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%age or #age?

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  • %age or #age?

    I remember responding to a post regarding recipe conversion. I gave the respondent the usual shoptalk, and now, after some careful consideration, may have to recant part of my response. A friend of mine (who happens to own a homebrew shop) has recently made a delightfully chewy, robust, yet well rounded porter. I'm not exaggerating when I say, it's probably one of the best porters I tried this year. I considered brewing a 7 Bbl batch of this to put on tap at the brewery. He told me what he used, and I did the math. Here's my conundrum.
    When I design my beers, I begin with a target gravity, srm, etc., then decide on percentages of malt to use. The percentages of different malt will ultimately determine the beer's character (yes, yes, I know hops, yeast, etc... just stick with me here on the subject of malt). In terms of extraction, percentages are everything...BUT, in terms of flavor, percentages can become quite variable. For example, if I find that a 5 gallon batch used 8% patent malt, based on my brewhouse efficiency, that number will be less, not to mention, a beer with a S.G. of 15 Plato, will have a significantly higher amount of patent at 10% then a beer with a S.G. of 12 Plato. In simpler terms, 10% of 100# is 10, and 10% of 50# is 20. If the volume of wort is to be the same in both cases, the alcohol will be spot on, but the toasted notes and acidity from the patent malt will vary, will it not? This is true for acidulated malt. I add it per pound, per Bbl, as opposed to percentages, because as the volume of wort increases or decreases, so should the proportion of that particular malt (once again, I am aware that certain malts alter the pH, so let's not split any hairs over that). My question is, should I determine how much of these malts to use based on volume, then deduct those points from the base malt, only then working with %ages? If so, this will be an epiphany for me, and I would like to know how I determine how many pounds of patent or chocolate malt I should use per Bbl.

  • #2
    I would surmise that something like this dark malt should be considered not as a % of the malt, but as a pounds per bbl of wort issue, as it is the amount of this flavor per sip of beer that I'd guess you enjoy.


    • #3
      This comes at the whole "homebrew recipies don't scale up" issue. In larger mashes you get a much more efficient extraction of color from high dried, roasted and caramel malts. If you used the same % for full volume batches you'd have way different beers. I always need less, and the scale is not linear.
      Larry Horwitz