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Quaker

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After a couple years in China, where I worked with whatever base malt I could get locally, I was faced with a huge variety of choices coming home. I want to purchase base malt by the sack. Granted I did quite well in China thanks to the generosity and assistance of Mike Jordan, the brewmaster doing great things at Shanghai's Boxing Cat Brewery offering up Weyermann and Castle malts. So I made 6 small batches with 2 lbs each of various base malts.

Much of my gear still hasn't shipped from China yet, so my process was modified for what I have. I love hoppy beers, so I purposely used a hoppy pale ale recipe for comparison. Likely I went too hoppy if only wanting to compare malts, but I'm looking for something that plays well with hops. I do like a good malt base in a pale ale or IPA. I frequently blended some Vienna and/or Munich malt in with my pilsner base malt.

Each recipe was 2 lbs base malt alone
I used 4g Columbus mash hops in each batch
Mashed in a bag with a crock pot
3L strike water and 2L sparge water
Targeted 152, but on a later batch of Saison I discovered my brand new thermometer was almost 10 degrees off. So honestly don't know what I mashed at, but I was consistent.

6 malts were crushed in NB Milwaukee's mill at 0.040
Breiss Organic 2-ro
Belgian Pilsner (I used Castle in China)
Breiss Ashburne Mild
Global Kolsch
Simpson's Golden Promise
Maris Otter

60 minute boil each
No bittering hops other than the mash hops were used
At flameout a blend of 8g Cascade plus 4g each of Columbus, Chinook, Citra, Simcoe, Amarillo
The kettle was placed in a snow bank for 20 minutes so some bitterness would be picked up while cooling.
Then it was racked to a gallon jug and crash cooled in the fridge until the stick-on fermometer read 64.
Each was pitched with a third of a packet of US05.

The variability of gravity results was unexpected. The racked volume varied, but interestingly the higher OG was often the larger volume, so it wasn't due to evaporation rates. You can see from the pre-boil, OG numbers which ones had more evaporation and from the pics the relative volume. It may be due to crush as some kernels are larger than others.

They were brewed on 3/16. Were put in the fridge on 3/27 to crash cool. Bottled direct from primary on 4/14. Got 4x 12 ounce bottles of each except for the Maris Otter and 2-row with only 3 bottles.

Mild pre-boil 1.041, OG 1.058, FG 1.018 (69%AA)
Kolsch pre-boil 1.054, OG 1.080, FG 1.026 (67.5% AA)
2-row pre-boil 1.047, OG 1.065, FG 1.013 (80% AA)
Golden Promise pre-boil 1.048, OG 1.066, FG 1.011 (83% AA)
Maris Otter pre-boil 1.052, OG 1.085, FG 1.018 (79% AA)
Pilsner pre-boil 1.059, OG 1.085, FG 1.020 (76% AA)

At racking, the Maris Otter and the 2-row had a layer of real chunky trub. The others had a fairly dense cake. The Mild had the thickest trub or yeast cake.

I took the OG hydro samples just prior the flameout hops to get a comparison of the malts. I've also tasted them at bottling. I'll wait until I can taste the carbonated samples to post the tasting notes and my final preference. I can say I'm quite happy with the recipe. Quite a tasty, hoppy pale ale. At pitching, the Kolsch was my favorite. At bottling I favored the Pilsner with the Golden Promise a close second. We'll see what the future holds.

Photo of the fermenters
image-1041330979.jpg



Photo of samples at bottling
image-2953354653.jpg


I'll post again in about 3 or 4 weeks. I believe on letting beers mature and meld a bit before passing judgement. No rush since my gear win't get shipped until June which means it'll be late sumner before i'm back to a regular brew schedule. I'll include my tasting notes from each stage together with my final results.
 

JLem

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Excellent experiment! Can't wait to hear about the final taste test. I've never heard of Global Kolsch malt, but am surprised by how dark it is (assuming it is meant for kolsch-style beer).
 
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That Global Kolsch is listed as 4.5L, so the color jives with that. But I agree it surprised me, considering I lived in Cologne part time for 8 months and drank my fair share of Kolsch. The low attenuation from it also seems consistent with NB's description with my single infusion mash. It may need a stepped mash to get the most from it. It definitely has flavor. I can picture it's use in a Czech/Bohemian pilsner, especially a tmavé which was my go to there. I can say now that it won't make the cut as my house base malt, but that doesn't mean I won't use it again.
 
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Thinking ahead, any folks out there in the Milwaukee area that would be interested in a tasting of these, shoot me a PM. I'd love to get others involved and will try to coordinate that in May sometime.
 

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Great write up Quaker.
The dark colour of the "Koelsch" malt is a strange one,eh. Looks more like mild malt.
 
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JLem - just subscribed to your site on my blog feeder. Read your small batch post and comment about bottling and losses from them.

I bottled directly from the jugs using a small siphon starter and just plain tubing into the bottle. It would have helped to have another hand, but with one hand I was able to hold the racking cane/siphon off the bottom and incline the jug. Next time I think it would be good to prop them up while cold crashing in the fridge and again at racking to compact the yeast cake at an angle. With the other hand I'd put the tubing in the bottle and use elevation to be my valve. Raising the bottle up when full. Only spilled on a few daydream moments of not paying attention.

The fact that I primary fermented in the jugs meant I had too thick of trub and yeast to simply let the cane sit on the bottom.

I don't know if its any better than what you do, but I didn't feel I lost much this way. A couple times I did use a portion of my hydrometer sample to top off a bottle to get a final one full.
 

JLem

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Quaker said:
JLem - just subscribed to your site on my blog feeder. Read your small batch post and comment about bottling and losses from them.

I bottled directly from the jugs using a small siphon starter and just plain tubing into the bottle. It would have helped to have another hand, but with one hand I was able to hold the racking cane/siphon off the bottom and incline the jug. Next time I think it would be good to prop them up while cold crashing in the fridge and again at racking to compact the yeast cake at an angle. With the other hand I'd put the tubing in the bottle and use elevation to be my valve. Raising the bottle up when full. Only spilled on a few daydream moments of not paying attention.

The fact that I primary fermented in the jugs meant I had too thick of trub and yeast to simply let the cane sit on the bottom.

I don't know if its any better than what you do, but I didn't feel I lost much this way. A couple times I did use a portion of my hydrometer sample to top off a bottle to get a final one full.
Thanks for the input. I actually bottled those small batches a couple months ago. I decided to attach the bottling wand directly to the tubing from a racking cane and bottles directly from the gallon jugs. Since these were essentially secondary vessels I had relatively little trub to deal with. I also opted to add sugar directly to each bottle instead of batch priming. I think I went with 0.5 teaspoons per bottle. I ended up getting 7 bottles from each batch and things seemed to work out just fine. At some point I will try to followup with a blog post on the process and results, but if you've read the blog at all you know how delinquent I usually am about following up with tasting notes!

:mug:
 
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I claimed to be a patient guy, but it got the best of me. I chilled and cracked one open. This is the Simpson's Golden Promise. Aggressive pour produced big bubbles. Simply needs more time carbonating. After that head dissipated, a gentle swirl and a tight one reforms about 1/4" thick.
image-1819924335.jpg

Aroma has a scorched quality to it. I think that might be from the Columbus mash hops. Also get the expected citrus and pine as well as a musty melon. As mentioned prior, I probably went over board with hops preventing the malt from coming through. However my goal is to select a malt which plays well together since I prefer hoppy beers.

Flavor again is hop forward. With the blend, nothing in particular stands out which I've learned I prefer over a drum solo by any single hop. Definitely has a substantial body to it. Dry down the tongue but leaves some flavor clinging to the walls.

It will be more interesting when the time comes to line these up and compare side by side. Although the malt doesn't stand out here, I'm sure it's contributing. Time will tell. I have some travel coming up which will help my patience. And patience will help a little bit if hops to drop out. Likely will be late May before I do a proper tasting.
 
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Another weekend, another test. Opened up one of the Global Kolsch. Had a pfsst when opening, no head other than a ring at the edge.

Aroma is very sweet, maple syrup. Taste follows that. Sweet, maple syrup flavor. Not sure where all the late hops went. There is a light bitterness in the aftertaste. Medium finish. Not cloying like may be expected from the aroma and flavor. I think it would be awesome jacked up as a Barley Wine. Would also do well as a mild or Scottish ale. Clueless on the Kolsch name.


image-1327944575.jpg


That's the end of my extras. I now have 3 6-pack sets remaining. Next weekend I travel overseas for a week then its a holiday weekend. So will probably be Jube when I do a proper side by side tasting session with others. Again - if someone is in the Milwaukee region, PM me if you want to be involved. Just 1 spoke up so far.
 
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Just poured the last bit from the bottle. No yeast sediment. I'm guessing I forgot the carb drop in this bottle.
 

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I like the experiment and a nice group of base malts to test...but why such a complex and heavy late hop addition when you're trying to compare base malts? I'd have thrown in 15 IBUs of warrior or magnum for bittering and called it done. I'd also have thrown in 5-10% of a light crystal just to round out the beer fairly. Each to his own, for sure...it just seemed... a bit odd of a test setup to me.
 
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I wanted to test the malts in the style of beers I mostly brew, and I wanted decent beers to drink. When in China I frequently blended some Vienna and/or Munich in with Pilsner to give a fair bit of backbone to my pale ales or IPAs. I'm hoping to find a base malt I'm happy with that doesn't need the helping hand. Yet I don't want one which gets muddled with the hops.

What I didn't expect to find was major differences in the trub and yeast cakes. I didn't take great notes on it, but it will factor into my selection.
 

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I am also anxious to hear the results. I think running the test the way you did so it was in the style or flavor you preferred was good. I tend toward the less hopy styles myself but your method I think is sound and gives you a good comparison without going outside what you are looking for in your regular brews. Hoping I can use your results in my own recipes.
 

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Subscribed....(i'm sure there is a way to do this without replying but I can't seem to find it)
 
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I'm admittedly remiss in following up, primarily due to having no computer at home yet (it's in a relocation shipment of household goods from Shanghai). I have tasted all, have photos, and have opinions. Short answer, I've used Belgian Pilsner as my base for my 5 full size batches since. But there will be recipes I opt for some of the others.

Hang in there folks. I'll get to it soon enough.
 

Setesh

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I'm admittedly remiss in following up, primarily due to having no computer at home yet (it's in a relocation shipment of household goods from Shanghai). I have tasted all, have photos, and have opinions. Short answer, I've used Belgian Pilsner as my base for my 5 full size batches since. But there will be recipes I opt for some of the others.

Hang in there folks. I'll get to it soon enough.
Do you have a smart phone? The HomeBrewTalk app is pretty good. I wouldn't want to type a huge response with it, but it can help you stay connected.
 
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I've been using the app on my iPod. The photos are on my phone. Just a pain and typo laden when trying to do a large post as you said.
 
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Ashburne Mild Malt

Stats: pre-boil 1.041, OG 1.058, FG 1.018 (69%AA)

Notes prior to flame-out hop addition: nutty - walnut, sweet, burnt sugar, slight smokiness, bitterness harsh from mash hops

Fermentation: had a really thick, smooth trub/yeast cake in the bottom

Notes at bottling: malty, full aroma, nutty showing through the hops, but definite malt there

Bottled sample: dark, golden honey color, hazy. Hop aroma has faded relative to other samples, dirty/earthy undertone. Hops not as bright as resiny as other samples. Head was big but faded fast and didn't linger on the walls. medium body.

I would recommend this for a Scottish Ale, barley wine, or ...wait for it... Mild. It doesn't work for me with citrus & piney hops. It is definitely a fit as its labeled and would be best with the English hops or something in the Northern Brewer vein. It had the lowest efficiency and almost the lowest attenuation, so you'd have to keep that in mind when planning the recipe. Won't be a regular staple for me, but I could see using it for specific purposes as it was surely intended.

IMG-20130524-00181.jpg
 
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Breiss Organic 2-row

Stats: pre-boil 1.047, OG 1.065, FG 1.013 (80% AA)

Notes prior to flame-out addition: very light malt flavor, mash hops really come through, white bread flavor.

Fermentation: Had an odd chunky trub from the start, but relatively minimal amount. After fermentation, the cake was chucnky like an English yeast but quite loose.

Notes at bottling: sweet, malty aroma - actually with hops behind (one of the last samples bottled, so could be palette fatigue), no astringency, thinner body than others. Missing roundnessor fullness of hop flavor

Bottled sample: hazy, golden, thick dense head which lingered, sweet tropics aroma, candy sweet hop forward flavor, medium body (a bit heavier than the Mild), IPA like balance, no apparent malt flavor.

Obviously again a malt doing as advertised, simplistic 2-row. However, the trub characteristic turned me off. Not sure if that would be a sack to sack or crop variable or if something else played into it. Or if its a Breiss Organic specific trait. I wouldn't shoot it down due to a 1 off test, but a comparison of various 2-rows might be useful to someone who uses that as their standard base to see if there are differences other than simply flavor.

IMG-20130524-00180.jpg
 
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Global Kolsch Malt

Stats: pre-boil 1.054, OG 1.080, FG 1.026 (67.5% AA)

Notes prior to flame-out addition: musty, malty aroma, little bit of foot odor (mash hops?), rich bready, notably more body (high OG)

Fermentation: relatively thin trub cake.

Notes at bottling: malty aroma, hops not noticeable, very full body (low attenuation), maltiness in flavor, slight astringency, bit of rubbery (?) character

Bottled sample: poor carb, quick dissipating large bubbled head, sickening sweet, suspect the carb tab never fermented, little reddish tint and hazy. Sweetness blasts the hops out. Some candy aroma.

I've sampled 3 of the 4 bottles of this. All lacked carbonation and were therefore sweet from the unfermented carb-tab. I didn't have this problem with any others and it was bottled on same day with same conditioning. The low attenuation also indicates a yeast issue.

The color here was the major shocker for me considering the label. On brew day, this one was actually one of my favorites, but went down hill from there. I might try it again in a pilsner, but applying a multi-step or decoction mash to improve attenuation... but more likely if I'm going to that energy, I'll go with a more confident malt. Northern Brewer Milwaukee gets good traffic, but I suspect this is a malt which sits around more than others, so perhaps age played into my results.

IMG-20130524-00183.jpg
 
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Simpson's Golden Promise

Stats: pre-boil 1.048, OG 1.066, FG 1.011 (83% AA)

Notes prior to flame-out addition: Rich aroma, sweet malt, bitterness comes through, balanced with the malt, sweetness, slightly toast, pie crust

Fermentation: smooth, compacted cake

Notes at bottling: honey, sweet and blended hop notes, well balanced towards the hops side

Bottled sample: super carbonated, large yeast sediment in bottle (yet was highly attenuated at bottling time), sediment stirred up by a bit of gushing, light warm orange tint, hop nose more subdued than some, dry finish, light body, crisper/brighter hops with more lingering bitterness, some harshness, but could be yeast bite.

I really liked this one. The next 2 batches of pale ale right after this used Belgian Pils due to my high efficiency results, but the sack of grain on deck for the next one is Golden Promise for comparison. I'll see what my efficiency numbers are on a larger batch compared to the pils. I've had Summit's Meridian pale ale brewed with a similar sounding/tasting UK malt which works great in that.

IMG-20130525-00185.jpg
 
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Maris Otter Malt

Stats: 1.052, OG 1.085, FG 1.018 (79% AA)

Notes prior to flame-out addition: very full aroma, moist bread, maple, malt buries the mash hops, full mouthfeel

Fermentation: large amount of chunky, clumpy trub

Notes at bottling: more hop aroma than some, full body, rounder flavor, slight astringency

Bottled sample: 1st sample was similar to Global Kolsch, but with slight carbonation and a little sediment in the bottle, thus sweet. Notes from a 2nd bottle

Deep orange color, relatively dry finish despite a medium full body, hop flavors muted, bitterness in balance more towards the English end of an IPA.

Well there's a reason American IPAs tend towards 2-row. The result here was a bit muddled. In terms of the numbers, a great performing malt. I prefer the Golden Promise flavors over the Maris Otter though. Looking back, I apparently didn't take great notes, perhaps indicating I was unimpressed. [should have noted before that these various samples were tasted over a 2-3 day span, not a marathon session]

IMG-20130525-00186.jpg
 
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Belgian Pilsner Malt

Stats: pre-boil 1.059, OG 1.085, FG 1.020 (76% AA)

Notes prior to flame-out addition: musty, malty grain flavor, full body. buries the mash hops, bit of bitterness comes at the end. cookie flavor

Fermentation: smooth compact cake

Notes at bottling: incredibly clear compared to the others, sweet honey blended with the hops, sweet smell, full bodied, slight astringent bitterness.

Bottled sample: ... lacking notes despite finishing 3 of the 4 bottles.

No photos either, but I can tell you this was my favorite for the brew day and fermentation performance in addition to having some noticeable malt character in the finished beer, but not muddling up with the hops. I'm quite surprised I fell off the wagon on the notes and photos. My subsequent batches (2 pale ales, wittier, and stout) have all used this malt with repeatable efficiency around 75% on my system [these small malt experiment batches were crock pot mash tun and stove top boils - not the same].

As mentioned earlier, my next batch of pale ale will use Simpson's Golden Promise for a comparison. But other than playing from time to time or specific purposes, I'll stick with Belgian Pils as my base. I suppose a similar experiment could be done comparing Pils malts - but my goal was to find something I'm happy with, not compare the world of malts. Mission accomplished.
 
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I have 1 more 6-pack set. In the near future I plan to take it out to get more opinions. It will likely be at Sweet Mullets brewpub in Oconomowoc, west of Milwaukee. I'll post here when it'll be and would love to share with others who are interested.
 

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Thanks for the Update Quaker, interesting results. I've always wanted to do this myself but just couldn't quite get up the nerve to commit that much time to the project. Just having those flavor profiles stored in your head is going to make your recipe formulation that much better now. Seriously cool stuff :mug:
 

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Thanks for the update. It's great to be able to compare the pictures (for color) and the numbers & taste.

I'm kind of tempted to do this now, and then start blending finished products to find good combinations of base malts. That's going to have to wait until I get some serious free time, though.
 

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I have to admit that I am very surprised by the color of everything other than the Golden Promise, and maybe the Mild malt. I would not expect the organic 2-row or the Maris Otter to be that dark. Did you control/measure the mash pH? If the pH is too high, Maillard reactions will be increased and it can have a dramatic effect on the final color - a good write-up of this can be found on Kai Troester's site - http://braukaiser.com/wiki/index.ph...ity_and_efficiency_in_single_infusion_mashing (scroll down about 3/4 of the page)...

...photo showing the effects of pH on color (from above site)

 
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I did not measure pH on these small batches. However, I do use the brewing pH strips for my larger batches. Without acid malt I end up close to 6 with my fairly hard well water based on my notes from the first batch completed since repatriating. I've added acid malt to everything since. I had considered brewing another test set comparing my well water with a dilution of RO, bottled spring water, or other options with one of these malts. Your post motivates me to definitely do it.
 

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Thanks for taking the time to do this and meticuluosly write up the results. This was an interesting read.
 

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I have to admit that I am very surprised by the color of everything other than the Golden Promise, and maybe the Mild malt. I would not expect the organic 2-row or the Maris Otter to be that dark. Did you control/measure the mash pH? If the pH is too high, Maillard reactions will be increased and it can have a dramatic effect on the final color - a good write-up of this can be found on Kai Troester's site - http://braukaiser.com/wiki/index.ph...ity_and_efficiency_in_single_infusion_mashing (scroll down about 3/4 of the page)...

...photo showing the effects of pH on color (from above site)

Now that is learning something new today. The first all-grain beer I made I paid zero attention to water and just added that stupid 5.2 stuff. I've never been able to figure out why the beer turned out so dark. I think I know now.
 

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Outstanding post! Very informative and an outstanding read! Thanks!
 

JLem

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Now that is learning something new today. The first all-grain beer I made I paid zero attention to water and just added that stupid 5.2 stuff. I've never been able to figure out why the beer turned out so dark. I think I know now.
Many of my early beers were much darker than I had anticipated and I also think mash pH was the reason (though I don't actually know since I never took pH readings). Pretty astonishing difference once I started paying attention.
 

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Cool. What colour maris otter are you using? Nowadays you can get very low colour maris otter malts, which come out pretty much straw in a 1.055 OG ale. I think they are about 2-2.5L (3 EBC). Just had a local brewery do a session on Wednesday and they claimed it was superior to most alternatives, and the samples were definitively dry and malty. Good stuff.

http://hopcraftbrewing.blogspot.co.uk/2012_10_01_archive.html

http://www.ratebeer.com/forums/maris-otter-vs-weyermann-pale-ale_152028.htm

Btw, I like the description of that mild malt, maybe you'd want to stick 20-40% in your base grain bill instead of any crystal!
 
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I don't know the exact specs on the Maris Otter. It came from Northern Brewer Milwaukee.

I think I'll be doing a large batch of old ale or barley wine with the Ashburne Mild malt.
 

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Cool experiment. Those are some high final gravities for Cali Ale yeast and just base malt. I would expect a gravity of less than 1.010 mashing at 152 with no specialty malts. My guess is you mashed closer to 162 if you later noticed that your thermometer was 10 degrees off. That probably contributed to the big difference in efficiency as well.

While a good experiment, I wouldn't totally dismiss any of them based on residual sweetness or how the hops came through. I would strictly go by the malt flavor you're looking for in your pale and india pale ales. Thanks for posting
 
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