How many malts do you need in a recipe?

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kevin58

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Good point.

Maybe I should do some reading on the use of them.

But is the short story that they just add to the fermentable base to result in more alcohol when mashed with stuff that can do the starch conversion?

Or is there actually a unique flavor or body added? Besides just the taste and character of more alcohol that might be gotten some other way.
The added sugars definitely add flavor and color as well as giving a higher gravity. I love invert #3 and make several pounds at a time to have some on hand whenever needed.
 

troxerX

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Once again, flavor, aroma, mouthfeel, color, and gravity. Depends on your targets. I typically use more than three malts for my stout and porter recipes. I have a couple of IPA recipes that use more than three and I often mix base malts (like two-row, maris olter and pilsner) when I'm running low on one or the other or want extra biscuity goodness out of my base.
Malts can be used to control mash pH and avoid complex water adjustments too. A little bit of Crystal added to a base malt can help you achieve mash pH even if you are using only distilled water with no salt additions.
 
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hotbeer

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The added sugars definitely add flavor and color as well as giving a higher gravity. I love invert #3 and make several pounds at a time to have some on hand whenever needed.


Well to be clear, I was only talking and questioning what the flaked oats added to the party, not any of the other brewing sugars used in the recipe added.

When I said "them", them was meant to be the flaked oats.
 
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7: Let's Brew Wednesday - 1936 Mackeson Stout

Brew it with and without the flaked oats to see if it matters to you.

As Denny Conn likes to say use as many as you wish as long as you can justify each one.

When I do begin to mess with Stouts and Porters, I'll do this one several times and see.

I've brewed the recipe a couple of times with small variations, substitutions, or simplifications. All were enjoyable. I prefer the original.
 

AlexKay

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But is the short story that they just add to the fermentable base to result in more alcohol when mashed with stuff that can do the starch conversion?

Or is there actually a unique flavor or body added? Besides just the taste and character of more alcohol that might be gotten some other way.
Unmalted adjuncts absolutely contribute starches that get converted to sugar by your malts, and from there alcohol by your yeast.

In addition to producing enzymes, malting also starts the breakdown of proteins and polysaccharides. (This is what people mean when they talk about malt "modification.") Unmalted grains have polysaccharides -- beta-glucans, and for some (rye) arabinoxylans -- that add significantly to body and mouthfeel. And for some (oats, and esp. rye), taste too. But it's not universal: some unmalted grains (rice, corn) don't add too much at all besides sugar.
 

mashpaddled

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Homebrewers are notorious for building unnecessarily complicated recipes. Lots of "that tastes good, let's add some of that" to a recipe. When you start adding too many grains you muddy the flavors and lose complexity in flavor although the recipe is more complex.

One way to strip out an excessive number of grain is to buy interesting base malts. Often brewers buy the cheapest base malt they can and then throw a bunch of specialty malt on top to make it taste better. Like you'll see a bland two row pumped up with munich, biscuit, aromatic, etc. and then other specialty malts thrown on top. It saves a little money--sometimes--but it is rarely as good and can contribute to muddiness.

Generally darker beers tend to use more ingredients to develop richer flavors and when 3-4 darker specialty malts are used together they can create complex flavors without generic brown. Lighter beers typically need less.

Sometimes those 1-3% ingredients can make a difference. Small amounts of malts significantly darker than the rest of the grain bill can add contrasting flavors that add subtle complexity. For example, in a stout a small amount of chocolate malt can accentuate some of the richer flavors in the beer without making the flavor of chocolate malt notable. Or in a paler beer a small amount of darker crystal malt can add undertones of fruit without making it sweet or rich. That works when you add one or two at the most.
 

TheMadKing

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I use however many malts are needed to get the flavors i want, but only the minimum number needed.

My average is probably 3-4 different malts, but i have a porter with 6 that took a second place best of show at the largest competition in GA. Every malt in that porter has a specific function though and that's what's important.

Some of my general rules:

I never use a malt specifically for body or head retention unless I'm going for an extremely full bodied beer and need oats or something. The rest can be done with mash manipulation IMO

I carefully consider what my base malt brings to the beer. It's always more than just sugar and a lot of brewers neglect that

I never use malts that are similar like Crystal 60 and Crystal 80 in the same beer. I would either opt for crystal 75 or switch to crystal 40 and crystal 120+
 

madscientist451

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The one time multiple malts were used was in our English Barleywine. It turned out very, very good, being awarded a 1st Place Trophy.
Apologizing in advance for going :off: ,
but I'm sifting through barley wine recipes, any chance the above recipe could be posted? Thanks.....
:mug:
 

Erik the Anglophile

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I usually try to limit myself to 1-4 specialty/flavour malts beside base. In recipes using higher amounts of crystal or where I want more complexity I might mix 50/50 of a lighter and one more in the medium range, or light and a small portion of DRC.
Is mixing base malts counted as 2? In my porters/stouts and some darker ales I plan to do some trials mixing pale and vienna, as many old timey recipes call for either a portion of or all base malt as mild malt and I understand vienna and mild malt are basically identical, I just count the mix as "base" though.
 

bwible

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Often brewers buy the cheapest base malt they can and then throw a bunch of specialty malt on top to make it taste better. Like you'll see a bland two row pumped up with munich, biscuit, aromatic, etc. and then other specialty malts thrown on top. It saves a little money--sometimes--but it is rarely as good and can contribute to muddiness.
^^ This!
 

TyTanium

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This is a great thread!

One way to strip out an excessive number of grain is to buy interesting base malts. Often brewers buy the cheapest base malt they can and then throw a bunch of specialty malt on top to make it taste better. Like you'll see a bland two row pumped up with munich, biscuit, aromatic, etc. and then other specialty malts thrown on top. It saves a little money--sometimes--but it is rarely as good and can contribute to muddiness.
Seconding bwible's emphasis on this.

Nothing wrong with 2 row. But its predominance as a base in commercial breweries is mainly economical. One of the biggest advantages homebrewers have is small scale - the marginal cost of using more interesting base malts is small. I'll never forget the first time I used Maris Otter as a base. Just added that wow factor. After fermentation temp control, it was the single biggest improvement in my homebrewing.

Also as a general recommendation, use less and fewer crystal malts. Think ounces not pounds.

One nice benefit of simple grain bills is you learn the nuance of each malt. What does 2 oz of Special B do, or the difference between the various Caramalts vs US crystal. Which helps you answer the question "why am I adding this particular malt to my beer?"

When you have a good handle of "why" behind each malt, then you can build your 6 malt recipe that some have mentioned and it'll be great, instead of being a muddled mess. I've made both.
 

Steveruch

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My first piece published in BYO.
 

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hotbeer

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Malts can be used to control mash pH and avoid complex water adjustments too. A little bit of Crystal added to a base malt can help you achieve mash pH even if you are using only distilled water with no salt additions.
I'd missed this until @jerrylotto just pointed it out.

I never considered this for the ales and IPA's I brew as the water I use seems well rounded in it's analysis and I don't seem to have to add anything as the pH always stays right on target during the mash.

When I do try some porters or stouts, maybe I should use the other bottled water we've been keeping on hand that is ever so slightly less cost per gallon jug and more alkaline with little buffers in it if I'm reading the analysis correctly.
 

TheMadKing

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I'd missed this until @jerrylotto just pointed it out.

I never considered this for the ales and IPA's I brew as the water I use seems well rounded in it's analysis and I don't seem to have to add anything as the pH always stays right on target during the mash.

When I do try some porters or stouts, maybe I should use the other bottled water we've been keeping on hand that is ever so slightly less cost per gallon jug and more alkaline with little buffers in it if I'm reading the analysis correctly.

While correct, I think lactic acid and baking soda are easier and much less likely to impact flavor if used properly
 
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hotbeer

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While correct, I think lactic acid and baking soda are easier
Easier to me is not having to add the complication of measuring and dealing with them. As well for some chemicals such as lactic acid, then I'd have to inventory and store them. Baking soda, I already have since it's used in cakes, cookies and other baked goods.
 

TheMadKing

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Easier to me is not having to add the complication of measuring and dealing with them. As well for some chemicals such as lactic acid, then I'd have to inventory and store them. Baking soda, I already have since it's used in cakes, cookies and other baked goods.
1 syringe + 1 bottle of lactic acid which lasts over a year in my brew space. It's every bit as easy as baking soda once you buy it IMO. You still have to "inventory and store" grain, measure and mill it, so I don't see that it's saving much in terms of "tasks" on your brew day. Adding my lactic acid takes 1/50th the amount of time that filling my HLT takes lol
 
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Malts can be used to control mash pH and avoid complex water adjustments too. A little bit of Crystal added to a base malt can help you achieve mash pH even if you are using only distilled water with no salt additions.

Good point

I'd missed this until @jerrylotto just pointed it out.

It would be interesting to see recipes (including estimates and software used for estimates) for this approach across a number of styles.

I'm skeptical this works for light SRM styles with a small (< 5%) amount of crystal.

I'm also willing consider recipes that demonstrate the approach does work.
 

Bobby_M

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Wouldn't it be wonderful if someone invented a malt that would lower mash pH without adding caramel-like color and flavor?

/s
I see what you did there. Even better, it would be awesome if someone came up with a relatively flavorless clear liquid that you could add directly to the mash to do it.
 

Broken Crow

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Well to be clear, I was only talking and questioning what the flaked oats added to the party, not any of the other brewing sugars used in the recipe added.

When I said "them", them was meant to be the flaked oats.
Is this a good place to ask if anyone using flaked oats, strikes at 120° or thereabouts for a beta-glucan rest? I only ask because I read everyone's posts when they use oats and I'm still learning to work with all-grain.
 

aceluby

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How many ingredients do you need to make a spaghetti sauce? Tomatoes and butter simmered for an hour with a little salt and peppers tastes great, why put anything else in it?

I think it's good to think about the ingredients you put into your recipe, as you should with any sort of cooking. I don't think it's all that good with the way it is presented in most of this thread and feels very exclusionary and gatekeepy. Just because you use 3 malts to make a beer while someone else used 6 doesn't make one recipe better than the other.

How many malts do you need in a recipe? As many as your little heart desires. We're homebrewers.
 

An Ankoù

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A lot of brews are based on clones and other beers. If the recipe calls for it, it is part of the taste. head or feel. I have found that when I could not get the correct malt, and substituted a different Malt, it does affect the flavor ever so slightly (batch to batch). If you had a recipe for Lemonade that included Myers Lemon, you cannot substitute regular lemons or you will not get the real deal!
That's pretty much my take on the issue, too. A lot of US and Aust/NZ brewers like to copy European styles, but their malts are slight different so they try to adjust the malt accordingly, but let's face it, how many have tasted an authentic pint of Tim Taylor's Landlord or Westmalle or Warsteiner Verum? I'm all for keeping the recipes as simple as possible as has been said above. Except for dark beers, which (can) benefit from complexity.
On the other hand, trying to get close to Pilsner Urquell without a triple decoction of under-modified moravian malt is one of the Holy Grails I haven't quite nailed yet.
I think the daftest thing I've ever I undertaken is to build a malt substitution chart for NZ Gladfields Malts. It's daft because a lot of the recipes from them and from Wild About Hops are clone attempts for British and European (as well as US) styles. So I'm trying to clone a clone rather than clone the original. Why? I just love N Z hops. So, in a way, I agree with @aceluby , too.
 
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AlexKay

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Is this a good place to ask if anyone using flaked oats, strikes at 120° or thereabouts for a beta-glucan rest? I only ask because I read everyone's posts when they use oats and I'm still learning to work with all-grain.
When I'm using flaked oats, I'm usually trying for some extra beta glucans to get a smooth mouthfeel -- so anything that would break them down would be missing the whole point! That said, I'm skeptical of how much good a low-temperature rest is to break down beta glucans in a meaningful way. (And if you do decide on a beta glucan rest for some reason, I think you want a slightly lower temperature for it.)
 
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hotbeer

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1 syringe + 1 bottle of lactic acid which lasts over a year in my brew space. It's every bit as easy as baking soda once you buy it IMO. You still have to "inventory and store" grain, measure and mill it, so I don't see that it's saving much in terms of "tasks" on your brew day. Adding my lactic acid takes 1/50th the amount of time that filling my HLT takes lol
We all have things that we do that others might think differently of. Simple and easy aren't necessarily the same to everyone. So when I make such statements its not a attack or disagreement with you. Just me stating how it is for me.
 

oakbarn

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How many ingredients do you need to make a spaghetti sauce? Tomatoes and butter simmered for an hour with a little salt and peppers tastes great, why put anything else in it?

I think it's good to think about the ingredients you put into your recipe, as you should with any sort of cooking. I don't think it's all that good with the way it is presented in most of this thread and feels very exclusionary and gatekeepy. Just because you use 3 malts to make a beer while someone else used 6 doesn't make one recipe better than the other.

How many malts do you need in a recipe? As many as your little heart desires. We're homebrewers.
What??? No fennel seed?? IPA without hops!;)
mi scusa mio italianio. Io abbito nel Roma multi anno fai.

Io non capicio qaulle questa? Il e non spaghetti senso fennel!

(Please excuse my Italian. I lived in Rome many years ago.
I don't understand what this is? It is not spaghetti without fennel!)

That being said, I think 4 is the maximum different grains I have used in a single recipe. I think that the roasted grains add some flavor, but mostly color. If a recipe calls for it, I would use it. When I make my own recipes, I think of:
1. Flavor
2. Color
3. Heaviness (mouth feel)
4. Aroma.

Grain has more effect on #2. I think Yeast and Fermentation Temp has more to do with #1 ( and of course Hops)

#3 is all mash temp.


Aroma hops affect # 4 more than anything. Late hops or dry Hops afffect #1 also.
 

tennesseean_87

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What??? No fennel seed?? IPA without hops!;)
mi scusa mio italianio. Io abbito nel Roma multi anno fai.

Io non capicio qaulle questa? Il e non spaghetti senso fennel!

(Please excuse my Italian. I lived in Rome many years ago.
I don't understand what this is? It is not spaghetti without fennel!)

That being said, I think 4 is the maximum different grains I have used in a single recipe. I think that the roasted grains add some flavor, but mostly color. If a recipe calls for it, I would use it. When I make my own recipes, I think of:
1. Flavor
2. Color
3. Heaviness (mouth feel)
4. Aroma.

Grain has more effect on #2. I think Yeast and Fermentation Temp has more to do with #1 ( and of course Hops)

#3 is all mash temp.


Aroma hops affect # 4 more than anything. Late hops or dry Hops afffect #1 also.
You ever had a stout? The roasted stuff affects flavor.
 
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