residual sweetness for spice ale

Grains, malts, hops, yeast, water and other ingredients used to brew. Recipe reviews and suggestions.

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residual sweetness for spice ale

Postby Benjamin1c » Mon Aug 02, 2010 11:06 pm

Hi all,

I'm new to the forum, but I've been playing around with this hobby on and off for a couple of years now. This seems like a great place to exchange ideas, and so far I've read through some great posts.
I figure my next project will be to try and concoct a relatively strong, spiced holiday ale. The real fun in this hobby, I figure, comes with trying to experiment a little.
(I admit some of my past "experiments" have NOT turned out well... but thats a nother story :-)
Now, I figure, for a spiced ale, why not try and make a little on the sweet side. Caramel/crystal malts, as I understand, serve the dual purpose of both adjusting color AND adding more complex sugars that will tend to stick around after fermentation is complete, regardless of the yeast attenuation level (I figure, using a yeast with lower attenuation might also make some difference?)

Most recipes I've come across call for a pound, sometimes half, of crystal malt. For a sweeter brew, I thought why not up it, to 1 1/2, or possibly 2? question is, how much is too much, and are there any drawbacks to using so much? Any ideas might help, tx
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Crystal Malt

Postby slothrob » Wed Aug 04, 2010 8:56 am

The amount of Crystal Malt you can get away with depends on your personal taste, the attenuation of the yeast you're using, and the beer style.

I didn't want to jump in here, because I tend to prefer drier beer and I lean toward lower amounts of Crystal Malt. I typically use 0.25-0.5# (or 0# when appropriate to the style) for any beer that I want to finish dry. I'll occasionally drift up to 0.75# and maybe even 1# for a beer like an Amber, Porter or Brown Ale, that I want to have a sweeter, thicker finish.

But I'm cautious about going above 0.5# because I've made beers that I didn't like when made with too much Crystal Malt. If I go high on the Crystal Malt, I make sure I use a reasonably attenuative yeast and pay particular attention to mash temperature, yeast pitch rates and fermentation temperatures to avoid a cloying beer. The other problem I've seen is beer dominated by a particular Crystal Malt's flavor, so I mix different lovibond Crystal Malts as I go to higher quantities to avoid a single flavor from taking over.

All that said, I've seen well received recipes from brewers I respect that had as much as 2# of a particular Crystal Malt. I just don't know how to make that work.
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Postby Benjamin1c » Wed Aug 04, 2010 1:34 pm

thanks for input,

btw, just to clarify, I was talking about the usual 5 gal. batches, and I assume you are as well.

Also, I forgot to mention, so far I always do extract batches, so mass temperature is not an issue (though I suppose steeping of the crystal malt. temp is important, I always keep around 160).

Those are good points to keep in mind, about combining different lovibond grains so one doesn't dominate. I generally start with only completely light extract, just so I feel that I'm contributing some 'creative input' by adding in my extras for coloration and caramel taste; therefore it would be better to steer away from using only one grade of caramel.

I figured I'd use California Ale yeast (dry), pretty standard, versatile stuff, with medium attenuation. I was also thinking about Windsor yeast, its supposed to be even less attenuative and leave 'fruity' tones which might actually be in keeping with flavorful, spiced ale. (figure cinamon, nutmeg, cloves).

I definitely want to avoid hoppy flavor, so I perhaps should avoid to much sweetness, since there would be less bitterness to balance out.

So many things to consider... but thanks for the tips.
Last edited by Benjamin1c on Wed Aug 04, 2010 2:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Crystal Malt

Postby slothrob » Wed Aug 04, 2010 2:08 pm

Yes, 5 gallon batches.

Sometimes, of course, there will be times when you want to use a single Crystal Malt, perhaps when you're getting the complexity from other ingredients. Figuring out what works for you is all part of the fun.
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