Author Topic: Brewer's caramel  (Read 1488 times)

Offline erockrph

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 6195
  • Chepachet, RI
    • View Profile
    • The Hop WHisperer
Brewer's caramel
« on: August 30, 2015, 07:00:30 PM »
I have a couple of bottles of Brewer's Caramel en route from the other side of the pond. I've been wanting to play around with it for a while. Of course, I really have no clue how to use the stuff. Outside of Ron Pattinson's vintage recipes, I can't say I've come across any recipes calling for it. I've always assumed you add it to the boil, although the site I bought it from says to add it to finished beer.

I'm thinking I'd just take a basic brown ale or ESB recipe and go from there. If I can use this post-boil, even better. That way I can split a batch 2 or 3 ways to see what happens with increasing amounts of caramel vs none.

Anyone have any insights or experience as to how I'd use it?
Eric B.

Finally got around to starting a homebrewing blog: The Hop Whisperer

Offline Phil_M

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1693
  • Southern Maryland
    • View Profile
Re: Brewer's caramel
« Reply #1 on: August 31, 2015, 12:13:23 PM »
No experience here, but be sure and post whatever you learn. I plan on trying to brew a Lee's Best Mild sometime soon, already bought some invert sugar for it.

I was planning on skipping the caramel colorant, but depending on how well it works out for you may change my mind.
Corn is a fine adjunct in beer.

And don't buy stale beer.

Offline stpug

  • Brewmaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 701
    • View Profile
Re: Brewer's caramel
« Reply #2 on: September 01, 2015, 01:48:26 AM »
I'm interested in a synopsis of the raw stuff. I followed the recipes for homemade invert #2 and brewers caramel. I believe my invert was a complete success, but the caramel has me worried. Everything I can find indicates that the raw ingredient has a "burnt sugar" smell to it and bitter/acrid flavor to it, but this isn't from a homebrewing source. I'd love to hear your thoughts when you have some in-hand.

The brewers caramel I made definitely has some of the "burnt sugar" aromas and bitter taste, BUT that's exactly what it is (the blackest you can make sugar without lighting it on fire :D). I can't imagine any way to make "black ink" sugar using heat and not end up with some highly-cooked/burnt sugar character.  Anyway, I tested some of mine in plain water and at 1/8tsp per 12oz you cannot get much (if anything from it) and I get a nice light amber color. At 1/4tsp per 12oz you get some aroma hints of toasted marshmallows, not much flavor but a hint, and the dark amber color I'm looking for. I intend on using it at the middle amount 3/16tsp per 12oz (~3 Tbsp per 5 gallons), and subbing in 1-1.5 oz of debittered black for the remaining color.

Offline erockrph

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 6195
  • Chepachet, RI
    • View Profile
    • The Hop WHisperer
Re: Brewer's caramel
« Reply #3 on: September 01, 2015, 07:14:39 PM »
I'm interested in a synopsis of the raw stuff. I followed the recipes for homemade invert #2 and brewers caramel. I believe my invert was a complete success, but the caramel has me worried. Everything I can find indicates that the raw ingredient has a "burnt sugar" smell to it and bitter/acrid flavor to it, but this isn't from a homebrewing source. I'd love to hear your thoughts when you have some in-hand.

The brewers caramel I made definitely has some of the "burnt sugar" aromas and bitter taste, BUT that's exactly what it is (the blackest you can make sugar without lighting it on fire :D). I can't imagine any way to make "black ink" sugar using heat and not end up with some highly-cooked/burnt sugar character.  Anyway, I tested some of mine in plain water and at 1/8tsp per 12oz you cannot get much (if anything from it) and I get a nice light amber color. At 1/4tsp per 12oz you get some aroma hints of toasted marshmallows, not much flavor but a hint, and the dark amber color I'm looking for. I intend on using it at the middle amount 3/16tsp per 12oz (~3 Tbsp per 5 gallons), and subbing in 1-1.5 oz of debittered black for the remaining color.
Thanks for the info. that should come in handy for a starting point for my initial experimentation.
Eric B.

Finally got around to starting a homebrewing blog: The Hop Whisperer

Offline erockrph

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 6195
  • Chepachet, RI
    • View Profile
    • The Hop WHisperer
Re: Brewer's caramel
« Reply #4 on: September 02, 2015, 06:09:38 PM »
FYI - I just got this in today. It is 33,000 EBC (~16,500 SRM), making it about 4 times as dark as Sinamar. The bottle states that 6mL will raise 100 liters (~26 gallons) by 2 EBC. In other words, my two 250mL bottles are approximately a lifetime supply.

I will probably be using insulin syringes to dose this stuff in bottles at first. It smells good, just like I'd picture burnt caramel would smell. The smell definitely calls to mind certain English ales (Old Peculier, for one). I might have to buy a sixer of Bass to do some initial taste-testing soon rather than waiting until I can make time to brew a full test batch.
Eric B.

Finally got around to starting a homebrewing blog: The Hop Whisperer

Offline stpug

  • Brewmaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 701
    • View Profile
Re: Brewer's caramel
« Reply #5 on: September 02, 2015, 08:16:29 PM »
Does that mean it would take ~16ml to raise 5 gallons ~27srm? Or did I screw up my math? Maybe it's double the amount: ~31ml to get ~27srm in 5gallons?

Also, where exactly did you order it from? :D
« Last Edit: September 02, 2015, 08:20:44 PM by stpug »

Offline Stevie

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 6858
    • View Profile
Re: Brewer's caramel
« Reply #6 on: September 02, 2015, 08:56:32 PM »
 Not that I doubt you, but I can't believe it is darker than sinamar. That stuff like ink

Offline erockrph

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 6195
  • Chepachet, RI
    • View Profile
    • The Hop WHisperer
Re: Brewer's caramel
« Reply #7 on: September 03, 2015, 01:32:56 AM »
Not that I doubt you, but I can't believe it is darker than sinamar. That stuff like ink
I thought the same thing, but when I saw the insanely high EBC rating and how little you need to color a full hectoliter, I checked the Sinamar specs to compare. The caramel is indeed 4 times darker. What is yet to be determined is the flavor contribution at that level.
Eric B.

Finally got around to starting a homebrewing blog: The Hop Whisperer

Offline erockrph

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 6195
  • Chepachet, RI
    • View Profile
    • The Hop WHisperer
Re: Brewer's caramel
« Reply #8 on: September 03, 2015, 01:41:38 AM »
Does that mean it would take ~16ml to raise 5 gallons ~27srm? Or did I screw up my math? Maybe it's double the amount: ~31ml to get ~27srm in 5gallons?

Also, where exactly did you order it from? :D
2 EBC is roughly equal to 1 SRM. It takes just over a mL of the stuff to raise 5 gallons by 1 SRM.

I got it from here: https://www.hopandgrape.co.uk/brupaks-brewers-caramel.html

Service was great - I got it in just over a week from the UK. But shipping was what really cost me. It was something like 18 pounds to ship two bottles, which only cost 8.50 pounds for the items themselves. It was certainly pricey to acquire. It was a totally random impulse buy, but I've been wanting to try this out for a while so I decided to just go for it.
Eric B.

Finally got around to starting a homebrewing blog: The Hop Whisperer

Offline stpug

  • Brewmaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 701
    • View Profile
Re: Brewer's caramel
« Reply #9 on: September 03, 2015, 02:02:35 AM »
Thanks. I look forward to your testing results with it in either Bass or an actual batch.

Offline erockrph

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 6195
  • Chepachet, RI
    • View Profile
    • The Hop WHisperer
Re: Brewer's caramel
« Reply #10 on: September 03, 2015, 03:03:25 AM »
My insulin syringe plan quickly went out the door once i realized that the needle is too fine to draw this stuff up. I also learned that it just drops to the bottom of your beer, rather than dispersing when added. I still did my best to try to mix some in and ended up with a sample that is maybe 5 SRM darker than the original Bass (it went from deep golden-copper to amber/red). I just have no idea exactly how much caramel went in to make this color.

What I've learned so far is that this seems quite flavor neutral, at least at this amount. I only pick up a touch more sweetness on the finish in the doctored beer, but I'm pretty sure that's just because I ended up knocking out quite a bit of carbonation in trying to mix in the caramel. I didn't pick up any more caramel or acrid/burnt notes in the caramel beer.

Next time around I'll try to kick this up to porter-level darkness and see what happens.
Eric B.

Finally got around to starting a homebrewing blog: The Hop Whisperer

Offline Phil_M

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1693
  • Southern Maryland
    • View Profile
Re: Brewer's caramel
« Reply #11 on: September 03, 2015, 07:11:03 AM »
I'm guessing the difficulty mixing it means that adding it during the boil would work best.
Corn is a fine adjunct in beer.

And don't buy stale beer.

Offline BrewingRover

  • Brewmaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 750
  • Brewing in Flossmoor, IL
    • View Profile
Re: Brewer's caramel
« Reply #12 on: September 03, 2015, 11:41:30 AM »
As I understand it, this is primarily used to adjust color post boil. I've heard that Fullers use it to get the colo(u)r right on London Pride
It's such a fine line between stupid and clever.

Offline erockrph

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 6195
  • Chepachet, RI
    • View Profile
    • The Hop WHisperer
Re: Brewer's caramel
« Reply #13 on: September 03, 2015, 03:23:59 PM »
I'm guessing the difficulty mixing it means that adding it during the boil would work best.
It tends to drop to the bottom like honey, but it is nowhere near as viscous. It mixes in fairly easily, but it doesn't disperse into the beer without some mixing. It would certainly work in the boil if you know how much you need, but you could easily dose it in a keg or bottling bucket as well.

As far as adding in the glass goes, I think you'd want to add it to the glass first and pour over it, or mix it into a small amount of beer first then add it to your glass.
Eric B.

Finally got around to starting a homebrewing blog: The Hop Whisperer

Offline erockrph

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 6195
  • Chepachet, RI
    • View Profile
    • The Hop WHisperer
Re: Brewer's caramel
« Reply #14 on: September 04, 2015, 03:22:10 AM »
For tonight's experiment I added 1/4 tsp to about a tablespoon of Bass, swirled until it was pretty much blended in, then poured the rest of the beer on it. The result is an inky black brew. It may well take less than an mL to turn a 12oz beer from a Pale Ale to a Porter in appearance.

At this level, I taste a faint bit of caramel flavor in the middle that gets dried out by the gypsum note in the finish. Otherwise, there's no additional sweetness or acrid/burnt notes. So far, this seems like a great color adjuster with minimal flavor impact. I have some pilsners in the fridge, so I think I'll try turning one into a Schwarzbier over the weekend to see if there is a noticeable flavor impact in a lager.
Eric B.

Finally got around to starting a homebrewing blog: The Hop Whisperer