Use of crystal malt in cider

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cimirie

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So, I'm contemplating yet another batch of cider. I haven't decided yet on the exact recipe (other flavors, fruits, spices, etc) but assume it will resemble this...

4.5 gallons apple juice
1.5 lbs dextrose (+3/4 cup for priming)
1 - 2 lbs 60L crystal malt
us-05 yeast

Steep grains in 1 gallon water at 155 for 45 minutes, etc, etc, etc

My purpose in using the crystal is to leave some residual sugar on the palate so the final product isn't quite so dry. Plus, I hope it will add some body to cider which would be a pleasant change. Personally I like dry cider, but variety in my cellar is important. Plus, it'll be a good experiment.

So, my questions...
-How much residual sweetness can I expect from using 2lbs of crytal? Will it be too much? (I'm not looking for zima sweet here - just something to leave a touch more sweet than dry on the palate)
-Is there another malt that would be better suited for this purpose?
-Would a different variety of crystal work better for this?

I know we're just hypothesizing here, but give me an educated guess, if you would. This is why I love this forum. Enough experience in one place that every imaginable question you could come up with can be addressed! Thanks in advance.:D
 

robertjohnson

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I've only brewed up a few small batches, but I recently put 6 oz of specialty grain (4 of aromatic and 2 of carapils) into one gallon just for experimentation. I put in enough brown sugar to put the starting gravity at 1.060 and pitched some nottingham. I'm at 1.007 and counting, with the hydrometer samples being more dry than I was looking for. It will almost certainly be different with crystal malts, but for comparison I put about 1.7 pounds of specialty grain and definitely noticed the flavor. If you're open to experimentation, check out the groundhog clone in the cider recipe index; it uses aromatic and chocolate in about the same proportion, i believe. I put some leftover LME and 2 oz of chocolate malt in another gallon and i really liked the nice dry bitterness that the chocolate adds at the end. It might go well with the sweetness and body of the crystal malts.
 

JLem

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I'm no expert here, but...

to get residual sweetness, you'll have to mash the grains (right?). A steep will only get you some flavor and color. The OP says steep, but it sounds more like a mash to me.
Just because the first reply didn't get any residual sweetness doesn't mean you won't - he may have steeped and it sounds like you are going to mini-mash.
 
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cimirie

cimirie

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I've only brewed up a few small batches, but I recently put 6 oz of specialty grain (4 of aromatic and 2 of carapils) into one gallon just for experimentation. I put in enough brown sugar to put the starting gravity at 1.060 and pitched some nottingham. I'm at 1.007 and counting, with the hydrometer samples being more dry than I was looking for. It will almost certainly be different with crystal malts, but for comparison I put about 1.7 pounds of specialty grain and definitely noticed the flavor. If you're open to experimentation, check out the groundhog clone in the cider recipe index; it uses aromatic and chocolate in about the same proportion, i believe. I put some leftover LME and 2 oz of chocolate malt in another gallon and i really liked the nice dry bitterness that the chocolate adds at the end. It might go well with the sweetness and body of the crystal malts.
I can't wrap my head around apple flavor mixed with chocolate. :confused: Interesting idea! The dryness of the cider is one of the hurdles I'm trying to overcome using the crystal. Do you think the crystal will help this (in addition to the body)?
 
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cimirie

cimirie

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I'm no expert here, but...

to get residual sweetness, you'll have to mash the grains (right?). A steep will only get you some flavor and color. The OP says steep, but it sounds more like a mash to me.
Just because the first reply didn't get any residual sweetness doesn't mean you won't - he may have steeped and it sounds like you are going to mini-mash.
You're right, I am going to mini mash. Will that amount of crystal lend itself to noticible residual sweetness in a 5 gallon batch you think?
 

JLem

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You're right, I am going to mini mash. Will that amount of crystal lend itself to noticible residual sweetness in a 5 gallon batch you think?
Not sure. I'm too new to this to have any first-hand experience with this, but I played around in BeerSmith and I think 2 lbs of crystal malt in a 5 gallon batch could add a few points to your FG.
 

robertjohnson

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First of all, there's not really a reason to do a mini-mash if you're using crystal malt since it has VERY limited diastatic power, which means that it won't produce enzymes to convert the starch to sugar and won't result in any sugars. You can do a mini-mash if you want, but you'd mostly be wasting your time and energy with that particular grain. You're still going to get that caramel sweetness from steeping. The aromatic malt that I used and noticed a distinct flavor with is a lighter roast, so it doesn't have the same flavor profile as the crystal malts that you'd be using. What I was trying to say was that if you put about 1.75 lbs of crystal malt in there (roughly the amount of specialty grain I used) that the caramel sweetness it contributes would probably be a noticeable presence in your cider. If you want more sweetness, then increase it.
If it were me, in addition I'd try reducing the amount of corn sugar since that does a lot to lighten up the body since contains ALL fermentables. I'd also try priming with 1-1/4 cups light DME at bottling time, since it adds body and a little residual sweetness.
 
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cimirie

cimirie

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First of all, there's not really a reason to do a mini-mash if you're using crystal malt since it has VERY limited diastatic power, which means that it won't produce enzymes to convert the starch to sugar and won't result in any sugars. You can do a mini-mash if you want, but you'd mostly be wasting your time and energy with that particular grain. You're still going to get that caramel sweetness from steeping. The aromatic malt that I used and noticed a distinct flavor with is a lighter roast, so it doesn't have the same flavor profile as the crystal malts that you'd be using. What I was trying to say was that if you put about 1.75 lbs of crystal malt in there (roughly the amount of specialty grain I used) that the caramel sweetness it contributes would probably be a noticeable presence in your cider. If you want more sweetness, then increase it.
If it were me, in addition I'd try reducing the amount of corn sugar since that does a lot to lighten up the body since contains ALL fermentables. I'd also try priming with 1-1/4 cups light DME at bottling time, since it adds body and a little residual sweetness.

Priming with the light DME to add body sounds like a winning plan. I've got amber (not light) on hand. Aside from darkening the color, do you think amber would work for this task? (Great idea, btw!)

OK, so you used 1.75 lb and noticed a caramel sweetness so using 2 lbs should as well. Cool.

This is just a strict info gathering question here, but if crystal has no (or virtually no) diastic enzymes, how would steeping or mashing contribute to an overall sweetness? If there can be no conversion of starch to sugar by itself, where does the caramel taste and sweetness come from?

Would mashing with some pale malt (which has a high enzyme level) allow more sweetness to be extracted? Or would the sugars formed all be fermentable and therefore just contribute to the ABV? I guess I'm confused because I've found many sources that say the sugars from crystal malt are nonfermentable, some say they are around 50% fermentable, and yet others which say crystal malt produce sugars like any other and they're all fermentalbe. Confused!!! :drunk:

I know I'm asking some heavy questions, but I'm really interested in learning the basics about chemistry involved in the process to help plan better for future endeavors. Thanks for all your help!
 

robertjohnson

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Amber DME would work great, except it might be hard to figure out how much to use since the companies that produce it usually don't divulge exactly how much of what grains go into their dry malts. I'd suggest sticking with light LME just to avoid making either undercarbonated cider or bottle bombs. Plus, from what I've gathered amber DME is mostly the same as light DME with crystal malt added into the mash. If you want a darker color, then you might as well stick with light DME for priming and up the crystal malt that you personally put in your cider. As for fermentability, the sweetness comes from starches, which are basically complex sugars that the yeast are unable to digest. As a result, adding unfermentable sugars leaves behind more residual sweetness in your cider, whereas adding corn sugar, for example, which is all fermentable sugar, leaves no unfermentables behind but gets digested into alcohol by the yeast and leaves you with a drier cider. Hope that helps. And if you steep the grains in apple juice, then you can add some pectic enzyme to reduce the haze that results from heating up the juice. Hope this helps.
 
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