Forgo crystal and use only invert?

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Erik the Anglophile

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Ís ok snœrs ok miðnótts boði landi frá komum
I've got some batches of invert that I have used together with small amounts of crystal in some bitters and a scottish 80 shilling(that one had quite a bit of crystal together with invert though).
I am tinkering with a Strong ale atm, and thought of the idea to forego crystal completely and use only invert. Something like 10-12% invert#3, 8%biscuit and MO as base, mashed at 68c/60min and fermented with wlp005, OG around 1.075. Yay or nay on trying that approach?
 

Miraculix

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I've got some batches of invert that I have used together with small amounts of crystal in some bitters and a scottish 80 shilling(that one had quite a bit of crystal together with invert though).
I am tinkering with a Strong ale atm, and thought of the idea to forego crystal completely and use only invert. Something like 10-12% invert#3, 8%biscuit and MO as base, mashed at 68c/60min and fermented with wlp005, OG around 1.075. Yay or nay on trying that approach?
Definitely yay. Use a nice and expressive English yeast and you have something like a historic ale.

The invert, if done well, adds a lot of flavour so does the yeast. You definitely don't need crystal in there, you can but you don't have to.

I'd even cut out the biscuit, but I also actually never used it.
 
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Erik the Anglophile

Erik the Anglophile

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Definitely yay. Use a nice and expressive English yeast and you have something like a historic ale.

The invert, if done well, adds a lot of flavour so does the yeast. You definitely don't need crystal in there, you can but you don't have to.

I'd even cut out the biscuit, but I also actually never used it.
I've used invert made from instructions in the invert made easy thread in a few ales, at about 6-8 % and it definitely leaves flavour that you just don't get with only crystal malt. I thought to use invert made from light muscovado sugar, wich has a very fruity caramel flavour.
The biscuit is to give it a more bready/biscuity body, I'm hoping for something along the lines of Shepheard Neames Christmas Ale, but with even more english fruitcake feel to it and a bit more bang.
I'll give it a go and see how it turns out.
 

Miraculix

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I've used invert made from instructions in the invert made easy thread in a few ales, at about 6-8 % and it definitely leaves flavour that you just don't get with only crystal malt. I thought to use invert made from light muscovado sugar, wich has a very fruity caramel flavour.
The biscuit is to give it a more bready/biscuity body, I'm hoping for something along the lines of Shepheard Neames Christmas Ale, but with even more english fruitcake feel to it and a bit more bang.
I'll give it a go and see how it turns out.
I have made the best experience with the stupidly easy method of using raw organic cane sugar (not the dark one, only light brown) with a dash of lemon juice and some water simmered on the stove top till the colour and taste is like what you want.

Darker sugar actually can give you easily metallic of flavours. If you want more flavour from the sugar, use the one above but let it simmer longer. Don't burn it, but it can take some heat. Will take some hours till it's really dark. Your will need to add some water from time to time, but be careful, it will be like a little volcano, don't burn yourself!

Or you can stick it into the oven, that's my plan for the next batch... Never tried this.
 

DBhomebrew

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Or you can stick it into the oven, that's my plan for the next batch... Never tried this.
So easy, so effective! My last batch, for Ron's 1914 Courage Imperial, went for something like 5 or 6 hours. Dark like Guinness, seemingly black but really red when looked at closely. No burnt flavor whatsoever.
 

Miraculix

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I have done the oven method with demerara, light muscovado and refined cane sugar, much easier than watching a simmering pot for hours and adding water etc. Have not detected any Metallica flavors but then again I haven't used any really dark cane sugar varieties.
Just be sure that you use cane sugar and not beet sugar. According to UK, beet sugar tastes bad when inverted and they have to know.

I'll brew a really easy pale mild this weekend and I'm gonna need some dark invert for this. I think I'm gonna prepare a bigger batch in the oven in 8 glasses or so.

No problems with evaporation in there? What's your sugar to water ratio by weight?
 
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Erik the Anglophile

Erik the Anglophile

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Just be sure that you use cane sugar and not beet sugar. According to UK, beet sugar tastes bad when inverted and they have to know.

I'll brew a really easy pale mild this weekend and I'm gonna need some dark invert for this. I think I'm gonna prepare a bigger batch in the oven in 8 glasses or so.

No problems with evaporation in there? What's your sugar to water ratio by weight?
I do double batches in a 3L pot made of thick steel, 2 pints water, 2 lbs sugar and 2 ml citric acid, let simmer until 115-120c and then chuck it in the oven preheated to 130c. This usually get me a not too stiff syrup at about 80-85% sugar content.
Just let it sit for a few days before use though, as the citric acid can give a little tang that goes away in a few days- a week.
 

Miraculix

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I do double batches in a 3L pot made of thick steel, 2 pints water, 2 lbs sugar and 2 ml citric acid, let simmer until 115-120c and then chuck it in the oven preheated to 130c. This usually get me a not too stiff syrup at about 80-85% sugar content.
Just let it sit for a few days before use though, as the citric acid can give a little tang that goes away in a few days- a week.
Thanks!

I'm going to stick to my highly unscientific way of using some fresh lemon juice as this doesn't leave any trace and also doesn't come from a lab. I'll be filling it into glasses before it goes into the oven, that way I can remove some after some time while leaving the rest to darken further.

I'm curious about how dark it can get without tasting not nice anymore.
 

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What sugar did you use? Mine usually is darker than that from the beginning even with refined cane sugar.
IMG_20210727_150522.jpg


This one. I actually don't know how this translates correctly into English but my best guess is raw cane sugar. It is only centrifuged, not fully refined so it is slightly brown-ish. The picture gives a good idea.

To my knowledge, that's what's actually being used by the companies that produce brewer's invert the traditional way.
 
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Just be sure that you use cane sugar and not beet sugar. According to UK, beet sugar tastes bad when inverted and they have to know.
^ This.

I often brew historic English beers and collected dosens (if not hundreds) of old recipes. My general impression is that addition of crystal malts is comparatively recent innovation. While inverted sugars of various shades have been, in contrast, a solid staple since long ago. So, that's not just an ok approach, it's well grounded historically.

Just don't use beet sugar. I tried it many times, bot inverted and straight, and it always gave a cidery twang to my beers. No such problems with cane sugar.
 

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A deeper baking pan might be good to put them all in, in case one breaks from the heating process. Burned sugar syrup would be awful to clean out of the oven.
That is definitely true and I thought about it, but unfortunately, I only got the one in the picture.
 

Miraculix

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That looks like the cane sugar I used in my first and only attempt to make #2, brownish beige almost white. But for me it was amber/red even before putting it in the oven.
I actually didn't heat it strongly before it went into the oven, I only dissolved everything and now the oven does the rest. Takes forever though... It was around 70c when it went into the oven.
 

DBhomebrew

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I actually didn't heat it strongly before it went into the oven, I only dissolved everything and now the oven does the rest. Takes forever though... It was around 70c when it went into the oven.
My estimated 5 hours no longer applies!
 

DBhomebrew

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Also, you may get a lot of splattering inside the oven. Bringing it up to 240° beforehand drives off the water. There's a really interesting phenomenon in which you can derive the sugar concentration by the temp of the simmering syrup. It won't hit 240° until it drives off a specific amount of water.
 

Miraculix

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Also, you may get a lot of splattering inside the oven. Bringing it up to 240° beforehand drives off the water. There's a really interesting phenomenon in which you can derive the sugar concentration by the temp of the simmering syrup. It won't hit 240° until it drives off a specific amount of water.
Yes, I recognised that. I had to lower the amount of water anyway due to a pot being too small while all the sugar already being inside :D

At the moment the sirup is at 108c, slowly ramping up. I'm checking it continuously, so the predicted time serves only as a rough estimation anyway. Nearly no colour changes after two hours now. Effectively about one hour above 100c.
 

Alan Reginato

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Hey guys, easier way.

1 kg cane sugar, 20 g lemon juice, 500 g water. Pressure cooker 10 min. Release the pressure. Take the lid off. Low heat until reach the colour that you desire.

If you want it really dark, keep adding water and heat.



Only Pilsener malt and inverted caramel.

Cheers!
 

Miraculix

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Hey guys, easier way.

1 kg cane sugar, 20 g lemon juice, 500 g water. Pressure cooker 10 min. Release the pressure. Take the lid off. Low heat until reach the colour that you desire.

If you want it really dark, keep adding water and heat.

View attachment 737002

Only Pilsener malt and inverted caramel.

Cheers!
To me, that's not easier. That's basically what I'm doing with the addition of a pressure cooker in the process.
 

DBhomebrew

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Maybe the gentler heating will give cleaner flavor? Stave off the off-flavor you are wary of in darker inverts?

Besides, once it's in the oven it's just leave it and forget it. On to doing other stuff around the house...
 

Alan Reginato

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Maybe the gentler heating will give cleaner flavor? Stave off the off-flavor you are wary of in darker inverts?

Besides, once it's in the oven it's just leave it and forget it. On to doing other stuff around the house...
Gentle heating to do not burn it. Or it could give some undesirable acrid flavours.
 

Alan Reginato

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Oven is easier in a needing less attention, leave it and forget it, let it go an extra half hour but it doesn't matter, don't have to pour water into a super heated solution kind of way.
Yes, that's a pretty dangerous thing to do, because it's hot very hot.

I just tried to give some ideas. I live in an apartment, and my oven isn't that big. So... We work with what we have. In the fact, think about it, it's just faster.
 

Miraculix

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First taste test, still lots of lemon flavor and no invert flavour. This takes time. I know this from the method with the pot, takes usually only half an hour to an hour till the lemon flavour is gone. But I might actually have used more then usual this time.
 
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