hist-brewing: Use of amber, brown and oat malt

Jeff Renner nerenner at umich.edu
Mon Jan 25 12:41:36 PST 1999


You all may know that historically, amber and brown malts were used 100%
for amber ales and porters, until it the invention of the hydrometer
revealed that they gave less extract than pale malts.  This lead to the use
of enzyme and starch rich pale malts as base malts and darker malts for
color and flavor.

Hoping that Thomas Fawcett and Sons' * brown malt would work for recreating
an 18th Century porter, I was considering brewing one with 100% brown malt.
Other brewers have reported that the use of a significant percentage of
brown malt resulted in an astringent beer that took a good time to age out.
I wasn't concerned about this since 18th century porter was aged as long as
a year.  Darrell Leavitt of Plattsburgh, New York, at my encouragement,
tried it before I had a chance.  It was a failure.  I've posted his
experience below with his permission.

*( http://www.fawcett-maltsters.co.uk/welcom.htm  , distributed by Claude
Bechard, North Country Malt Supply, 12 Stewart St, PO Box 665, Rouses
Point, NY, 12979, 518-297-2604)

I then contacted Fawcett's and received a very nice prompt reply (also
posted below), which confirmed my suspicion that their brown malt has very
little diastatic power, and so is not identical to the historic brown malt.
Likewise for their amber.  (There are other producers of brown malt.  I
don't know about their amylase levels, but I suspect they are similar).  I
hope to do a porter with a large percentage of brown malt.

I also asked them some questions regarding the use of their oat malt (see
previous posts regarding 50% oat malt, 25% wheat malt, 25% barley malt + a
little chocolate malt "Domesday Ale") and got useful information regarding
its use.  Before I discovered Fawcett's oat malt (which I think may be
unique commercially), I malted my own for the Domesday Ale.  After several
months in the secondary, it is still murky.  I made a brown ale with 11%
Fawcett oat malt and it is slightly hazy.  This may be why the only oat
malt beer I know of is a stout.

The brown ale tastes very nice with a flavor that is present in the
Domesday Ale that I attribute to malted oats.  I've never tasted it
elsewhere.  It also has a bit of the oily rich mouthfeel that the Domesday
Ale has to the extent of about 10w40.  It has excellent head retention, so
worries about oil from oats destroying head are apparently unfounded.


Date: Fri, 22 Jan 1999 08:22:58 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Fawcett's brown malt experiment...a failure:
To: nerenner at umich.edu

  I tried, 2 nights ago, to mash 8lb of the brown malt.  I mashed into about
2.5 gallons of 149 degree water...stabilized at about 148 and left it there
for 40 min.  then I upped the temp to about 157...for 40 min.  the mash smelled
like coffee..I taasted and there was practically NO sweetness...so I thought
that there may have not been enough enzymes in the mash (>?) so I added
3 lb lager malt, and went through the same 2 steps again...well..long and
hard story made short: I got the worst stuck sparge that I have ever had!  I
tried stirring it up a bit...no good...I kept the temp at about 165 and the
liquid would not run through the grain bed....

Exasperated....tired...demoralized (I had hoped to get a good porter out of it)
I dumped the batched and wet to bed!

Do you think that this is the same brown male that you were thinking of..?
I wonder...
I did get it ground by the supplier...and I did notice some "balls" clumping in
the mash...but I broke them up...

The whole thing seemed very thick...black and gooey...

Want me to send you some of the stuff to look at ? (I mean the brown male...
//malt.// not the goo....)?

(I redeemed myself last night by brewing an Irish ale and it came out real
good...all grain...


Reply-To: "James Fawcett" <james at fawcett-maltsters.co.uk>
From: "James Fawcett" <james at fawcett-maltsters.co.uk>
To: "jeff renner" <nerenner at umich.edu>
Subject: reply
Date: Mon, 25 Jan 1999 17:19:23 -0000

     Dear Jeff Thank you for your email about brown malt and  oat malt.What
follows are our comments and explanation of your findings.  1) Our brown
and amber malts do not have  sufficient diastatic power to convert
themselves. This is because they are almost totally  deficient in enzymes
due to the higher than normal processing  temperatures.   2) We would not
recommend that either of these products  be used singly in a grist. A 50/50
mix with a lager type malt may work. The enzymatic  activity of the lager
malt will convert the starch in the brown and amber malts and should
prevent a stuck mash  scenario.   3) Oat malt laboratory worts are normally
slightly hazy  rather than clear. Oats are not normally low in protein and
are quite difficult to modify from a protein viewpoint,  which could well
explain this. Our current stock gives values of 11.8 % total protein with
an index of modification of  27.8%.   4) As far as mash schedules are
concerned  we would suggest you ensure temperatures are between 63 degrees
C and 68 degrees  C during mashing in with a one hour minimum stand after
mashing  in a grist composed of 50% oat malt and 50% lager  malt.   5) You
should aim at a liquor/grist ratio of between  2.5:1and 3:1.   6) Oat malt
needs very close mill settings to achieve  an acceptable grist. For normal
malts our standard mill setting is 62 thou top and 58 thou bottom- for oat
malt we  drastically reduce these settings to 48 thou top and 42 thou
bottom. Certainly a point to watch to produce  an optimal grist for
mashing.  I hope some of all this is useful. We are delighted that you  are
using our malts and hope that you have  every success with your future
brews.  Yours sincerely  James Fawcett

Jeff Renner in Ann Arbor, Michigan c/o nerenner at umich.edu
"One never knows, do one?"  Fats Waller, American Musician, 1904-1943. 

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