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Old 06-07-2013, 08:54 PM   #1
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Default Testing Base Malts with SMaSHes

Hi Guys-

I'm interested in evaluating base malts (and boy are there a ton of them) to pick a sort of "house" pale malt. What's a good way to do this when evaluating malt? I'd like to end up with some drinkable beers at the end of all this, and not something too boring. I thought of something like a pale ale, but was worried late hops might get in the way.

Thoughts on OG, mash temp, etc?

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Old 06-07-2013, 11:28 PM   #2
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I did one using Marris Otter and Cascade hops recently that was my first SMaSH and was brewed as a 3bbl batch for sale to customers. Kept the IBU at around 60 (forget right now) and the alcohol at 5.5%

I wasn't sure what to expect for sales but it moved a lot faster than I expected and I have had requests for more of this style since nobody does this for tap sales in this area.

Mash temp was 155
OG if I remember right was 1.050
FG 1.010
I forget the gu:bu numbers but I could look it up later

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Old 06-08-2013, 01:08 AM   #3
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I've done a few SMaSHes, and I usually target about 1.060 OG, and mash fairly high (156*F), and target ~ 45 IBU's with all additions 20 min or less. I feel like the warmer mash allows the malt to have a say in things, as does keeping the bittering level restrained. I still get plenty of hop flavor and aroma so I can learn about that hop strain as well by keeping the additions late a la "hopburst." I have never gotten the impression that this protocol overwhelms or outshines the malt at all...

All combinations have come out awesome, but the best so far I think was my American Pale Nelson Sauvin, close second being my current on tap Vienna Simcoe. I'm actually running low...I do need to brew soon! Thinking about something with Munich...have to go through my hop stash and see what might sound good with that!

Edit: forgot to mention...use a clean neutral yeast...I've been using either US-05 or BRY-97

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Old 06-08-2013, 03:33 AM   #4
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Our house yeast is WLP090 so no worries there, but I was concerned about late hops affecting my ability to judge the malt character fully. Not a problem do you think? I've got a pretty good palate but since this is for posterity, I'd like to get it right the first time.

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Old 06-08-2013, 02:13 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by daksin View Post
Our house yeast is WLP090 so no worries there, but I was concerned about late hops affecting my ability to judge the malt character fully. Not a problem do you think? I've got a pretty good palate but since this is for posterity, I'd like to get it right the first time.
My suggestion is to set yourself a standard then use it every time.

OG = x
IBU = x
BU:GU = x
Hop schedule = x

This way it is the exact same beer every time but the only variable is the base grain and the hops themselves. If you use BS to design you could even make sure each hop addition is imparting the same number of IBU so it is even more precise.

What numbers you decide on honestly makes no difference but keeping the BU:GU numbers at a moderate level will allow the base grain to show through a bit more and you will have a more balanced beer, but if you want a 100ibu SMaSH then there is no reason you couldn't and with each SMaSH you brewed like that you would notice the change in flavor from the grain or the hop depending on what variable you switched out.
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Old 06-08-2013, 02:31 PM   #6
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What base grains are you even familiar with?


Why not try chewing a handful of base grains and see if you find the flavor agreeable? If you can't taste the difference between 2 malts chewing on them, you won't be able to in a beer neither.

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Old 06-08-2013, 02:59 PM   #7
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I have tried several over the past few years, including Maris Otter several different "pale ale" malts that were produced domestically. Maris Otter is great if you are doing English ales, or anything you want a little more malty character in. Domestically, I like the Northwest Pale Ale malt by Great Western. It just tastes better to me than the 2-Row from Canadian Malting.

I agree with Nightshade too. Set up an experiment using all of the different base malts you can get your hands on. Then use a basic recipe to test them all in a routine fashion. The only variable in the test should be the base malt. If you are looking to have a drinkable beer out of each one then do a style you like as the test batch. I don't see any reason to limit it to a SMaSH though, as long as you control all other aspects of the recipe.

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Old 06-09-2013, 02:14 AM   #8
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So, I understand how to set up an experiment; I was more looking for suggestions on what you think would be good for a recipe when compaing base malts specifically.

Also- 2-row base malt and pale malts in general produced by different malsters can be radically different- chewing grain may give you an idea of the difference between munich and maris otter, but if you want to figure out how two different 2-rows are going to act in a final beer, you need to make that beer and compare them.

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Old 06-09-2013, 02:26 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by daksin View Post
So, I understand how to set up an experiment; I was more looking for suggestions on what you think would be good for a recipe when compaing base malts specifically.

Also- 2-row base malt and pale malts in general produced by different malsters can be radically different- chewing grain may give you an idea of the difference between munich and maris otter, but if you want to figure out how two different 2-rows are going to act in a final beer, you need to make that beer and compare them.
I have no actual knowledge or experience on the matter, but wouldn't just doing a light 60 min hop addition with something like hallertauer mittelfruh or even magnum be a pretty good way to evaluate grain? No late hops at all.

This wouldn't really be the best drinking beer, but you'd really taste the grain.
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Old 06-09-2013, 02:30 AM   #10
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Off topic...

My wife will be in San Diego for the next few days. I suggested she and my sister (both my sister and my wife's sister live in SD) go to Stone brewing for a tour and so my wife could pick me up a growler (I have a modest collection going) but when she talked to my sister she found out my sis already got me one. My sister is into my brewing although she prefers lambics and I can't really stand them.

Are you guys open to the public and do you sell growlers? Just to get to the heart of the matter finally.

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