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Old 09-14-2012, 02:35 PM   #1
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Default Too much crystal malts?

Hey all, i've been brewing for a little less than a year now and have done the usual steps up to all grain...blah blah blah. now i am just starting to create my own recipes (or piggy back off others' hard work ) and am gonna be brewing a simple amber ale this weekend. Heres the grain bill:

7lbs 2-row american pale malt
2lbs caramel/crystal malt - 80L
1lb cara-pils/dextrin


Its a 5 gal batch. After doing some research this week, I think I made the mistake of not realizing carapils are also crystal malts. And from what i've read, the amounts that i have are gonna be way too much, percentage-wise of them (i think i want less than 20% crystal malts, correct?). The problem is that i've already bought the grains (and they're crush) so i've either got to use them in a brew or they'll be wasted. what do you guys suggest? is it alright to use this much crystal malts or will it cause too many problems with the efficiency, and head/mouthfeel? what will happen?

another option would be for me to just buy more base malts and try a 10 gal batch but i havent tried one yet (even tho i've got the capacities/equipment to do it). baby steps...

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Old 09-14-2012, 04:10 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by adaml23 View Post
Hey all, i've been brewing for a little less than a year now and have done the usual steps up to all grain...blah blah blah. now i am just starting to create my own recipes (or piggy back off others' hard work ) and am gonna be brewing a simple amber ale this weekend. Heres the grain bill:

7lbs 2-row american pale malt
2lbs caramel/crystal malt - 80L
1lb cara-pils/dextrin


Its a 5 gal batch. After doing some research this week, I think I made the mistake of not realizing carapils are also crystal malts. And from what i've read, the amounts that i have are gonna be way too much, percentage-wise of them (i think i want less than 20% crystal malts, correct?). The problem is that i've already bought the grains (and they're crush) so i've either got to use them in a brew or they'll be wasted. what do you guys suggest? is it alright to use this much crystal malts or will it cause too many problems with the efficiency, and head/mouthfeel? what will happen?

another option would be for me to just buy more base malts and try a 10 gal batch but i havent tried one yet (even tho i've got the capacities/equipment to do it). baby steps...

Too much? Yes, I'd say so. IMO you need to think of crystal and other specialty malts as the seasonings to enhance the main ingredients, like you would use salt, spices and herbs in a food recipe. The problems with using too much, which for numerous reasons many beginning homebrewers seem to do, include them overwhelming the flavors of the base ingredients, boosting the color more than necessary, leaving excess sweetness as well as a "flabby" body to the beer due to poor attenuation, etc, etc. Your recipe is at 30% crystals which is at least twice as much as you would ever want IMHO.

While I have used up to 15% in one or two recipes this high amount to achieve a particular color was counterbalanced with an adjunct addition to help with attenuation. Anyways ~5% crystal is typically enough for most brews although up to 10% can be made to work well. The 10% Carapils on top of the 20% crystal is surely a bit of overkill. I like a small addition of dextrin malt (3-5%) in many recipes to get a little extra mouthfeel and "chew" but the whopping does of crystal here is already going to do that for the most part.

As for modifying the already crushed and mixed recipe grist bill you have a few options: Brew it as is, maybe you will think it's fine. Add a pound of sugar to the brew, the OG will increase slightly but the full fermentation of the sugar may help balance the big crystal hit slightly. Add ten more pounds of pale malt and do the 10 gallon batch, or just mix everything thoroughly and split into two 5 gallon brews. Oh, and next time ask us for advice before you jump off the deep end.
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Old 09-14-2012, 04:35 PM   #3
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No, it's a bit high for an amber, but I've brewed porters with 2.5 lbs.

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Old 09-14-2012, 04:44 PM   #4
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Add nine pounds of pale, maybe half a pound of crystal 120, take only the first runnings, and brew a barleywine.

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Old 09-14-2012, 04:45 PM   #5
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if you have a Food Saver, you can vacuum-seal & freeze some of the grains and use them in a future batch. so i'd seal & freeze half of your current grist, and then add 5 pounds of base malt. that will take your crystal percentage from 30% to 15%.

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Old 09-14-2012, 04:48 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sweetcell
if you have a Food Saver, you can vacuum-seal & freeze some of the grains and use them in a future batch. so i'd seal & freeze half of your current grist, and then add 5 pounds of base malt. that will take your crystal percentage from 30% to 15%.
This. Or if you can't vacuum seal it just make sure to incorporate it into your next batch.
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Old 09-14-2012, 05:01 PM   #7
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And hey Adam123, nice catch to see the potential 'error' before you brewed it. Nothing like wasting a bunch of time and a little money stepping out of your comfort zone by brewing a potentially funky beer.

I love reading stuff like this on this site and like it or not, your post taught me just one more thing about brewing beer via my "own" recipes.... watch my % of base malts to crystal/carapils. (For the record, I was taught early on that carapils are in certain recipes as mainly a head-retention/formation product.. not fermentable)

I'd say buy more crushed base grain, mix thoroughly, and divide into 2 separate batches... as BigEd suggested among many solutions..

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Old 09-14-2012, 05:05 PM   #8
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Oh, and next time ask us for advice before you jump off the deep end.
That's like telling a kid NOT to push the big red button!

I think I'm gonna vacuum save part of it and add in extra malt.

this is prolly in the wrong section, but while we're here, is there anything special i need to do with my beersmith equipment provile or my brewing equipment to jump from 5 gal batches to 10 batches?
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Old 09-14-2012, 05:05 PM   #9
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If the grains are not mixed together, yet, then you can use less of the crystal/cara-pils in the brew. As mentioned, vacuum seal them (if you're not brewing again within the next month) or store them in something that you can get as much air out of the package as possible (ziplock bag is a decent second choice). Run the recipe through some software so you have a better idea of what you'll get from it.

Also, look up some other amber recipes to see what the grist looks like there. That's going to give you a better idea of what to do for the next time.

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Old 09-14-2012, 05:34 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by adaml23

this is prolly in the wrong section, but while we're here, is there anything special i need to do with my beersmith equipment provile or my brewing equipment to jump from 5 gal batches to 10 batches?
Yeah you'll probably want to actually put in your own equipment profile. It might be that I'm just too dumb to figure it out, but I had a terrible time getting it to let me batch sparge all in one step because it thought my MLT couldn't handle all the sparge water. You might get stupid numbers or confusing instructions out if you don't have the correct size equipment selected.
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