Yes. It provides a lot of "maillard reactions"- the type of browning you have when you toast bread, as an example. It's not really "caramelized", as it's not that sugary or that hot like an actual caramelization reaction, but it's similar.
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I was curious, I've read that taking some of the first runnings and caramelizing it is a technique that can be used in order to add some color to a brew, but will it also impart some caramel flavor?
The technique adds both color and flavor. I brewed this recipe last weekend and the caramelization took about 60 minutes and went into the boil at about the same time as the first bittering addition. I did a 90 minute boil instead of the 120 minute.
The caramelization was hands-off at the beginning (while I was batch sparging) but needed lots of stirring and extra heat when it got thicker. It was a lot of fun and no longer than any other 90 minute mash/90 minute boil brew.
Awesome! I appreciate the input. I want to do a caramel/toffee brown ale, and I don't want to go overboard with the crystal malt. So I think I'm going to give this technique a shot to get some nice caramel/toffee flavors.