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Old 09-25-2011, 04:06 AM   #1
CoalCreekBeer
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Default High Altitude Brewing (Color?)

I hope there are some high altitude brewers here.
My brother and I have recently taken up home brewing and have had a wonderful success so far.

The problem is, we brew at 8,200 ft in elevation. We have seen in these forums that hops might be a bit less efficient at this altitude, but we have adjusted with no problems. The concern is the color of our beers.

We just finished our 6th 5 gal batch, and the common denominator is our color on all of our brews, some are more obvious then others.

Our first brew was an American Brown Ale, box recipe.
American Brown Ale

Recipe Specs
----------------
Batch Size (G): 5.0
Total Grain (lb): 5.755
Total Hops (oz): 1.00
Original Gravity (OG): 1.042 (°P): 10.5
Final Gravity (FG): 1.008 (°P): 2.1
Alcohol by Volume (ABV): 4.46 %
Colour (SRM): 21.4 (EBC): 42.2
Bitterness (IBU): 36.0 (Average)
Brewhouse Efficiency (%): 70
Boil Time (Minutes): 60

Grain Bill
----------------
2.000 lb Dry Malt Extract - Light (34.75%)
1.250 lb American 2-Row (21.72%)
1.000 lb Dry Malt Extract - Amber (17.38%)
0.500 lb Chocolate (8.69%)
0.500 lb Dextrose (8.69%)
0.380 lb Crystal 90 (6.6%)
0.125 lb Biscuit (2.17%)

Hop Bill
----------------
0.75 oz Centennial Pellet (9.7% Alpha) @ 60 Minutes (Boil) (0.2 oz/Gal)
0.25 oz Centennial Pellet (9.7% Alpha) @ 15 Minutes (Boil) (0 oz/Gal)

Misc Bill
----------------

Single step Infusion at 151°F for 60 Minutes.
Fermented at 68°F with WLP001 - California Ale

This turned out to be a wonderful recipe, great flavor and aroma. The color is more like, well, a stout, it is VERY dark, the recipe states that it is a 42.2 ebc, but ours turned out to be more like 70-75 ebc.

This being our first beer, we were not concerned, it is wonderful, flavor is excellent as I stated before. Then when we brewed our latest batch, an American Pale Ale, the color was once again much darker then the recipe stated it would be. Here is the recipe.

Gold Coast pale ale
American Pale Ale

Recipe Specs
----------------
Batch Size (G): 5.0
Total Grain (lb): 8.000
Total Hops (oz): 1.90
Original Gravity (OG): 1.058 (°P): 14.3
Final Gravity (FG): 1.013 (°P): 3.3
Alcohol by Volume (ABV): 5.86 %
Colour (SRM): 7.1 (EBC): 14.0
Bitterness (IBU): 41.1 (Average)
Brewhouse Efficiency (%): 70
Boil Time (Minutes): 60

Grain Bill
----------------
7.250 lb Liquid Malt Extract - Light (90.62%)
0.250 lb Dextrose (3.12%)
0.250 lb Honey Malt (3.12%)
0.250 lb Victory (3.12%)

Hop Bill
----------------
0.90 oz Northern Brewer Pellet (9.6% Alpha) @ 60 Minutes (Boil) (0.2 oz/Gal)
0.50 oz Tettnanger Pellet (4% Alpha) @ 15 Minutes (Boil) (0.1 oz/Gal)
0.50 oz Hallertau Aroma Pellet (8.1% Alpha) @ 5 Minutes (Boil) (0.1 oz/Gal)

Misc Bill
----------------

Single step Infusion at 155°F for 30 Minutes.
Fermented at 68°F with

As this recipe shows the EBC should have been around 14, however, it turned out at 30-35.

The beers taste great, but we are just really flabbergasted by the colors and how off they are compared to the specs of the recipe, any ideas? Is this an elevation issue?

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Old 09-25-2011, 05:18 AM   #2
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Ah, high elevation brewing. I'm not as high as you are (I'm at about 5200 ft) but here's what's going on:

If elevation was having an effect then the color would be lighter than you'd expect. The higher the elevation you're at, the lower the boiling point for water. For instance, at my elevation the bp is 202* F. Therefore, the Maillard reactions that cause darkness and toasty/roasty flavors won't happen as quickly or as strong.

There must be some other factor. It also might depend on the brew software you're using as there are different equations available to calculate SRM, some a bit different than others. Color is a very difficult factor to nail down as there are a multitude of variables that contribute to the final color, especially since Maillard reactions are still not completely understood.

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Old 09-25-2011, 05:38 AM   #3
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Our boiling point is 197.
We do use well water that comes out at about 48. The wort chiller is great, we can get to 80 from 197 in about 5 minutes.

Both the recipes were "box" with their own stats. We put those recipes into BrewMate and the numbers came out the same.

Now I am only more confused.

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Old 09-25-2011, 05:55 AM   #4
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I'll bet on you malt extract getting scorched...

I'm at 7,000 feet and dont have a color problem with all grain beers.

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Old 09-25-2011, 06:39 PM   #5
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Also, some people have mentioned that, particularly with LME, if it's not super-fresh extract it can turn out darker than expected. Not sure if DME has the same problem. That may be a factor.

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