Author Topic: Strong dark Belgian ideas from mixed grains  (Read 1836 times)

Offline oregonianredbird

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Strong dark Belgian ideas from mixed grains
« on: September 11, 2013, 12:21:34 PM »
So I have a bucket of the following grains, which have already been milled and are mixed together. (Long story, but involves disastrous units conversions.)

6.38 lb pilsener malt (38.5%)
4.5 lb aromatic malt (27.1%)
4.75 lb carapils (28.7%)
0.9 lb Munich malt (5.7%)

It's obviously a ton of aromatic malt and carapils, but I want to try to salvage some of these grains. My idea is to make a Belgian quad, using half of the grains and adding another ~7 pounds of pilsener malt, a little more Munich malt, and some various Belgian candi sugars. For an OG of 1.104, I would still be at 10% carapils and 9.6% aromatic malt. (This is based very loosely on ideas for Rochefort 10 clones I've seen on a few forums.)

In general, I'm wondering if this could possibly turn into a good beer? I know the carapils is unfermentable, but it seems like it might work okay in this style. Is there something else you would recommend brewing with this odd mix of grains? All ideas welcome!

Online dmtaylor

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Re: Strong dark Belgian ideas from mixed grains
« Reply #1 on: September 11, 2013, 02:20:43 PM »
I would use a quarter of the whole mix for your quad, not half.  Beyond the quad, I would never use more than about 2 or 2.5 lbs of the mix for any standard gravity 5 gallon batch.  Otherwise it will be too heavy -- end up tasting like cherry candy or something like that.  Good idea though, still being able to use it up over time.  Keep it vacuum sealed if you must to keep it from going stale.
Dave

"This is grain, which any fool can eat, but for which the Lord intended a more divine means of consumption. Let us give praise to our Maker, and glory to His bounty, by learning about... BEER!" - Friar Tuck (Robin Hood - Prince of Thieves)

Offline oregonianredbird

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Re: Strong dark Belgian ideas from mixed grains
« Reply #2 on: September 11, 2013, 02:51:51 PM »
Do you think the heaviness/sickly sweetness would come more from the volume of crystal malt, or the fact that all of it is the same type (carapils)? I was thinking since there are recipes out there that have ~2-3 pounds of crystal malts in total (say, a combination of carapils, CaraMunich, CaraVienne, special B, for example), maybe I could get away with a larger amount of the mix.

The grains are currently in a bucket with an airtight lid, and it was nitrogen flushed prior to sealing, so hopefully isn't oxidizing too quickly.

Offline morticaixavier

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Re: Strong dark Belgian ideas from mixed grains
« Reply #3 on: September 11, 2013, 03:20:39 PM »
Do you think the heaviness/sickly sweetness would come more from the volume of crystal malt, or the fact that all of it is the same type (carapils)? I was thinking since there are recipes out there that have ~2-3 pounds of crystal malts in total (say, a combination of carapils, CaraMunich, CaraVienne, special B, for example), maybe I could get away with a larger amount of the mix.

The grains are currently in a bucket with an airtight lid, and it was nitrogen flushed prior to sealing, so hopefully isn't oxidizing too quickly.

just because there are recipes out there that use that much crystal doesn't mean it's a good idea. There is a recipe out there that uses a Whole Dead Chicken... in secondary. That's just crazy! I mean who uses secondaries anymore?  ;D
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Offline Joe Sr.

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Re: Strong dark Belgian ideas from mixed grains
« Reply #4 on: September 11, 2013, 05:17:49 PM »
I've never used more than .5 lbs of carapils in 5 gallons that I can recall.  I haven't used carapils in years, although I've been considering it as I'm not happy with my head retention these days.

That said, I think something like a BDS, quad or an imperial stout is what you want to go for to absorb those grains.  Something strong with a really high OG.

I agree, though, that using 1/4 would be a good place to start.  And hop the hell out of it.
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Online dmtaylor

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Re: Strong dark Belgian ideas from mixed grains
« Reply #5 on: September 11, 2013, 06:38:07 PM »
A quad is a bad place to use much crystal malts, period.  Belgian beers are supposed to be highly attenuated.  So you really don't want to add anything that will INCREASE the body and DECREASE attenuation.  Especially in a quad, where the OG is so high.  The yeast can only attenuate so far, percentage-wise.  You don't want to end up with a final gravity of like 1.030, right?!  So don't use much crystal malt, if at all, IMHO.

The comment about cherry candy also applies to the aromatic malt.  In high quantities, at least in my mind, aromatic malt has a certain cherry-like fruitiness that can easily get carried away.  You don't want to use too much of it.
Dave

"This is grain, which any fool can eat, but for which the Lord intended a more divine means of consumption. Let us give praise to our Maker, and glory to His bounty, by learning about... BEER!" - Friar Tuck (Robin Hood - Prince of Thieves)

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Re: Strong dark Belgian ideas from mixed grains
« Reply #6 on: September 12, 2013, 08:49:32 AM »
I've never used more than .5 lbs of carapils in 5 gallons that I can recall.  I haven't used carapils in years, although I've been considering it as I'm not happy with my head retention these days.

Carapils, wheat, or other protein laden grains are not a panacea for poor foam.  To help yo diagnose your problem, see...

http://byo.com/stories/article/indices/35-head-retention/697-getting-good-beer-foam-techniques
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Offline Joe Sr.

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Re: Strong dark Belgian ideas from mixed grains
« Reply #7 on: September 12, 2013, 08:58:31 AM »
I've never used more than .5 lbs of carapils in 5 gallons that I can recall.  I haven't used carapils in years, although I've been considering it as I'm not happy with my head retention these days.

Carapils, wheat, or other protein laden grains are not a panacea for poor foam.  To help yo diagnose your problem, see...

http://byo.com/stories/article/indices/35-head-retention/697-getting-good-beer-foam-techniques

I know.  It's a crutch for the lazy.  I was planning to throw some in my last two batches to see if it helped but, of course, I forgot.

EDIT:  As far as the article, my temps are under control, my glasses are clean, my wort is well aerated.  I may have under-pitched the last two batches, but they are also high alcohol beers so I should suspect a thinner head... 
« Last Edit: September 12, 2013, 09:02:33 AM by Joe Sr. »
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Offline erockrph

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Re: Strong dark Belgian ideas from mixed grains
« Reply #8 on: September 12, 2013, 10:16:45 AM »
I agree with the recommendations to only use about 1/4 of this mix in a 5-gallon batch. I also agree that a strong Belgian style is not the best choice with the amount of crystal malt in here. I'd maybe shoot for something more like an APA or Belgian Pale Ale as opposed to a big style that you really want to attenuate well.
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Offline oregonianredbird

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Re: Strong dark Belgian ideas from mixed grains
« Reply #9 on: September 12, 2013, 11:39:23 AM »
Great, thanks for all the thoughts and I'll definitely decrease the amount of mix I work with in any one batch... maybe I'll get the the carapils down into the 5-8% range of the total grist.

On a slightly related note (and maybe I should go look for threads on this), how much attenuation is possible with malts like Carapils or CaraMunich when mashed with a base malt? I was always under the impression they were completely unfermentable, but learned yesterday that only applies when they are steeped or mashed alone, and that the enzymes from a base malt will allow some level of conversion even in crystal malts. Is this calculable?

Offline morticaixavier

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Re: Strong dark Belgian ideas from mixed grains
« Reply #10 on: September 12, 2013, 11:59:44 AM »
Great, thanks for all the thoughts and I'll definitely decrease the amount of mix I work with in any one batch... maybe I'll get the the carapils down into the 5-8% range of the total grist.

On a slightly related note (and maybe I should go look for threads on this), how much attenuation is possible with malts like Carapils or CaraMunich when mashed with a base malt? I was always under the impression they were completely unfermentable, but learned yesterday that only applies when they are steeped or mashed alone, and that the enzymes from a base malt will allow some level of conversion even in crystal malts. Is this calculable?

I don't think that is quite right. Cara/crystal malts are more or less fully converted. The process of making cara/crystal malt is to essentially mash the whole kernel and then kiln to the desired color. The sugar is not convertible because it is already converted, otherwise they would just add starch which is not sweet at all. I have read experiments that seemed to indicate that crystal malt in the lighter color range are actually fairly fermentable while the darker ones are less so. This also has a lot to do with your choice of yeast and that yeasts ability to effectively metabolize those longer chain more complex sugars.

so in short, I don't think there is a simple rule you can follow or calculation you can perform easily.

You could build out some charts for your favorite yeast through empiric method. Mini mash a bunch of 1 quart batches with a handful of pilsner malt and varying amounts of carapils, or mix up the color crystals and do one with carapils, one with c10, c20, c40... etc.

mash all at the same temp and time and pitch the same amount of the same yeast. you get the idea
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Offline oregonianredbird

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Re: Strong dark Belgian ideas from mixed grains
« Reply #11 on: September 17, 2013, 10:04:21 PM »
So, for what it's worth, I've done a ton of reading on what various enzymes do to break down starches and dextrins, as well as the process of malting and kilning and how that converts sugars, both fermentable and unfermentable. I now realize Carapils is very different from Crystal malts - somehow (it's proprietary), Carapils ends up with a bunch of "enzyme-resistant dextrins" that cannot be broken down in the mash... but I'm not sure why. Like marticaivxavier said, Crystals do have fermentables, with progressively fewer as you get darker (having to do with the higher kilning temps).

Now I'm starting to look into whether there's a way of adding extra debranching enzymes to a mash, as I have a feeling that would enable the breakdown of certain dextrins that branch off the long glucose chains. Perhaps Carapils is full of short branching dextrins, which could become fermentable if mashed with the right enzymes. But at this point, it's more about curiosity than actually wanting to be able to create fermentables out of a dextrin malt.

As a sidenote, Brewing Science and Practice (2004 book, Dennis Briggs et al) has a ton of great information for anyone of the scientific persuasion, that doesn't mind a lot of chemistry and biochemistry. I just found it this week and have barely cracked it. Thick, but well worth skimming if you want to truly understand the science in the brew.

Offline reverseapachemaster

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Re: Strong dark Belgian ideas from mixed grains
« Reply #12 on: September 18, 2013, 07:06:12 AM »
The only style where it might make sense to use a large portion of that mix in one beer is if you plan on souring it because the brett and pedio will break down the maltodextrin from carapils. Not sure how that much aromatic would taste in a sour but the cherry note wouldn't be out of place.
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Re: Strong dark Belgian ideas from mixed grains
« Reply #13 on: September 18, 2013, 07:50:07 AM »
I've never used more than .5 lbs of carapils in 5 gallons that I can recall.  I haven't used carapils in years, although I've been considering it as I'm not happy with my head retention these days.

Carapils, wheat, or other protein laden grains are not a panacea for poor foam.  To help yo diagnose your problem, see...

http://byo.com/stories/article/indices/35-head-retention/697-getting-good-beer-foam-techniques

Really? Do you agree with this statement Denny? I've never heard about proteins getting 'used up'.
 
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Lastly, homebrewers who keg their beer should be aware that foam positive molecules can get “used up” when foam is created. Thus, if you shake your keg to carbonate it, you may be dipping into your pool of foam makers for your beer.
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Offline Joe Sr.

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Re: Strong dark Belgian ideas from mixed grains
« Reply #14 on: September 18, 2013, 09:05:48 AM »

Really? Do you agree with this statement Denny? I've never heard about proteins getting 'used up'.
 
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Lastly, homebrewers who keg their beer should be aware that foam positive molecules can get “used up” when foam is created. Thus, if you shake your keg to carbonate it, you may be dipping into your pool of foam makers for your beer.

This comes up now and again.  I've never experienced the foam positive molecules getting used up.  My recollection is that Denny's experience is similar. 

That said, the head retention in my higher alcohol beers is something I would like to improve, if possible.  After I got the carbonation dialed in on my last keg, the head retention is not bad but I'm not getting the lacing I'd like.
It's all in the reflexes. - Jack Burton