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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > All Grain & Partial Mash Brewing > SRM waay darker than predicted
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Old 03-15-2010, 05:56 PM   #1
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Default SRM waay darker than predicted

Yesterday I brewed up a 5 gallon batch with 12 lbs of Belgian Pale Ale malt. No specialty grains or anything else in the mash. Just Pale Ale malt.

The predicted SRM was a 6 but it looks much closer to 15 or 20. Not just a shade or two darker than predicted, but 2 or 3 times darker.

This was from a 55 lb bag of Castle Pale Ale I bought a week earlier at my LHBS. I know it said "Pale Ale" on the bag so I know there wasn't a mixup at the LHBS. I also know I didn't tag it with the wrong label when I put it into bins because the only other bulk grains I have in the big bins at home is Castle Pilsen malt.

Other than that, my efficiency was perfectly fine (about 80% into the boiler).

Any ideas on why it came out so dark?

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Old 03-15-2010, 06:12 PM   #2
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Boy, that's a good one. My experience with BeerSmith is that beers usually come out a bit darker than predicted. One time I made an Irish Red and it turned out almost as dark as a stout. But I was adding dark malts, which you clearly weren't.

Did you boil for an extended period of time? That would darken it up a bit if you had.

I have a wheat beer recipe that I make quite often, and it always comes out very light in color. A little less than a year ago I made two batches within a month and they both came out almost red in color and didn't taste quite right. They were from the same bag of wheat malt that I had recently purchased from my LHBS. I decided to throw the rest of the sack out and bought a new one. The next beer I made was just like I remembered it, nice and light. I'm not sure what it was about that bag of grain (same brand I always buy), maybe it sat in the back of a warehouse for a while and was pissed on by rats or something, but I only had that problem once. Maybe something similar happened to your bag?

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Old 03-15-2010, 06:47 PM   #3
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Maybe the company who bagged the grains made a mistake and instead put crystal malt with a higher lovibond rating instead of a pale malt in the bag? That's the only thing I could see that what would cause such a drastic change. It's definitely not boiling. Although boiling does darken the wort a bit, it can't add more than 1 or 2 SRM points. If boiling was the cause, then how would you explain pilsner beers which go through complex decoction mashing where you voluntarily scorch the wort a bit to add caramel sweetness yet still have a pale beer come out at the end?

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Old 03-15-2010, 06:49 PM   #4
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Did you boil for an extended period of time? That would darken it up a bit if you had.
Nah, just a 60 minute boil and I could already tell from the first runnings that it was going to be very, very dark.

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I'm not sure what it was about that bag of grain (same brand I always buy), maybe it sat in the back of a warehouse for a while and was pissed on by rats or something, but I only had that problem once. Maybe something similar happened to your bag?
Yeah, I'm really looking at the bag of grain as being the culprit. I have no idea how long it sat at the LHBS. Would sitting for a long time darken the grains?
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Old 03-16-2010, 12:24 AM   #5
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Maybe the company who bagged the grains made a mistake and instead put crystal malt with a higher lovibond rating instead of a pale malt in the bag?
I thought about that. Would a crystal malt convert, though? My conversion efficiency was 100% but I guess the real test will be to see what kind of attenuation I get...
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Old 03-16-2010, 12:53 AM   #6
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I'm not 100% sure, but I don't think crystal malt would convert. Or if it did, it would be very low percentage. But for sure, when you measure your final gravity, you'll know if it was crystal malt. Those malts are loaded with unfermentable sugar so your beer will have terrible attenuation. If you end up with a normal FG, then you may also be dealing with munich malt. I just crunched 12 lbs of munich malt in brewtility and it spit out an SRM rating of 12-13. And that malt would convert so it would attenuate normally. Beyond that, you mentioned the age of the grain as a possible source of problem. On that topic, I have no clue as to the effect of time on grain color. I hope someone else steps in and comments on this as I am curious myself.

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Old 03-16-2010, 12:57 AM   #7
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Crystal malt is already converted. It doesn't require mashing. It's pretty easy to tell if you have crystal malt...just bite into a few grains. They should taste sweet.

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Old 03-16-2010, 01:02 AM   #8
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It's pretty easy to tell if you have crystal malt...just bite into a few grains. They should taste sweet.
I just tasted a few grains. Definitely not sweet. A little bready and toasty. Fermentation is going like gangbusters right now, too.
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Old 03-16-2010, 01:54 AM   #9
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dumb question, but you looked at this in a thin clear tube or on a white plate, rather than in bulk in the kettle or fermenter, right? Everything looks super dark in bulk.

could it be a water issue? Have you brewed a lot of light beers? I'm no expert but I believe harder water could leave to a darker beer?

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Old 03-16-2010, 02:32 AM   #10
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dumb question, but you looked at this in a thin clear tube or on a white plate, rather than in bulk in the kettle or fermenter, right? Everything looks super dark in bulk.
I take samples of my First Runnings, Pre-Boil and Post-Boil and put them in little glasses throughout the brew day. It definitely wasn't a matter of looking at it in bulk.

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could it be a water issue? Have you brewed a lot of light beers? I'm no expert but I believe harder water could leave to a darker beer?
I use Phoenix tap water, carbon filtered. My water is hard as a rock but the brews I've made with Pilsner malt have been pretty light (at least in range with the SRM predictions in BeerSmith).
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