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Old 01-25-2012, 05:38 PM   #1
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Default best way to taste specialty grains

Hi all --

I've been brewing for about a year and a half now, with great (if I do say so myself) results.
Aside from the first two batches, I've been doing all-grain and modifying recipes that I've found with a bit of a trial and error ('why not throw this in?!') approach.

The beer has been great, but I'm interested in going to the next level and really formulating my own recipes from scratch. To help with that, I'm planning on stopping by my local brew shop and asking for a small amount (say an ounce or so) of each grain that they have in stock (I'll have to pick a quiet afternoon for that, since it does sound like a pain for the owner to put together for me), then going home and doing a tasting session of all the different grains/malts.

My goal is to try to get a feel for the flavours that each grain will add to a beer, so want to try tasting them in isolation. What's the best way to get that done? I'm thinking of just steeping each one in an appropriate amount of water for a while (as if I'm mashing them, say). But maybe it would make more sense to 'mash' each with a basic pale malt rather than just water?

Is there a better way to go about this instead?
Also, what grains should I definitely include in my tasting session?


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Old 01-25-2012, 05:43 PM   #2
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The taste of the dry malt isn't going to particularly tell you what it contributes to a completed beer.

You could brew basic 1-3 gallon SMASH recipes with ONE grain, ONE hop, and the SAME yeast as a control, then modify them JUST by adding a single specialty grain.

That's a true experiment...control all of the variables except for the one that you want to experiment on/know about.

That's really the only difinitive way to do it...

I'd test the following specialty grains: Carmel 10, Carmel 60, Special B, Chocolate Malt, Black Patent, and Roasted Barley.

If you've been brewing long enough, I think you would know the difference between the base malts and what they contribute to a beer:


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Old 01-25-2012, 06:21 PM   #3
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Make a grain-tea, crush some of the grain you want to taste, put it in a french press, or a tea ball, and steep it in 150-155* water for 10 minutes. You'll get an excellent idea what kind of character it will add to the beer.

If it's a malt that needs mashed, add a tiny bit of 2-row to the mix.

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