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Pushing the Limits: a 90% Crystal Malt Beer

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homebrewdad

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A silly idea occurred to me not long ago - how much crystal malt can I put into a beer? Today's post is about taking a good thing to silly extremes. This is the first in what I hope will be a fun little series of posts where I push the limits of various aspects of brewing.
 

Stillraining

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Yep silly...there is nothing to convert to alcohol but the 10% ....but maybe it will be good on pancakes. :)
 
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homebrewdad

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Yep silly...there is nothing to convert to alcohol but the 10% ....but maybe it will be good on pancakes. :)
I've seen this line of thought a lot. In fact, it's super common... and may be right. Sort of the point of this silly experiment.

But then, there's this (taken from the Briess blog post about crystal malt)

To start, sprouted barley after four days of germination is fed directly into rotating drum roasters similar to those used to produce coffee or cocoa. The malt is still “green” and growing and contains about 42% moisture. The drum is rotated and slowly heated to bring the grain temperature up to starch conversion temperature, roughly 150 ºF (65.6 oC), just as is done in the mashing process in the brewery. As in mashing, the native amylase enzymes activate and turn the wet starch in the kernel into simple sugars. Because there is so little moisture, this gooey sugar stays inside the kernel. It’s like millions of little mash vessels with wort trapped inside. Once conversion is complete, the maltster turns up the heat and begins drying out the malts. Very quickly the sugars are concentrated and the temperatures are taken high enough (>300 oF, 149 oC) to achieve carmelization of the sugars.
(emphasis added by Briess)

So if that is correct, I should end up with a FG south of 1.020, even with my temporary heat spike in the mash, correct? Now, the beer may be disgusting, but it should theoretically ferment just fine.

We'll see!
 

Stillraining

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OK ...Well if you want to mash for a really long time and want to add tons of enzymes to get the job done , then you could get it to pretty much convert....I guess the question is Why would you want to do that? Is there a flavor profile your specifically after.....like sharp bitter and nasty?
 
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homebrewdad

homebrewdad

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I did mash for 90 minutes. I did not add enzymes. Again, according to the maltster literature, enzyme conversion has already happened. If that is correct - and I'm not saying that it is - then the beer should ferment.

If it does, then I will step up the next experiment to 100% crystal. If it doesn't, I'll reign it back to see what the actual threshold is.

Why do it at all? For fun. For curiosity. I already know that the widely published 20% max usage figure is positively false. So what is the real max usage percentage?

That's that I'm trying to find out.
 

Stillraining

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Ah I see....yes I agree 20% is not maximum and you can make great beer above that.

There is a difference between modified and Converted grains...if they are saying their process compleatly converts them to sugars already then its a moot point. And if that true then all you need to do is rince the sugars out..no mashing required. This is not the case for malts we are most familiar with.

I will follow your progress with interest.

Carry on.
 
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homebrewdad

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Ah I see....yes I agree 20% is not maximum and you can make great beer above that.

There is a difference between modified and Converted grains...if they are saying their process compleatly converts them to sugars already then its a moot point. And if that true then all you need to do is rince the sugars out..no mashing required. This is not the case for malts we are most familiar with.

I will follow your progress with interest.

Carry on.
Again, according to the Briess post, conversion is done in the husk (millions of little mash vessels), so a mash technically wasn't required.

I'm aware that 20% isn't the "real" limit. According to the one anecdotal beer I cited, 50% isn't the limit, either. So the point of this silly idea was to find that limit. Is it 90%? 100% Something lower?

If I get reasonably complete fermentation (I finish under 1.020), I'm calling this an objective success, no matter how the beer tastes. If that happens, I'll brew again at 100% crystal malt.

If it doesn't, I'll call it a failure and try again with more base malt. :)
 

Stillraining

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Where do you get 10%?

I have seen crystal malts shown to have an AA from 50% to 70%.
He stated he used only 10% base malt and 90 % basically crystals or non convertibles. My mention of that had nothing to do with anything else.
 
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