hist-brewing: Re: Brown malt equivalent?

Christopher Swingley cswingle at iarc.uaf.edu
Fri Feb 6 13:55:23 PST 2004


* Randy Mosher <randymosher at rcn.com> [2004-Feb-06 05:11 AKST]:
> Maris Otter is indeed low in diastatic power. 40-50, compared to 120 
> for a US 2-row lager, or 140-160 for a US 6-row. I don't think in a 
> beer with a good deal of brown and/or amber that a pound or two of 
> more enzyme-active malt would affect the flavor in any way.

That's a good idea.  Call it a traditional American beer and use Maris 
Otter and US 2-row to insure conversion.

> It would be simple enough to do a teacup-sized test, and check a 
> little of the mash with iodine to see if it converts after an hour.  

I hadn't thought of that, and Scotti mentioned this to me as well.  It 
would be worth doing with my home-toasted malts (alone and with the 
base malt) to see what I'm getting.  

> My understanding of amber/biscuit is that it is supposed to convert 
> itself.  In the old days, brown malt did as well, after a fashion, but 
> it's clear we can't count on this these days.

Especially when I'm roasting it myself in a normal oven.  I use a pretty 
"gentle" approach (230 F for 45 min, 300 F for 30 min, 350 F for 20 
min), but I'll bet there's not much left of the enzymes even so.

> Amber/biscuit is made in more than one shade of roast, so you might 
> search out the palest, the thought being that that will be the most 
> enzyme-active as well.

There's Biscuit (Special Roast in Breiss-lingo) and Victory malts, but 
neither have any diastatic power (at least Breiss doesn't list any in 
their data sheets), so I'm in the same boat as I would be with my home 
roasted malts.  Given the choice, I'd rather roast at home.

> Either amber or brown can be made at home, so you might add to your 
> recipe some paler grade of brown or amber. Be sure to let it rest for 
> two weeks after toasting to let the harshness waft away.

Oops.  It's been in a ziplock for a week, but won't have time to "age" 
in the air by Sunday when I'm planning to brew.  The batch upcoming is 
going to age in the bottle for 4-5 months, so that should mellow things.  
And it's only 15% of the grist.

> As Scotti notes, crystal malts are an altogether different beast,, and
> weren't invented until 1880 or so (does anyone know the story?). IMO, 
> they are completely inappropriate in historical ales prior to that 
> time.

And I suppose one could argue that North American malts were used in 
England and vice versa during the time period before crystal malts were 
invented.  So perhaps the best solution is to use some North American 
malts along with the Maris Otter when I'm making something with more 
than 15 - 20% inactive malt.  Certainly a lot simpler than trying to 
make a amber / brown -> crystal approximation.

On the subject of crystal malts -- if they weren't invented until that 
late, and World War I marked the end of many of the darker / maltier 
styles of beer, were these malts even used historically?  It almost 
seems like they're tailor made for craft brewers that want color and 
malt flavor without needing to worry about mashing them, rather than to 
serve some need that brewers of the late 18-, early 1900's had.

Thanks for your comments!

Christopher S. Swingley          email: cswingle at iarc.uaf.edu
IARC -- Frontier Program         Please use encryption.  GPG key at:
University of Alaska Fairbanks   www.frontier.iarc.uaf.edu/~cswingle/

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