Author Topic: C Malts  (Read 156 times)

Online Megary

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C Malts
« on: March 31, 2020, 06:28:01 PM »
I know there is a lot of talk on here and some divided opinions regarding the use of Crystal/Caramel/Cara etc. malts.  I realize everyone has their own tastes and preferences - and tastes and preferences are hard to change - but I'm interested in how you all go about incorporating these malts.  Are you using them for color only? As a sweetener?  For body? Other reasons?  Do you normally use a particular C-malt or do you keep many different levels on hand?  If a recipe calls for C40 but you only have C80 on hand, do you order the troops to hold the fort while you get some C40, or do you adjust to an appropriate amount of the darker crystal?

*IF* I add them, I've always been a low-percentage, mainly-for-color-only C-malt user (a pinch of C120 to move the SRM needle) but I openly admit that I could probably be using these grains a bit more resourcefully.

Thoughts?

Offline majorvices

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Re: C Malts
« Reply #1 on: March 31, 2020, 07:04:49 PM »
For certain beers I'll use up to 5% crystal malt, sometimes more. Just depends. I'm not "anti-crystal" malt at all. Now, for a kolsch or a Helles I doubt I'd ever use any but for a barley wine or even some darker German beers a little crystal malt can be very nice (I especially like cara-bohemian but be careful, a little goes a long way.) I like about 5% in my West Coast IPA. and English crystal malt is a must for many different types of English pub ales to increase body and toffee like flavors. Dark beers like porters can often times stand a good amount of crystal. Even beers like saison where you know the beer is going to be exceptionally dry a little crystal malt can add back in some body.

It all just depends what you are going for. Really light crystal malts like Cara Pils will add body and some flavor, 20-40L Crsytal malts will add some caramel flavors and 60-80 will add toffee while the really dark crystals will add raisin and extra dark sugary notes.

Offline coonmanxdog

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Re: C Malts
« Reply #2 on: March 31, 2020, 07:20:03 PM »
I taste the grain and also look at how much color it will give. That way I have an idea of two separate things that will contribute to the beer.

I have used CaraFoam, Carared, and Caraamber. Also Melanoidin. And of course a lot of different crystal malts all of the way up to 120L.

I also love Biscuit malt which is slightly different but will add both flavor and color.

So many grains to choose from. Find some that you like and add them. Maybe start with less and then add more to later recipes. You will know what you like after you start to experiment a bit.

Offline denny

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Re: C Malts
« Reply #3 on: March 31, 2020, 08:03:39 PM »
I use crystals for flavor.  I go anywhere from 5-15% of total grist.
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Online Megary

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Re: C Malts
« Reply #4 on: March 31, 2020, 08:09:58 PM »
My hangup is trying to balance the sweetness that the C malts add.  Porters and stouts, as majorvices points out, can handle a fair amount (relative to the brewer/drinker) of crystal because of flavors provided by the roast.  I suppose IPA's can do the same because of the hop bittering contributions.  I'm not sold on mashing low as a way to offset sweetness, but that could be another tool in the box.

I have seen a lot of % thrown about as to how much C to add..."use up to x% of crystal"...but not often is it specified what crystal.  Obviously they aren't all the same.  (Note to self: majorvices says to be careful with CaraBohemian)

Besides gravity, Flavor-wise how are these beers different - if they are discernibly different at all:

Beer 1:
10# 2-Row
.5# C120
Color around 14-15 or so.

Beer 2:
10# 2-Row
1.5# C40
Color around 14-15 or so.

Offline BrewBama

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C Malts
« Reply #5 on: March 31, 2020, 08:21:17 PM »
I began simplifying my recipes a while back based roughly on Drew’s ‘Brewing on the Ones’ concept and Palmer’s template. I’ve gone thru iterations and refined it to my tastes. The simplicity just makes life easier, reduces inventory, and produces some fairly tasty beers IMO.

Most of my recipes have C malts in them.  I use C malts for color, body, and flavor. For example, I’ll use British Crystal in British beers, Continental Cara(s) in German styles, and American C# malts in American styles.  I think the country of origin matters because the different barley variety used to make the malt produces a certain flavor inherent to the style. IOW Pils malt made from American 2-row is different that Pils malt made from German 2-row. The other malts in the portfolio follow suit.

Roasted malts start appearing in my Ambers and darker for further flavor and color. I’ve learned that if I use a ‘specialty malt’ (e.g. Biscuit) I will try to balance it with an ~equal C malt addition. Of course, sugars (turbinado, candi syrup, inverts, etc) play a role in certain styles as well.

Below is my basic template. I riff off that.  ‘Base’ could mean one malt or a combination of base malts depending on style ( e.g. Pils + Munich and/or Vienna). C malts are normally 5% of grainbill but could go higher.

Yellow = Base + 10*L C malt (For example this could be 95% Pils with 5% CaraHell.)
Blonde = Base + 20*L
Golden = Base + 40*L
Pale = Base + 60*L
Amber = Base + 40*L + 1% Choc/Carafa
Brown/Dunkel = Base + 40 or 60*L + 2% Choc/Carafa
Porter/Schwartz = Base + 60*L + 4% Choc/Carafa
Stout = Base + 60*L + 4% Choc + 1% Roast Barley


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« Last Edit: March 31, 2020, 09:45:23 PM by BrewBama »
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Offline denny

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Re: C Malts
« Reply #6 on: March 31, 2020, 08:22:13 PM »
My hangup is trying to balance the sweetness that the C malts add.  Porters and stouts, as majorvices points out, can handle a fair amount (relative to the brewer/drinker) of crystal because of flavors provided by the roast.  I suppose IPA's can do the same because of the hop bittering contributions.  I'm not sold on mashing low as a way to offset sweetness, but that could be another tool in the box.

I have seen a lot of % thrown about as to how much C to add..."use up to x% of crystal"...but not often is it specified what crystal.  Obviously they aren't all the same.  (Note to self: majorvices says to be careful with CaraBohemian)

Besides gravity, Flavor-wise how are these beers different - if they are discernibly different at all:

Beer 1:
10# 2-Row
.5# C120
Color around 14-15 or so.

Beer 2:
10# 2-Row
1.5# C40
Color around 14-15 or so.

I balance the C malts with hops.
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Online Richard

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Re: C Malts
« Reply #7 on: March 31, 2020, 09:27:15 PM »
Besides gravity, Flavor-wise how are these beers different - if they are discernibly different at all:

Beer 1:
10# 2-Row
.5# C120
Color around 14-15 or so.

Beer 2:
10# 2-Row
1.5# C40
Color around 14-15 or so.

Read the descriptions of the C malts and you can get an idea of the flavor difference. C40 is described as "sweet, caramel, toffee" , while C120 is something like "pronounced caramel, burnt sugar, raisiny, prunes". 1.5 lbs of C40 would be OK for an amber beer, but I personally would not use 0.5 lbs of C120 except in a stout.
Original Gravity - that would be Newton's

Offline coonmanxdog

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Re: C Malts
« Reply #8 on: March 31, 2020, 09:44:02 PM »
Besides gravity, Flavor-wise how are these beers different - if they are discernibly different at all:

Beer 1:
10# 2-Row
.5# C120
Color around 14-15 or so.

Beer 2:
10# 2-Row
1.5# C40
Color around 14-15 or so.

Read the descriptions of the C malts and you can get an idea of the flavor difference. C40 is described as "sweet, caramel, toffee" , while C120 is something like "pronounced caramel, burnt sugar, raisiny, prunes". 1.5 lbs of C40 would be OK for an amber beer, but I personally would not use 0.5 lbs of C120 except in a stout.
This. If you can get your grains from a homebrew shop then take a few grains, pop them in your mouth and taste them. That will give you a good idea of what they will taste like in a beer. I pretty much only use about 2 oz. of Crystal 120 in a beer. I just did a Strawberry ESB and wanted a little of that caramel to burnt sugar flavor but didn't want to overdo it so I used 2 oz. A yeast can have a big impact on sweetnes as well. Use one that is more dry and the final product will not be as sweet. London Dry Ale Yeast for example....

Beer 2 is going to come out a lot more well rounded in this case. More like an ESB.
« Last Edit: March 31, 2020, 09:45:48 PM by coonmanxdog »

Online Megary

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Re: C Malts
« Reply #9 on: March 31, 2020, 11:29:26 PM »
I began simplifying my recipes a while back based roughly on Drew’s ‘Brewing on the Ones’ concept and Palmer’s template. I’ve gone thru iterations and refined it to my tastes. The simplicity just makes life easier, reduces inventory, and produces some fairly tasty beers IMO.

Most of my recipes have C malts in them.  I use C malts for color, body, and flavor. For example, I’ll use British Crystal in British beers, Continental Cara(s) in German styles, and American C# malts in American styles.  I think the country of origin matters because the different barley variety used to make the malt produces a certain flavor inherent to the style. IOW Pils malt made from American 2-row is different that Pils malt made from German 2-row. The other malts in the portfolio follow suit.

Roasted malts start appearing in my Ambers and darker for further flavor and color. I’ve learned that if I use a ‘specialty malt’ (e.g. Biscuit) I will try to balance it with an ~equal C malt addition. Of course, sugars (turbinado, candi syrup, inverts, etc) play a role in certain styles as well.

Below is my basic template. I riff off that.  ‘Base’ could mean one malt or a combination of base malts depending on style ( e.g. Pils + Munich and/or Vienna). C malts are normally 5% of grainbill but could go higher.

Yellow = Base + 10*L C malt (For example this could be 95% Pils with 5% CaraHell.)
Blonde = Base + 20*L
Golden = Base + 40*L
Pale = Base + 60*L
Amber = Base + 40*L + 1% Choc/Carafa
Brown/Dunkel = Base + 40 or 60*L + 2% Choc/Carafa
Porter/Schwartz = Base + 60*L + 4% Choc/Carafa
Stout = Base + 60*L + 4% Choc + 1% Roast Barley


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Thanks for sharing all of that.  I'm not familiar with Drew's Brewing on the One's.  I'll have to research it.  Funny, I've been working on base beer descriptions like you outlined on the bottom.  Thing is, I make so many Stouts and Porters that I've been going from Dark to light.  I feel I'm good down to the brown/amber range where I can appreciate the Crystal additions.  When I get paler than that, I'm struggling to find a crystal mix that I like.  Maybe there isn't one for me as I prefer my beers dry.  But I have made note of your template, so thanks again.  Good stuff.
____________________

The Beer1/Beer2 thing wasn't meant to be taken literally.  For what it's worth I've never used more than 2% C120 except in a Porter and that is one of my best beers.  I know what the flavor descriptors are for the range of C malts and I've tasted enough commercial examples of over-crystaled beers to last a lifetime. I know what I *don't* want, so at least I have that going for me.  :)  I was just looking for how people handle these malts without making the finished beer too cloying (most overused word in beer reviews, maybe for a reason).  Reading a lot of recipes, I swear sometimes people throw in gobs of crystal because they think it's a requirement.

Some suggestions I pulled from all of the above:
Balance with some roast.  More/deeper crystal may be appropriate for dark, roasty beers.
Balance with hop bitterness.  More bitter can be balanced with a little more crystal.
Dry with an appropriate yeast.
Think "country of origin".
Start small and adjust as needed.

Offline tommymorris

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Re: C Malts
« Reply #10 on: April 01, 2020, 12:45:54 AM »
I like the taste of caramel malt. I use it in my blondes (5% C20), pale ales (about 5% , C40 or C60) and ambers (about 10% C60 + C120).

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Re: C Malts
« Reply #11 on: April 01, 2020, 11:19:53 AM »
I would say I use it sparingly, but some recipes call for it and I don’t hesitate to use it when appropriate, it’s just that my brewing has swung away from most of those beer styles that use it in any significant quantity.
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Offline reverseapachemaster

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Re: C Malts
« Reply #12 on: April 01, 2020, 02:05:38 PM »
I'm not anti-crystal malt but I am restrained in their use. Not every beer needs them or needs them in great proportion. I tend to use them in porter/stout, barleywine, doppelbock (caramalts), dubbels, quads, brown ales, etc. where some of those flavors and some degree of sweetness is appropriate. You look at recipes from the early 2000s and beyond and additions of crystal malt was like an obligatory act to prove your beer wasn't an industrial lager. That is unnecessary--unless you like it. My preference generally falls towards drier beers so I do not brew too much with crystal malt these days.

When I use crystal malt I tend to use the darker range 80+ where the crystal malt adds those darker fruit flavors that you don't get as much out of darker non-crystal specialty malts. If I add a lighter crystal it is usually 40 which has a nice toffee/caramel flavor when I need to boost that character but it is easy to get some of that out of munich, maris otter and other grains that bring similar flavor without the residual sweetness. Crystal 60 IMO is a very bland caramel flavor and I don't think it adds anything that you can't get from 40.
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Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: C Malts
« Reply #13 on: April 01, 2020, 05:11:48 PM »
Im brewing a German Pils, just Pils malt.

A tmavý Ležák is planed, using 15% caraBohemian.
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Online Megary

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Re: C Malts
« Reply #14 on: Today at 12:19:04 AM »
I began simplifying my recipes a while back based roughly on Drew’s ‘Brewing on the Ones’ concept and Palmer’s template. I’ve gone thru iterations and refined it to my tastes. The simplicity just makes life easier, reduces inventory, and produces some fairly tasty beers IMO.

So I went and found Drew's 2012 HomebrewCon Seminar, "Brewing on the Ones". Very entertaining and intriguing.  Probably will make me rethink, for the better, a few of my regular recipes.

One of his takeaways that hits on-point to this post is his mentioning that because of this simpler approach to recipe formation, a (2012) trend in his brewing is to use less crystal malts.  Whether that's still true 8 years later, maybe Drew will pop in and answer.  That does jive with a really interesting quote from reverseapachemaster above:

If I add a lighter crystal it is usually 40 which has a nice toffee/caramel flavor when I need to boost that character but it is easy to get some of that out of munich, maris otter and other grains that bring similar flavor without the residual sweetness.