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Diesel80

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g'day folks,

I prodominently brew something 'english like' as it is my goto beer of choice for a pint.
I am looking for some help nailing that subtle toffee / caramel taste that the commercial english ales have.

FYI - BIAB and N/C. (if relevant).
My beers tend to finish up at about 1.011, 1.012 and then get kegged (perhaps too high?)
Dough in at 68/69 and mash at about 66, losing at most 1 deg in 30mins and 2 over about 75/90mins depending on time of year.
No Chill adjusted in brewmate i am normally shooting for 27-35IBU.
ABV is between 4.3% and 4.6% nowadays.

The last 3 brews I have made have used Dark Crystal Malt. I have used between 200 and 300g and make a batch size of about 26L.
In the final product I certainly get a caramel taste, but it is too prominent for my liking.
Previously i have used Heritage Crystal and a Medium crystal with similar results.

Perhaps I am a little too sensitive to the taste who knows?

My question, is there anything I can replace the crystal with to get a more subtle flavour of caramel / toffee?

1) I have read of people boiling down a pint or too of the wort from the mash and adding it to the boil,
2) Also there is a thread regarding invert sugar I have casual browsed - subsequently i have obtained a tin of Lyles Syrup.

What can those more experienced suggest?

Secondly should I thin out my beers a little?

If anyone wants to do some active research before commenting,
Sheapards Neame - Master Brew would be a good benchmark for the flavour I would like (hops aside).

Cheers,
D80
 

Bribie G

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Make up half a litre of dark invert sugar as per the thread and pop that in. I haven't got a sugar thermometer yet so I just did mine "by eye" using citric acid as the inverter. I've been trying to track down Wells Bombardier which has a lovely candy floss caramel flavour and I learned from the BN radio show on the subject that they put in a lot of invert. My current Bombardier tribute is definitely more toffee and caramel.

Edit: I've done double dropping as well. If you do that with Thames Valley 2 yeast apparently it gives you some diacetyl. I can definitely pick D. in Bombardier, the slight butterscotch flavour can easily be lost in with the caramel. That's one reason I love Wyeast 1768 as well, I always seem to get a touch of D. if I ferment a bit warmer and finish the brew quicker. Not recommended for bottling though as it works slowly forever.
 

mje1980

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I've been trying since 04 to brew those uk ales, I love them. That elusive big aromatic toffee malt aroma and flavour is hard to pin down, and recreate. I'm in the process of mucking around with invert syrups etc, and keen to give the double dropping a go. Bribie, do all uk yeasties benefit from the double drop??.

My best ones have MO as base, a good uk crystal, and definitely a good uk yeast. I've tried heaps of them, and they're all good. My latest fave is 1098 British ale, though I have wlp button ale too, which is a good one also.
 

Diesel80

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My latest ale has pretty nice flavour (if a little OP by the dark crystal used) and the body is a bit lighter than prior efforts (i think i like this better).

But the AROMA is up the sh!t, ie Non existent. I think i could improve my enjoyment of the ales I brew by working on this element of the process. I no chill so some stuffing around is required.

Might be time to man up and dry hop the next batch. *gulp*.

Cheers,
D80
 

stux

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Try a 2 hour boil.

I use it on my scottish ales. Adds a subtle caramel flavour/complexity
 

Diesel80

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Stux said:
Try a 2 hour boil.

I use it on my scottish ales. Adds a subtle caramel flavour/complexity
Stux do you start with the same volume and top up post boil in the fermenter or try to account for the extra losses in the preboil volume?

Cheers,
D80
 

mje1980

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Stux, do you boil hard?. I always do 90 min boils, and am usually too tight to go further haha. Deisel, the weyermann "cara" malts give great aroma, and also a nice,rounded malty flavour. I used caramunich 2 and 3 for ages in my uk ales with very good results in both flavour and also aroma. Kinda cheating I know but... Might try them again actually!
 

Lecterfan

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A lot of great info here. Not sure that double dropping does much to the taste other than perhaps the diacetyl as BribieG has mentioned (and I'm not convinced that it is a function just of 'double dropping' per se). I think part of brewing this style is recalibrating what you think the style is. I've not been to England (I want to make this clear, I am working from secondary sources, but stick with me), but from people whose opinions I trust (and some of them are also decent brewers funnily enough - although a couple are beer lovers who don't brew), the difference between a real ale (and I'm not going to delve into too much semantics over a 'bitter' or a 'pale ale ' or an 'ESB' etc) and what we get in bottles, or even the difference between 'exactly' the same beer on handpump or from the bottle here is worlds apart.

Even Jamil et al. have spoken about much of the 'toffee/caramel' that we (homebrewers) chase is a function of oxidation and age in the bottles.

I have tasted some amazing English beers from homebrewers - Taschris, Billygoat, Manticle, Vic45 amongst others - but not one of them tasted like a bottled pommy beer from Dans. In fact, some of them off hand pump have tasted far BETTER than any pommy beer I've purchased, and I include Holgates ESB from the handpump. I had one come 4th in Vicbrew the year before last that was the ESB London Pride recipe with the 4 magic hops and 2L of first runnings boiled down to nothing (and what I didn't eat off the spoon got added back in) and I had spot-on feedback: "tastes a bit old, must have been great a few months ago" as by then it was about 5 months in the bottle. If I'd left it longer it probably might have lost all of it's hoppiness and developed some of the oxidised character.

Anyway, had a few beers this arvo and am passionate about these beers. To answer O/P if you have used X amount of a certain crystal and you want less of the character, use a smaller portion next time. KISS.

Secondly, IMHO 1.012ish FG is fine for this sort of beer. Thin it out at your own risk.

Finally - mje1980 caramunich isn't cheating if you're already using crystal...my go-to beer is a Black Sheep rigg welter clone full of all sorts of sh#t!!! And as BribieG has brought up, the Wells Bombadier interview should dispel the whole 'British beers are malt only' albatross for good. But it is a great reminder that the mash needs to be adjusted to account for the thinner mouthfeel.

:chug:

edit: plus, water depending, a few gms of cal chloride doesn't hurt.
 

Diesel80

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Take you point Lecterfan about the FG, perhaps i will leave them at 1.010 and call it even. Quite happy with the current one, it is about 1.010-1.011,

Will try out some of those caramel malts mentioned Mje1980, I am sure i have at least 250g someone in my grain box of one of those mentioned, and a longer boil is something that is easy to do so no harm trying that either.

Fingers crossed i have enough M/O in the shed for a batch.

Does anyone use black malt for colouring here? If so how much would you add for a 23-26L batch before the taste became too prominent?

Cheers,
D80
 

stux

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Diesel80 said:
Stux do you start with the same volume and top up post boil in the fermenter or try to account for the extra losses in the preboil volume?

Cheers,
D80
The calculator I use takes into account boil length, which means it increases my pre-boil volume, but depending on pot limits, I do top up mid boil. so that I end up where I want to be. I actually top-up with additional sparge water, at about the 60 minute mark. Basically replacing the first hours boil-off. I normally do 90 minute boils.


mje1980 said:
Stux, do you boil hard?. I always do 90 min boils, and am usually too tight to go further haha. Deisel, the weyermann "cara" malts give great aroma, and also a nice,rounded malty flavour. I used caramunich 2 and 3 for ages in my uk ales with very good results in both flavour and also aroma. Kinda cheating I know but... Might try them again actually!
I've been experimenting with dialing back my boil vigor recently. But I do boil hard normally :)

Especially if you're aiming for enhanced maillard reactions in the boil
 

Lecterfan

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Adding even 20-30gms will add plenty of colour - read ToG's 'stout water' thread for some nuance in this area. I boil reasonably hard for 90 mins (for reasons that have been gone through) and am always considerably darker than beersmith says. Carafa III is also a good one for adding colour. Roast Barley, Black Malt, and Choc will all add colour but even a noticeable acridity or flavour difference at those tiny levels (to some palates). Go for it... I originally ripped off something I had read from Fourstar and added 20gms of roast to something and it worked fantastically.

Many will argue that at that low volume there is no point and no difference, but I beg to differ.
 

stux

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Yep, I use just 20g or so of Carafa Special iii to change colour
 

manticle

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I don't really do it for most UK bitters* but the effect of a longer boil with a simple grain bill is astounding. Try all MO with a hard 3 hour boil and try and convince other brewers there is no crystal malt in there.

Secret to a good wee heavy, doppelbock or barleywine I reckon.

*Most often around 90 mins for UK bitter types with some good heritage crystal, victory or biscuit and UK base like MO.
 

mje1980

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Oh yeah, the difference when drinking your beer from an engine is significant. The lower carbonation, and the effect of the hand pump makes for excellent beer. Our local club has a real ale day coming up. They really are awesome for uk ales IMHO.
 

mje1980

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BTW, I blame this thread for me stopping at the bottlo last night and grabbing a London pride, and a few Samuel smiths haha!
 

Screwtop

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Take out 2L of wort pre boil (when all wort is in the kettle but before adding hops). Simmer/low boil this 2L on the stove during the boil until reduced to 200ml then add back to the boil. Adds complexity.

Screwy
 

Diesel80

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Screwy, reckon that idea with a longer boil as suggested by Stux and manticle could negate the requiremet of a crystal malt altogether?

Certainly willing to experiment with it next brew. Should have enough M/O on hand for a batch.

Cheers,
D80
 

mje1980

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I just filled my gas bottle, and I could squeeze in an early start brew tomorrow. I think I'll give the 3 hour boil a go. Might try it with a mild. Might double drop too, I have burton ale, so it should add something yummy.
 

nala

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I am 75 ears old and drank British Ales for the best part of 68 of those years.
My experience began during the WW2 when evacuating the house to my grandads cellar to avoid Herr Hitlers bombs.
My gramps brewed all of his life and my dad after him, they did not have all of the modern equipment and recipes on spreadsheets to work to. Sanitizing was mainly done with boiling water, brew control a simple brass thermometer.
Yeast was whatever was available from other brewers in the village, known then as barm.
Hops were whatever was available via the local corn merchant....EKG or Fuggles.
The bitterness calculation was based on handfuls rather than IBU's.
Closed fermentation was a cloth cover over a wooden half barrel.
I am not suggesting that you start from here to obtain that British Ale taste and feel but you need to have a base from which to start.
I would suggest you purchase a copy of Graham Wheeler's book Brew your own British Ales, and start by brewing Burton Bridge - Bridge Bitter, this will give you a good example of what to expect from a British ale.
Until I came to live in Australia I never drank bottled beer, despite what others might think, I can assure you that bottled beer cannot be compared to cask/keg beer.
Getting what you want from a British Ale will only come by your experiments and not by adding ingredients as being suggested by others who can only imagine what your taste is, although very well intended.
I like a bitterness that is around 80% of the gravity units, this is easy to obtain using Brewmate which I use exclusively for my brewing. Despite my age and experience of tasting beers I am unable to discern some of the flavours being described by other posters, derived by different yeasts and adjuncts,beer is a very simple form of beverage made over many years without the complication of adjuncts which have been added by commercial brewers to cheapen the process. Hope you find what you are looking for.
 

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