How much impact do small additions of caramel malt/specialty grains have on flavor...

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I am an all-grain brewer and I am wondering about how small additions of specialty grains or caramel malt impact overall flavor. For example, I am curious about whether or not adding small additions of 2ozs. would be perceivable in 5 gallon batches of beer. I realize this is certainly true with roasted barley, black malt and etcetera, but what about when using and or layering caramel malts like 120L or Special B with lower lovibond caramel malts. At what minimum amounts would these grains have noticeable impact on beer flavors? I see alot of recipes online asking for minute amounts of various malts and often wonder about how much of a contribution they play in these smaller quantities.
 

wickman6

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I've oftentimes wondered the same thing. I find it hard to believe that 2oz of most crystal malt would do much but I really don't know. Staying tuned to see what others have to say.

Welcome, btw!
 

pjj2ba

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It depend on how much base malt (and other malts) there are. A friend and I have both been messing with low ABV beers (~4%) and we are finding that for these beers a small change DOES make a big difference. Adding 4 oz of a crystal malt, even something only 40 L is very noticeable. If you are brewing a beer at 6% ABV or more, you might not even notice this amount of crystal 40 malt. In other words, the higher the final ABV, the more flavor malts you'll need to add if you want them to have a pronounced affect on the flavor
 

BigRob

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The answer depends on who is tasting your beer, the rest of the wort composition, etc. 2oz of C120 is going to be far more noticeable in a cream ale recipe, than in an imperial stout recipe.

It also depends on the palate doing the tasting, if you don't have a trained palate, you may not notice the subtle flavour difference as easily as an experienced beer judge.
 

Dirtyoldguy366

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Small additions of specialty malts are added to achieve a certain color profile as well. A couple of ounces of 120l can give beers a reddish hue, but if you overdo it the beer could taste scorched.
 
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Great answers! I guess I am primarily interested to the small additions impact when layering caramel malts or roasted malts in a recipe. In many of my amber and brown ale recipes I tend to layer some caramel malts of different lovibond the most having 1.5 pounds in a 5 gallon batch.

If a recipe has 1 pound or 1.5 pounds of caramel malt, how much quantity of grain would an addition have to be to make a perceivable flavor contribution. Say I am making an Amber and I use 1 pound of 40L, 6oz. of 80L and 2oz. of 120L, would that 120L taste noticeably different than if I used 1 pound of 40L and .5 pound of 80L? How much would the beer's flavor change if I used 1 pound 40L and 4oz. 80L and 4oz. of 120L?
 

grainstoglass

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Great answers! I guess I am primarily interested to the small additions impact when layering caramel malts or roasted malts in a recipe. In many of my amber and brown ale recipes I tend to layer some caramel malts of different lovibond the most having 1.5 pounds in a 5 gallon batch.

If a recipe has 1 pound or 1.5 pounds of caramel malt, how much quantity of grain would an addition have to be to make a perceivable flavor contribution. Say I am making an Amber and I use 1 pound of 40L, 6oz. of 80L and 2oz. of 120L, would that 120L taste noticeably different than if I used 1 pound of 40L and .5 pound of 80L? How much would the beer's flavor change if I used 1 pound 40L and 4oz. 80L and 4oz. of 120L?
I'd be interested to know just how much the flavors would change as well. I also layer caramel malts and prefer the flavors I get when doing so in my Ambers and occasionally in brown ales, but I couldnt tell you at what point the flavors will become prononced enough to notice the individual caramel malts flavors. I would guess that 2 oz. of the 120L in the example above would be more of a nuance and that 4oz. would probably be more noticeable when comparing to your control beer.
 
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So then this might lead me to believe that smaller additions like the example of 2 oz. of 120L or other dark caramel malts may play more of a role in increasing color and or slight body contributions, but I probably shouldnt expect too much flavor wise from them?
 

GlenF

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It's pretty straightforward. The more you add the more flavor you'll get. 2oz will contribute flavor. Will it be distinctly different than your C 40? Probably not, but as you said, it's to blend and add depth. To answer your own questions, you may want to brew some experimental batches.

Start with a 5 gallon batch of your Amber ale and mash with 1lb of C 40.

Then do 2 smaller partial boils. Steep whatever combinations of 80 & 120L you want, since you don't need to mash Crystal malts.

Ferment separately and taste.
(You could scale up as your system allows)
 

Aschecte

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Depends on the specialty malts you are going to use. Rye or black malt or brown malt is going to be way more perciveable than crystal 40 at 2 oz.
 

seabass07

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I'll throw a piece of advice out there. Don't think so much in percentages with crystal malts. Adding 1lb of c40 or c60 will give you some sweetness. Adding 1lb of c120 or special B will give you a ridiculous amount of sweetness. Just keep in mind that the higher the color on a crystal malt, the more unfermentable sweetness you'll get in the final beer. A good example would be something like an english barleywine. If you use all base malt and hop to around 50ibu, you end up with a balanced beer with regard to sweetness/bitterness. If you add in 4oz of special b without increasing bitterness, you end up with a very sweet beer. c120 and special b are potent, so keep that in mind when you use them. A lot of people here like to mention the BU/OG ratio, but darker crystal malts will completely throw off that scale by adding potent sweetness.

For chocolate and roasted barley, a few ounces make a big difference as well. It all depends on what you're making. If you want a stout, 4oz of chocolate malt or RB will not be even close to enough. But 4oz of roasted barley in a scotch ale will give you a lot of color and a touch of roast.

A good resource for recipe writing is to look at CYBI recipes. Especially ones that were deemed cloned. Drink the commercial example and look at the recipe.
 

tennesseean_87

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A good resource for recipe writing is to look at CYBI recipes. Especially ones that were deemed cloned. Drink the commercial example and look at the recipe.
This is how I've been honing my knowledge of ingredients. Take beers I like, and see what ingredients makes them taste the way they do.
 

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