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Special B has got to go.......

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Derek1985

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After much thought on the subject, I will be abandoning Special B use for good.

It doesn't produce, for me at least, anything considerable that CaraMunich couldn't do in it's place. It's grainy and too roasty.

Time after time I see in recipes for Belgian beers despite the fact that, as far as I know, none of the foremost examples of Belgian beers use it. It strikes me as pure homebrew Dogma and a relic of a time when dark syrups were not as widely available as they are now.

Try chewing on a bit of Special B and then some CaraMunich. You'll notice less roastiness and a bit of a sweeter flavor. Color is about the same in a visual sense despite the ratings. Not to say that CaraMunich is some sort of magic grain, just using it as a comparison (it is one of my favorites, the Dingeman variety in particular).

So I bid you farewell, oh darkest of all thou Belgian specialty grains. I shall not miss your supposed "raisin" flavors as I never experienced them anyway. Thou shalt get his "plum-y" and "dark fruit" flavors from Candi Syrup from this day forward.
 

Qhrumphf

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I think both Special B and dark candi syrup have their place. I, like many, enjoy the character of Special B. If you don't, that fine. To me, even darker Caramunich is different than Special B. It's the difference between a 20-30L crystal, a 60-80L crystal, and a 120-150L crystal. They're three completely different malts, and Caramunich to me often covers the mid range. Of course it depends on the maltser. I like Dingeman's Special B. I'm not as wild about Briess Special B.
 
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Derek1985

Derek1985

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I think both Special B and dark candi syrup have their place. I, like many, enjoy the character of Special B. If you don't, that fine. To me, even darker Caramunich is different than Special B. It's the difference between a 20-30L crystal, a 60-80L crystal, and a 120-150L crystal. They're three completely different malts, and Caramunich to me often covers the mid range. Of course it depends on the maltser. I like Dingeman's Special B. I'm not as wild about Briess Special B.
All jokes aside, it's just not for me. My taste buds register all the good qualities that hypothetically exist in Special B in Dingeman CaraMunich. It just doesn't taste that great to me.

Po-tato, Po-toto.
 

BigEd

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After much thought on the subject, I will be abandoning Special B use for good.

It doesn't produce, for me at least, anything considerable that CaraMunich couldn't do in it's place. It's grainy and too roasty.

Time after time I see in recipes for Belgian beers despite the fact that, as far as I know, none of the foremost examples of Belgian beers use it. It strikes me as pure homebrew Dogma and a relic of a time when dark syrups were not as widely available as they are now.

Try chewing on a bit of Special B and then some CaraMunich. You'll notice less roastiness and a bit of a sweeter flavor. Color is about the same in a visual sense despite the ratings. Not to say that CaraMunich is some sort of magic grain, just using it as a comparison (it is one of my favorites, the Dingeman variety in particular).

So I bid you farewell, oh darkest of all thou Belgian specialty grains. I shall not miss your supposed "raisin" flavors as I never experienced them anyway. Thou shalt get his "plum-y" and "dark fruit" flavors from Candi Syrup from this day forward.
You're probably using too much. Bigger is not better, a little Special-B or perhaps German CaraAroma goes a long way. Used with discretion it will provide very nice dark toffee and dried fruit/raisin notes.
 

ericbw

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I like it in one of my recipes. But don't use it often.
 

JKaranka

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Agree with OP. Only place I know it fits well is as a dark crystal in British brews (like a Hobgoblin clone, for example). Too rough for Belgian beers.
 
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Derek1985

Derek1985

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You're probably using too much. Bigger is not better, a little Special-B or perhaps German CaraAroma goes a long way. Used with discretion it will provide very nice dark toffee and dried fruit/raisin notes.

People always say that. I've used the recommended amounts and don't care for it.
 

Rhaop

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I just used a lb in a belgian dark strong along with a lb of dark candi and aromatic, my first time using special B fermented with 1388, been in primary 3 weeks this coming Saturday i am going to crack the lid and draw a sample
 

ArkotRamathorn

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I love special B, I use it in a wide range of styles. I think it has more character than a standard 120L crystal malt. From the sounds of it I would probably like caramunich so I'm not gonna take a dump any other malts. I think I will pick up some caramunich and try it in my dunkelweizen bock and replace the special B to give it a try.

Though I use a bit of special B in two of my house beers a rye stout and my graff that SWMBO loves so I can't completely replace it.

Edit: I liked my BDSA that had a good chunk of special B in it, though I am planning another BDSA soon where I skip any crystal style malts and just use a bit and use a lot of very dark home made candi sugar though I wont have a good base line since the last BDSA I brewed I wasn't as good of a brewer.
 

beersk

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All jokes aside, it's just not for me. My taste buds register all the good qualities that hypothetically exist in Special B in Dingeman CaraMunich. It just doesn't taste that great to me.

Po-tato, Po-toto.
Po-toto...ha. Like Poor Rosanna? I never thought that losing you could ever hurt so bad, Special B!!!

I've not had the greatest experience with Special B either, but it could be other factors or I used it in the wrong beers.
 

kh54s10

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It may just be the recipe.... I use Special B in one of my favorite recipes. A brown ale I have now made 3 versions of. I guess I don't have discriminating taste buds. I would have difficulty narrowing down a taste in a beer to a single malt. Unless I brewed a beer that I like, then substituted or added a particular malt then didn't like it. I have never done this so....

Too bad you don't like it. But I guess that leaves more for the rest of us.
 
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Derek1985

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I definitely don't think it has a place in Belgian beers. I've heard people using it in milds with success.
 
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Derek1985

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I just used a lb in a belgian dark strong along with a lb of dark candi and aromatic, my first time using special B fermented with 1388, been in primary 3 weeks this coming Saturday i am going to crack the lid and draw a sample
You used a lb of Special B AND Aromatic?
 

Rhaop

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You used a lb of Special B AND Aromatic?

Jamil's BDSA in brewing classic styles uses a lb of each i figured what the hell and go for it, i used enough base malt that specialty malts were under 20%
 

BigPerm

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I definitely don't think it has a place in Belgian beers. I've heard people using it in milds with success.
Considering its production by a Belgian maltster and the fact that it was designed, in part, to impart dark caramel flavors and melandoidins in the absence of a very long boil and/or decoction (as was traditionally done in Belgian monasteries), I think most people agree that it absolutely has a place in dark belgian ales. That said, it has a very strong flavor and needs to be used sparingly, and in combination with other specialty malts/techniques.

I personally use a small percentage in Imperial Stout, as it enhances the rich malt character and mouthfeel, IMO.
 

blizz81

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I generally use it in small amounts in conjunction with a small amount of 120L when I want that "dark fruit" flavor and have never been let down. Second time we entered a comp we won with our quad, and my buddy that ordered the recipe from the now-defunct Brewmasters Warehouse accidentally ordered clear candi sugar vs. dark.
 

ArkotRamathorn

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I don't get "grainy, roasty" flavors from it at all. I add it to impart the caramel and stone fruit notes that the malt is well known for.


I would be interested in seeing the OP's recipe that they got grainy and roasty flavors because of the special B. Home made candi sugar can be easy to burn if you are not careful and that would certainly add a roasty/ashy character to a beer. It would be easy in that case to mistake the use of special B in a 2 malt/1 sugar belgian beer as imparting the roast/ash flavors.

Edit: if the OP used home made candi sugar that is, if it's a high percent the melanoidin character could come off as toasty.
 

Schumed

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Not all Special B is equal ...which brand you referring too ...I do love caramunich too
 

ericbw

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I use it in an Irish Red that was supposed to have Briess Special Roast or Extra Special. The store didn't have those, so I went with Special B (I now realize it's not a sub for those, but I like the recipe like this, so I have never changed it back. But it's just a tiny amount, so not overwhelming.
 
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Derek1985

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I don't make my own sugar. I use CSI products. I've used Special B in less than 1/2 lb increments in 3 Belgian beers.

I'm not attacking anyone who uses it. It's just not for me that's all. There isn't anything wrong with my flavor preferences if I don't like it. My beer doesn't suck because I don't use it just as yours doesn't suck if you do.

Everyone has a preference and you'd be hard pressed to convince me that anyone could pick out the flavors of Special B in a blind test. I don't think it serves a purpose and it's absence in almost all the leading examples of ACTUAL Belgian beer supports that. People use it and love it and that's great. I just don't anymore is all.
 

gratus fermentatio

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If you're not getting the raisiny/stone fruit flavors/aromas, you might try mashing at a different temp and/or longer. I can smell it every time when mashing, but not right away, it takes a little time for it to open up & work its' magic.
Regards, GF.
 
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Derek1985

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If you're not getting the raisiny/stone fruit flavors/aromas, you might try mashing at a different temp and/or longer. I can smell it every time when mashing, but not right away, it takes a little time for it to open up & work its' magic.
Regards, GF.

I don't think it's a process thing. I just think I don't like the flavor and or don't perceive the flavors like others.

I tend to get the flavors described for Special B and more from syrups anyway.
 

Beernik

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I tell people that crystal malts have their time and place. The time is not all the time and the place is not everywhere. The only place I use Special B is a sweet stout.

I think you're more likely to find Special B in Trappist beers than in Belgian Dark Strong Ales. But I'm a 12 hour drive from my home brew books, so I can't verify that statement.

I think using CaraMunich and CaraVienna or straight Munich and Vienna instead of Special B is acceptable to the styles.
 
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Derek1985

Derek1985

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I think you're more likely to find Special B in Trappist beers than in Belgian Dark Strong Ales. But I'm a 12 hour drive from my home brew books, so I can't verify that statement.
The two aren't mutually exclusive, i.e. Rochefort 8 and Chimay Grande Reserve are Trappist Dark Strong Ales. In fact, you won't see Special B in nearly any Trappist or Abbey beers as most use longer boils and Dark Syrup.

Trappist isn't a style.

I think using CaraMunich and CaraVienna or straight Munich and Vienna instead of Special B is acceptable to the styles.

I agree with you 100% on this.
 
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