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Old 11-02-2009, 11:15 PM   #1
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Default What percentage of specialty grains is common?

I keep trying to find this on the homebrew wiki and on the forum but can't get a clear answer. What percentage of steeping grains is generally common and appropriate per batch? I'm guessing that each type of grain has an appropriate range...but sans pointless experimentation that could turn out like sh*t, would 5-10% be the general range, or maybe more (depending on style)? What I did learn from the beer wiki is that these generally get overused, so I'm trying to avoid that. My first attempt at using steeping grains is going to be a California Common. Thanks.

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Old 11-02-2009, 11:22 PM   #2
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I keep trying to find this on the homebrew wiki and on the forum but can't get a clear answer. What percentage of steeping grains is generally common and appropriate per batch? I'm guessing that each type of grain has an appropriate range...but sans pointless experimentation that could turn out like sh*t, would 5-10% be the general range, or maybe more (depending on style)? What I did learn from the beer wiki is that these generally get overused, so I'm trying to avoid that. My first attempt at using steeping grains is going to be a California Common. Thanks.
Wow- what a complex question! The answer is "it depends"! It depends on what you're brewing, mostly. In an amber, for example, you may want to go with up to 15% crystal malt. But even ANY crystal malt might be out of place in another style!

My favorite resource for questions like this is "Designing Great Beers" by Ray Daniels. It talks about the beer styles, and the rationale behind each ingredient.

I guess the easiest answer I can think of is to think of the beer style you want to make, or make most often, and research that style. A good source is the BJCP quidelines: http://www.bjcp.org/2008styles/catdex.php

Since each style is different, and has different ingredients, it's not as simple as saying "90% pale malt, 5% crystal malt, 5% Munich malt" for all beers. I wish it was!
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Old 11-02-2009, 11:32 PM   #3
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Since each style is different, and has different ingredients, it's not as simple as saying "90% pale malt, 5% crystal malt, 5% Munich malt" for all beers. I wish it was!
Right, I know that no one can give a general rule of thumb for which steeping malt fits in which style in which amount, that's not really exactly what I'm asking though.

It says on the beer wiki and on some post here that using too much specialty grain can be either too overpowering or produce flavors that are non desirable and not common for what that grain is known for. "Ashy" is one word used to describe chocolate malts in overused quantities off the top of my head.

Let's just assume we are making a hyrbid recipe and just want good flavor/body. And let's assume that Pilsner or light gold extract is generally used (Which seems to be the case more and more based on the recommendations here). So we want to make an Amber ale and a Stout. Would using 20% 60L crystal in the Amber be off the wall? What would it do to the flavor compared to 10%. Basing flavor on color is not predictable. I could find this out for myself, but I'd have to make probably 30-40 batches to figure it out.
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Old 11-02-2009, 11:34 PM   #4
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I can tell you a little about California Common, since I make it often and have a special affinity for that style.

Some of my advice is stuff from my own experience, some comes from Jamil Zainasheff's book "Brewing Classic Styles".

First, it's a malty beer but with firm bitterness. An authentic steam beer has northern brewer hops, but there are other versions that use other hops. If you taste an Anchor Steam beer, you'll get some toasted, grainy and caramel flavors and aromas.

Because of the "toasted" flavor, I added some victory malt. Because of the "caramel" flavor, I added some crystal malt. The beer isn't sweet, though, so I kept the caramel malt to under 10%.

The main attribute of the California common is using lager yeast at ale temperatures, to bring out some fruitiness. I like Wyeast California lager yeast for that.

Al good beers are about balance. Some are balanced between hops and malt evenly, some lean to hoppy or malty. But underlying it all is balance and that just comes with experience and much reading!

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Old 11-02-2009, 11:37 PM   #5
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Let's just assume we are making a hyrbid recipe and just want good flavor/body. And let's assume that Pilsner or light gold extract is generally used (Which seems to be the case more and more based on the recommendations here). So we want to make an Amber ale and a Stout. Would using 20% 60L crystal in the Amber be off the wall? What would it do to the flavor compared to 10%. Basing flavor on color is not predictable. I could find this out for myself, but I'd have to make probably 30-40 batches to figure it out.
Good flavor/body in a hybrid? Sure. We can add carapils for body, without much flavor.

An amber ale? You could easily go to 15% crystal/caramel malt. 20% might make it cloyingly sweet. At 10%, it would have a pleasant but understated sweetness.

A stout? Well, I use very little crystal (less than 5%) in a stout. But, there are other grains like chocolate malt and roasted barley to bring color and flavor to the brew.
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Old 11-02-2009, 11:43 PM   #6
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An amber ale? You could easily go to 15% crystal/caramel malt. 20% might make it cloyingly sweet. At 10%, it would have a pleasant but understated sweetness.
Thanks, that's getting very close to what I'm looking for...like you say here 10% would be balanced, 20% would be very much on the sweet side. So can all the specialty grains be grouped into sweet, or toasty, or coffee? So is 20% for most any steeping grain the general point of no return?
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Old 11-02-2009, 11:50 PM   #7
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I found this

http://www.foamrangers.com/malts.html

(Thanks Baron Von BeeGee and YooperBrew for the help above)

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Old 11-02-2009, 11:59 PM   #8
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[QUOTE=neldred;1651018 So can all the specialty grains be grouped into sweet, or toasty, or coffee?

So is 20% for most any steeping grain the general point of no return?[/QUOTE]

Well, no. All of the specialty malts are different. Some are sweet, some raisiny, some roasty, some malty, some "burnt" tasting, etc. The link you posted will help you learn some of them. Also, if you have a homebrewstore nearby, go in and taste a couple grains of each one. Believe it or not, that's really the most helpful way to learn what each grain will bring.

As far as the "point of no return", no I wouldn't say that 20% would be the point of no return. It really depends on what you're making, and why you're adding the ingredients. To put it into a cooking analogy, is 20% chicken broth too much for soup? Well, maybe. If you're making tomato soup, it's too much! But if you're making chicken soup, 100% is just fine. Same with beer, really. Munich malt can be 100% of a grain bill for one beer, but even 10% may be too much for another. I'm not trying to dodge your question- but the answer really is "it depends".

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Old 11-03-2009, 12:55 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by neldred View Post
I found this

http://www.foamrangers.com/malts.html

(Thanks Baron Von BeeGee and YooperBrew for the help above)
Woohoo! The Foam Rangers rule! Although I may be a bit biased.

I put together a page that has all of this reference material on it, since I'm a book horder I like that I have an extensive brewing library even though I can't brew worth a dang.

See it http://www.3dogbrew.com/3db/Library.htm
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