Author Topic: Adding Dark Grains During Vorlauf  (Read 1694 times)

Offline flbrewer

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Adding Dark Grains During Vorlauf
« on: February 07, 2016, 01:00:34 PM »
In Modern Homebrew Recipes, Gordon Strong mentions that he likes to add dark grains during vorlauf to avoid harshness and astringency. Is this a widely accepted practice?

Secondly, what would be considered a dark grain other than the obvious black, chocolate malts?

Offline JT

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Re: Adding Dark Grains During Vorlauf
« Reply #1 on: February 07, 2016, 01:36:33 PM »
Astringency can be avoided by knowing and managing pH.  As for harshness, some people simply don't like the burnt, roast flavors dark malts bring to the table, so they use less dark malt, cold steep, add to end of mash, etc. 
IMO this is method another way to brew some dark beer, but not THE way to brew all dark beer. 

Offline Wort-H.O.G.

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Re: Adding Dark Grains During Vorlauf
« Reply #2 on: February 07, 2016, 01:47:04 PM »
yeah very hard question to answer as his statement is broad.  what qualifies as dark? what kind of beer? utilizing higher PH?

For me-depends on beer style and what I want and don't want from higher roasted malts. you may want significant roast contribution in a beer, but don't want anything acrid, harsh, or bites.  some roast being withheld can be appropriate (large quantities), and also bumping PH up in the 5.5-5.6 range.

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Offline HoosierBrew

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Re: Adding Dark Grains During Vorlauf
« Reply #3 on: February 07, 2016, 02:40:36 PM »
I mash dark grains for the most part - brown ales @ 5.5 pH, porter and stout @ 5.6 pH . But for a beer like a black IPA where I want mostly color and slight roast I'll throw the black malt in at vorlauf. IMO the thinking that you need to add dark malts at the end of the mash to avoid 'acrid, astringent' character is bogus - acrid character is totally a pH thing. A stout mashed at 5.3 is a totally different (better) beer mashed at 5.6 .


Edit - Gordon's obviously a great brewer. I just disagree with him here. Different strokes.
« Last Edit: February 07, 2016, 02:47:35 PM by HoosierBrew »
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Offline fmader

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Re: Adding Dark Grains During Vorlauf
« Reply #4 on: February 07, 2016, 02:54:33 PM »
I used to be a firm supporter of cold steeping dark grains. Why? Because I did not adjust water. Who knows where the pH would have been had I mashed them. I made great beer by cold steeping dark grains. In fact, one was a blue ribbon beer. But since I started adjusting water, I mash the dark grains. By following the advice of Jon, I mash stouts and porters at 5.6. The beers are great this way too. I get to use less dark grains in the mash than I would by cold steeping, and I don't have to waste time messing with cold steeping. I'm all about time anymore. In this case, I can shave time and make a superior beer.
« Last Edit: February 07, 2016, 03:36:52 PM by fmader »
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Offline BrodyR

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Re: Adding Dark Grains During Vorlauf
« Reply #5 on: February 07, 2016, 03:30:06 PM »
I just did a few back to back stouts and would agree that pH is the main thing. If you mash only the pale malts at reasonable pH then add the dark grains you'll drop the pH real low. I did that intentionally to get some of that Guinness character - the final beer ended up at 3.85pH and that was a big factor in it's taster. Adding all the grains in the mash and mashing higher (5.5-5.6ish - final beer was 4.2 IIRC) resulted in smoother beer for me.

If my goal was really, really smooth dark beer I'd go with dehusked black malt, Carffa III special, black prinz, midnight wheat, etc. Did an oatmeal stout with all the dark grains dehusked, it added a great smooth chocolate flavor.

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Re: Adding Dark Grains During Vorlauf
« Reply #6 on: February 07, 2016, 03:30:52 PM »

I used to be a firm supporter of cold steeping dark grains. Why? Because I did not adjust water. Who knows where the pH would have been had I mashed them. I made great beer by cold steeping dark grains. In fact, one was a blue ribbon beer. But since I started adjusting water, I mash the dark grains. By following the advice of Jon, I mash stouts and porters at 5.6. The beers are great this way too. I get to use less dark grains in the mash, and I don't have to waste time messing with cold steeping. I'm all about time anymore. In this case, I can shave time and make a superior beer.
+1


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Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Adding Dark Grains During Vorlauf
« Reply #7 on: February 07, 2016, 04:03:46 PM »
Gordon uses RO water adjusted to 5.5, and gypsum and/or CaCl2 in the mash. That is his procedure, so adding at vorlauf avoids acrid beers.
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Re: Adding Dark Grains During Vorlauf
« Reply #8 on: February 07, 2016, 05:04:26 PM »
In Modern Homebrew Recipes, Gordon Strong mentions that he likes to add dark grains during vorlauf to avoid harshness and astringency. Is this a widely accepted practice?

Secondly, what would be considered a dark grain other than the obvious black, chocolate malts?

Gordon does that as opposed to treating the water for the dark malts.  I far prefer to treat the water and add the dark malts to the main mash.  There is a big flavor difference if you add them late, so you can kinda base your decision on that, too.
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Offline beersk

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Re: Adding Dark Grains During Vorlauf
« Reply #9 on: February 07, 2016, 05:25:35 PM »
I just did a few back to back stouts and would agree that pH is the main thing. If you mash only the pale malts at reasonable pH then add the dark grains you'll drop the pH real low. I did that intentionally to get some of that Guinness character - the final beer ended up at 3.85pH and that was a big factor in it's taster. Adding all the grains in the mash and mashing higher (5.5-5.6ish - final beer was 4.2 IIRC) resulted in smoother beer for me.

If my goal was really, really smooth dark beer I'd go with dehusked black malt, Carffa III special, black prinz, midnight wheat, etc. Did an oatmeal stout with all the dark grains dehusked, it added a great smooth chocolate flavor.
This is one thing I've always wondered about this method, is dropping that pH too low after adding the dark grains at vorlauf. I subscribe to JZ's thinking in that brewers have been mashing grains all together for centuries, no reason to change it. I doubt Fuller's is adding their dark grains to the London Porter at vorlauf...
I'm using debittered black in an oatmeal stout today, I'm really looking forward to it.
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Offline HoosierBrew

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Re: Adding Dark Grains During Vorlauf
« Reply #10 on: February 07, 2016, 05:35:21 PM »
This is one thing I've always wondered about this method, is dropping that pH too low after adding the dark grains at vorlauf.


IIRC Martin feels the same way, too. Ok for Irish stout within reason, not so much for other beers.
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Offline BrodyR

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Re: Adding Dark Grains During Vorlauf
« Reply #11 on: February 07, 2016, 06:03:33 PM »
I just did a few back to back stouts and would agree that pH is the main thing. If you mash only the pale malts at reasonable pH then add the dark grains you'll drop the pH real low. I did that intentionally to get some of that Guinness character - the final beer ended up at 3.85pH and that was a big factor in it's taster. Adding all the grains in the mash and mashing higher (5.5-5.6ish - final beer was 4.2 IIRC) resulted in smoother beer for me.

If my goal was really, really smooth dark beer I'd go with dehusked black malt, Carffa III special, black prinz, midnight wheat, etc. Did an oatmeal stout with all the dark grains dehusked, it added a great smooth chocolate flavor.
This is one thing I've always wondered about this method, is dropping that pH too low after adding the dark grains at vorlauf. I subscribe to JZ's thinking in that brewers have been mashing grains all together for centuries, no reason to change it. I doubt Fuller's is adding their dark grains to the London Porter at vorlauf...
I'm using debittered black in an oatmeal stout today, I'm really looking forward to it.

Yea, I honestly think that slight acidity was one of the beers dominant flavors. Enjoy the brew! I think oats/debittered are a great combo.

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Re: Adding Dark Grains During Vorlauf
« Reply #12 on: February 07, 2016, 08:44:57 PM »
What mash pH do y'all shoot for in black IPA? I'm thinking 5.4 is a good target, or would 5.5 be better?
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Offline fmader

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Re: Adding Dark Grains During Vorlauf
« Reply #13 on: February 07, 2016, 09:16:22 PM »
What mash pH do y'all shoot for in black IPA? I'm thinking 5.4 is a good target, or would 5.5 be better?

I treat my black IPA's just like a pale IPA. I shoot for 5.4. I'm using primarily dehusked dark grains in Carafa III for my black IPA's with the exception of a few ounces of chocolate.
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Re: Adding Dark Grains During Vorlauf
« Reply #14 on: February 07, 2016, 09:27:05 PM »
Last time I mashed @ 5.5 and added the carafa III and midnight wheat at vorlauf, knowing that pH would drop a tad. When I mash it all together I mash @ 5.4 since there isn't near as much roast character in those to be made unpleasant anyway. Dehusked black malts are mild enough that I don't think it matters much if you mash it or add at end.


Edit - I may go back to mashing all together for simplicity.
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