What would you do with these ingredients?

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theWilly

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Hello...

I'm new to brewing and planning my 3rd brew. My first two were the Cooper's wheat and the Munton's Bock. I followed the directions on both and they came out nice, no infections, weird flavors, or major mishaps. I feel like I've got my sanitation and fermentation temperature control methods down fairly decently.

I'm planning my 3rd brew now and would like to start moving on from the bare bones kit approach. The beers have turned out well enough and were fantastic to get my feet wet, but I'd like to go a little deeper now and start to tailor my flavors. It seemed to me that, while the kit beers were decent, they were a little bland and I'd like to add some custom flavor.

I've had a can of Munton's Nut Brown Ale sitting in waiting and on a whim I picked up a pound each of Gambrinus Honey Malt, Briess Victory, and Pauls Chocolate Malt. The grains were ground up at the store for me. I've also got 2# Briess Amber DME and 1# Dark DME

I've had a few nut brown ales before and my favorite has been the Linenkugal's version. From what I've read here it's really a lager, I like the pronounced flavors of that beer more than some of the others I've tried. I had the BJ's restaurant nut brown last night, it was alright, but didn't have as bold of flavors as I'd prefer.

Any suggestions on what do with these ingredients? I definitely want the nutty flavor with some of the chocolate and maybe a hint of the honey. I'll start with the Munton's LME as a base and add some grain for extra character.

This is totally an experiment and my first venture into dealing with grains, so any suggestions on recipe and technique are highly appreciated

Thanks!!
 

trevorc13

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Don't use too much of the honey malt. It will over power your flavors with sweetness. I'd use less than .5 lbs. Maybe even less than .25 lbs. Also because you already ground your grain, I would get brewing soon. It only lasts so long after it's been crushed. With the rest of the ingredients, I would plug them into a brew software to see what you'll get. If you don't have one yet, I suggest downloading a free trial of beersmith from their website. It's really good at helping formulate the recipe you want. Good luck and have fun!
 

beaksnbeer

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Welcome to the beginning to flavor I suggest that you smell any of the grains that your looking at found that gave me a feel for flavors. Roasted barley adds the nutty/coffee/roast flavor, that said you may want to check the recipes here first most of these have been tweaked to give you a solid beer as you get more knowledgeable about grains and mash temps, water profiles, hop flavors and their evil offerings. Brewsmith yes excellent investment. My opinion is that you might want to work with tried and true recipes are like kits kicked up a big notch. Not trying to cut you down just pointing out you have made three kits I wouldn't expect you to go all grain yet try an extract with seeped grains. Walk before you run my .02
 

laiced

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my first batch was an extract with specialty grains and I did not see it as being difficult by any means.

I just threw my specialty grains in a muslin bag and threw in my brewkettle while bringing it to a boil. Once it hit boil, I took it out and let it drain out a bit without squeezing the bag. Next time I will sparge the bag with water around 168* to make sure I get everything out of it.

Most peeps on here will tell you to get a feel for your ingredients when you start out, but I suggest you get a couple of brews under your belt first, just to get a love of brewing instilled in you. Once you are comfortable (I am 1-2 brews away) with the process, then maybe do split batches where you just change 1 ingredient (i.e. 5 gallons split up to test different yeast strains and how they affect the same wort).

I agree with the above that you should definitely try (smell and taste) your different grains to to help develop your palette, but I say have fun with the first few batches, do not get discouraged, enjoy your beer even if you think it is a let down (which it probably isn't), and then start controlling it a bit to help expand your knowledge of yeasts, hops, grains, etc.

As for developing your own recipe, I can only speak to my own experiences in that I have been avoiding it so far (which is extremely hard considering my culinary passions) because I want to know as much about the processes and ingredients first. There is absolutely nothing wrong with using clone recipes of your favorite beers - and you can find extract + specialty grain recipes for thousands of beers.

Just make sure that the grains that you are using are 'steepable' instead of requiring a full or partial mash.
 
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theWilly

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Thanks for the info...

I'm not looking to go all grain just yet. Adding some steeped grains to the LME is exactly what I'm considering.

I've thought about the idea of brewing side-by-side batches, one of the base kit and the other with some personal tweaks. I like the idea. However, I live in Texas and I don't care to pay to keep my apartment real cool while I'm at work. I've got a 22 gallon trash bin that the carboy sets in, i fill the rest with water and drop ice packs in it when it starts to get warmed up too much. So far its worked great and I've kept temperatures typically between 68-72F. I'm considering setting up a fermentation cabinet with a chest freezer and line voltage thermostat....it will be easier to do dual batches or try lagering at that point.

I do have beersmith and its been very helpful. I've kept notes and created recipe entries for everything i've done. so far it appears to decently accurate and i've managed to fall within estimated gravity levels and the color comes out fairly close too. its a great tool

I looked around for some tweaks on the Munton's Nut Brown and found a few ideas, but figured I'd throw the question out there and see if anyone has any different ideas to add.

I'm definitely far from developing a real recipe...to compare it to cooking, I'm more at the "throw a couple of extra spices into the hamburger helper" stage...the kits are reasonable on their own, but like commercial brews they're a suitable product for the most number of people....I just want to experiment some with adding a little to enhance the flavors I'm looking for.

Thanks for the responses! I appreciate the input...really, I'm mostly just looking for the little tips...like, how the honey malt is very strong so use it sparingly....I probably would not have known that and used too much. So if anyone has anything to add or has some personal touch they like to use I'd love to hear it!
 

dcp27

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are all the grains ground together? if so, adding 0.5-1lb of it would work pretty well with the nut brown. its kinda hard to say since don't know exactly what the can is made of. if they're separate, 0.25-0.5lb of each would be fine to add, depending on how intense you want the individual flavors.

add 2lbs light dme to the leftovers and you should have another brown on your hands as well.
 
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theWilly

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Cool....thanks for your opinion....that's actually pretty much what i had in mind. after some reading, thinking, and sticking my nose in the bags a couple times....

the grains are separated out. i thought about 1/4# chocolate, 1/4# honey, then 1/2# victory.....seems like it would get a nice nutty flavor with a little of the honey sweetness and the roasty chocolate flavor

i'll admit, i haven't tasted the munton's style nut brown....so, i'm sure i'll be coming back to this one with adjustments down the road...but i'm determined to do something a little more involved than pouring a can into dme-water this time around.
 

shubrew

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How'd this beer turn out??? interested in doing the same thing. Any feedback would be great.
 
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theWilly

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Sorry to bring back a dead post, but apparently this got a reply not too long ago.

That beer was actually great. I really couldn't tell you exactly what I did with it but IIRC I pretty much added some of each of the grains. I believe I went lighter on the honey malt as was suggested.

I was under pitching back then so ferms took a while and I believe I got some off flavors from stressed yeast, but after cold conditioning that beer just got better and better. The chocolate malt darkened it up a lot, this beer was very very dark in color with a thick light almond colored head. There were nut, chocolate, and coffee notes to it with a hint of honey. It wasn't very high ABV and wasn't very high gravity either, for as dark and flavorful as it was it was still a fairly light beer, it didn't sit heavy.

shubrew - i'm sure you brewed yours up by now so sorry for the late response, but I hope this helps some on your next batch
 

MindenMan

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I had a bunch of leftover grains, and saw they would be most like a Dark Mild. I have brewed Dark Mild's early on, and was okay. Light sweetness of malt up front, and nice body, for a 3.2% beer, and close to a lawnmower beer. As I remember, I put 2 oz of cocoa powder the last 15 minutes of the boil to help with the color, and why not? Somewhere between the 2nd and 3rd months in the bottle it was really amazing, and left an obvious chocolate flavor in your mouth at the end of the swallow. Guess what? at that point, I had 3 of them left, and gave one my neighbor, drank one myself, and got pissed they were all gone.
 

Ayuir

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Don't worry about going to all grain too quickly...I started with all grain and never looked back (never done a kit or partials). If you have a good teacher you can jump right in.

As for changing or creating recipes for your own flavors I recommend going slow. Change you recipes a little bit at a time to gradually ease towards the flavor you want. It's very easy (writing from experience) to change too quickly when you're starting out and end up lost in different flavors. Change too many things all at once or make a big change with a strongly flavored ingredient and you can easily end up with something you didn't want or expect and not know what to do to get to where you wanted to be other than go back to your original recipe and start over. Of course it's also possible to have fantastic tasting accidents too.

Go slow. Taste your ingredients before you brew.
 

MindenMan

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I jumped into AG a lot sooner than I should have. I didn't really understand the whole lauter/sparge concept yet. Eventually I got a clue, built a Zapap tun and started making better beer, compared to the beginning batches. I did not try to formulate my own recipes for quite a while, and soon realized how important a hydrometer was to use. Had it not have been for the great people on this site, I probably would not be making as good of beers as I am now. Sorry off topic. I cleaned out my grain bin and made a mild, well-sort of anyway.The closest style to brew up with what I had on hand
 
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