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Old 06-22-2007, 01:56 AM   #1
brucepepper
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Default Style question

I made my first non-kit beer about 5 weeks ago and bought my ingredients from a guy who had a bunch of stuff in his basement. I'm really happy with the beer but it is not very close to the style I was attempting to make. The recipe was,

6.6lbs Amber LME
1.5lbs crystal malt
1oz cascade (60min)
1oz cascade (15min)
1oz goldings (flame out)
OG 1038
FG 1015

I was trying to make a hoppy American Amber Ale. Instead it is very dark brown (opaque) and tastes like a mild English Porter. I'm just wondering if this has happened to anyone else? I'm starting to wonder if he sold me something other than crystal malt.

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Old 06-22-2007, 02:03 AM   #2
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I would have gone with light extract, used the crystal to pull it up to the color I was looking for. Also, LME tends to get darker with age. If this guy is selling from his basement it might not the freshest.

Also, haver you bottled this?

Your final gravity is right on the edge of the amber ale scale. What yeast did yo use? This wont change the color but will change the taste.

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Old 06-22-2007, 02:25 AM   #3
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A couple of thoughts:

You bought this from a guy who had ingredients in his basement? If the LME was old, my understanding is that it might get darker.

Do you know what the Lovibond rating of the Crystal malt was? It goes from fairly light, 10L, to quite dark, 120L. What did the "Crystal" look like?

Did you caramelize the LME when you added it? If the burner is still on, when you pour the LME in it can caramelize because it goes right to the bottom. Turn the gas off or remove from electric burners before adding LME. Stir thoroughly before reapplying heat.

What size pot did you use and how much liquid did you boil? The more concentrated your boil the harder it is to maintain a light color, again, because of caramelization.

Did you steep the Crystal Malt? At what temp and for how long?

On an aside, what size was this batch? If you were doing 5 gal, I'm getting something more like 1.049 for an OG using 6.6 lbs of LME and 1.057 if you account for the sugars from the Crystal Malt. Did you measure an OG of 1.038 or was that in the recipe?

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Old 06-22-2007, 12:29 PM   #4
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Thanks for the replies. I used the hydrometer to measure the OG. The yeast was Munton's Premium Gold. The guy told me that his ingredients weren't very fresh but I really had no other options. The crystal malt wasn't labeled so I really can't tell what it was. The boil size was about 2.5-3 gallons and I made sure to take the pot off the flame when I added the LME. I steeped the grains at about 150-160 (don't have a good thermometer) for 20 minutes.

From what you have said it sounds like it could be the lack of freshness, and possibly dark crystal malts.

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Old 06-22-2007, 01:12 PM   #5
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Well to keep the color lighter next time, add half of your extract at the end of the boil. Keep in mind that a late addition of extract will increase your hop utilization.

When you buy more ingredients for your next batch from a hombrew shop, use mostly DME or LME that is as light as you can get, then use steeping grains to achieve the bulk of the color (and other effects such as head retention, body, etc).

The Malts Chart on the wiki here is extremely helpful for selection. For steeping grains look for ones without an "X" in the "Mash Required" column. For an Amber Ale, some kind of Crystal is probably what you want though.

Did the guy you bought the ingredients from say what recipe they had been intended for? If they had been for a brown ale or something there might have been some chocolate malt mixed in with the crystal.

Frankly, I'm still really puzzled by your OG. For a 5 gal batch it should have been a good bit higher.

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Old 06-22-2007, 02:21 PM   #6
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I was surprised with the OG too. I'm starting to wonder if my hydrometer is a bit off. It measures water at 1000 but my lastest batch of beer was also under 1040 and it should have been a bit higher. Can you recommend a particular type of hydrometer and a thermometer that I can use for steeping.

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Old 06-22-2007, 02:28 PM   #7
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Reading another post just gave me an idea for a possible cause for the low OG.

This was a concentrated boil, right? When you added water it's possible the concentrated wort and the water weren't well mixed and you sampled a portion that was less concentrated.

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Old 06-22-2007, 02:44 PM   #8
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That's true. I use a long handled spoon to stir it, but it's a couple of inches from the top so I really can't mix it vigorously. Any advice on how to mix it better, or get a sample from lower in the pail? I've tried using a baster and it doesn't work well. (also, I never trust how sanitized it is)

Again thanks for your expertise.

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Old 06-23-2007, 02:51 AM   #9
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We actually strain into a bottling bucket and then take a gravity reading there to determine how much to add. We just realized we have a larger bottling bucket so we'll probably use that in the future and add the water directly to that and just stir with the brewing spoon we used during the boil.

Previously we were mixing into the carboy and using a baster with hose on it, or the larger tube from the autosiphon to thief out some wort for hydro readings.

One thing I'm quite happy with lately is the Mix-Stir we got. It's a long drill attachment with collapseable arms for mixing and aerating the wort.

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