Author Topic: S. cerevisiae, why do you hate Crystal malts?  (Read 9512 times)

Offline majorvices

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Re: S. cerevisiae, why do you hate Crystal malts?
« Reply #15 on: September 14, 2014, 06:54:29 am »
Keith you and I have been around for a while, so we know why crystal malt is overused in craft and home brewing; namely, the lack of quality extract and base malts in the early days of the movement (i.e., the amateur brewers of yesteryear are the craft brewers of today). Back in the bad old days, crystal malt was used to doctor less than fresh extract and to add flavor to the major base malt that was available to amateur brewers; namely, American 2-row, which, in my humble opinion, is the Melba toast/tofu of the 2-row world.  Somehow, that work around morphed into standard practice after the base malts that amateur and early craft brewers were attempting to simulate became available.

I guess I always thought it was because homebrewers had a tendency to think craft beer should have a lot of body, so they always mashed higher and added too much crystal malt.

I also always thought it was because most brewers start off as extract brewers and they want to use some real grain in the process and since crystal malt doesn't have to be mashed that it was called for in every reciep and carried over to all grain.

I use 15% of crystal in one of my recipe. You would never known. Depends how you use it and what it is used for.

Hey, so do I! I'm not saying it can't be done. Depends on how you use it. But most of the times I don't think a beer needs over 5% crystal malt.

I'm not saying stay away from crystal malt I just think it has tended to be over used in the past - and it seems like novice brewers tend to throw it in everything.

Online tommymorris

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Re: S. cerevisiae, why do you hate Crystal malts?
« Reply #16 on: September 14, 2014, 07:54:15 am »

I'm not saying stay away from crystal malt I just think it has tended to be over used in the past - and it seems like novice brewers tend to throw it in everything.
I did. Caramel is in almost every extract kit.

Offline dcb

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Re: S. cerevisiae, why do you hate Crystal malts?
« Reply #17 on: September 14, 2014, 07:59:56 am »
My latest IPA had 9.2% Crystal 30 and I like it.  Perhaps when my palate gets more educated I'll start agreeing.

If you like it, that part of the discussion is ended.  My favorite part of all this is being able to get beer that tastes the way I want it.

That said, this made me go back through my logs.  Based almost purely on my reading in this forum, I've gone from my first recipe being 11% crystal to my most recent being 4% plus 12% Munich.  And I feel like every batch is better than the one before.   If anything, I'll up the Munich in the future.

To my palate, the over-use of hops is at least as big a problem as the overuse of crystal.  I'm getting real tired of going into a shop or bar and seeing half the offerings be 90 IBU IPAs.   It's a big world out there, and I want to taste more of it.

Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: S. cerevisiae, why do you hate Crystal malts?
« Reply #18 on: September 14, 2014, 08:12:30 am »
Crystal in my Pils, no way.

Crystal in my Ordinary Bitter, yes please.

As Denny says, just a tool and use it for the right application. I will be a contrarian and say that Maris Otter is over used. It doesn't belong in everything.
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Offline klickitat jim

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Re: S. cerevisiae, why do you hate Crystal malts?
« Reply #19 on: September 14, 2014, 09:07:10 am »
The cool thing about brewing is that you can do whatever you want. If you want a 100% crystal 120 beer, go for it. You might need to pitch brett lacto and pedio and give it a year or two to finish, but dont let anyone tell you you cant.

If you hate crystal and all people who use it, well cool. Its your beer, your palate, your opinion. Rock it!

The trick is when we confuse experimental or personal tastes with brewing to style. The conversation usually goes like this. "My IPA has 15% crystal 10." ---- "You dont want to use more than 5%"    or "You can't use that much crystal."

How do we know what someone we've never met wants? And what law says they can't? Maybe, typically they dont... or, if you're brewing to style that might...

Anyway, if someone hates crystal thats fine by me. You can still be my friend, so long as you don't use carapils. People who use carapils are evil and should be banned.

Offline tress

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Re: S. cerevisiae, why do you hate Crystal malts?
« Reply #20 on: September 14, 2014, 09:15:35 am »
I love (most of the time) the way this forum runs.  I use Crystal malts in nearly every beer I brew but this brings up an interesting point.  Maybe, I'll try brewing without it (or use an UK brand) once to see if I can "taste" what the controversy is about.

Taste is also subjective.  I was tasting a beer yesterday at the Great Lakes Brew Festival (Racine, WI) and I tasted onion from a hop (probably Summit).  The others I was with thought I was crazy.

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Re: S. cerevisiae, why do you hate Crystal malts?
« Reply #21 on: September 14, 2014, 10:04:46 am »
I use 15% of crystal in one of my recipe. You would never known. Depends how you use it and what it is used for.

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Re: S. cerevisiae, why do you hate Crystal malts?
« Reply #22 on: September 14, 2014, 10:07:27 am »
This is the conversation I was hoping for.  I have heard smattering comments about the overuse of crystal malts for some time, and was curious. 

I have yet to taste a beer that I thought was too sweet, but I have a sweet tooth for sure.  Often what makes any recipe pop for me is adding either sugar or salt.  Doubtless I am a typical American conditioned to lots of both... and I'm OK with that until the Doc says I'm not.

My latest IPA had 9.2% Crystal 30 and I like it.  Perhaps when my palate gets more educated I'll start agreeing.  When Denny was in town I asked him to evaluate a couple of beers.  He tasted this IPA and didn't mention too much crystal... but he is a very nice guy.

Steve, one thing I'll say is that crystal malt only adds sweetness to a beer if you don't balance it out with hops.  When I use crystal, I use it for flavor, not sweetness.  I think the reason I didn't mention to much crystal in that beer is becasue it didn't taste like it.  And you KNOW I'm not that nice!  ;)
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Re: S. cerevisiae, why do you hate Crystal malts?
« Reply #23 on: September 14, 2014, 10:09:16 am »
I will be a contrarian and say that Maris Otter is over used. It doesn't belong in everything.

3 cheers for Jeff!  I can't believe the number of homebrewers who toss MO into everything!  I don't think I've used it in over 15 years.
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Re: S. cerevisiae, why do you hate Crystal malts?
« Reply #24 on: September 14, 2014, 10:41:50 am »
Steve, one thing I'll say is that crystal malt only adds sweetness to a beer if you don't balance it out with hops.

Body comes into play there too. 8% crystal malt and 82% ADF is a typical pale ale grist for me, and while I may get some comments on it not being hoppy enough, I don't think anyone has ever called it too sweet.
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Offline HoosierBrew

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Re: S. cerevisiae, why do you hate Crystal malts?
« Reply #25 on: September 14, 2014, 12:29:29 pm »
I tasted onion from a hop (probably Summit).  The others I was with thought I was crazy.


Oh no, you're not crazy. Summit CAN have a really nice tangerine-y character - but it seems to often have a putrid onion/garlic character that a few of us here cannot stand in addition to that. I've read and heard that the time that the hops are harvested, the time you use them in the boil, if you do/don't dry hop, and maybe just the soil (terroir) conditions can all factor into that unpleasant character. Personally, I feel there are too many great hops (more new varieties every year) to waste time on a hop with that issue. I know some use it with success though.
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Re: S. cerevisiae, why do you hate Crystal malts?
« Reply #26 on: September 14, 2014, 12:35:40 pm »
I just learned an interesting fact at Hop&Brew School...onion/garlic character can often be attributed to harvesting the hops too late.  That could explain why some people see it with summit and some don't.
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Offline HoosierBrew

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Re: S. cerevisiae, why do you hate Crystal malts?
« Reply #27 on: September 14, 2014, 12:52:34 pm »
I just learned an interesting fact at Hop&Brew School...onion/garlic character can often be attributed to harvesting the hops too late.  That could explain why some people see it with summit and some don't.

Good to hear the feedback on that, Denny. I wish it could be a boil related thing, so I could figure out where it's good and where it's bad. With the harvest you just don't know unless you picked them yourself. The 'good' Summit I've had was really good, but I had a few Summit beers that were like onion soup. Frustrating !
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Offline erockrph

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Re: S. cerevisiae, why do you hate Crystal malts?
« Reply #28 on: September 14, 2014, 02:39:28 pm »
I've been lucky to come into the hobby in recent years. Most of the problems with lack of quality ingredients just aren't a problem any more. Unfortunately, a lot of the information that is pervasive in the hobby is just as stale as that pack of Munton's yeast taped to the old school extract kits. I think the opinions on Crystal malt are one of these issues.

When I first started brewing, the recipes and kits I used always included Crystal malts. When I started working on my own recipes, I started operating on the premise "A lot of commercial beers are too sweet for my tastes. Crystal malt makes beer sweet. Crystal malt is the enemy and I must keep it out of my beer at any cost." And as a steeped malt that may certainly be the case.

Then I started brewing a lot of session beers and English ales. And I realized that crystal malts aren't making my beers cloyingly sweet. I really think that if you mash Crystal malt, then the amount of sweetness they add is a lot less than is commonly attributed to them. I really think that a lot of overly sweet beers are more from attenuation and fermentation issues than Crystal malts themselves. If you leave some residual sweetness in the beer, then that crystal malt character is going to jump right out. But in a fully attenuated beer, that crystal character doesn't seem all that sweet to me.

TL;DR - I've come full circle on Crystal malt. I don't necessarily feel the need to add it to everything, but I'm not afraid of it. I particularly enjoy the European Crystal malts (UK Crystal, and Belgian and German Cara- malts).
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Offline erockrph

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Re: S. cerevisiae, why do you hate Crystal malts?
« Reply #29 on: September 14, 2014, 02:41:19 pm »
I am sorry to disappoint you, but it's a personal preference.  Crystal malt screams "artificially flavored" to my taste buds.  It's the craft beer equivalent of using caramel coloring in American Dark Lager.
What about using it in English Ales? I know it's used in Old Peculier, and I wouldn't be surprised to hear that it's fairly common practice across the pond.
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