Denny, I admire the work that you, Drew and Marshall do. I sincerely mean that. But if it was a requirement to confirm every perceived improvement in my own beers by setting up a specific test, then frankly I'd stop brewing. I'm not going to go back and do that, and I feel very strongly that certain changes I've made have resulted in better beer. I'm sorry, you're just not going to talk me out of that.
For me this is a water thing, not a dark grain issue per say. I haven't used the words astringent, harsh or acrid here. World class beers are obviously made with dark grains in the mash, no question. Again, for me this is about water. I've personally adopted an approach to water that is consistent across all styles, regardless of dark grains. From SRM 3 to SRM 43, my beers are better. Period. But I'm only talking about my beers. I'm not telling anyone they should hold dark grains until vorlauf. What I am saying is that in my experience it works.
As I mentioned earlier in this thread I intend to do a side by side for dark grains specifically because there are so many people saying it doesn't work. But I've also noted that those who haven't found this method to be particularly successful, including Marshall, have fallen well short in extracting the proper color. To me that's a key miss. The more I read that the color wasn't there (and therefore neither were the flavors) then the more likely I am to believe that I'm handling the process differently, and the less likely I am to question my own results. But I'll do the damn side by side!!
Here's what I'd tell people reading this:
If you're curious, try Gordon's approach to water and if you like it, adopt it. If you don't like it, then don't. That simple.