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Malt Splitting

It’s common to split malts when designing a recipe:

Base Malt: Use 1/2 Pilsner 1/2 Pale or 1/2 2-Row 1/2 6-Row Instead of All Pale
Crystal Malt: Use 1/2 Crystal 40 1/2 Crystal 80 Instead of All Crystal 60
Roast Malt: Use 1/2 Chocolate 1/2 Black instead of all Roasted Barley

To what extent does this make a difference? How many splits can you do and still taste a difference?

In other words, if I split the Crystal 60 into quarters, say Crystal 20, Crystal 40, Crystal 60, Crystal 80, would the complexity of the beer be noticeable as opposed to the singe split?

I would not bother with crystals but I do it with base malts.

Complicated recipes can taste complex. Simple recipes, less ingredients, can taste complex. Complicated recipes, more ingredients, can taste simple and flat. There are no hard fast rules, and what is noticeable to you might not be noticeable to someone else.

With all of the variables involved in brewing and bottling its difficult duplicate everything exactly from batch to batch in order to do an accurate comparison, but I think that should be the goal. Brew a beer with half 40 and half 80 and another with all 60, take notes on the tastes and determine if its worth it to you to buy 2 malts instead of 1.

Just curious - why would you not bother?

[quote=“beerme11”]Complicated recipes can taste complex. Simple recipes, less ingredients, can taste complex. Complicated recipes, more ingredients, can taste simple and flat. There are no hard fast rules, and what is noticeable to you might not be noticeable to someone else.

With all of the variables involved in brewing and bottling its difficult duplicate everything exactly from batch to batch in order to do an accurate comparison, but I think that should be the goal. Brew a beer with half 40 and half 80 and another with all 60, take notes on the tastes and determine if its worth it to you to buy 2 malts instead of 1.[/quote]

Good advice, what has your experience been?

Actually, it’s not common, although it’s not uncommon. I don’t think I have a single recipe where I split base malts or crystal. Sure I may use more than one crystal, but that’s for flavor.

What was the progression of your recipe design, did it start with one crystal malt?

What was the progression of your recipe design, did it start with one crystal malt?[/quote]

Sometimes yes, sometimes no. I “taste” the beer in my mind, then start putting together ingredients to achieve that taste. Then I brew test batches and modify things. Sometimes I add, sometimes I subtract.

For color I’m pretty sure it’d work out pretty close to 1/2 20L + 1/2 60L = 1 40L but the flavors don’t work like that.

What I notice is that the lower crystals seem like they give you more pure sweetness, where as when you go up that starts to transform into some toffee or caramel and then as you go up further it gets a bit richer and darker caramel into some more complex sweetness like raisin.

My descriptors are probably lacking but if you ever make caramel from scratch with plain sugar you’ll get a pretty good idea. I like it it when the caramel gets pretty dark and starts taking on some flavors just short of burnt but my wife likes it much lighter when it is closer to what you’d normally get in a store. That same concept can apply to when picking which flavor you’d want out of crystal malt in a beer. Mixing light and dark will give you some of each of those flavors, some times that may be what you’re going for but others you may want predominantly one area of the spectrum.

I use crystal but as Denny said it depends what you want. If you look at let say C60 there are darker and lighter grains. I personally can not tell too much difference between C35, C 45 and C55 (Weyrnmann Cara Munich).

So if you split C60 to C40 and C80 I would not do that.

With base malts I think you get more complexity with that.

I split malts all the time. Almost always when I’m trying to use up inventory.

I gather a couple of things from comments in this thread:

    Splitting base malts can add a subtle complexity to the beer

    Crystal and Roast malts should be added individually for flavor

    Crystal and Roast malts can be split each contributing a different flavor from the original single malt but not necessarily making a more complex beer.

    Complexity isn’t a single well defined flavor.

    Flavor is a well defined taste which may enhance other flavors.

Perhaps I’m still off base?

Sometimes it’s very practical to use multiple malts of a particular category (base, crystal and roast). In a wheat beer, using another base malt adds character and reduces runoff problems. In an APA I like to use ~20% Maris Otter for depth of flavor. Some people use Munich for the same reason. I rarely use more than one crystal, but I’m usually a minimalist when it comes to crystal. I always use more than one roasted malt in a stout or porter to add layers of flavor.

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