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Adding dark grains at vorlauf

In “Brewing Better Beer,” Gordon Strong talks about milling dark grains separately and adding them after the saccharification rest. The idea behind this is to reduce the “harshness” that these grains contribute when held at high temperature.

Do any of you regularly practice this? I have heard of it before, but have never tried it. I feel like the last porter I made may have benefitted from trying this. Maybe next time…

I have never done it myself but a local brewery in town does it for their black ipa. I think in their beer it makes perfect sense because you get the color but not necesarily the roasty flavors that come along with it. In a porter I think you want want those flavors from the mash, i know I do when I make porters.

[quote=“roffenburger”]In “Brewing Better Beer,” Gordon Strong talks about milling dark grains separately and adding them after the saccharification rest. The idea behind this is to reduce the “harshness” that these grains contribute when held at high temperature.

Do any of you regularly practice this? I have heard of it before, but have never tried it. I feel like the last porter I made may have benefitted from trying this. Maybe next time…[/quote]

I’ve been doing it that way for quite a few years now for all of my brews, and I really like the results.
I haven’t seen any loss of ‘roasty’ flavors doing so, and at the same time I have definitely seen harsh, burnt/bitter notes toned down considerably or even elimminated.

Try it with a recipe you’ve brewed before…your porter would actually be an ideal candidate.
The first time I used this method, it was on a porter recipe I’d been making for years. After the experimental batch using this method, I wouldn’t make it any other way now.

But only you can decide if you like it better.

The benefit is really better mash pH control. I do this for any beers with roasted malts. Just adjust your water for an amber balanced/bitter/malty, if you’re using Bru’n water or something, and add the roast malts before you vorlauf. Works like a charm. I suppose it’d be different if you were fly sparging; controlling sparge pH, which you don’t have to worry about with batch sparging.
I don’t know that it necessarily cuts back on the bitterness of roasted malts A LOT, but I think it makes it a little smoother anyway.

[quote=“The Professor”][quote=“roffenburger”]In “Brewing Better Beer,” Gordon Strong talks about milling dark grains separately and adding them after the saccharification rest. The idea behind this is to reduce the “harshness” that these grains contribute when held at high temperature.

Do any of you regularly practice this? I have heard of it before, but have never tried it. I feel like the last porter I made may have benefitted from trying this. Maybe next time…[/quote]

I’ve been doing it that way for quite a few years now for all of my brews, and I really like the results.
I haven’t seen any loss of ‘roasty’ flavors doing so, and at the same time I have definitely seen harsh, burnt/bitter notes toned down considerably or even elimminated.

Try it with a recipe you’ve brewed before…your porter would actually be an ideal candidate.
The first time I used this method, it was on a porter recipe I’d been making for years. After the experimental batch using this method, I wouldn’t make it any other way now.

But only you can decide if you like it better.[/quote]
I think I’ll try it on that porter. While it was really good, I felt that there was some “bite” to it that I couldn’t really place. Hopefully it will smooth it out.

I am brewing an imperial stout tonight and would like to try this technique for the first time. I am having a bit of trouble figuring out how to adjust my mash water and sparge water calculations to ensure I get the volume and gravity I want. Does anyone know a good trick for do so? Do I include the dark grains that I will add at vorlauf in my water calculations? This will throw off my water/grain ratio and my mash temp. Any advice would be much appreciated.

SOLD! :cheers:

The idea of only mashing grains that keep me within my water’s “natural” SRM range (~ 8 - 14), and adding dark malts later is fantastic. Are there dark malts that require mashing? If not, basically, that means I wouldn’t ever have to worry about checking pH ever again, as I’ve confirmed numerous times that beers in that range hit the proper pH. I’ll probably check 2 or 3 more mashes just to be extra sure, and periodically thereafter as a sanity check.

SOLD! :cheers:

The idea of only mashing grains that keep me within my water’s “natural” SRM range (~ 8 - 14), and adding dark malts later is fantastic. Are there dark malts that require mashing? If not, basically, that means I wouldn’t ever have to worry about checking pH ever again, as I’ve confirmed numerous times that beers in that range hit the proper pH. I’ll probably check 2 or 3 more mashes just to be extra sure, and periodically thereafter as a sanity check.[/quote]

I don’t think any malt/grain that would be considered dark (pale chocolate, chocolate, black, roasted barley) needs to be mashed. I’m interested in trying this technique too or the variation of steeping the specialty grains and adding separately. That’s one way to do a partigyle with a dark big beer (steeping the specialty malts, not adding at vorlauf) and a pale small beer.

[quote=“Beersk”]The benefit is really better mash pH control. I do this for any beers with roasted malts. Just adjust your water for an amber balanced/bitter/malty, if you’re using Bru’n water or something, and add the roast malts before you vorlauf. Works like a charm. I suppose it’d be different if you were fly sparging; controlling sparge pH, which you don’t have to worry about with batch sparging.
I don’t know that it necessarily cuts back on the bitterness of roasted malts A LOT, but I think it makes it a little smoother anyway.[/quote]

Am I wrong here? I’m preeeeeeeetty sure I read Gordon saying that on AHA forum somewhere. Can someone prove me wrong or right here?

[quote=“Beersk”][quote=“Beersk”]The benefit is really better mash pH control. I do this for any beers with roasted malts. Just adjust your water for an amber balanced/bitter/malty, if you’re using Bru’n water or something, and add the roast malts before you vorlauf. Works like a charm. I suppose it’d be different if you were fly sparging; controlling sparge pH, which you don’t have to worry about with batch sparging.
I don’t know that it necessarily cuts back on the bitterness of roasted malts A LOT, but I think it makes it a little smoother anyway.[/quote]

Am I wrong here? I’m preeeeeeeetty sure I read Gordon saying that on AHA forum somewhere. Can someone prove me wrong or right here?[/quote]

Having never done it, I can’t confirm but it seems reasonable in theory. Gordon states in the book that it saves having to monkey with the mash water chemistry every time. Set your process for a base malt mash then add the product of the specialty malts (steeping, etc.) later.

Do you need more validation than your experience with it gives to you?

It makes total sense to me. If the dark grains being used don’t require conversion, and they would push the mash pH too low, then adding them post-conversion makes a lot of sense. It’s certainly easier and less detrimental to holding temps than pulling a sample, cooling it (if using strips like me), adding powder, stirring, retesting, etc. Seriously excited about this revelation and kicking myself for not thinking of it on my own!

Love point about steeping for the big dark beer/pale partigyle option.

[quote=“BDogD”]

Having never done it, I can’t confirm but it seems reasonable in theory. Gordon states in the book that it saves having to monkey with the mash water chemistry every time. Set your process for a base malt mash then add the product of the specialty malts (steeping, etc.) later.

Do you need more validation than your experience with it gives to you?[/quote]
Maybe so…I’ve done it several times and it seems to work great. Having said that, I don’t have a pH meter to actually know whether it’s working or not. But it seems to work pretty well. I was doing it more when I used RO water for all my beers. Now that I’m using my city’s tap water, which is good for amber to dark beers as it’s fairly alkaline, I don’t need to do it. Unless the beer I’m brewing is really really dark. In that case I can mash part of the dark grains and throw the others in after the mash.

[quote=“Beersk”][quote=“BDogD”]

Having never done it, I can’t confirm but it seems reasonable in theory. Gordon states in the book that it saves having to monkey with the mash water chemistry every time. Set your process for a base malt mash then add the product of the specialty malts (steeping, etc.) later.

Do you need more validation than your experience with it gives to you?[/quote]
Maybe so…I’ve done it several times and it seems to work great. Having said that, I don’t have a pH meter to actually know whether it’s working or not. But it seems to work pretty well. I was doing it more when I used RO water for all my beers. Now that I’m using my city’s tap water, which is good for amber to dark beers as it’s fairly alkaline, I don’t need to do it. Unless the beer I’m brewing is really really dark. In that case I can mash part of the dark grains and throw the others in after the mash.[/quote]

Well I think that if you are getting what you want - good conversion efficiency (separate out the lautering efficiency as Kai has written about) and your worts are attenuating as well as you expect them to - then it seems like your mash system is enzymatically working well. Then the final test… how does it taste? If it tastes the way that you want and expect, seems like you’re there.

[quote=“Beersk”]Am I wrong here? I’m preeeeeeeetty sure I read Gordon saying that on AHA forum somewhere. Can someone prove me wrong or right here?[/quote]I’m just tickled that he took my idea and put it in his book! :wink:

Ha, really?

BDogD - the beer tastes good, not sure about the mash efficiency though. My overall brewhouse efficiency is 70-74% no matter what method I use, it seems. So consistency is really what’s important in that regard, I think. Attenuation is another thing. Once in a while, I’ll have a dark beer that doesn’t want to finish lower than about 1.020. Could that be the result of too low of mash pH?

Ha, really?

BDogD - the beer tastes good, not sure about the mash efficiency though. My overall brewhouse efficiency is 70-74% no matter what method I use, it seems. So consistency is really what’s important in that regard, I think. Attenuation is another thing. Once in a while, I’ll have a dark beer that doesn’t want to finish lower than about 1.020. Could that be the result of too low of mash pH?[/quote]

I think it can be. IIRC mash pH in the high 4’s can have impaired beta amylase activity so you end up producing less maltose than expected and more dextrins. These were mashes that included the dark grains in the mash rather than the dark vorlauf trick?

Darth Vorlauf? :twisted:

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