2-Row vs Maris Otter vs Golden Promise vs Halcyon vs Pearl vs Optic

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ndrice

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So I have been really curious/excited about trying out different English base malts ever since I tried some fabulous English style beers that I found out were brewed with Optic as the base malt.

I very often will experiment with different grains, but I've always had a hard time not tweaking more than one variable so I can never quantify the exact differences I'm getting.

Recently I had some time on my hands so I ordered 6 different base malts, enough for a one gallon batch each of each of the different base malts, and decided to do a true single variable SMaSH beer side by side assessment.

I decided to compare American 2-Row, Maris Otter, Golden Promise, Halcyon, Optic, and Pearl malts. From what I understand, everything but the 2-Row is a single variety of winter barley.

The recipe specifics were: 2lbs of base malt, 4g of Fuggles at 60 minutes, 4g of Fuggles at 30 minutes.

All the grains were mashed for 1 hour at 150F. In almost all of the cases 1.75 gallons of wort was collected and boiled for 60 minutes to achieve a final wort volume of 1 gallon. Wort was cooled using my copper wort chiller, then transferred to a 2 gallon bucket and 2g of Safale-S04 was pitched.

I brewed, chilled and pitched all 6 one gallon batches on the same day, then I let them ferment for 7 days at 68F. I just bottled them a couple of days ago.

1380792_10201753841823743_109292112_n.jpg


From left to right:
American 2-Row OG: 1.058 FG: 1.010
Maris Otter OG: 1.061 FG: 1.013
Golden Promise OG: 1.061 FG: 1.012
Pearl OG: 1.064 FG: 1.010
Optic OG: 1.061 FG: 1.010
Halcyon OG: 1.065 FG: 1.012

Once they've bottle conditioned for a few more days I'll crack them open and post my tasting notes.

I will say that they all had significantly different aromas in the mash and the hydrometer samples I took (the liquid in the glass) were all very different as well. I'm looking forward to trying the individual beers.

Photos of the brew day and process can be found here:
http://ndrice323.imgur.com/all/
 

BudzAndSudz

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Love it, I'm gonna mark this here so I can see the results when you taste!

Very surprised at the color differences there since the degrees lovibond of all those grains should be fairly close.
 

stpug

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I'm quite surprised by the color difference between Am2row and MO - that's pretty drastic. I've brewed plenty with MO but never really thought the color difference would be so stark. I look forward to your tasting notes - I just wish I'd done this myself so I could experience it first hand :D
 

WildGingerBrewing

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I am thinking of using Golden Promise in my next beer instead of Maris Otter. I've never used it before. Looking forward to seeing how this comes out.
 

Misplaced_Canuck

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I'm quite surprised by the color difference between Am2row and MO - that's pretty drastic. I've brewed plenty with MO but never really thought the color difference would be so stark. I look forward to your tasting notes - I just wish I'd done this myself so I could experience it first hand :D

I'm not surprised one bit. Maris Otter is very potent base malt. In fact, when I make an American IPA, I will use 50-50 US 2-row and MO, as not to be overwhelming when using just MO. In fact, I seldom ever brew over 5% with MO as the only base malt - too heavy to my tastes.

MC
 

TheHairyHop

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Yea, I may get some flack for this but I dislike MO. Tastes like I added way too much victory or biscuit malt to a brew. I've never used those other malts though
 

thatjonguy

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Yea, I may get some flack for this but I dislike MO. Tastes like I added way too much victory or biscuit malt to a brew. I've never used those other malts though

Flack! Flack! Flack! Flack! Flack!

Now carry on.
 
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ndrice

ndrice

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Nice little side by side. Did you control for mash pH? That can have a large effect on wort color, too.

No, I didn't control for mash pH. A pH meter is on my list of equipment to pick up, but I don't have one yet.

I used Deer Springs for the water in all of the beers though, so the mineral profile of the water was identical.
 

GuldTuborg

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No, I didn't control for mash pH. A pH meter is on my list of equipment to pick up, but I don't have one yet.

I used Deer Springs for the water in all of the beers though, so the mineral profile of the water was identical.

I don't know whether it's a function of cultivar, roasting, or what else, but some of these different malts give quite different mash pHs in the same water. I've seen differences as large as, and occasionally exceeding, .07 reported, which is fairly different.

I don't mean to take away from what you're doing here. I'm still curious to see the results, but I thought I'd ask to see if this was controlled for or not.

:mug:
 

Quaker

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Here was my stab at the same. https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f12/base-malt-experiment-404932/

I need to repeat or actually go further and compare one or two with different waters to gage the water impact. Water report is on order and Water book is at the bedside.

So I wouldn't necessarily take my numbers as gospel, but I learned a lot from it as I'm sure you will.

In future I doubt I'll tackle more than 4 of something at a time. I commend your efforts.
 
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ndrice

ndrice

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Here was my stab at the same. https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f12/base-malt-experiment-404932/

I need to repeat or actually go further and compare one or two with different waters to gage the water impact. Water report is on order and Water book is at the bedside.

So I wouldn't necessarily take my numbers as gospel, but I learned a lot from it as I'm sure you will.

In future I doubt I'll tackle more than 4 of something at a time. I commend your efforts.

Cool to see that your OG and FG were not that far from mine (for most of the malts). I thought my OGs were on the high side, but they seem ok.
 

505-Brewer

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Yea, I may get some flack for this but I dislike MO. Tastes like I added way too much victory or biscuit malt to a brew. I've never used those other malts though

Very interested in how this experiment turns out. I am a fan of MO myself but I have noticed lately that both brews with essentially 100% MO (Thornbridge IPA like beer) and with a blend of MO (~30%) and American 2-row (My own APA) I get a sort of dry "ash" like flavor in the very finish.
Don't think its the hops - might be the water.

I like the color and breadiness/toastiness I get from MO but not sure of the finish. I'd be curious to see if you observe this flavor with any of these. I'm thinking of trying Vienna as a substitute and also some English 2-row (that is not MO based) so obviously interested in your results.

For what its worth , I use charcoal filtered water with addition of some CaSO4 and CaCl.
 

lastsecondapex

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Subscribed to this. I am actually most interested in the straight up comparison between Pearl, Golden Promise, and Halcyon.
 

ianw58

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Interesting! And timely!

My Grasscutter Ale has been based on American Two-Row and a bit of Victory. It comes out as a very pale ale with a clean, crisp taste that make BMC drinkers take notice. It's also a very nice thirst quencher on a hot summer day at <4% ABV.

I was planning to brew it again with MO to see where it went with the additional biscuit flavor. I'll wait, now, until your results are in...
 
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ndrice

ndrice

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Planning on giving these a proper tasting with notes tomorrow. I'll post as soon as I do! Can't wait to get into them.
 

mlsuggs

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So I have been really curious/excited about trying out different English base malts ever since I tried some fabulous English style beers that I found out were brewed with Optic as the base malt.
...snip...
I decided to compare American 2-Row, Maris Otter, Golden Promise, Halcyon, Optic, and Pearl malts. From what I understand, everything but the 2-Row is a single variety of winter barley.
...snip.

Also fascinated to see the tasting results. I love experiments like these; maybe one day I'll have the time to perform them!

One set of points I *can* make, though:
American 2-row is typically spring barley, and can be any of a number of barley cultivars;
Golden Promise is a spring 2-row;
Optic is a spring 2-row used a lot for distilling;
Pearl is a winter 2-row;
Maris Otter is a winter 2-row;
Halcyon is a winter 2-row bred from Maris Otter.

They're each a different cultivar (or group of them, in the case of American 2-row). I'm currently in the process of growing up usable amounts of Maris Otter, Halcyon, Hana, and Bere barleys--perhaps in a year or two I'll have a similar comparison experiment to post.

Looking forward to updates! Cheers!

--Misha
 
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ndrice

ndrice

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I'll start this off with the caveat that my palate is experienced if not educated. As with all things beer, YMMV.

I first tasted all six back to back in the order that I have them pictured. The head on all of them was white and about 1/8th of an inch thick. I didn't pour aggressively, but I kept these on the low end carbonation-wise to keep in line with some of the more common English styles of beers. I then ate a few oyster crackers and drank some water. Tasted them in the reverse order. Ate some more oyster crackers and drank some more water and tasted them in no particular order.

These were my initial impressions.

2-row
Bready. Very light. Very slightly sweet with a smooth light graininess. Very faint twang. Probably from S-04 yeast. Serviceable if a bit nondescript. It's amazing how you can just tell this is the base malt for a lot of commercial beers. It tastes "familiar."

Maris otter
Toasty on the nose. Much nuttier than 2-row. Slightly sweeter and more caramelly flavor. Toasty sweetness comes through. Toasted bread.

Golden promise.
Very mild aroma. Flavor is slightly sweet. Cracker sort of breadiness. Grainy. Sweetest of the six. Pleasant.

Pearl
Slight sweetness and caramel on the nose. Faint "green" almost vegetal aroma. Not unpleasant though. Medium caramel flavor with a smoother mouthfeel than the others. Sweetness carries through.

Optic
Very little nose. Slight oat aroma. Flavor leans towards the sweet grain side. Maybe a little rougher than the others. Almost grassy. I like it though.

Halcyon
Light nuttiness in the aroma. Grain is more present. Subdued caramel. Maybe a bit like the crusts from white bread. Really clean. Light nuttiness is nice. Very mild.

The three that stood out for me as the most distinct from each other were Maris Otter, 2-Row, and Optic. The Optic smelled like a clean barn (not barnyard though). Good horse feed. A definite rough graininess that I could see complimenting some styles very well. Maris Otter was definitely the most toasty of the 6 with some deeper more rich flavors. 2-row was, like I said, kind of "familiar" tasting. There's a reason it's the base malt for so many good beers. It's pleasant, unobtrusive, and doesn't assert itself in any particular way.

All that being said, however, I think my favorite was the Golden Promise. The residual sweetness resulted in a fuller mouthfeel without being too much. The cracker-like breadiness gave it a crisp flavor that balanced out the sweetness nicely. I still think there are some styles that would benefit from this kind of flavor more than others, but in the right place, this seems like a really nice malt.

After I feremnted these out, I did a little digging around about the yeast that I used, Safale-04, the Whitbread strain and noticed that some people mentioned a twanginess about the finished beer. All of these definitely have a slight twang. I'm hoping it clears up a bit with time, but that's one flavor that came across in all of the beers.

It was a fun experiment. :D

I've got four 6 packs of these beers left. I thought I'd throw it out that if there are any interested parties in the DC/Maryland area who would like to have a bit of a tasting party and experience these beers for themselves, I'd be happy to host a few people. Shoot me a PM.
 

stpug

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Thank you for the write-up. Submission as an article would cool.

I love looking at the colors of the beers these experiments produce. It's always amazing to me the color difference between 2row and MO; night and day! I also like how Optic turns out the lightest. Somewhere in my memory banks I have it that Optic is the base for "pilsner" malt, however when trying to re-find the source I could not :(. My memory is definitely not like an elephants so I could be off by a mile. And Pearl and Halcyon end up similar in color.

Don't I wish I lived in Maryland about now? YES!! :D
 

TheHairyHop

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Thanks for following through. I must be the only one who dislikes MO. It was so toasted bread, I couldn't handle it in a smash. GP sounds cool though
 

WileECoyote

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Thanks for the write up! You should submit this as an article.

+1, I Agree You Should Submit This, If you do and they use it you can receive a free 1 year membership to HBT.com

Thank You so much for the wonderful test and the great descriptions, I use MO exclusively, don't like US 2 row, you have inspired me to try a batch with Golden Promise and possibly other base grains.

We really like malty flavorful beers with mouthfeel.

Thanks Again !

Cheers :mug:
 

Malty_Dog

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This is great stuff. I used Golden promise recently in a pale ale because my LHBS shockingly was out of US 2-row (first time I ever experienced that). I agree its tasty and was in no way a step down. Not surprised about the MO, I really like it though. Everything has its place :) . This was fun to read.
 

phuff7129

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+1 golden promise. I used gp in an ESB and a mild and really liked. Brewed the same beers with MO and while good the malt profile was not as well rounded as the gp.
I also brew an imperial ipa that has always seemed to be missing something. Great hop profile but the malt was just not right. Brewed it replacing the 2 row with GP and its absolutely amazing!
 
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