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Old 08-09-2012, 05:56 AM   #1
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Default New dark beer technique?

I love stouts & porters, but have been very disappointed with my attempts for a couple of years. I make great IPAs, saisons etc, but all of my dark beers have a very weird astringent flavor to them. So, the my last attempt I tried something new and added the darker grains (black patent, chocolate etc) only for the last 10 minutes of my 60 minute mash and boom turned out fantastic! No off flavor, still roasty and the best stout I have ever made!

I'm not sure if this is a water chemistry issue and my PH is off or what, but this method seems to work. Anyone else ever try this? Also, any ideas as to what my issue with mashing these dark grains for 60 minutes could be?

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Old 08-09-2012, 07:05 AM   #2
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Tannin extraction, plain and simple.

Your method is not a new one. Several recipes call for a two part mash, adding roasted grain only during the last part of the mash. In fact, some black IPA recipes call for pulverizing highly roasted grain and adding the resulting powder during the sparge. You can also experiment with cold steeping roasted grain in a separate vessel, and straining the liquid into your mash tun or boil kettle.

The root cause of your problem is very likely high pH. Your water probably has a high pH on its own, and if you are mashing thin or getting overzealous in your sparge technique, the pH could skyrocket and cause the astringent flavors you're experiencing. Additionally, a high temperature mash out could aggravate your issue.

Some acidulated malt or lactic acid would likely help, but without a pH meter, it'd be a bit of a guessing game. If you're up for an experiment, substitute about 5% (by total grain bill weight) acidulated malt for an equal amount of the base malt in your recipe and mash as usual (full grain bill for the full amount of time). That should adjust the pH of your mash by about -0.5 (which is a lot). See if that helps. (Source: http://www.rebelbrewer.com/shoppingcart/products/Weyermann-Acidulated-Malt-(by-the-ounce).html)

Here is a blog article describing one brewer's experience with roasted grain techniques:
http://ryanbrews.blogspot.com/2010/11/black-color-without-roast-flavor.html

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Old 08-09-2012, 01:10 PM   #3
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Any time I hear "astringent" or "Harsh" I think of water too. The one thing that I find curious though, is that you are complaining about your dark beers, rather than your IPA's. Generally, it is the lighter colored/hoppy beers that have problems because of mash pH, etc. The roasted grains in dark beers offset more alkaline water. I had the opposite problem with my highly alkaline water - great stouts and porters, average to below average/astringent IPA's. I have to adjust my water when I am not using lots of dark grains in my mash. Do you know your water profile?

I do think it may have something to do with your water, sparge techniques, mash/sparge temperatures though.

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Old 08-09-2012, 01:18 PM   #4
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Also - I have heard of the steeping method, or adding roast grains to the top of your mash during sparge only. I believe Gordon Strong talks about it in his book, and I think I heard him discussing it in one of the brewing podcasts. I know I have heard it in other podcasts too.

If it works for you, keep using it and research it some more.

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Old 08-09-2012, 01:46 PM   #5
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Yuri,
This doenst make sense to me. Don't dark grains lower Ph (i.e are more acidic)?
Thus if the Ph is too high (not acidic enough) I would think you want to lower your Ph by using the Dark grains from the start.

Tannin extraction sounds like a high Ph, though I wonder if high temperatures at some point in the OPs process may be a cause?

PS - that's a nice article you provided the link to, thank you.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Yuri_Rage View Post
Tannin extraction, plain and simple.

Your method is not a new one. Several recipes call for a two part mash, adding roasted grain only during the last part of the mash. In fact, some black IPA recipes call for pulverizing highly roasted grain and adding the resulting powder during the sparge. You can also experiment with cold steeping roasted grain in a separate vessel, and straining the liquid into your mash tun or boil kettle.

The root cause of your problem is very likely high pH. Your water probably has a high pH on its own, and if you are mashing thin or getting overzealous in your sparge technique, the pH could skyrocket and cause the astringent flavors you're experiencing. Additionally, a high temperature mash out could aggravate your issue.

Some acidulated malt or lactic acid would likely help, but without a pH meter, it'd be a bit of a guessing game. If you're up for an experiment, substitute about 5% (by total grain bill weight) acidulated malt for an equal amount of the base malt in your recipe and mash as usual (full grain bill for the full amount of time). That should adjust the pH of your mash by about -0.5 (which is a lot). See if that helps. (Source: http://www.rebelbrewer.com/shoppingcart/products/Weyermann-Acidulated-Malt-(by-the-ounce).html)

Here is a blog article describing one brewer's experience with roasted grain techniques:
http://ryanbrews.blogspot.com/2010/11/black-color-without-roast-flavor.html
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Old 08-09-2012, 01:51 PM   #6
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Here is the podcast where they talk about the process you were describing - adding dark grains later:
http://beersmith.com/blog/2012/05/31/advanced-home-brewing-with-gordon-strong-beersmith-podcast-39/

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Old 08-10-2012, 12:53 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ArcLight View Post
Yuri,
This doenst make sense to me. Don't dark grains lower Ph (i.e are more acidic)?
Yes, but if their addition does not lower the pH enough, tannin extraction is the result. The higher the degree of roast, the more astringent the flavor could become if mashed improperly. By limiting the time that the mash is exposed to roasted grains, you limit the amount of flavor extraction (to include tannins).

What doesn't make sense is the OP's supposed success with lighter beers and failure with darker ones. A blind addition of acid malt may help narrow the problem down, but only water, brew process, and mash pH analysis will really tell the tale.
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