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Thread: Caramel Malts

  1. #1
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    Caramel Malts

    I am fooling around with different Caramel Malts. I have read varying accounts of whether or not the Caramels are truly different in flavor. I am unsure as to whether each varying degree of malt differs only in their amount of steeped and roasted grain in combination with a standard base malt. Basically, a pound of C-60 would achieve the same amount of color and flavor as a half pound of C-120. I have also read other accounts, mostly from the grain suppliers, that each variation provides a different flavor profile. How true is this really? I am trying to cut down on my grain costs and would like to know if I can just lower my specialty grains by adding lesser amounts of C-120 than more of its C-60 counterpart. Thanks.

  2. #2
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    The only way you will know is to try it.

  3. #3
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    I've never done it, but here's what I think will happen if all you do is replace the C60 in a recipe with half its weight of C120:

    -The color will be about the same.
    -The beer will be way less sweet and candylike, but have slightly more heavily caramelized flavors (I picture replacing a medium-rare steak with half of a well-done one).
    -Your gravity will drop.
    -Your attenuation will increase.

    If you want to keep your gravity constant, you'll need to increase your base malt and readjust how much C120 you use to compensate for the resulting color change. If that's what you end up doing, the cost savings will be tiny.

  4. #4
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    In my experience I've found that C-20 creates more of a sweet toffee flavor/aroma, c-45 more of a caramel, and c-90 a sweet dark roasted caramel, and c-125 a raisinish sweetness. But that's a very subjective test.

    Other than that, I think jwalts hit the nail on the head.
    Hutch Kugeman
    Head Beer Guy
    Crossroads Brewing
    Athens, NY

  5. #5
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    Question caramalts

    What about Dingemans Cara 8 ? Has anybody used it ? Just curious as to what flavour I can expect from it....

    cheers

    T

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by kugeman
    In my experience I've found that C-20 creates more of a sweet toffee flavor/aroma, c-45 more of a caramel, and c-90 a sweet dark roasted caramel, and c-125 a raisinish sweetness. But that's a very subjective test.
    I would agree with this

  7. #7
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    Caramel/crystal malts will always vary from one maltster to another. The colour may be the same but there are many ways of producing the final result. Some maltsters simply re-steep pale malt to around 45% moisture and go from there. Others (think traditional English and German maltsters) take the green malt directly from the malting box. Then there is the stewing stage, a process identical to mashing. Stew at 68 to 70C or above and you get a low attenuating product - stew at 63 to 65C and you will get good attenuation.

    Flavour is achieved by building the precursors at the germination stage in a similar manner to munich and melanoidin style malts. These precursors then form "melanoidins" in the final roasting and kilning of the malt. That is a very simplistic explanation but at the end of the day, the only way you will find whether a particular crystal/caramel malt is to your liking is try a few different products.

    Wes

  8. #8
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    living proof

    Did it with my amber ale. The brewer who designed this beer almost a decade ago used "a variety of carefully selected caramel malts for an unsurpassed complex taste." Turns out when you replace 25# of 40L + 25# of 80L with 50# of 60L nobody (including me) notices.
    Perception is reality for most folks (I know this only because I too have fallen for it). Tell the average Joe what they "should" be tasting and they will most likely believe they are tasting it.

    I learned a great philosophy from this guy Mark at Starr Hill brewery in Virginia. It's stuck with me ever since. For any beer (belgian beers maybe an exception): 3 malts, 2 hops and 1 yeast. That's it. Just M.H.O.

  9. #9
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    quantize

    Amen to that. Keep it simple, at least on a big scale. A great philosophy to most things in the brewhouse in my opinion.

  10. #10
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    Turns out when you replace 25# of 40L + 25# of 80L with 50# of 60L nobody (including me) notices.
    Mr. Jay, I don't doubt your particular experience, and I agree with keeping it "simple" and avoiding a specialty malt soup. That being said, in my experience there is a great deal of difference in crystal malts and (an extreme example) 150 kg of 20L crystal will not be close to 25 kg of 120L crystal. Except, perhaps in color--and then only in opacity and not in hue. And I brew several beers with more than three grains--Oatmeal stout, for example. So while in general agreement with the spirit of these posts, I will have to caution BenBrew that the substitution he's considering is not apples to apples. Yes, the different roasts of crystal malts are indeed truly different in flavor--get some samples and eat them! Halving the amount of crystal 120 as a substitute for twice as much crystal 60 will not give the same flavor--although they can both be delicious. Cheers!
    Phillip Kelm--Palau Brewing Company Manager--
    Worldwide Brewery Installations
    www.GitcheGumeeBreweryServices.com

  11. #11
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    Thanks

    I appreciate all the feedback. I think there is something to be said for the varying taste elements, at least in theory. I am going to try switching to the higher C-120 and give it a shot in my next few batches and let you know how it works out. Thanks again for the input.

  12. #12
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    Point well made, and well taken, gitchegumme. I suppose I was thinking a bit inside the box with regards to this.

  13. #13
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    If you make a brew of each caramel, you will see clearly what each gives. Next you can taste blends of the two and see what they do in different ratios. However, I can hardly make a beer without 6 malts and 5 hops so my perspective may not be useful for you.

  14. #14
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    Sep 2006
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    Cool

    BenBrew:

    Just a suggestion but you might consider chewing some different caramel malts of increasing color to get an idea of the flavor differences. It is a lot quicker than making 5 brews and tasting them. For example, chew a small amount of C20, C40 , C60, C80 and C120 and note the flavors you detect. I think you will see that C40 and C120 are quite different in flavor and 1/3 the amount of C120 will not equal C40.

    Dr Malt

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dr Malt
    BenBrew:

    Just a suggestion but you might consider chewing some different caramel malts of increasing color to get an idea of the flavor differences. It is a lot quicker than making 5 brews and tasting them. For example, chew a small amount of C20, C40 , C60, C80 and C120 and note the flavors you detect. I think you will see that C40 and C120 are quite different in flavor and 1/3 the amount of C120 will not equal C40.

    Dr Malt
    I absolutely agree. Yes, you will have a similar shade of color by using 1/3 the amount of 120 as you would use of 40. But, you will have a light raisiny flavor rather than sweet honey/caramelly flavor. Using higher Lovibond malts in smaller amounts will not produce the same flavor as using lower lovibond malts in higher amounts. The amount of color contributed is not indicative of flavor...if it was, why wouldn't you just use tiny amounts of roasted malt for every flavor you want?
    Last edited by Brett0424; 06-11-2008 at 09:49 PM.

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