I picked up 2lbs of Carabrown on a whim last month. After a bit of research on this malt, it became apparent that there isn't a whole lot of clear information regarding this malt. The object of this post is to provide some information on what it is and what it does.
I brewed the following recipe with the aim of showcasing the malt and figuring out what it really is. The recipe has 20% Carabrown, the most that the manufacturer suggests.
7lbs Marris Otter
1.25oz EKG for 90
WY1469 W. Yorkshire
While crushing the carabrown, I was unable to find any evidence of crystallized material. In the hand, the crushed malt looked like light brown malt or very pale chocolate malt. I'm not sure why this malt was given the "cara" prefix.
The beer turned out on the border between brown and copper, a bit more brown than Newcastle. The beer has some red highlights. It's a pretty looking beer and the head is not colored by the malt.
Flavor wise, I think it is useful to think of carabrown as being a "debittered" version of brown malt. The downside to using brown malt is that, if used in excess, it produces that annoying "twang" and astringency. In my opinion, 2lbs of standard brown malt is usually too much brown malt in most recipes. The carabrown worked out okay at the 20% rate used in the recipe above. I wouldn't want to go anywhere near this recipe with standard brown malt. To be sure, the carabrown is sitting front and center in this beer's flavor profile, but it's not overbearing (it's pretty close, though) and it's not fatiguing to the pallet.
It's a very complex, very interesting malt. It has leather, pipe tobacco, and nutty qualities to it. It also has some woody or oak-like flavors. There's a kind of nutty fruitiness to it that some sherries and some types of coffee display. It also shows some dried fruit, but that's either being accentuated by, or fully provided by, the Yorkshire yeast. Kinda fig-like. The malt contributes to a dry finish and roasted and coffee-like flavors come into play in the beer's finish. It leaves the mouth slightly dry, but not in an unpleasant fashion.
There's no hop aroma in the beer, the yeast and the carabrown provide the aroma. The carabrown provides dark bread crust or toast that was a bit too toasted notes to the aroma. As with the flavor, the aroma of this beer is more complex than the simple recipe would suggest.
In a nut shell, this is an interesting, very complex malt. You can do things with this "debittered" brown malt that standard brown malt wouldn't let you get away with. It's much smoother than standard brown malt and it doesn't seem to require the extra aging that large doses of brown malt often require. It's clear that carabrown is an assertive malt. I think 8oz will comfortably punch through the flavor threshold of most beers. When I incorporate it into my milds, I'll be starting in the 3-4oz range.