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Author Topic: Warnings About Some Specialty Malts  (Read 650 times)

Offline neuse

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Warnings About Some Specialty Malts
« on: May 06, 2024, 12:55:51 pm »
A beersmith article (https://beersmith.com/blog/2017/08/31/harsh-zone-crystal-and-colored-malts-in-beer-brewing/) warns about harsh zone malts (in the 70 - 200L range), discussing limiting the quantities of these to avoid harsh flavors. How to Brew, E4, p 230, discusses potential problems with caramel 60: “this malt is reported to oxidize (go stale) more quickly than other caramel malts.” Together, these cover a significant number of specialty malts that may cause problems. I’m interested in opinions about these malts - have many brewers had the type of problems described?

Offline Megary

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Re: Warnings About Some Specialty Malts
« Reply #1 on: May 06, 2024, 01:18:34 pm »
Putting aside the whole concept of "Harsh Zone" malts for now, I completely disagree with the assessment of "Pale Chocolate" or "Light Chocolate".  I don't find it "sharp" or "piercing" or "harsh" or whatever.  I use it quite a bit when trying to massage some chocolate flavors (in combination with other malts). 

And I let the maltster's recommendation (and experience) dictate what percentage I use.

Offline BrewnWKopperKat

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Re: Warnings About Some Specialty Malts
« Reply #2 on: May 06, 2024, 03:01:02 pm »
The 2017 article refers to the book Mastering Homebrew (by Randy Mosher (c) 2015).  How to Brew 4e is (c) 2017.

It would be interesting to hear their (Randy, John) current thoughts.

Craft Beer & Brewing magazine (Winter 2023) had a couple of articles on American Pale Ale and American Amber Ale with some insights into newer malts that seem to address some of the concerns from the 2015/2017 articles / books.



Offline fredthecat

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Re: Warnings About Some Specialty Malts
« Reply #3 on: May 06, 2024, 04:02:03 pm »
A beersmith article (https://beersmith.com/blog/2017/08/31/harsh-zone-crystal-and-colored-malts-in-beer-brewing/) warns about harsh zone malts (in the 70 - 200L range), discussing limiting the quantities of these to avoid harsh flavors. How to Brew, E4, p 230, discusses potential problems with caramel 60: “this malt is reported to oxidize (go stale) more quickly than other caramel malts.” Together, these cover a significant number of specialty malts that may cause problems. I’m interested in opinions about these malts - have many brewers had the type of problems described?

Putting aside the whole concept of "Harsh Zone" malts for now, I completely disagree with the assessment of "Pale Chocolate" or "Light Chocolate".  I don't find it "sharp" or "piercing" or "harsh" or whatever.  I use it quite a bit when trying to massage some chocolate flavors (in combination with other malts). 

And I let the maltster's recommendation (and experience) dictate what percentage I use.

more repackaging old (lol stale even) information. i was listening to a webinar from a major yeast company i actually use and enjoy but the speaker was repeating some old adages you would hear unquestioned a lot more 5 to 10 years ago, but are now being questioned or at least examined.

my experience with pale chocolate from simpsons is that it was very smooth, not getting any strong burnt/overroasted notes like you get (not in a bad way) from the 400L and over dark roasted malts or harsh notes, it was actually really smooth.

the crystal 60 thing was stated and it may result in noticeable staling in certain environments and under certain conditions. stuff that affects beer commercially made, stored perhaps at room temp for many months before any consumption may be at risk but IMHO ive had more oxidation problems from poor packaging/handling at times than beers with crystal 60. also - i always wondered - why just 60? is 40 or 80 more likely to have those oxidizable elements, and if 40 then is 20 an issue too? needs more explanation

oh i see the article is from 2017, probably as simple as that. a lot has changed over the years


its basically the same stuff as saying black patent malt is "acrid/burnt".

even further from the article - it says "large amounts can lead to X bad flavours" lol, i used 2lbs of brown malt once in a beer and it tasted excellent, only issue was that it left a pretty high FG

Offline pete b

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Re: Warnings About Some Specialty Malts
« Reply #4 on: May 07, 2024, 07:24:05 am »
I recently made a porter with about 25% crisp brown malt and loved it.
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Offline neuse

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Re: Warnings About Some Specialty Malts
« Reply #5 on: May 08, 2024, 01:54:58 pm »
It’s interesting that none of those responding have experienced the off flavors described. One reason I asked the question is that I just brewed a Brown Porter using a recipe on beersmith.com - https://beersmith.com/Recipes2/recipe_111.htm?utm_source=getresponse&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=beersmith_blog&utm_content=%5BBSHB%5D%20Making%20a%20Porter%20Recipe . It includes 10.85%n Crystal 80 malt - way over the maximum of 5% that the Beersmith article recommends. The recipe was from 2004. It’s not finished yet. All I have tasted of this is the gravity sample (for bottling), and it didn’t taste like a Brown Porter to me. It tasted maybe more like a stout. I wondered if harsh flavors from the Crystal 80 were responsible. In reality, I think the Crystal 80 needed help from some lighter Crystal to get what I’m looking for. Or it might be that it will taste much different once conditioned, but I’m pretty tuned in to how the beer will change once conditioned. Thanks to those who responded.

Offline BrewnWKopperKat

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Re: Warnings About Some Specialty Malts
« Reply #6 on: May 08, 2024, 04:16:06 pm »
All I have tasted of this is the gravity sample (for bottling), and it didn’t taste like a Brown Porter to me.
Give it 4 to 6 weeks to condition, then open the 1st bottle.  Open bottles once a week until it's an enjoyable beer.

Quote
It’s interesting that none of those responding have experienced the off flavors described.  [...] The recipe was from 2004
I read "Mastering Homebrew" early in my home brewing hobby.  ;)




Offline BrewnWKopperKat

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Re: Warnings About Some Specialty Malts
« Reply #7 on: May 08, 2024, 04:28:59 pm »
I recently made a porter with about 25% crisp brown malt and loved it.
In the theme of "breaking the rules", there's a clone recipe in this forum for Pete's Wicked Ale. 

IIRC, it's roughly 20% crystal 60L and 3% chocolate 350L.

I've brewed the recipe a couple of times with Briess malts and enjoyed the beer.

eta: it's a "sweeter" beer so plan accordingly



« Last Edit: May 08, 2024, 04:37:49 pm by BrewnWKopperKat »

Offline Steve Ruch

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Re: Warnings About Some Specialty Malts
« Reply #8 on: May 09, 2024, 08:38:01 am »
I recently made a porter with about 25% crisp brown malt and loved it.
I use brown malt in every porter I brew.
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Offline denny

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Re: Warnings About Some Specialty Malts
« Reply #9 on: May 09, 2024, 08:45:08 am »
It’s interesting that none of those responding have experienced the off flavors described. One reason I asked the question is that I just brewed a Brown Porter using a recipe on beersmith.com - https://beersmith.com/Recipes2/recipe_111.htm?utm_source=getresponse&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=beersmith_blog&utm_content=%5BBSHB%5D%20Making%20a%20Porter%20Recipe . It includes 10.85%n Crystal 80 malt - way over the maximum of 5% that the Beersmith article recommends. The recipe was from 2004. It’s not finished yet. All I have tasted of this is the gravity sample (for bottling), and it didn’t taste like a Brown Porter to me. It tasted maybe more like a stout. I wondered if harsh flavors from the Crystal 80 were responsible. In reality, I think the Crystal 80 needed help from some lighter Crystal to get what I’m looking for. Or it might be that it will taste much different once conditioned, but I’m pretty tuned in to how the beer will change once conditioned. Thanks to those who responded.

Amazing what confirmation bias can do, huh? People are told those flavors are there, so they taste them.
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Offline reverseapachemaster

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Re: Warnings About Some Specialty Malts
« Reply #10 on: May 09, 2024, 10:59:41 am »
There's definitely darker beers out there with ashy, acrid, bitter flavors from darker grains, even when they aren't used excessively in the recipe. Water profile can go a long way to fixing that problem. Keeping those grains to a small percentage is a safe and easy way to minimize the problem but it's not the only or best way to avoid it.
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Offline erockrph

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Re: Warnings About Some Specialty Malts
« Reply #11 on: May 10, 2024, 08:44:15 am »
There's definitely darker beers out there with ashy, acrid, bitter flavors from darker grains, even when they aren't used excessively in the recipe. Water profile can go a long way to fixing that problem. Keeping those grains to a small percentage is a safe and easy way to minimize the problem but it's not the only or best way to avoid it.
When I started targeting a mash pH of 5.5-5.6 instead of my usual 5.3-5.4 on my stouts and porters, the quality of my roast-heavy beers improved dramatically. Ashtray flavors went away, and coffee/cacao richness got a nice boost. I use a lot of Kiln Coffee Malt and Pale Chocolate malt, which sit in the heart of Randy's "harsh zone", but I get none of the acrid, biting harshness out of them that they are expected to give.
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Offline Cliffs

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Re: Warnings About Some Specialty Malts
« Reply #12 on: June 06, 2024, 10:03:27 am »
There's definitely darker beers out there with ashy, acrid, bitter flavors from darker grains, even when they aren't used excessively in the recipe. Water profile can go a long way to fixing that problem. Keeping those grains to a small percentage is a safe and easy way to minimize the problem but it's not the only or best way to avoid it.
When I started targeting a mash pH of 5.5-5.6 instead of my usual 5.3-5.4 on my stouts and porters, the quality of my roast-heavy beers improved dramatically. Ashtray flavors went away, and coffee/cacao richness got a nice boost. I use a lot of Kiln Coffee Malt and Pale Chocolate malt, which sit in the heart of Randy's "harsh zone", but I get none of the acrid, biting harshness out of them that they are expected to give.

Same here. A higher mash PH took my dark beers from good to great. Its amazing teh effect a small amount of baking soda had for my beers overall flavor

Offline chinaski

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Re: Warnings About Some Specialty Malts
« Reply #13 on: June 06, 2024, 06:21:21 pm »
A beersmith article (https://beersmith.com/blog/2017/08/31/harsh-zone-crystal-and-colored-malts-in-beer-brewing/) warns about harsh zone malts (in the 70 - 200L range), discussing limiting the quantities of these to avoid harsh flavors. How to Brew, E4, p 230, discusses potential problems with caramel 60: “this malt is reported to oxidize (go stale) more quickly than other caramel malts.” Together, these cover a significant number of specialty malts that may cause problems. I’m interested in opinions about these malts - have many brewers had the type of problems described?
Relax, don't worry, have a homebrew.  Another way of interpreting that mantra is to try stuff out and not worry too much about what may or may not be true for your brew.  I think a lot of brewers get hung up on what's recommended by others or what is done at the commercial-level.  Homebrewing is it's own thing.  Once you embrace this idea, it's more fun to just try and see...

Offline denny

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Re: Warnings About Some Specialty Malts
« Reply #14 on: June 07, 2024, 07:59:03 am »
A beersmith article (https://beersmith.com/blog/2017/08/31/harsh-zone-crystal-and-colored-malts-in-beer-brewing/) warns about harsh zone malts (in the 70 - 200L range), discussing limiting the quantities of these to avoid harsh flavors. How to Brew, E4, p 230, discusses potential problems with caramel 60: “this malt is reported to oxidize (go stale) more quickly than other caramel malts.” Together, these cover a significant number of specialty malts that may cause problems. I’m interested in opinions about these malts - have many brewers had the type of problems described?
Relax, don't worry, have a homebrew.  Another way of interpreting that mantra is to try stuff out and not worry too much about what may or may not be true for your brew.  I think a lot of brewers get hung up on what's recommended by others or what is done at the commercial-level.  Homebrewing is it's own thing.  Once you embrace this idea, it's more fun to just try and see...

Hear hear.
Life begins at 60.....1.060, that is!

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"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts." - Bertrand Russell