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Testing fermentability of crystal malt

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nilo

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I'm setting the stage to do some research on crystal malts, trying to identify the following:
1)How much ppg you get from different crystal malts
2)How fermentable the sugars are

I'm going to do some simple experiments with 1gal batches as follow:

1)Separated tests will be done, one with crystal 10L, one with crystal 40L and one with crystal 120L
2)The grain bill for each test/batch will be 1 pound of crystal malt + 1/4lb of rice rulls. The crystal malt will be milled or even blended to a fine powder to extract close to 100% of its potential.
3)Using this tiny 2gal cooler, I'm going to mash/steep each grain bill at 155F for 30min to extract the sugars. I'm using 155F just as reference as I don't think it will actually matter since I don't need to covert starch to sugars. Sugars on a crystal malt should be already there.
4)Will drain and sparge to collect 1gal of wort for fermentation
5)To Ferment with S04 yeast at 70F until FG is achieved
6)Will measure OG and FG and get the PPG and attenuation, calculating how much fermentable the sugars are.

The plan is to do this test multiple times, also using different yeast strains, so the numbers can narrow and I can get a smaller standard deviation.

My objective is to get a good understanding of the effects of crystal malts on the FG of a recipe.

What you guys think? Anything I should change in my process? Thoughts?Am I crazy or something?

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What you guys think? Anything I should change in my process? Thoughts?Am I crazy or something?
I applaud your creativity, but I'm sure this information is out there. I mean, the PPG for the malts is certainly available, and the fermentability info should be somewhere as well (I don't know where - but gotta be somewhere on the interwebz! ;))

But, by all means, move forward and keep us updated!
 

trigger

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Subscribed and extremely curious.

I'm wondering what would happen if you mashed 1lb 6 row with 1 lb of the various crystals for the enzymes. I may have to do your experiment, using the same setup and a 50/50 grain bill. Then test at various temperatures.

I think that this is definately going to happen when I get my new brewery built...
 
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Subscribed and extremely curious.

I'm wondering what would happen if you mashed 1lb 6 row with 1 lb of the various crystals for the enzymes. I may have to do your experiment, using the same setup and a 50/50 grain bill. Then test at various temperatures.

I think that this is definately going to happen when I get my new brewery built...
That's a good point - I'm not sure that crystal by itself is capable of converting...

https://www.homebrewtalk.com/wiki/index.php/Crystal_and_caramel_malt

EDIT - one more thought - doesn't brewing software already use the fermentabilty of crystal in the FG projection?

Again, not trying to be a debbie-downer, but just thinking that this information has to be out there already...
 
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nilo

nilo

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That's a good point - I'm not sure that crystal by itself is capable of converting...

https://www.homebrewtalk.com/wiki/index.php/Crystal_and_caramel_malt

EDIT - one more thought - doesn't brewing software already use the fermentabilty of crystal in the FG projection?

Again, not trying to be a debbie-downer, but just thinking that this information has to be out there already...
All very good points indeed.
I have thought about that also, as to how the diastatic power from a base malt would affect the fermentability of the crystal sugars.
So my plan include testing just the crystal malt first, then the next step will be to test a batch with 100% base malt, then the last stage to test a 50/50% basemalt/crystal. Crystal malt doesn't have any enzymes.

All brewing softwares that I'm aware of assume everything as 100% fermentable, crystal, carapils, even lactose ( I hate this:mad:). This is why I don't use then and built my own brewing tool, so I can at least assign the fermentability I want for each ingredient.
I have looked many times for "fermentability" data on the web without luck. The only thing I found that seems to give some idea of fermentability of a malt is the "Glassy" characteristics from the spec sheets, which I currently use in my calculations.
I hope I can get some conclusive results from this experiment. Be patient guys, it will take several interactions to come up with some reliable results.
Keep shooting comments please :rockin:
 
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nilo

nilo

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Are you sure about that? They treat corn sugar the same as roast barley?
Make a test. Load a batch in the software with pure lactose (or corn sugar or roasted barley), nothing else, and check the FG. I'm pretty sure it will apply the standard yeast attenuation to it.
If that has changed I'll be very surprised.
 
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Make a test. Load a batch in the software with pure lactose (or corn sugar or roasted barley), nothing else, and check the FG. I'm pretty sure it will apply the standard yeast attenuation to it.
If that has changed I'll be very surprised.
That's why I asked the question - I don't use software ;) :D
 

MajorTom

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Looks like a good experiment. I will follow...
 

SeanRRogers

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I've been researching this very topic the last few days in an attempt to write my own brewing spreadsheet, and agree with you that the software all seems to blindly apply attenuation calculations to the extract potential, regardless of whether the extracted "stuff" is fermentable or not.

I am coming to believe that this is because there seems to be very little information out there on the subject. I did find a reference to this paper:

http://www.scientificsocieties.org/jib/papers/2005/G-2005-0330-275.pdf

which seems to indicate that extract of darker malts, including crystal types, is generally close to 0% fermentable. This does not seem like common knowledge among homebrewers, unless I am a complete n00b (possible!) and it is so obvious that it remains unsaid.

It also seems uncertain whether mashing these grains actually does anything. You would certainly need some grains with diastatic power in your mash, though.
 
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I was re-reading Palmer (Chapt 12) and wonder if this doesn't provide some more insight.

http://www.howtobrew.com/section2/chapter12-3.html

Doesn't your PPG get at your fermentability - with the assumption that all of the "sugar" you get will ferment 100%?

So, if your total PPG of sugar is 46, and the labs say light crystal has a max yield of 75% (for example), meaning a max PPG of 35, wouldn't that mean the remaining 25% are unfermentables?

http://www.howtobrew.com/section2/chapter12-4-1.html
 

SeanRRogers

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That was one of the first pages that I looked at. However, it is plain that those PPG numbers are the ones used by all software tools to compute OG, and therefore must include both fermentable and unfermentable sugars/dextrines.

For example, "everybody knows" that Carapils is almost entirely unfermentable. Yet the PPG is 32. Those points must go directly to FG (yield notwithstanding).

Sorry for a slight detour here, but there are numerous threads complaining of high FG on extract brews; but with a standard recipe with 7 lbs DME, and 1.5 lbs carapils and crystal, if you do the math assuming 75% real attenuation and that the specialty grain is unfermentable, you can compute an FG of around 1.020, which is exactly the "extract barrier" commonly seen and much lamented.

LATER:
Getting back to the OP, I wonder if the above implies that including the crystal in the mash does increase fermentability somewhat. It could still only get you a point or two though.
 
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That was one of the first pages that I looked at. However, it is plain that those PPG numbers are the ones used by all software tools to compute OG, and therefore must include both fermentable and unfermentable sugars/dextrines.

For example, "everybody knows" that Carapils is almost entirely unfermentable. Yet the PPG is 32. Those points must go directly to FG (yield notwithstanding).
I would assume that software would add the PPG of cara to the OG, but would not deduct much, if anything from the FG. Again, I don't use software, so I should just probably go away now :p

EDIT: I use beercalculus.com a little just to work on target OG....

And yes, I put in 10lbs of Cara and it says OG 1.048 and FG 1.012 :drunk:
 
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nilo

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"which seems to indicate that extract of darker malts, including crystal types, is generally close to 0% fermentable"

I agree 100%. In fact, in my brewing tool, I set these grains to 0% fermentable, so all points goes straight to FG.

"It also seems uncertain whether mashing these grains actually does anything. You would certainly need some grains with diastatic power in your mash, though."

I recently learned from this forum that beta amylase can actually convert the long sugars (at some level) to shorter chains that become then fermentable, so I think that if you mash a crystal malt with another malt with diastatic power, it will affect the fermentability of the points coming from the crystal.

"Sorry for a slight detour here, but there are numerous threads complaining of high FG on extract brews; but with a standard recipe with 7 lbs DME, and 1.5 lbs carapils and crystal, if you do the math assuming 75% real attenuation and that the specialty grain is unfermentable, you can compute an FG of around 1.020, which is exactly the "extract barrier" commonly seen and much lamented."

Absolutely! I have seen many and many complains about high FG, some from extract recipes, some from AG, but many I believe are right on target. The problem is that the tool been used to predict FG is wrong, giving a false expectation of a lower FG, as we said, assuming that everything will be fermented.

At last, the way I calculate PPG is by using 2 key indicators from the spec sheets of each grain, the DBCG(dry basis coarse grind) and the MC%(moisture content). Using the formula PPG=46.214*(DBCG/100 - MC%/100 - 0.002). This has proven more accurate than just use what is out there on the database of the brewing tools like beertools or beersmith, etc.
This PPG is the max, assuming 100% mashing efficiency ( or steeping extraction?), so I aply the mashing efficiency on top of that. Now, which part of these points are actually fermentables, that is the golden question that I'm trying to answer with this experiment.

I'm starting my first test batch in few minutes. Wish me luck :)
 

SeanRRogers

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I'm starting my first test batch in few minutes. Wish me luck :)
Are you including some base malt in the mash, or are you doing it with crystal only first?

Cheers for actually doing an experiment! :mug:
 
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nilo

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Just the crystal malt first, with 1/4# of rice rulls since I milled the crystal 3 times to get a better extraction.
This is how it looks

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Bigscience

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I must say that because there are so many variables that contribute to attenuation and you are just trying to look at how Crystal malt affects it, you may want to consider the following:

Mash at <149F to get the most fermentable wort
Mash for 90 minutes to really be sure conversion is compelte
Go with a no sparge to eliminate sparge variability
Over Oxeganate your worts
Over pitch


Another thought would be to do all the mashes in french presses at the same time and put them in a water bath to control the temp. That way, even if you were slightly off on temp, they would be the same.

You could do the following:

100% 6-row (control)
50% 6-Row + 50% Crystal 10L
50% 6-Row + 50% Crystal 40L
50% 6-Row + 50% Crystal 120L

The results could be calculated based on the difference between the test and control. OR you could pick one Crystal and just vary the percents (eg 5%, 20%, 50%). It may be that at lower levels (typical use), the affects it has on attenuation really isn't that great.
 

SeanRRogers

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The results could be calculated based on the difference between the test and control. OR you could pick one Crystal and just vary the percents (eg 5%, 20%, 50%). It may be that at lower levels (typical use), the affects it has on attenuation really isn't that great.
Agreed--but we are talking about the difference between 100% fermentability of extracted sugars, which all the software seems to assume, and something that may be closer to 0% in reality. This difference amounts to 2-5 points of FG in typical recipes.

If this is the case, then I assume that a lot of brewers use the software tools without realizing that the estimated FG will be unrealistically low, then freak out and blame themselves, or their yeast, or extract. I mean, that's what I have been doing up until the last few days....
 
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nilo

nilo

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Sparging the last of 3 test batches now. Holly cow, I'm brewing 3 batches in a row! Playing mad scientist is hard!
So far, PPG's are coming lower than expecd. More to come soon.
 
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nilo

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Here are some preliminary results:
Crystal 10L: PPG=20
Crystal 40L: PPG=16
Crystal 120L: PPG=16

After 14h from pitching, Crystal 10L is visibly fermenting, Crystal 40L is getting started, Crystal 120L doesn't show any signs yet.
All three were oxygenated with bottled oxygen for 3 min before pitching.
Here's a snapshot as of now.

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SeanRRogers

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Those PPG numbers are actually not too far off those in the steeping column in Palmer's table.

What was your steeping procedure?
 
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nilo

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Those PPG numbers are actually not too far off those in the steeping column in Palmer's table.

What was your steeping procedure?
You are right, it is pretty close.
I did actually a mash at 155F, drained the wort, added sparge water, stired, recirculated and drained all wort again. Did this 3 times to make sure all possible sugars were collected.
One interesting thing though. All 3 batches indicated the presence of starches when doing the iodine test. That tells me a mash of a crystal malt with a base malt can improve the yield.
 

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One thing to be sure of - replication of your treatments. For this experiment to be more valid you should repeat your experiment several times (more the better). This way you will capture more of the variance in your procedure and things you can't (or aren't) controlling for.
 
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nilo

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Update on the results of the first test.
Basically, it shows that a good amount of sugars from a crystal malt is fermentable.
As I stated before, this is just the first set of data points of several more to come to give it some credibility.
One thing that actually surprised me was the detection of startches in wort of all three malts. I though that all starch were already coverted to sugars inside the grain, but that doesn't seems to be the case.
I think that I didn't get the max PPG from the grain. I will turn the grain into flour next time to make sure I get anything possible. I milled the grain 3 times on this first test.
Below is a table that shows the most important parameters tested and results. Also attached the fermentation profiles and pic of the iodine tests of crystal 10L.

Table_Test1.jpg


C10_1_Profile.jpg


C40_1_Profile.jpg


C120_1_Profile.jpg


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Nice job Nilo, I have been pointed to this thread and subscribed to it.

Have you also tested the FG with a hydrometer, there has been some discussion over on the AHA board that lead to the conclusion that the commonly used Brix to FG conversion is not necessarily accurate. You don't have to do that every day but it would be nice to see the last FG to be read with both the refractometer and the hydrometer.

If you want to simplify the testing you may also test the gravity only once after all signs of fermentation have ceased. That's what I did when I ran fermentability experiments like yours.

Cheers,
Kai
 
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nilo

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Nice job Nilo, I have been pointed to this thread and subscribed to it.

Have you also tested the FG with a hydrometer, there has been some discussion over on the AHA board that lead to the conclusion that the commonly used Brix to FG conversion is not necessarily accurate. You don't have to do that every day but it would be nice to see the last FG to be read with both the refractometer and the hydrometer.

If you want to simplify the testing you may also test the gravity only once after all signs of fermentation have ceased. That's what I did when I ran fermentability experiments like yours.

Cheers,
Kai

Thanks for the imput Kai.
Gravity was only taken with a refractometer, using a long formula to covert from brix.
I have tested the formula results before with other batches against a hydrometer and it proved very accurate.
But I can use both refractometer and hydrometer for OG and FG's for future tests, just to be on the safe side.
 

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