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General Category => All Grain Brewing => Topic started by: pehlman on August 18, 2011, 10:17:09 PM

Title: Adding Dark Malts at Vorlauf?
Post by: pehlman on August 18, 2011, 10:17:09 PM
I just got Gordon Strong's latest book (Brewing Better Beer) and he mentions adding the dark and roasted grains at the end of the mash during the vorlauf. I understand the concept, and how mashing without them keeps the water pH easier to control, as well as how you can get less harshness and tannins. But my question is with actually executing this...

Do you just add your dark grains to the top of the mash and run the vorlauf right over it? Or are you actually stirring these grains in there and then recirculating the wort? I think in my head I just imagine this not extracting that much color and flavor from the grains. But then again, I haven't actually tried it yet! :)

PS - Im still using a cooler for a mash tun so my vorlauf just consists of lautering into a pitcher and pouring it back over to top of the grain-bed.
Title: Re: Adding Dark Malts at Vorlauf?
Post by: Pi on August 18, 2011, 10:23:02 PM
I was wondering the same thing. To add to your question, do you crush the grain or add whole?
Title: Re: Adding Dark Malts at Vorlauf?
Post by: The Professor on August 18, 2011, 10:26:24 PM
Adding the dark grains at vorlauf has been my standard procedure for more than 10 years and I can say with confidence that it does not seem to matter whether you stir the dark malts in or just let them sit on top.  I've done it both ways and it seemed to make no difference.  
So these days I just put them in and leave them alone.

I always crush the dark grains.
Title: Re: Adding Dark Malts at Vorlauf?
Post by: pehlman on August 18, 2011, 10:32:36 PM
Ok cool. I will have to give it a try one of these days! Did you still notice a good amount of flavor and color make it's way into the wort?? Or at least a difference compared to mashing with the dark malts?
Title: Re: Adding Dark Malts at Vorlauf?
Post by: Al Equihua on August 18, 2011, 11:34:52 PM
i crushed the grains too, and added at the end of vorlauf and above and get it "rinsed" just for a nice color in a brown ale...
Title: Re: Adding Dark Malts at Vorlauf?
Post by: narcout on August 20, 2011, 11:25:11 PM
I gave it try for the first time a few batches ago on a black IPA, only I added the crushed grains to the tun just before the (batch) sparge.  I got a lot of color and flavor from the grains, and the beer came out really well.  It also helped me keep my sparge pH in line.
Title: Re: Adding Dark Malts at Vorlauf?
Post by: PORTERHAUS on November 24, 2015, 04:15:19 AM
I know this is an old thread, but it's along the lines of exactly what I am wanting to ask. Gordon Strong has another book I just picked up, his recipe book. And in it more of the late mash/cool steep techniques for his dark grains and crystal malts for his recipes. I know he does this because of using RO water and very little added to it. If he didn't practice this technique, he would have a hard time with his mash ph brewing certain beers.

Anyway, besides doing so for a mash ph/brewing water aspect is the benefit worthwile? I'm fixing to brew a Porter next and I have been thinking of at least maybe holding off the Chocolate malt and Black malt until the last 15 minutes of the mash. I don't have a recirculating system, so adding the malts just before or during my vorlauf doesn't seem like it would be sufficient for the roast character needed. I'm all for limiting the acrid harshness, but the roast is an important character of say a Porter. I have no desire to cold steep or steep the dark grains seperately. My water is quite alkaline so the dark grains help my mash ph. I'm just wondering if anyone has done more of a late mash with the dark grains over a vorlauf or the other cold/seperate steep methods?

Title: Re: Adding Dark Malts at Vorlauf?
Post by: ynotbrusum on November 24, 2015, 04:26:49 AM
I have made it a habit to add a lot of the darker roast malts and even crystals (when I use them, which is rare anymore) at the end of the mash.  I like the pH control I get and it seems to mellow out the acrid tendencies of the dark roast malts and yet still allows a nice roast flavor to come through on those beers where I want it to be.  The cold steep method just seemed to use up a lot of dark malts to get the right results.

You might want to consider using RO - I start with 100% RO on all of my beers.
Title: Re: Adding Dark Malts at Vorlauf?
Post by: brewday on November 24, 2015, 04:33:37 AM
I have made it a habit to add a lot of the darker roast malts and even crystals (when I use them, which is rare anymore) at the end of the mash.  I like the pH control I get and it seems to mellow out the acrid tendencies of the dark roast malts and yet still allows a nice roast flavor to come through on those beers where I want it to be.  The cold steep method just seemed to use up a lot of dark malts to get the right results.

You might want to consider using RO - I start with 100% RO on all of my beers.

+1

This is my process/experience as well.
Title: Re: Adding Dark Malts at Vorlauf?
Post by: neddles on November 24, 2015, 05:46:01 AM
I have made it a habit to add a lot of the darker roast malts and even crystals (when I use them, which is rare anymore) at the end of the mash.  I like the pH control I get and it seems to mellow out the acrid tendencies of the dark roast malts and yet still allows a nice roast flavor to come through on those beers where I want it to be.  The cold steep method just seemed to use up a lot of dark malts to get the right results.

You might want to consider using RO - I start with 100% RO on all of my beers.
With that method, would you not have to adjust the pH twice? Once for the mash and once for the kettle? A mash pH of say 5.4 is going to give you a much lower kettle pH after you add the specialty malts (depending on quantity, obviously, and color) I start with 100% RO as well and love the control but adding the specialty malts late is still going to mess with your pH in the kettle if I am understanding your process correctly.
Title: Re: Adding Dark Malts at Vorlauf?
Post by: PORTERHAUS on November 24, 2015, 10:30:35 AM
I have made it a habit to add a lot of the darker roast malts and even crystals (when I use them, which is rare anymore) at the end of the mash.  I like the pH control I get and it seems to mellow out the acrid tendencies of the dark roast malts and yet still allows a nice roast flavor to come through on those beers where I want it to be.  The cold steep method just seemed to use up a lot of dark malts to get the right results.

You might want to consider using RO - I start with 100% RO on all of my beers.

I have used RO many times, I really have no reason to. My water is pretty good for most beer styles. It's Lake Michigan water and I can't help but think of all the craft breweries in and around the Chicagoland area that use the same water (source).

When brewers say they have tried this late mash addition, how late we talking...10-15 mins left in the boil?
Title: Re: Adding Dark Malts at Vorlauf?
Post by: brewday on November 24, 2015, 02:49:48 PM
When brewers say they have tried this late mash addition, how late we talking...10-15 mins left in the boil?

I add them at vorlauf.
Title: Re: Adding Dark Malts at Vorlauf?
Post by: blatz on November 24, 2015, 02:54:30 PM

When brewers say they have tried this late mash addition, how late we talking...10-15 mins left in the boil?

assuming you meant mash, not boil.

I fly sparge, and add right before I turn on my pump to add sparge water into the MT.
Title: Re: Adding Dark Malts at Vorlauf?
Post by: HoosierBrew on November 24, 2015, 03:03:45 PM
I'm in the minority - I mash it all together and account for it in software. Zero acrid bite.
Title: Re: Adding Dark Malts at Vorlauf?
Post by: blatz on November 24, 2015, 03:05:31 PM
I'm in the minority - I mash it all together and account for it in software. Zero acrid bite.

I should clarify.  I only do the add at sparge method for beers where I want more subtle roast - schwarzbier comes to mind (maybe since I just made one and the chocolate/roast is on point from the samples I've stolen from the keg).  Stouts, I put in the whole time and adjust my pH.
Title: Re: Adding Dark Malts at Vorlauf?
Post by: HoosierBrew on November 24, 2015, 03:24:44 PM
I'm in the minority - I mash it all together and account for it in software. Zero acrid bite.

I should clarify.  I only do the add at sparge method for beers where I want more subtle roast - schwarzbier comes to mind (maybe since I just made one and the chocolate/roast is on point from the samples I've stolen from the keg).  Stouts, I put in the whole time and adjust my pH.

As I think about it, I do throw in the Midnight Wheat @ sparge for Black IPA, since it's mostly for color. I mash the rest, though.
Title: Re: Adding Dark Malts at Vorlauf?
Post by: PORTERHAUS on November 24, 2015, 05:11:19 PM

When brewers say they have tried this late mash addition, how late we talking...10-15 mins left in the boil?

assuming you meant mash, not boil.

I fly sparge, and add right before I turn on my pump to add sparge water into the MT.

I did mean mash thank you. I just noticed that.
Title: Re: Adding Dark Malts at Vorlauf?
Post by: PORTERHAUS on November 24, 2015, 05:15:21 PM
Ill also note I havent had any issues with doing a regular mash with the dark grains. I was mostly wondering if I was missing out on something or if it was trully worth it. I can see this being more beneficial for a drak Lager or something with a lot of roast malt. In this case I think ill just aim for a slightly higher mash ph for that smoothness and at most maybe add the Black Malt with 15 min left in the mash. You know how it is...always something to try.

I appreciate the replies.
Title: Re: Adding Dark Malts at Vorlauf?
Post by: jeffy on November 24, 2015, 06:04:39 PM
It's mostly a method to keep your water adjustments the same.  If you dial in your salts with light grains and add the crystal and dark malts after conversion you can mash the same way with whatever recipe you have.  It allows you to keep the same basic mash each time.  Not such a big deal if you use a water profile program.
Title: Re: Adding Dark Malts at Vorlauf?
Post by: denny on November 24, 2015, 10:01:37 PM
I'm in the minority - I mash it all together and account for it in software. Zero acrid bite.
[/quote

Yep, same here.  Adding dark malts at vorlauf decreases or changes the flavor impact you get from them.  If that's what you want, fine.  Usually it's not what I want.
Title: Re: Adding Dark Malts at Vorlauf?
Post by: erockrph on November 24, 2015, 11:31:22 PM


I'm in the minority - I mash it all together and account for it in software. Zero acrid bite.
[/quote

Yep, same here.  Adding dark malts at vorlauf decreases or changes the flavor impact you get from them.  If that's what you want, fine.  Usually it's not what I want.

I do the same as well. My thought is that you are probably just extracting less by adding them at vorlauf. If you were to add more dark grain to make up the difference in color, you'd probably be back to a similar flavor contribution as well. I just mash it all together and adjust the quantity of roasted grain in the recipe if needed.

Sent from my XT1585 using Tapatalk

Title: Re: Adding Dark Malts at Vorlauf?
Post by: brewday on November 25, 2015, 12:14:13 AM
I use the same amounts of roasted/crystal grains I'd use if mashing, but I don't perceive a decrease or change in the actual flavor itself.  I mainly add them at vorlauf for the reasons that Jeffy mentioned.

I do like the beers better, however.  Whether it's "smoothness" or a consistent mash pH, I can't say.  But I've tried it both ways and found that I prefer the late additions.

YMMV, of course.
Title: Re: Adding Dark Malts at Vorlauf?
Post by: BrodyR on November 25, 2015, 03:17:41 AM
I think one aspect of this that should be considered is the affect on the pH of the beer itself.

I recently did a late addition with an Irish Dry Stout. After mashing at a normal pH with Marris Otter/flaked barley (new computer... don't have my old beersmith notes but I think it was around 5.3 or so) the late addition of 500l Roasted Barley brought the pH down leaving the final beer at like 3.85 or something, which is right around Guinness.

That low pH is probably a component of that tang, so to speak, some find in Guinness (and I found in my homebrew). Adding a tiny bit of baking soda to the glass brought the pH back up and created a totally different beer. While that low pH is characteristic of a dry stout it seems a lot of folks like to mash their stouts higher. 
Title: Re: Adding Dark Malts at Vorlauf?
Post by: ynotbrusum on November 25, 2015, 03:55:35 AM
I agree with Denny's point, but I prefer them to be more muted.  Admittedly, I don't do a ton of dark beers, but my dry stout turns out great with the late add process.  Again, it is about getting out of the process the results you want.
Title: Re: Adding Dark Malts at Vorlauf?
Post by: tommymorris on November 25, 2015, 04:05:06 AM
Where is the Brülosopher when we need him?
Title: Re: Adding Dark Malts at Vorlauf?
Post by: neddles on November 25, 2015, 07:00:29 AM
Ill say it for the second tome in this thread and maybe someone will listen.  If you are adding a bunch of dark/acidic malts late/vorlauf after mashing at a correct pH you will be dropping your kettle pH significantly. You would, in many cases need to adjust the pH a second time for the kettle. Just because the pH during conversion was ok that doesn't mean its going to be ok for you to screw with it after conversion. There will be an impact. #kettlepHmatters
Title: Re: Adding Dark Malts at Vorlauf?
Post by: narvin on November 25, 2015, 12:58:46 PM
Ill say it for the second tome in this thread and maybe someone will listen.  If you are adding a bunch of dark/acidic malts late/vorlauf after mashing at a correct pH you will be dropping your kettle pH significantly. You would, in many cases need to adjust the pH a second time for the kettle. Just because the pH during conversion was ok that doesn't mean its going to be ok for you to screw with it after conversion. There will be an impact. #kettlepHmatters

German brewers often lower kettle ph.  It can be beneficial to "screw with it".
Title: Re: Adding Dark Malts at Vorlauf?
Post by: neddles on November 25, 2015, 03:45:18 PM
Ill say it for the second tome in this thread and maybe someone will listen.  If you are adding a bunch of dark/acidic malts late/vorlauf after mashing at a correct pH you will be dropping your kettle pH significantly. You would, in many cases need to adjust the pH a second time for the kettle. Just because the pH during conversion was ok that doesn't mean its going to be ok for you to screw with it after conversion. There will be an impact. #kettlepHmatters

German brewers often lower kettle ph.  It can be beneficial to "screw with it".
Apparently Im not doing a good job of making my point. Yes it "can" be beneficial but I doubt that "german brewers" blindly add acidic malts at vorlauf without consideration of what the effects are on pH, boil chemistry, and flavor. Which it seems people are doing in this thread. For example if you mash an Oatmeal Stout or worse, a RIS at 5.4 and then do a late addition of all the roasted malts and/or dark crystals hoping to get a smooth roast flavor, what do you think will happen? Just because conversion happened at 5.4 doesnt mean dropping the pH (with acidic malts at vorlauf) to 5.0 in the kettle is going to be a good idea. You will ideally want to adjust your kettle pH. Again, I bring this up because it seems the folks in this thread arent taking this into consideration.
Title: Re: Adding Dark Malts at Vorlauf?
Post by: brewday on November 25, 2015, 04:33:26 PM
Ill say it for the second tome in this thread and maybe someone will listen.  If you are adding a bunch of dark/acidic malts late/vorlauf after mashing at a correct pH you will be dropping your kettle pH significantly. You would, in many cases need to adjust the pH a second time for the kettle. Just because the pH during conversion was ok that doesn't mean its going to be ok for you to screw with it after conversion. There will be an impact. #kettlepHmatters

German brewers often lower kettle ph.  It can be beneficial to "screw with it".
Apparently Im not doing a good job of making my point. Yes it "can" be beneficial but I doubt that "german brewers" blindly add acidic malts at vorlauf without consideration of what the effects are on pH, boil chemistry, and flavor. Which it seems people are doing in this thread. For example if you mash an Oatmeal Stout or worse, a RIS at 5.4 and then do a late addition of all the roasted malts and/or dark crystals hoping to get a smooth roast flavor, what do you think will happen? Just because conversion happened at 5.4 doesnt mean dropping the pH (with acidic malts at vorlauf) to 5.0 in the kettle is going to be a good idea. You will ideally want to adjust your kettle pH. Again, I bring this up because it seems the folks in this thread arent taking this into consideration.

5.4 is your number, not mine.  I target a higher mash pH.
Title: Re: Adding Dark Malts at Vorlauf?
Post by: denny on November 25, 2015, 04:35:15 PM
Where is the Brülosopher when we need him?

This is the kind of thing you need to test and decide for yourself.  No one else can tell what your tastes are.
Title: Re: Adding Dark Malts at Vorlauf?
Post by: HoosierBrew on November 25, 2015, 04:37:31 PM
This is the kind of thing you need to test and decide for yourself.  No one else can tell what your tastes are.

This ^
Title: Re: Adding Dark Malts at Vorlauf?
Post by: brewday on November 25, 2015, 04:43:29 PM
This is the kind of thing you need to test and decide for yourself.  No one else can tell what your tastes are.

This ^

+2
Title: Adding Dark Malts at Vorlauf?
Post by: tommymorris on November 25, 2015, 05:02:10 PM
Where is the Brülosopher when we need him?

This is the kind of thing you need to test and decide for yourself.  No one else can tell what your tastes are.
I was thinking an exbeeriment where roasted malts for a dark beer are added for the whole mash versus just at vorlauf.  It would be interesting to see if a sample of tasters could tell the difference between the two beers.
Title: Re: Adding Dark Malts at Vorlauf?
Post by: HoosierBrew on November 25, 2015, 05:14:22 PM
Where is the Brülosopher when we need him?

This is the kind of thing you need to test and decide for yourself.  No one else can tell what your tastes are.
I was thinking an exbeeriment where roasted malts for a dark beer are added for the whole mash versus just at vorlauf.  It would be interesting to see if a sample of tasters could tell the difference between the two beers.


I think they'd definitely be able to tell a difference either way, but pH would be huge in which ones were preferred. If they were both mashed @ 5.4, the 'add at sparge beer' might be preferred. If the 'all mashed together' beer were mashed @ 5.6, the results might well be different. It'd be interesting to see.
Title: Re: Adding Dark Malts at Vorlauf?
Post by: tommymorris on November 25, 2015, 05:15:55 PM
I mash all my grains together for the whole mash. I find this thread  thought provoking though.
Title: Re: Adding Dark Malts at Vorlauf?
Post by: denny on November 25, 2015, 05:55:17 PM
Where is the Brülosopher when we need him?

This is the kind of thing you need to test and decide for yourself.  No one else can tell what your tastes are.
I was thinking an exbeeriment where roasted malts for a dark beer are added for the whole mash versus just at vorlauf.  It would be interesting to see if a sample of tasters could tell the difference between the two beers.

If they couldn't, I'd worry....
Title: Re: Adding Dark Malts at Vorlauf?
Post by: chumley on November 25, 2015, 06:47:40 PM
Where is the Brülosopher when we need him?

This is the kind of thing you need to test and decide for yourself.  No one else can tell what your tastes are.

That's pretty much what I think regarding the other thread about hiring professional judges to tell you how to tweak your recipes. ;)
Title: Re: Adding Dark Malts at Vorlauf?
Post by: homoeccentricus on November 25, 2015, 07:35:11 PM
Where is the Brülosopher when we need him?

This is the kind of thing you need to test and decide for yourself.  No one else can tell what your tastes are.
I was thinking an exbeeriment where roasted malts for a dark beer are added for the whole mash versus just at vorlauf.  It would be interesting to see if a sample of tasters could tell the difference between the two beers.

If they couldn't, I'd worry....

Three of us in Belgium brewed the same base beer for a Supplication clone. A double-ish ale with 5% Carafa Special III. I was the only one who added that Gordonesquely in Vorlauf. The difference was very clear: mine was not only lighter in color but also less roasty. Not better or worse, just different. I would probably not do it for a heavy stout, but for this beer I liked it.

BTW, 2 of us brewed the beer with Wyeast #3787, the 3rd one used yeast he had gone to fetch at the Westmalle brewery itself. The difference was spectacular....
Title: Re: Adding Dark Malts at Vorlauf?
Post by: erockrph on November 25, 2015, 08:22:09 PM
Three of us in Belgium brewed the same base beer for a Supplication clone. A double-ish ale with 5% Carafa Special III. I was the only one who added that Gordonesquely in Vorlauf. The difference was very clear: mine was not only lighter in color but also less roasty. Not better or worse, just different. I would probably not do it for a heavy stout, but for this beer I liked it.
This is what I was getting at when I mentioned lower extraction. If the other brewers used a lower amount of Carafa and mashed it to end up at the same color as your beer with the grains added at vorlauf, would the flavor difference still be there? I'm leaning stongly towards "no" on this.
Title: Re: Adding Dark Malts at Vorlauf?
Post by: homoeccentricus on November 25, 2015, 08:45:55 PM
This is what I was getting at when I mentioned lower extraction. If the other brewers used a lower amount of Carafa and mashed it to end up at the same color as your beer with the grains added at vorlauf, would the flavor difference still be there? I'm leaning stongly towards "no" on this.
I agree, the difference was not outspoken. The biggest differences were the fresh Westmalle yeast vs the Wyeast, and the fact that my beer was a bit sweeter.
Title: Re: Adding Dark Malts at Vorlauf?
Post by: brewday on November 25, 2015, 10:14:33 PM
Three of us in Belgium brewed the same base beer for a Supplication clone. A double-ish ale with 5% Carafa Special III. I was the only one who added that Gordonesquely in Vorlauf. The difference was very clear: mine was not only lighter in color but also less roasty. Not better or worse, just different. I would probably not do it for a heavy stout, but for this beer I liked it.
This is what I was getting at when I mentioned lower extraction. If the other brewers used a lower amount of Carafa and mashed it to end up at the same color as your beer with the grains added at vorlauf, would the flavor difference still be there? I'm leaning stongly towards "no" on this.

The fact that the color was off leads me to believe there's a difference in the process we're talking about.  The color should be the same.  These grains don't really need conversion, so it's just a matter of contact time, right?

When I add the dark grains (crushed of course) I give them a good stir and allow them to steep for a bit.  Fifteen minutes or so of contact time seems to work fine.  I do this for both batch sparge and no-sparge.

For those who brew or have brewed extract batches, how is this any different?  It's an honest question as I've only brewed all-grain.  When I look at NB Stout and Porter extract w/specialty kits, they all have the same instruction - allow dark grains to steep for 20 minutes or until temp reaches 170°, then discard.

The equivalent all-grain recipes all include exactly the same amount of roasted grains.  Are the extract beers supposed to come out lighter in color and flavor?
Title: Re: Adding Dark Malts at Vorlauf?
Post by: S. cerevisiae on November 25, 2015, 11:02:30 PM
I fly sparge

I knew that there was a reason why I liked you, Paul.  Great minds continuous sparge. :)
Title: Re: Adding Dark Malts at Vorlauf?
Post by: klickitat jim on November 26, 2015, 12:06:34 AM
When I heard Strong talk about this on whatever poscast, I remember him pointing out that when you brew with extract you don't put specialty grains in the mash, you steep them. Ergo, steeping is better because extract brewers do it, I guess. I listened to the whole interview but never really bought in to the theory.

I mash everything. One simple water calculation. If I dont want acrid I dont use it. Simple as that.
Title: Re: Adding Dark Malts at Vorlauf?
Post by: PrettyBeard on November 26, 2015, 03:11:59 AM
Three of us in Belgium brewed the same base beer for a Supplication clone. A double-ish ale with 5% Carafa Special III. I was the only one who added that Gordonesquely in Vorlauf. The difference was very clear: mine was not only lighter in color but also less roasty. Not better or worse, just different. I would probably not do it for a heavy stout, but for this beer I liked it.
This is what I was getting at when I mentioned lower extraction. If the other brewers used a lower amount of Carafa and mashed it to end up at the same color as your beer with the grains added at vorlauf, would the flavor difference still be there? I'm leaning stongly towards "no" on this.

The fact that the color was off leads me to believe there's a difference in the process we're talking about.  The color should be the same.  These grains don't really need conversion, so it's just a matter of contact time, right?

When I add the dark grains (crushed of course) I give them a good stir and allow them to steep for a bit.  Fifteen minutes or so of contact time seems to work fine.  I do this for both batch sparge and no-sparge.

For those who brew or have brewed extract batches, how is this any different?  It's an honest question as I've only brewed all-grain.  When I look at NB Stout and Porter extract w/specialty kits, they all have the same instruction - allow dark grains to steep for 20 minutes or until temp reaches 170°, then discard.

The equivalent all-grain recipes all include exactly the same amount of roasted grains.  Are the extract beers supposed to come out lighter in color and flavor?

What I've done, in the past, is add specialty grains to my cold water.  Steep them for the whole heating cycle, and remove when I get up to ~170.  I'm probably weird, but Grandma said add to cold water when you want to extract flavors.  I even got an 85% extraction on 3.5# of Oak Smoked Wheat when I added it to a dunkelweizen kit with this method.