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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Equipment/Sanitation > Electric Keggle Carmelization Test
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Old 11-25-2008, 11:12 PM   #1
LooyvilleLarry
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Default Electric Keggle Carmelization Test

Since there has been much interest in electric kettles here, but fear of carmalization, I was thinking that perhaps a test was in order.

What if we made a "wort" of simple sugar water and boiled it for 60 minutes, then made a SRM measurement of the wort.

Would that be a good test to check for carmelization without risking a beer?


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Old 11-26-2008, 02:40 AM   #2
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I'd think you would need to use wort. Even DME to 1.040 would probably give quite different results. Maybe not though. I'll email Jamil about it.


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Old 11-26-2008, 02:42 AM   #3
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Thanks. Ask for some way that we can verify the carmalization. I should have my kettle welded and ready to go by the weekend.
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Old 11-26-2008, 02:47 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by lrr81765 View Post
Thanks. Ask for some way that we can verify the carmalization. I should have my kettle welded and ready to go by the weekend.
He probably won't respond by then-- I'll try the guys at basic brewing to see if they have any ideas too.
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Old 11-26-2008, 06:03 PM   #5
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Hazarding a guess, I think it's using ME that's the problem. If you dump DME or LME into the kettle while the element is running then you are going to get some clumping on the element before the ME is in solution. I'm guessing that it is the ME sticking to the element which produces the (alleged) scorched flavor. Either that or people aren't stirring enough and the element is resting in a pool of undissolved ME at the bottom of the kettle.

Either way I'd love to see the results.
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Old 11-26-2008, 07:13 PM   #6
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The fear is unfounded.

Adding DME/LME to an electric or gas fired kettle is no different. An electric heating element will scorch just like a gas flame will if you add the sugar while the kettle is being heated and the undissolved sugar heats up quickly. The caramelization temperatures for sugar are:

Sugar - Temperature
Fructose - 110C, 230F
Galactose - 160C, 320F
Glucose - 160C, 320F
Sucrose - 160C, 320F
Maltose - 180C, 356F

Simple solution - turn the flame/electricity off just before you add the malt extract, dissolve, and resume heating.
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Old 11-26-2008, 08:28 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lamarguy View Post
The fear is unfounded.

Adding DME/LME to an electric or gas fired kettle is no different. An electric heating element will scorch just like a gas flame will if you add the sugar while the kettle is being heated and the undissolved sugar heats up quickly. The caramelization temperatures for sugar are:

Sugar - Temperature
Fructose - 110C, 230F
Galactose - 160C, 320F
Glucose - 160C, 320F
Sucrose - 160C, 320F
Maltose - 180C, 356F

Simple solution - turn the flame/electricity off just before you add the malt extract, dissolve, and resume heating.
But those sugars are still present...just because they aren't in a concetrated extract form.

I'm not worried about the Extract carmelizing, I'm worried about the fermentable sugars in the wort carmelizing and imparting a different character to a finished beer.

Obviously in a stout, it wouldn't be hardly detectable-- but in a pils, it might be enough not to win an award. And personally, if it's going to take my beer from anything less than perfect, I don't want it.
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Old 11-26-2008, 08:41 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Stevorino View Post
And personally, if it's going to take my beer from anything less than perfect, I don't want it.
Well, that's probably a different discussion, but 80% of the techniques homebrewers employ are not "perfect/ideal". It's about practicality and cost effectiveness for most homebrewers.

From a fluids perspective, the risk of carmelization goes up with wort gravity. This is due to the nature of a viscous solution and it's tendency to radiate heat more slowly than a less viscous solution. This can result in hot spots during heating cycles that can be mitigated by (1) stirring or (2) recirculation pump.

If you're brewing a pilsner, I think you would have to work pretty hard to produce detectable levels of caramels using an electric heating element. Brewing an imperial stout, well, caramels just add to the flavor.
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Old 11-27-2008, 03:20 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lamarguy View Post
Well, that's probably a different discussion, but 80% of the techniques homebrewers employ are not "perfect/ideal". It's about practicality and cost effectiveness for most homebrewers.

From a fluids perspective, the risk of carmelization goes up with wort gravity. This is due to the nature of a viscous solution and it's tendency to radiate heat more slowly than a less viscous solution. This can result in hot spots during heating cycles that can be mitigated by (1) stirring or (2) recirculation pump.

If you're brewing a pilsner, I think you would have to work pretty hard to produce detectable levels of caramels using an electric heating element. Brewing an imperial stout, well, caramels just add to the flavor.
So, it sounds like it's a fair assumption that an electric heating element would cause more carmelization than a traditional gas burner?
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Old 11-27-2008, 06:36 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Stevorino View Post
So, it sounds like it's a fair assumption that an electric heating element would cause more carmelization than a traditional gas burner?
I don't believe I said or alluded to that.

What I said is - it's a factor of wort gravity and "hot spots" in the kettle. Both gas burners and electric heating elements contribute to those conditions. Gas burners directly heat the bottom of the kettle creating a hot spot. Electric heating elements directly heat a steel tube (or tubes) creating a hot spot(s). Pick your poison.


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