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Brown malt always gives harsh flavour

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mje1980

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So, with my dark grains, for the last 5 years or so I've always added them late in the mash. Love the smoothness of the flavour, and always works well with all dark malts. Except brown malt and amber malt. I like beers like Fullers porter with brown malt but always when I use Amber or brown, I get an acrid harshness.

Salts are almost always the same with my beer, usually a 50/50 mix of calcium sulphate and calcium chloride. Unless I want really dry n hoppy, or really malty, most beers, light or dark get the same with fine results.


It usually smooths with age but it's odd that I can do a beer with any other dark malt besides Amber or brown and drink it straight away no issue, but Amber and brown always need a bit of age.

Is it just my tastebuds or what?!

Have a porter ready to bottle now which has 1% brown and is a little harsh in the sample. Was going to keg it but I might have to bottle it and leave it for a few months. I really wanted to smash it on tap sooner
 

Diesel80

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Tried cold steeping them the night before and adding late to boil instead?
I am just reading about this, keen to give it a go.

Cheers,
D80
 

indica86

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Probably just you.
I made two Porters over winter and they had 8% Brown Malt and were not harsh at all.
 

NewtownClown

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Are you actually getting any conversion when adding late? Kilned malts need to be mashed. How much do you add? Some say 10% max, others say 20% for Brown, 20-25% for Amber
 

manticle

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I have read that gypsum and dark malts are not a good marriage, particularly in less hoppy beers. Maybe try just cal chloride.
 

sponge

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I must be using some of the same batch, Mark.

I love a bit of brown malt in my porters but noticed it does need a little longer to mellow and smooth out than other dark/roast malts. I do lean more towards cal chloride than gypsum when dark malts are involved (normally around the 70/30 mark).

I've just learned to live with waiting another couple of weeks for beers with brown malt. Always worth the wait..

EDIT: Removed section about adding at end of mash. Looking back over my notes it's always been mashed with base malts which seems to line up with below comments regarding it requiring mashing.
 

rude

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I have some brown malt I want to use up hope I don't get the same harshness

I'm going to mash full time 90 min but add calcium hydroxide to get my mash PH in range

Have you used a water calc for you're beer what ph did you get how much sulphate

Will report back on my novice effort when done hopefully pleasantly surprised
 

dicko

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GalBrew said:
Don't you need to give brown malt a full mash as its a base malt?
Yes,

Both Amber and Brown malts are made from pale malt initially and will need mashing.
 

antiphile

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Howdy mje

My understanding is that an acrid or astringent influence is the defining characteristic of a good brown malt (see, for example, this short article on BYO). If you were looking for a different flavour, I'd be looking at malt selection.
 

seamad

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Just kegged a porter with 10% brown malt, took a growler to a function on the weekend, everyone who had a taste commented on how "smooth " it was.
Used MO as base, with 5% each pale choc and english dark crystal ( cold steeped ) and 3% carabohemian in the mash with the brown. I double batch and used 12g Ca Chloride and 3.33g Gypsum in the mash.
I think there are 2 types of english brown malt, one being twice as dark ( in EBC) than the other, I use the lighter variety. If this is correct then it may explain why some get much more harshness from brown than others.
 

mje1980

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NewtownClown said:
Are you actually getting any conversion when adding late? Kilned malts need to be mashed. How much do you add? Some say 10% max, others say 20% for Brown, 20-25% for Amber
I only add very small amounts. If I use other dark malts this way i hit projected og.
 

mje1980

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manticle said:
I have read that gypsum and dark malts are not a good marriage, particularly in less hoppy beers. Maybe try just cal chloride.
With other dark malts this is not an issue when using gypsum.
 

mje1980

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Cheers guys food for thought. I do like the result but not the waiting. Will keep trying. Might try all cal chloride on next one, though as mentioned even in stout my usual 50/50 gyps/cal chloride gives fine results.
 

MHB

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GalBrew said:
Don't you need to give brown malt a full mash as its a base malt?
The definition of a "Base Malt" is that it has enough enzyme power to convert itself (at a minimum).
The darkest base malt is probably Munich 2 (dark Munich), any darker and the heat used to kiln the malt drying it and developing the colour kills off the enzymes.

There is no substitute for the toasty biscuity flavours that you get from Amber and Brown malt, trade off is that they do take time to mellow, but as a rule darker beer all improve more with time than do lighter beers - personally I would think 6 weeks+ to be a minimum.

My rule is, if the last beer in the keg was the best one - you started drinking it too soon.
Mark

spellow
 

dicko

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A good read here for those who may not have seen it.

http://byo.com/hops/item/1751-brown-malt



MHB said:
The definition of a "Base Malt" is that it has enough enzyme power to convert itself (at a minimum).
The darkest base malt is probably Munich 2 (dark Munich), any darker and the heat used to kiln the malt drying it and developing the colour kills off the enzymes.

There is no substitute for the toasty biscuity flavours that you get from Amber and Brown malt, trade off is that they do take time to mellow, but as a rule darker beer all improve more with time than do lighter beers - personally I would think 6 weeks+ to be a minimum.

My rule is, if the last beer in the keg was the best one - you started drinking it too soon.
Mark

spellow
Hi Mark,
so what is your take on mashing.....
would you mash it or just steep it??
 

MHB

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Mash it for sure!
most of the colour/flavour is in the husks unlike black/roast malt where its in the corn (see Carafa special - no husk lots of colour and flavour) so I think that steeping to extract the flavours you want will inevitably give the problematic ones too, so just steeping doesn't fix the problem, but you do give up all the potential extract you payed for to no benefit.
I think I would be hard pressed to design anything English and dark without one or both of them appearing

To minimise the harsher flavours: -
Acidify and add Ca to your sparge water
Lean more toward Cl than SO4 (Personally I use buffered Ca Lactate)
Sparge a bit cooler - don't go over 78oC ever
Longer boil to reduce polyphenols 90 minutes minimum
Longer maturity lower carbonation
One of the very few types of beers where I would think of skimming some of the early krausen (full of chunky phenols)
Mark
 

GalBrew

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MHB said:
The definition of a "Base Malt" is that it has enough enzyme power to convert itself (at a minimum).
The darkest base malt is probably Munich 2 (dark Munich), any darker and the heat used to kiln the malt drying it and developing the colour kills off the enzymes.

There is no substitute for the toasty biscuity flavours that you get from Amber and Brown malt, trade off is that they do take time to mellow, but as a rule darker beer all improve more with time than do lighter beers - personally I would think 6 weeks+ to be a minimum.

My rule is, if the last beer in the keg was the best one - you started drinking it too soon.
Mark

spellow
Wasn't porter originally made from 100% brown malt before pale malt existed? It (historically anyway) had to have sufficient diastatic power to covert, albeit not as efficiently as a pale malt base.
 

MHB

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Yes and no
Yes it was a brown malt but it wasn't the same as what we now call brown malt. In the old version most of the colour came from the mal being dried on a wooden floor with wood (and later coal) fired heat, a lot of the browning was reportedly from condensed smoke. I imagine the beer was very smoky flavoured, as well a full of Lacto, Bret, wild yeast...
Times have changed
Mark
 
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I made a British IPA last year with 3% Amber, which was 6%alc. Initially thought it was a complete failure, really harsh as you've described.
But after 3+ months in the keg, those flavours really settled and actually it reminded me a lot of Fullers 1845.
Also use Brown malt regularly, and patience is required... Worth the wait I reckon.
Cheers
 
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