Author Topic: Sinamar: Not the Right Coloring Agent for a Black IPA  (Read 2832 times)

Offline skyler

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Sinamar: Not the Right Coloring Agent for a Black IPA
« on: May 24, 2013, 11:06:46 AM »
I have been drinking and brewing Black IPAs since before the naming controversy had left the Portland beer blogosphere and before anyone had gotten tired of the style. I have brewed several different recipes and had different "takes" on the style (more crystal, less crystal, adding wheat, English yeast, etc...). But the one constant for me was that I used Carafa Special II as the coloring agent in the beer and I always added it at sparge (I am a batch sparger, fwiw). In some cases, I used more or less Carafa and sometimes the sparge water was as cool as 120 degrees or as warm as 170, but that was always how I did it. This time, I wanted to try sinamar, so I did the math and 2 bottles (8 oz total) was the amount to use to get my IPA from Pale to Black. I added it at the beginning of the boil.

Awful idea. The color is about 10 SRM lighter than calculated; it is more of a dark brown than black, probably 25 SRM or so (not exactly out-of-style, but not my preferred black). And the subtle but pleasant roasty oreo-cookie note I am used to getting from the boatload of carafa? Not there. The smooth texture and head retention I get from the addition of 16-24 oz of Carafa? Not there. Instead of building a beer that goes where regular IPA can't, I just have a really dark IPA. I consider this a failed experiment. It is still a decent beer, but I was hoping to get a more consistent coloration from the sinamar and expecting it to contribute SOME roasty flavor. Instead, it just makes it taste like I used a darker crystal than I did.

Offline mtnrockhopper

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Re: Sinamar: Not the Right Coloring Agent for a Black IPA
« Reply #1 on: May 24, 2013, 11:42:21 AM »
I'm guessing that's exactly what it's supposed to do ... add color and nothing else.  Do you think the color difference is due to wort loss from kettle to fermenter? (Like if you calculated for 5 gallons but put it in 5.5 and lost 0.5, that would be a 10% dilution). Or is that not the case.  Either way, I have no plans to use it.
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Offline skyler

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Re: Sinamar: Not the Right Coloring Agent for a Black IPA
« Reply #2 on: May 24, 2013, 12:43:06 PM »
I calculated for wort loss. It saus each bottle should add 20 SRM to a 5.5 gallon batch of beer. I added two bottles to a 6.5 gallon (including wort lost to hops/kettle) batch and ended up with a ~25 SRM beer. Without any coloring agent, the beer should have been 7-8 SRM, so I really think that either my LHBS shorted me on Sinamar or that the substance just doesn't provide the color it says.

I ended up adding a whole extra bottle to the keg because I was so annoyed. According to my brewing software, I should be over 50 SRM now, but I am in the high thirties/low fourties (black, but not inky). So now I have it where I want it, though I had to add 50% more of the stuff than I would have wanted. Additionally, there is now some coffee notes to the flavor that weren't there before. I call it an improvement. 

I rinsed out the bottle and added the black rinse-water to a rye bread dough I am going to bake tomorrow - it looked like I got pretty good color out of that, at least.

Offline skyler

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Re: Sinamar: Not the Right Coloring Agent for a Black IPA
« Reply #3 on: May 24, 2013, 02:03:41 PM »
The beer improved a tremendous amount in almost every way after I added that extra bottle. So I will say this about the stuff (used in very high quantities):

  • Sinamar adds probably 3.5 SRM per ounce per 5.5 gal batch of beer, not the 5 SRM that is advertised.
  • Sinamar does not noticeably contribute to body the way roasted malt does
  • Sinamar provides a VERY LITTLE amount of roasted malt flavor - which can make your light crystal taste like dark crystal
  • Sinamar is more expensive than dark malts
  • Sinamar can be added to the keg

All in all, I would now consider Sinamar more of a "back up" or "fixer" than an ideal ingredient in most applications. I certainly see how it would be great to use some of the stuff to "fix" a malty pale ale by magically turning it into an Amber Ale, or to "fix" a roasty amber ale by turning it into a Brown Ale. But the flavor contribution of Sinamar in high quantities is potent enough to cause me not to want to use it in the traditional way (Schwartbier and Munich Dunkel) because the flavor just isn't as non-existent as I would want, and I find the flavor from Carafa Special malts to be superior. Also, I won't use this in a Black IPA again, except for in cases where, for some reason, I didn't get enough color and I wanted to adjust it after brewing.

Offline jeffy

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Re: Sinamar: Not the Right Coloring Agent for a Black IPA
« Reply #4 on: May 24, 2013, 02:30:16 PM »
The bigger breweries use it as a "fixer" to make sure their colors are consistent.  I have picked up empty drums of a similar product from Yuengling.  It seems they go through three drums a week just to match the color at the Tampa brewery. 
Since they are never completely empty, I drained out almost 5 gallons of the stuff after several "empty" drums were drained.  Anybody want some?  I can send it for the cost of shipping and packaging.  I mean, I have a lifetime supply for a homebrewer or three.
Jeff Gladish, Tampa (989.3, 175.1 Apparent Rennarian)
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Offline tschmidlin

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Re: Sinamar: Not the Right Coloring Agent for a Black IPA
« Reply #5 on: May 24, 2013, 07:10:09 PM »
I like sinamar for making a CDA when I split a batch of IPA - one carboy gets it, one doesn't.  It works well.  But I wouldn't use it to make a batch of dark beer, I would just use malt for that.
Tom Schmidlin

Offline dmtaylor

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Re: Sinamar: Not the Right Coloring Agent for a Black IPA
« Reply #6 on: May 25, 2013, 05:41:12 AM »
I really gotta make a purple IPA sometime to demonstrate how stupid it is to have a "style" based on color alone.
Dave

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Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Sinamar: Not the Right Coloring Agent for a Black IPA
« Reply #7 on: May 25, 2013, 05:49:53 AM »
I really gotta make a purple IPA sometime to demonstrate how stupid it is to have a "style" based on color alone.
<cough> Schwartzbier?
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Offline erockrph

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Re: Sinamar: Not the Right Coloring Agent for a Black IPA
« Reply #8 on: May 25, 2013, 06:41:25 AM »
I really gotta make a purple IPA sometime to demonstrate how stupid it is to have a "style" based on color alone.
<cough> Schwartzbier?

A) I agree that color alone isn't sufficient to define a style, despite the whole "we taste with our eyes too" argument.

B) The Schwarzbiers I enjoy have enough roast character to differentiate them from something like a Dunkel.

C) The BIPA/CDA/whatever-you-want-to-call-them I enjoy are hoppier than a Robust Porter, but still have a noticeable roast character to them. I can accept "Black IPA" as a sufficient descriptor for those beers. But I've really got no use for an IPA that is simply dyed black (or red) with Sinamar.
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Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Sinamar: Not the Right Coloring Agent for a Black IPA
« Reply #9 on: May 25, 2013, 06:47:17 AM »
Brought up Schwartzbier, as some pictures of German labels say Black Pilsner (translated).
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Offline HoosierBrew

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Re: Sinamar: Not the Right Coloring Agent for a Black IPA
« Reply #10 on: May 25, 2013, 07:02:36 AM »
I really gotta make a purple IPA sometime to demonstrate how stupid it is to have a "style" based on color alone.
<cough> Schwartzbier?

A) I agree that color alone isn't sufficient to define a style, despite the whole "we taste with our eyes too" argument.

B) The Schwarzbiers I enjoy have enough roast character to differentiate them from something like a Dunkel.

C) The BIPA/CDA/whatever-you-want-to-call-them I enjoy are hoppier than a Robust Porter, but still have a noticeable roast character to them. I can accept "Black IPA" as a sufficient descriptor for those beers. But I've really got no use for an IPA that is simply dyed black (or red) with Sinamar.
+1.  BIPA should be hoppier (much hoppier IMO) than porter, a little roasty but  less so than porter. Flavorless black dye doesn't get it there.
Jon H.

Offline dmtaylor

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Re: Sinamar: Not the Right Coloring Agent for a Black IPA
« Reply #11 on: May 25, 2013, 11:45:12 AM »
Anyone ever heard of American stout?  No black food coloring required.
Dave

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Offline Thirsty_Monk

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Re: Sinamar: Not the Right Coloring Agent for a Black IPA
« Reply #12 on: May 25, 2013, 09:11:26 PM »
In my experience if you add too much sinemar you get ashy flavor.
I used it for some time but I gave up on sinemar.
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Offline rapurcell85

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Re: Sinamar: Not the Right Coloring Agent for a Black IPA
« Reply #13 on: May 26, 2013, 02:53:06 PM »
IMO, there is a difference between a Black IPA (whose name really makes no sense, a black pale ale?) And an American Stout.  The American Stout should have a fuller body and more roast character than a Black IPA, while the black IPA should have more hop character in aroma, flavor, and bitterness. I am on the side that says there should be a little roasted malt derived flavor in a Black IPA. Nothing over the top, but enough to say the real deal was used in the beer. I enjoy the character that Carafa and a small amount of chocolate malt gives to a Black IPA without crossing the line into an American Stout.

Offline fmader

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Re: Sinamar: Not the Right Coloring Agent for a Black IPA
« Reply #14 on: May 26, 2013, 04:55:54 PM »
HBB......Hoppy Black Beer
Frank