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Old 04-15-2013, 01:09 PM   #1
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Default I don't think I like Special B

I've brewed 3 beers this year with special B in them. They were a Belgian Quad (extract), a RIS (AG), and a Weizenbock (extract). Each had about 5-6% Special B as part of the malt bill. Obviously, these are beers that should age a bit, but they all have this distinct taste that I find very unpleasant and the only thing they all have in common is the Special B. From what I had read about Special B it seemed like something I would like. I've heard it described as raisiny, dark fruits, even molasses. But, this flavor does not taste like any of those things to me. I am having a hard time describing the flavor, but it is almost vegetal in nature. Anyone else not like Special B? Am I crazy here?
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Old 04-15-2013, 01:13 PM   #2
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It's a crystal malt that's already converted, grab a handful and chew on it, should taste exactly the same in the beer.
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Old 04-15-2013, 01:17 PM   #3
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I've never used more than 0.5 lb of Special B, which is usually more in the 2-4% range for me. I do like it though. Often the raisin, burnt flavor doesn't really shine through until its been in the bottle for a few months. I haven't picked out anything vegetal about it.
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Old 04-15-2013, 01:26 PM   #4
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Well. everyone likes different flavors, so it could easily be that you don't care for it. I think it has a pretty prominent raisin/dark fruit taste and aroma.

I would note that the other thing all the brews have in common is a high OG. Anything marginal in your process can be amplified in a big beer.
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Old 04-15-2013, 01:49 PM   #5
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I like it in small amounts in the appropriate beer - mostly dark Belgians or a touch in a dark mild... You might also try the Special B from the different maltster. There are significant differences in both flavor and color between them.
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Old 04-15-2013, 01:51 PM   #6
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Yeah I considered the high OG thing too, but in the same time frame I made a barleywine and a tripel and they both turned out great so then I zeroed in on the special B. The weizenbock as really improved a lot since I bottled it in January. But I can still detect that same flavor that is in the relatively young RIS and Belgian Quad so then I started looking at the recipes and found that special B was the common ingredient.

Thanks for the advice about chewing on the grain. I'll give that a try next time I am at the LHBS.
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Old 04-15-2013, 01:52 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ArcaneXor View Post
I like it in small amounts in the appropriate beer - mostly dark Belgians or a touch in a dark mild... You might also try the Special B from the different maltster. There are significant differences in both flavor and color between them.
I have a friend who uses special B in his brown ale. It's really good, but I think he uses very little and still gets a "twangy" toffee/raisin flavor. Otherwise, I agree- mostly in a mild or a very dark Belgian beer would be the most appropriate use of special B.

It seems to me that 6% special B is quite a lot as it's pretty intense and strong flavored. It's not "vegetal" though, not at all.
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Old 04-15-2013, 02:06 PM   #8
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You could overuse special B but it wouldn't throw off the flavor you are experiencing. There's gotta be something else contributing to the vegetal flavor you mentioned. I use special B in lots of different styles when I want a complex grist to work with. I'd suggest looking at other areas of those beers for why you are experiencing the flavor and give those beers a month or two to age.
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Old 04-15-2013, 02:40 PM   #9
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I really like it, but I use it sparingly. I've come to the point where I can almost always taste it in a commercial beer. It's got a very distinctive flavor. I've never tasted vegetal though.
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Old 04-15-2013, 02:53 PM   #10
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Special B is one of those malts that you can easily over due if your not careful. I like it in small amounts in a wide range of beers. One this I really like about Special B is the red color that it imparts. I have overdone it in the past and found it to be very harsh in flavor. Never vegetal though...

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