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Maris Otter - Not for Hoppy Americans

For my latest house IPA (1.065 OG / 100+ IBU with 30 added at bittering and remainder at flameout/hopstand) I used MO for the base grain for around 90% of the bill, with the remaining 10% made up of equal parts white wheat and Crystal 10L.

I have to say, maybe its the hop cocktail, but the beer just has a weird tangy flavor that I don’t care for. As a contrast, we used MO for a robust porter we made, which may be the best example of the style that I’ve had.

My preliminary conclusion: MO does not work for me for American hop-forward beers. It is a great grain for british ales, roasty or heavy malt-focused beers, but using it as a base grain with citrusy/piney/tropical hops does not work. Am I jumping the gun, or have others had this experience?

I will be buying Fawcett & Sons by the sack from here on out.

I disagree. But I also think you shouldn’t waste good maris otter on a beer with high amounts of roast malt or hops. Maris otter is a great base malt to add a subtle complex nuttiness. In a beer with 100+ IBUs or highly roast malts, you would likely not notice the difference between maris otter and straight American 2-row.
But I doubt the source of your tangy flavor is from the maris otter.

I mean maybe its an issue of yeast generation, but I notice a huge difference between this beer and the last, which was made with 50/50 Pearl and MO. Slightly different hop mixture, but not much.

Interesting. Not sure about MO causing a tangy flavor, but I guess anything is possible. I have heard Special Roast being described as tangy. Maybe the finished beer pH is not in an optimal range? I know you’re an experience brewer, so I hesitate to say this, but what about the water profile? Too much magnesium?

I’ve done all the experimenting I care to do with making a malty IPA. They’re just not for me.

I do like to use 20-25% MO in my house APA grain bill. I use it instead of Munich to add a touch of breadiness.

I liked blank before it was bank, this is not the first time I heard that MO doesn’t mesh well with the citrus American hops. This makes sense to me as most English hops are described as earthy and herbal.

Now I have not personally tried it as I get the results I want with two row. So as usual… YMMV.

You have one data point.

hence the modifier “preliminary”.

[quote=“Pietro”]For my latest house IPA (1.065 OG / 100+ IBU with 30 added at bittering and remainder at flameout/hopstand) I used MO for the base grain for around 90% of the bill, with the remaining 10% made up of equal parts white wheat and Crystal 10L.

I have to say, maybe its the hop cocktail, but the beer just has a weird tangy flavor that I don’t care for. As a contrast, we used MO for a robust porter we made, which may be the best example of the style that I’ve had.

My preliminary conclusion: MO does not work for me for American hop-forward beers. It is a great grain for british ales, roasty or heavy malt-focused beers, but using it as a base grain with citrusy/piney/tropical hops does not work. Am I jumping the gun, or have others had this experience?

I will be buying Fawcett & Sons by the sack from here on out.[/quote]

I reached the same conclusion years ago. For domestic styles, I use domestic malt.

I am still searching for a more complex grain bill in my IPA to balance a nice hop schedule. I have used Vienna and Munich (up to 30% total) with Rahr 2-row, but I still think the beer needs a more interesting and strong malt backbone to balance the hops.

I was planning to replace the 2-row with MO, but now I’m less certain.

Thoughts?

A 100% MO IPA and all Simcoe hops is one of the finest IPA’s you will ever taste.

I (also) reached that conclusion years ago.

[quote=“scottNU”]I am still searching for a more complex grain bill in my IPA to balance a nice hop schedule. I have used Vienna and Munich (up to 30% total) with Rahr 2-row, but I still think the beer needs a more interesting and strong malt backbone to balance the hops.

I was planning to replace the 2-row with MO, but now I’m less certain.

Thoughts?[/quote]

I would try it with Thomas Fawcett Pearl before you do that. I’m sold.

[quote=“scottNU”]I am still searching for a more complex grain bill in my IPA to balance a nice hop schedule. I have used Vienna and Munich (up to 30% total) with Rahr 2-row, but I still think the beer needs a more interesting and strong malt backbone to balance the hops.

I was planning to replace the 2-row with MO, but now I’m less certain.

Thoughts?[/quote]

I think sometimes the key to doing what you’re trying to do is to use less hops. It’s counterintuitive, but sometimes you can get a more complex beer with less bitterness/hoppiness. If you’re using both Vienna and Munich and feel that you need more maltiness, try cutting back on your bittering hops.

[quote=“floyd”]A 100% MO IPA and all Simcoe hops is one of the finest IPA’s you will ever taste.

I (also) reached that conclusion years ago.[/quote]

+1 I really enjoy the MO IPA as well. I brewed the Simcoe Select kit from Midwest Supplies as 1 of my 1st all grain batches a while back and it’s become my house IPA with a few tweaks. It calls for Golden Promise but my LHBS was out and I substituted MO instead on my last batch. Maybe a tad sweeter but equally refreshing.

:cheers:

Thanks for the input folks. No matter what happens, I will enjoy drinking this experiment.

I’m in the camp that believes neutral grain derived flavor and fairly dry finish are keys to making a great standard American IPA. The best IPA base I’ve used is 60% Rahr 2-row and 40% wheat. Really lets the hops shine, while providing the right finish and body. Imperial IPA’s can handle a more complex malt character, but should still be relatively dry.

Different story for APA’s which I prefer with a little more malt character. Through a few years of experimentation, I’ve settled on using 20% MO and 3% C40 as my house standard. Perfect IMO.

Just my two cents. It’s great that as homebrewers we can make beer exactly how we want to, and we don’t have to care what anyone else thinks.

To quote Dave B: "Do not, under any circumstances, use domestic two-row – the beer is too insipid, lacking a credible maltiness, making for a rather one-dimensional IPA. "

http://www.realbeer.com/hops/sister.html

I am likely biased because this is one of my favorite recipes. But of course, opinions (and taste buds) vary.

I’ve tried Munton’s Marris otter in a few different beer styles and wanted to like it b/c it is readily available at my LHBS, but it tastes like the malting floor to me…dusty and grainy and blech!

I ordered a sack of Crisp MO though recently and love it. I tried it by itself in a blonde and while I wouldn’t use it in that style again it was a good way to explore the flavor it contributes. I would describe it as pretzel or Ritz cracker in such a simple dry beer. I’m even picking up some of the flavors normally contributed by a small amount of Munich malt. I cant see adding all kinds of specialty malts when using this as a base. I will say that in a simple dry beer it lacks some sweetness that I think it needs to round out it’s other bolds grain flavors.

I have a stout right almost ready to tap with that I sampled a glass of fresh before kegging. Was good stuff. I think the roast flavors and crystal sweetness really play well with this malt.

I’m going to try an IPA with some crystal and bold hops like Chinook with it soon. I think an assertive malt needs some assertive hops. Amarillo, Cascade probable wouldn’t be good choices here.

[quote=“Rogan”]I’ve tried Munton’s Marris otter in a few different beer styles and wanted to like it b/c it is readily available at my LHBS, but it tastes like the malting floor to me…dusty and grainy and blech!
[/quote]

Agreed, my IPA just has a muddled malt flavor that I really don’t like. Had a 1/2 pint of the IPA last night (haven’t touched it in about 14 days), and it has definitely improved, though that muddled pithy flavor is still there.

[quote=“Rogan”]
I have a stout right almost ready to tap with that I sampled a glass of fresh before kegging. Was good stuff. I think the roast flavors and crystal sweetness really play well with this malt. [/quote]
Agreed, the porter on the tap next to it is effing phenomenal. We did treat the water quite a bit, but it has such a complex malt flavor that I would say its one of the best porters I’ve tasted. I have a bunch of fuggles around, I may just do an ordinary bitter with some of the MO we have left to grow up a Conan yeast slug for our next IPA. I have a feeling MO will be a solid choice to play well with British hops.

[quote=“Rogan”]
I’m going to try an IPA with some crystal and bold hops like Chinook with it soon. I think an assertive malt needs some assertive hops. Amarillo, Cascade probable wouldn’t be good choices here.[/quote]

Please post back and let me know how this goes, it sounds like we have some similar flavor preferences in our IPAs. FWIW the IPA that made me post this had close to a pound of hops in it (including Simcoe, Apollo, Chinook, Centennial), primarily at flameout/hopstand/ and 2 3-oz dry hops. I also boosted sulfate to around 300ppm. But something about the beer just isn’t allowing the hops to shine as they have in batches using a more mild base malt. To your point, Crisp may be the middle ground between Munton’s MO and 2-row. Great post, thanks for the info :cheers:

I’m thinking dank resiny hops nice firm crystal sweetness maybe pushing amber territory where the hops and malt work together rather than the malt stepping out of the way to showcase the hops… So not really American IPA but not english either.s

I agree, will post a pic of this beer tonight! This is 90% MO, 5% Crystal 10 and 5% white wheat. Hell, I should just call this an amber at this point…

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