hist-brewing: Re: Brown Malt...hist-brewing-digest V1 #730

JazzboBob at aol.com JazzboBob at aol.com
Tue Nov 28 19:32:49 PST 2000

Indeed, my experience with using homemade brown malt has resulted in very low 
conversion extraction rates and yields.  I have just opened my homebrewed 
bottle of a (ca.1800) Dorchester Ale that I brewed with 45# of malt.  The 
original recipe used only amber and brown malts; such would not mash 
satisfactorily today.  John Harrison recreated a recipe that used a 
combination of 15# pale, 20# crystal, and 
10# brown malt for a total of 45# grain for a 10 gallon size.  The grist was 
chosen to reproduce the old beer character, taste, and color required in a 
form that uses modern grains.  I mashed all of these grains and only managed 
to get a OG of 1.090 for a 10 gallon brew.  I typically would get at least an 
OG of 1.125 for a similar amount of pale malt when I mash my Barley Wines.
I assume the low yields were caused by weak conversions of the brown malt.
As far as the beer goes...it's as dark and rich as any strong porter I've 
ever had.  The color is a deep translucent black with a dark tan/slightly 
reddish head.  The flavor is somewhat bitter and acrid almost as if too much 
black patent malt was used even though no black/chocolate/or roast barley 
malt was used.  There is a distinct roasted and smokey flavor from the brown 
My conclusion is that the brown malts created beers with dark brown and black 
color and roasted flavors along the lines of a modern porter and stout.  It's 
easy to see why the old brewers would substitute a lesser amount of black 
malt for color and flavor purposes instead of having to use large quantities 
of the low yielding brown malt.  
Bob Grossman
Jazzbobob at aol.com

 Adam writes:
 >    In so far as why old style brown malts, however one defines them,
 >disappeared from the market place would be hard to say without some real
 >research.  I doubt if it was due to their lack of enzymatic power as
 >plenty of old recipes call only for brown malts and unmodified cereals.
 >The comparatively poor performance of old style malts was certainly not
 >a problem when brewing was a domestic as opposed to a commercial
 >pursuit.  This was especially true prior to the eubiqitous presence of
 >sparging when a single grist bill provided two or even three batches of
 >ale and high adjunct brewing was common.
 >    While it is true that modern pale malts have enzymatic
 >characteristics that are clearly superior to malts of old i think that
 >the real issue is one of economics, particularly those related to the
 >scale of production and brewing leaving the farm and Roadhouse and
 >becoming an industrial process .  Specifically i am referring to the
 >decline in the cost of producing pale malt as a function of the decline
 >of fuel costs and the advent of drum malting during the industrial
 >revolution.  These developments it would seem helped undercut the
 >economic advantage that porter producers originally had.
 The demise of brown malt is well documented.  I believe I got this
 information from the Brewers Publications Beer Style Series book, Porter,
 written by Terry Foster.
 The story goes that while pale malt had already been invented, it was
 far more expensive than brown malt.   With the invention of the hydrometer, 
 brewers realised that while pale malt was more expensive per pound, it
 was cheaper per gravity point.  The issue is not enzymes, but rather
 the starch content (which leads to higher yield).  When brewers realised
 that they could make something *similar* to Porter with pale malt and a
 bit of black malt, they abandoned the inefficient brown malt.
 Al Korzonas, Lockport, Illinois, USA
 korz at brewinfo.org

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