Author Topic: IPA's and Caramel Malts  (Read 4540 times)

Offline pehlman

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IPA's and Caramel Malts
« on: November 06, 2012, 06:52:47 PM »
So it's no secret that American IPA brewers nowadays (especially here on the west coast) seem to shun the use of much, if any, caramel malts in their IPA's. Many of the the best IPA brewers (Vinnie Cilurzo and Matt Brynildson to name a few) have been very open about their dislike of crystal/caramel malts paired along side american hops.

However...

As I sit here drinking a delicious glass of Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale, it has gotten me thinking. How do they seem to do it so well where as everyone else seems be going so far the other way? Just this season alone, having tried the Celebration Ale, Northern Hemisphere Harvest Ale, Estate Ale, and even a classic like Torpedo... I am SO impressed and intrigued by how well they get that combo of crystal malts and american hops to work together.

Any thoughts???
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Offline jamminbrew

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Re: IPA's and Caramel Malts
« Reply #1 on: November 06, 2012, 07:29:18 PM »
I think in small amounts, it works well. For a 5 gallon batch, I use 10 lbs of 2-row, 1 lb of crystal 20, and 1/2 lb of carapils.  Along with the combination of Citra, Simcoe, and Amarillo hops, I won gold at the Colorado state fair. The malt flavor is present, but in the background. I think this combo works well for me.  But really, homebrewing is about what you like, regardless of what others think is or isn't the proper recipe. If you like it, use it.
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Offline dimik

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Re: IPA's and Caramel Malts
« Reply #2 on: November 06, 2012, 07:47:17 PM »
The best IIPA I never made had 10# 2-row, 3# munich, 1# C60 and 1# sugar. Ton of Cascade, Centennial and Summit. Not pale at all, but just a perfect balance of delicious malt and a blast of hops playing together like a symphony. 166 IUB btw...
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Offline euge

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Re: IPA's and Caramel Malts
« Reply #3 on: November 06, 2012, 07:47:59 PM »
I'm not a big fan of crystal malt either but 10L works well with Columbus and Cascade IMO. Still I would restrict the 10L to no more than 5%.
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Offline a10t2

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Re: IPA's and Caramel Malts
« Reply #4 on: November 06, 2012, 10:14:43 PM »
I think the key is to select a good flavorful crystal malt, and use no more than necessary. A good medium (50ish SRM) UK crystal is my go-to for pale ales. 4% in my IPA.
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Offline pehlman

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Re: IPA's and Caramel Malts
« Reply #5 on: November 07, 2012, 02:22:16 AM »
I think the key is to select a good flavorful crystal malt, and use no more than necessary. A good medium (50ish SRM) UK crystal is my go-to for pale ales. 4% in my IPA.

That great that you say that... For instance... Sierra Nevada's recipe for Celebration Ale uses about 11-12% of a medium UK crystal malt, which sounds like a lot. At least a lot more than most people would want to use these days in what we now call IPA.

My theory for why it works for them... That chunk of caramel malt is the only other thing in the grain bill besides their 2-row base malt. So maybe its the simplicity of the recipe that allows it to work so well???

I know there are no black and white, 2+2=4 answers here. Im just trying to get opinions. Im just so fascinated by how much they seem to keep things "old school" and against what many brewers seem to be going away from. Yet, they are still arguably one of the best breweries to be producing hoppy beers right now.
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Offline dimik

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Re: IPA's and Caramel Malts
« Reply #6 on: November 07, 2012, 05:17:22 AM »
Probably depends on your own tastes and what you like.
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Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: IPA's and Caramel Malts
« Reply #7 on: November 07, 2012, 05:51:44 AM »
Then there is Gordon Strong's statement that he thinks Maris Otter does not go well with "C" hops. Read that on in print not too long ago and chuckled, but please don't ask me where that was in print.

It all comes down to what you like flavor wise in your beer.
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Offline davidgzach

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Re: IPA's and Caramel Malts
« Reply #8 on: November 07, 2012, 06:18:40 AM »
It all comes down to what you like flavor wise in your beer.
+1000
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Offline mmitchem

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Re: IPA's and Caramel Malts
« Reply #9 on: November 07, 2012, 06:30:21 AM »
+ eleventy billion

Brew to taste, sir! If you like the MO malt quality paired with the "C" hops, go for it! The crystal thing - everything in moderation. See how the crystal affects the beer as a whole. I think that the big goal in an American IPA is to make sure that the hops stay firmly planted in the foreground. Don't let the malt steal its thunder. I only use around 2.5% light crystal in mine for instance. Just a touch of complexity and a little color addition. Nothing fancy, but nothing completely one dimensional either. Others go a little heavier on the crystal malts, but I like the way just a little works with the entire beer.   
« Last Edit: November 07, 2012, 06:33:36 AM by mmitchem »
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Offline Pawtucket Patriot

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Re: IPA's and Caramel Malts
« Reply #10 on: November 07, 2012, 06:41:18 AM »
I've been using 6% British caramalt in my house IPA for the past year and I love it.  I definitely like a small amount of crystal malt in my AIPAs.  Brew to taste!
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Offline erockrph

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Re: IPA's and Caramel Malts
« Reply #11 on: November 07, 2012, 06:57:46 AM »
It all comes down to what you like flavor wise in your beer.

Bingo. I've had a lot of commercial IPA's with too much crystal, and I grew up on Harpoon IPA which doesn't use any. I like my IPA's dry and crisp, but that's just how my palate developed.

I do like some background malt complexity in an IPA, but I prefer to get it from things like Munich, Victory, MO, etc., instead of crystal.
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Offline mabrungard

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Re: IPA's and Caramel Malts
« Reply #12 on: November 07, 2012, 07:04:26 AM »
I just checked several of my successful and unsuccessful hop focused beers and found the following. 

In general, I keep the 'colored' crystal malt content in the 4 to 7% range.  I also note that the 'non-colored' crystal (aka: dextrin or carapils) malts don't seem to have too much effect on cloying or flavor-clouding perceptions.  For instance, I have a very nice PA with 5% C40 and 5%Dex than I find is still quite pleasant. 

I have experimented with PA and IPA recipes with varying percentages of C60, Dex, munich, aromatic, and biscuit malts.  In no case did any of those individual malts exceed 5%, but the sum of those malts approached 20%.  The malt character of those beers was pleasant and complex, but I found it clearly clashed with the hopping the bittering.  I find that a more singular note in the malt flavor is needed to avoid that clash and to allow the hops and bittering to shine. 
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Offline mmitchem

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Re: IPA's and Caramel Malts
« Reply #13 on: November 07, 2012, 07:10:39 AM »
I just checked several of my successful and unsuccessful hop focused beers and found the following. 

In general, I keep the 'colored' crystal malt content in the 4 to 7% range.  I also note that the 'non-colored' crystal (aka: dextrin or carapils) malts don't seem to have too much effect on cloying or flavor-clouding perceptions.  For instance, I have a very nice PA with 5% C40 and 5%Dex than I find is still quite pleasant. 

I have experimented with PA and IPA recipes with varying percentages of C60, Dex, munich, aromatic, and biscuit malts.  In no case did any of those individual malts exceed 5%, but the sum of those malts approached 20%.  The malt character of those beers was pleasant and complex, but I found it clearly clashed with the hopping the bittering.  I find that a more singular note in the malt flavor is needed to avoid that clash and to allow the hops and bittering to shine.

Hi Martin!

In your opinion, can brewing water additions such as calcium sulfate and possibly even mash pH adjustment (in the 5.2-ish range) help to enhance the hop flavor and make the malt profile more subdued in these heavy-crystal IPA's?
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Offline kylekohlmorgen

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Re: IPA's and Caramel Malts
« Reply #14 on: November 07, 2012, 07:42:30 AM »
I just checked several of my successful and unsuccessful hop focused beers and found the following. 

In general, I keep the 'colored' crystal malt content in the 4 to 7% range.  I also note that the 'non-colored' crystal (aka: dextrin or carapils) malts don't seem to have too much effect on cloying or flavor-clouding perceptions.  For instance, I have a very nice PA with 5% C40 and 5%Dex than I find is still quite pleasant. 

I have experimented with PA and IPA recipes with varying percentages of C60, Dex, munich, aromatic, and biscuit malts.  In no case did any of those individual malts exceed 5%, but the sum of those malts approached 20%.  The malt character of those beers was pleasant and complex, but I found it clearly clashed with the hopping the bittering.  I find that a more singular note in the malt flavor is needed to avoid that clash and to allow the hops and bittering to shine.

Hi Martin!

In your opinion, can brewing water additions such as calcium sulfate and possibly even mash pH adjustment (in the 5.2-ish range) help to enhance the hop flavor and make the malt profile more subdued in these heavy-crystal IPA's?

If you want more 'subdued' malt profile - why don't you just add less character malt?
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