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Caramel Malt Experiment

Ever since I started brewing, I’ve wondered what a batch of beer would taste like if I used only caramel malt. After being told that I’d probably die of sugar shock, I decided against making a batch. But questions like “What would it taste like?” and “Would there be fermentable sugars?” still bugged me.

Well I decided it was time to do a little experiment. I ground up 1 lb of Caramel 40L and steeped it in 155F water for 20 mins. I then strained it out and dumped more hot water over the gains, to yield 1.6L (~.4 gals) of “wort”. I then put this liquid, along with some yeast nutrient, into a flask and boiled it as if I were preparing a starter. This measured in a 1.026 OG, was VERY cloudy, and had, what appeared to be, tons of dextrin type material suspended in it. So much dextrin like material that it coated the pan that I mashed in as well as the flask. Upon tasting this “wort” it was very mildly sweet and (unsurprisingly) very similar to the flavor that you get if you were to chew a few C40 grains for a long time, minus the husk flavor.

I then crash cooled it and put it on a stir plate with a healthy dose of bread yeast.

Two days later I turned off the stir plate, let any suspended particles settle out for an hour or so, and took a gravity reading. 1.017 FG. Which is ~28% real attenuation, I believe. The taste is somewhat similar to pre-fermentation, although nearly all sweetness has vanished. It’s also faintly sour and not particularly pleasant tasting (as any constantly aerated starter made with bread yeast would most likely be).

In the end, it answered a few of my questions and raised a few more. Are all of the dextrins because of my less than perfect straining technique? Why does it taste nowhere near as sweet as I’d expected it to? Could my OG reading have been off due to all of the suspended solids in the prevented sample? Are some of what I’m calling dextrins actually starches that could have been converted? Maybe you guys know the answers.

I post this here only for information and maybe to answer a few questions that you guys have. Sorry for the long post, but I hope it helps. Happy brewing!

Interesting experiment to say the least. I don’t really have answers to your questions though

Cloudy from dextrins because there were no enzymes to convert the simple starches - they’re always there when you steep grains, just not so obvious. The “beer” was not sweet because the yeast were able to digest the simple sugars that make it taste sweet.

That’s interesting to know. I had no idea that there were still unconverted starches in steepable grains.

This part of it I get, but traditional thinking says that if you add too much cara malt to a grain bill, you’ll end up with a sweet, less attenuated beer. The lower attenuation is obvious from my experiment, but this grain bill was ALL cara malt and there is almost no sweetness at all. I really wonder how/why?

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