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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Recipes/Ingredients > Bitter with base malt only?
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Old 04-26-2012, 01:37 AM   #1
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Default Bitter with base malt only?

I want to make something like a special bitter without using any of the specialty malts I've set aside for other brews. I'm considering toasting some of my base malt, though I'm not sure about doing caramel malt.

What about trying to do a little bit of kettle caramelization for increased malt character? If that's a decent idea, how much would I want to reduce for how long? I'm thinking about boiling a half-gallon of the first runnings, which is less than half what I gather would be done for a Wee-heavy, and I probably wouldn't increase the boil time. Thoughts?

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Old 04-26-2012, 03:14 AM   #2
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Also, 2row and pilsener are the base malts I have, if that makes a difference.

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Old 04-26-2012, 04:29 AM   #3
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You can absolutely toast your own base malt for additional character. I frequently do so and it adds a lot of flavor to these types of beers. As for pale malt, toasting it at 350F for 15-20 minutes will give you something similar to biscuit malt (which would be good since 2row really doesn't have much character). I use toasted malt anywhere from 5-10% of the grist.

As for crystal malts, you can basically do the same thing, except it requires a few extra steps. First, soak the grain in water for an hour or so and then drain the water off. Spread it out on a cookie sheet and place it in the oven set at 200F. Leave it in the oven at for a hour or two with the door cracked. What you want to do is convert some of the starch into sugar, similar to a mash. Don't spread the grain too thin, since you want the temp to stay around 145-160F. After that, raise the temp to dry the grain for another hour or two. Once the grain is sufficiently dry, you can raise the temp closer to 350+F and bake it until you get a crystal malt of your choice. It works well, but it is somewhat time intensive.

Kettle carmelization would be fine too, but it adds a different type of character than something like a crystal malt. I would probably save the kettle caramelization for the scottish styles and stick with the toasted malts for a bitter. Or if you wanted to go old school, you can just toast some malt and then make a batch of brewers invert syrup. That makes a hell of a nice beer. Good luck.

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Old 04-26-2012, 10:41 PM   #4
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Thanks for the input. I found a thread that suggested it in other styles (ESB included), but not much further.

How much toasted malt should I use? I've seen 20%+ in a cursory look, and don't think it could hurt with 2-row as a base. I'm also planning to mash on the high side since I'm using notty. Any other suggestions?

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Old 04-27-2012, 02:48 PM   #5
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Breshire Brwqing Co in MA produces an ale (Steel Rail Pale Ale) using 100% 2 row malt with no toasted or crystal and it's a very tasty brew IMO. It's defienitly an American pale ale and not an ESB, though.

Of course, one of the best beers in the world, Timothy Taylor's Landlord, is also made with a single malt, but they uise Golden Promise which has a lot more flavor and character than any US 2-row. Their yeast is also more flavorful than notty.

I don't really see how you're going to produce an authentic ESB with the malt you have. Now if you had Maris Otter or Golden promise, that would be a different story....

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Old 04-27-2012, 03:17 PM   #6
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I'm not going for completely authentic, just looking for ideas on how to make something tasty, enjoyable, and quaffable that would be somewhat comparable to a best/special bitter--a flavorful session beer. I think I will try toasting some base malt and throw in an ounce of chocolate. I'll probably use a bit of vienna as well, but was interested in some other methods.

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