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Old 09-03-2012, 07:21 PM   #1
Zabuza
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Default Getting a grain selection going...please advise

So my LHBS is starting to go downhill, and they're not dealing with it well (owner got a full-time job elsewhere, wife runs the place, she has absolutely no idea about brewing or even the layout of the shop...couldn't ring me up the other day because she didn't know how). The nearest homebrew store other than theirs is two hours away (126 miles, 25 miles to the gallon, four bucks a gallon makes 4 hours and $40 round trip). Long story short, I'm just going to invest in having a fair amount of grain on hand and maybe only go over there for hops/specialty grains. I'm ordering from Austin hombrewer so I get the flat rate shipping over $100 despite the crazy weight.

Anyway, to get to the point, what grains should I get? I want to have the basics always on hand (he's been out of two row for a friggin week), plus maybe a few highly useful speciality grains. I'm getting a 50 lb sack of two row, a 40 lb sack of Maris otter, 10 lbs of caramel 20L, 10 lbs of caramel 90L (can mix for anything in between), 10 lbs. of rye, 15 lbs of torrified wheat, maybe 5-10 pounds of either biscuit or victory (maybe both).

Anyone have any suggestions on some other grains I should get for my stash? I basically want to be able to brew as wide a variety of beers as possible with few or a medium amount of options. Maybe I should get a darker max caramel for mixing purposes? Don't really use the super darks ones very often. I'm thinking I should get some special b, roasted barley, chocolate malt...what do you guys think? I need help rounding out my selection of grains.

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Old 09-03-2012, 07:26 PM   #2
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Do it the other way... look at styles and recipes you want to brew and buy grains based on that. What do you like to brew? Dark stouts? Belgians? Wheats? IPAs? If you can determine what 2-3 styles you brew 80% of the time, you can narrow down your required inventory to a reasonable list. Same with hops and yeast (I'd highly recommend yeast washing in your situation.).

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Old 09-03-2012, 07:36 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zabuza View Post
So my LHBS is starting to go downhill, and they're not dealing with it well...
That sucks, sorry man.

Quote:
10 lbs of caramel 20L, 10 lbs of caramel 90L (can mix for anything in between)
It doesn't work that way.
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Old 09-03-2012, 08:05 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mongrel
That sucks, sorry man.

It doesn't work that way.
Thanks for the condolences.

Yes, I'm aware that it doesn't quite work that way, but unfortunately it isn't quite that simple. Looking at the caramel malt from different companies, for example, shows that some of them use malts that have grains of different darknesses. This indicates that they actually blend several different caramel malts together to achieve a uniform lovibond rating and for consistency of taste. I thought this was common knowledge.

Now yes, ideally, we should want malt that has all been roasted to the same level, as that is a true (say) 40L caramel malt. In practice, however, this is just as common as mixing different roasts together. Sure, I know it won't be ideal, and I'll end up with something different from true 40L caramel when I mix the two, but my situation is non-ideal here. I need to figure out some comprimises or I'm just not going to be able to brew for the next three or four years.

Evrose - thanks for the advice, but I don't want to constrain myself to the types of beer I only currently brew. I want people to advise me on highly useful malts that can be utilized across a wide range of recipes to create maximum freedom with my limited selection. It'd be easy if I didn't want to experiment with new types, but I do...caramel malt, obviously, is one that's used in an insane amount of recipes, so it'd be wise to have caramel malt on hand. I'm looking for some advice like that - malts particular people like or malts that people think are under-appreciated/under-utilized. Or, malts that have wide variety of applications (mainly this).
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Old 09-03-2012, 10:36 PM   #5
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http://www.kotmf.com/articles/maltnames.php
Everything in the left column. Maybe a couple of others too. Enough to do 3 or 4 beers with each specialty grain. Maybe just enough for 1 with specialty base grains (Maris Otter, Golden Promise, Pilsen). I'm sure you can figure it out. Get locking bins from Walmart, Target, or Menards.
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Old 09-04-2012, 12:45 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zabuza View Post
Thanks for the condolences.

Yes, I'm aware that it doesn't quite work that way, but unfortunately it isn't quite that simple. Looking at the caramel malt from different companies, for example, shows that some of them use malts that have grains of different darknesses. This indicates that they actually blend several different caramel malts together to achieve a uniform lovibond rating and for consistency of taste. I thought this was common knowledge.

Now yes, ideally, we should want malt that has all been roasted to the same level, as that is a true (say) 40L caramel malt. In practice, however, this is just as common as mixing different roasts together. Sure, I know it won't be ideal, and I'll end up with something different from true 40L caramel when I mix the two, but my situation is non-ideal here. I need to figure out some comprimises or I'm just not going to be able to brew for the next three or four years.
Not correct.

The grains are kilned at different temperatures. This temperature is what alters the sugar complex and gives the different tastes. C-90 gives more of a raisin hint. C-120 gives even more dark fruit. C-40 is more caramel. Do you believe that if you mixed 50:50 C-90 and C-10 that you would caramel? No. You would get raisin, but more subtle.
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Old 09-04-2012, 01:57 AM   #7
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I get by on mostly Pale Ale Malt, with some Munich and C-40 or C-60, to reach about 90% of my grain needs. A little biscuit here, a little chocolate or black barley there, and i'm set.

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Old 09-04-2012, 02:08 AM   #8
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I use acidulated in almost every batch for mash ph. Id also get a few lbs of chocolate and some roasted.

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Old 09-04-2012, 03:08 AM   #9
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I would also look around at other online supply places. While their $4.99 flat rate shipping sounds great, their bag prices are more than double other places.

I can get 50lbs of 2 row with regular shipping for about $1.11/lb vs Austin's for about $1.40/lb.

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Old 09-04-2012, 05:51 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cockybitz

Not correct.

The grains are kilned at different temperatures. This temperature is what alters the sugar complex and gives the different tastes. C-90 gives more of a raisin hint. C-120 gives even more dark fruit. C-40 is more caramel. Do you believe that if you mixed 50:50 C-90 and C-10 that you would caramel? No. You would get raisin, but more subtle.
If we're going to get nitpicky, I should mention that it is rarely the case that different caramel malts come about as a result of different kilning temps. Normally, it is that they are kilned for shorter/longer durations.

I don't see why my point is so revolutionary here. I'm trying to say, color and taste wise, I'll get something closer to C-40 if I do a fifty fifty mix of C-90 and C-10 THAN if I just use C-10 or C-90 alone. This is undeniable in terms of color, and may be a bit debatable with regards to taste, but it's clear to me I'll get something richer than C-10 alone and less rich than C-90 alone (sure, some of the favors will be different, but that's why I called it a COMPROMISE, not an ideal conversion). Really don't know why people are attributing to me that I thought this would be a perfect, taste-preserving strategy. It's just something I'm going to have to do...it might even have advantages by adding layers of complexity to the caramel malt portion of the beer. I AM NOT claiming that this is a perfect strategy...just saying that it's something I'm going to do to at least try and make up some of the lack of variety I'll be experiencing in the near future.

Regardless, thanks, everyone, for the feedback so far!

Southbay - thank you, this is exactly the kind of response I was looking for. Liked.

Chumpsteak - can you tell me a bit more about acidulated malt? I haven't used it before, nor have I heard of it.

Jmtwo - with the amount of grain I am ordering, it is more cost effective to pay more for malt and get no additional shipping cost. The same malts on Northern Brewer, whilst much cheaper, we're costing me about $100 shipping, whereas I paid about $60 more for malt on AHB, but only $6 shipping.
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