRed (http://www.homebrewtalk.com/wiki/index.php/CaraRed)
Title: Re: Testing Sample Malts
Post by: gordonstrong on December 22, 2010, 01:21:26 PM
To get real red,  you have to use a small bit of black.  Otherwise, you're just getting shades of yellow-brown.  If it isn't red enough, steep a little black (any of the darker grains/malts) to adjust it.
Title: Re: Testing Sample Malts
Post by: micahepic on December 24, 2010, 03:22:24 AM
To get real red,  you have to use a small bit of black.  Otherwise, you're just getting shades of yellow-brown.  If it isn't red enough, steep a little black (any of the darker grains/malts) to adjust it.
[/quote  I used roasted barley maybe i didnt use enough, thanks though for the feedback.