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Old 05-20-2009, 12:16 AM   #1
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Default Thoughts on Dark Grains in the Mash

Since I switched to AG using DeathBrewers stovetop method I've noticed significant flavor differences from the extract + grains versions in the dark beers. It's hard to describe, not tannins, maybe a little bitter, mellows with age, a little harsh. I'm wondering about the dark grains and the accociated acidity in the mash.

Most of the dark AGs had salt adjustments per John Palmer's spreadsheet and I suspected I was overcomplicating things, but my Nut Brown experiment with no salts came out the same. Doing some reading on line I have two options to try and as usual I thought I'd run them by you lot.

First is to add the dark grains late to the mash. Apparently the guy at the LHBS does this. So how late in a one hour mash would I add them? Do I worry that adding the grains will reduce mash temperature slightly?

Second option is to remove the grains completely and run a separate steep for them. If the dark grains are my problem then I like this idea because it's essentially what I did before AG and I know it works.

Final question is what grains? I know the Roasted or Black Patent. What about Chocolate? How dark is "dark"?

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Old 05-20-2009, 12:25 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by GroovePuppy View Post
Since I switched to AG using DeathBrewers stovetop method I've noticed significant flavor differences from the extract + grains versions in the dark beers. It's hard to describe, not tannins, maybe a little bitter, mellows with age, a little harsh. I'm wondering about the dark grains and the accociated acidity in the mash.

Most of the dark AGs had salt adjustments per John Palmer's spreadsheet and I suspected I was overcomplicating things, but my Nut Brown experiment with no salts came out the same. Doing some reading on line I have two options to try and as usual I thought I'd run them by you lot.

First is to add the dark grains late to the mash. Apparently the guy at the LHBS does this. So how late in a one hour mash would I add them? Do I worry that adding the grains will reduce mash temperature slightly?

Second option is to remove the grains completely and run a separate steep for them. If the dark grains are my problem then I like this idea because it's essentially what I did before AG and I know it works.

Final question is what grains? I know the Roasted or Black Patent. What about Chocolate? How dark is "dark"?
I'd like to know about adding dark grains to the mash as well, I'm planning on adding just a bit to a barleywine mash tommorow and I wanted to know if it would affect the mash pH to any noticeable degree.
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Old 05-20-2009, 12:41 AM   #3
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Perhaps it's a recipe issue, and you're using too much dark grains. Could you post a recipe where you've had problems?

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Old 05-20-2009, 12:48 AM   #4
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Don't have an AG one to hand but look at the two extract + grains under my profile. I converted both of those keeping the specialty grains fixed and replacing the DME with Pale Malt. Only the AG versions have the issue.

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Old 05-20-2009, 02:06 AM   #5
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Here's a theory: since you just switched to AG, you're getting a lower efficiency than expected and missing your target OG. Because your wort gravity is low, your getting better hop utilization and coming out with more IBUs in the finished beer than you intended.

Combine that with the fact your using willamette hops in both beers for the bittering addition and willamette is relativly high in Cohumulone... you have a harsh bitterness that fades with age.

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Old 05-20-2009, 04:24 PM   #6
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Yeah, I had that thought early on. I got way higher OGs for my extract + grains beers than BeerSmith predicted. I need to check where my other beers ended up OG wise, and I do use Willamette a lot.

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Old 05-20-2009, 07:21 PM   #7
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I've heard of people not just steeping chocolate and dark grains separately, but steeping overnight in cold water, just like you might cold press coffee to add to beer.....supposedly it takes a lot of the harshness out and leaves you with a really smooth flavor.....I have been meaning to try it, and this post reminded me again.

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Old 05-20-2009, 08:27 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GroovePuppy View Post
Yeah, I had that thought early on. I got way higher OGs for my extract + grains beers than BeerSmith predicted. I need to check where my other beers ended up OG wise, and I do use Willamette a lot.
Well, then there's also that. If you think about the flavor contribution of a specialty grain as having a fixed value, it has a percentage affect on the batch. It would be more pronounced in a wort of 1.040 vs. a wort of 1.050.

I also agree that the lower gravity wort was going to better utilize the bittering hops. Try to get your gravity closer even if you have to use a little malt extract.
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Old 05-20-2009, 08:58 PM   #9
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Well, then there's also that. If you think about the flavor contribution of a specialty grain as having a fixed value, it has a percentage affect on the batch. It would be more pronounced in a wort of 1.040 vs. a wort of 1.050.

I also agree that the lower gravity wort was going to better utilize the bittering hops. Try to get your gravity closer even if you have to use a little malt extract.
Actually I'm getting goo extraction for AG, typically 75-80% and my recipes are based on 75%. I have DME to hand just in case. My extract and grains ones were way higher than BeerSmith predicted.

I think between hop choices, IBU vs OG and keeping the dark grains out of the main mash I might get somewhere. I read about the cold steeping too and I think I might give that a go.

So back to my OP, which grains should I do it with? I'll probably keep the Crystal malts in the mash even though they don't really "mash" but what about Chocolate?
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Old 05-21-2009, 04:33 AM   #10
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You are in California... most of the state has alkaline water, which means the dark malts should actually help you. In my case, my water is almost perfect for porters and stouts, not so much so for others (therefore I dilute).

I'd have a hard time believing that the mash is leaching out bad stuff.

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