Melanoidin Malt - too much? to what effect?

Curious about the experience others have had with melanoidin malt (especially when used excessively) – I’m looking after having already leapt.

I brewed this year’s holiday ale over the weekend. My holiday ales are usually an opportunity to take some risks and experiment in ways I might not otherwise, but, of course, I still want to end up with something that is not only festive, but enjoyable.

My grain bill (for a 5 gal batch) was:

5 lbs. Rahr 2-row (41.67%)
2 lbs. Vienna (16.67%)
2 lbs. Melanoidin (16.67%)
1 lb. Carared (8.33%)
1 lb. Ashburne Mild Malt (8.33%)
.5 lb. English Medium Crystal (4.17%)
.5 lb. Crystal Rye (4.17%)

Weyermann suggests not using melanoidin for more than 20% of the grain bill, but now I am reading many posts (after the fact) that suggest something more like 5% is about the right tolerance for many.

I have only used this malt in small quantities in the past, so I am not entirely sure what to expect from such a dominant presence in my grain bill – I was hoping for toasty - maillard type flavors, but the prevailing warnings out there seem to suggest that I may have (once again) overdone something in my holiday ale (it’s becoming a tradition unto itself).

Can anyone who has used a considerable amount of melanooidin malt in a batch share some experience and give me some idea as to what I am in for?

When I tasted the wort, I thought it seemed quite promising, actually, so despite the grave warnings, I am not resigned or without hope, though now my expectations have been tempered by reading about the negative (although non-descript) experiences of others. So, I would appreciate hearing about your experiences with melanoidin malt.

Most of the warnings I’ve read are vague at best – “it gave the beer a distinctive flavor”; “I once used 10% and didn’t like it, I wouldn’t use more than 5%”; “it was very noticeable and I wouldn’t use that much again” – but I haven’t been able to find out more specifically what the flavor was like. Obviously taste is subjective and describing taste has its challanges, but I sure would appreciate whatever specifics you can offer.

Cheers! :cheers:

Who cares what other people say. Who cares what other people think. Us homebrewers always try to make a tasty beer. Your grain bill might be a little “different”, but if it makes good beer Then so what. Melanoidin malt is only a type of munich malt and at 17% of the grain bill, I would not worry about it. This beer coud be tasty, or not. Depends on what you call tasty. Let us know anyways. Cheers and beers.

If it does end up not to your taste you could quickly brew another batch without it and blend the two.

Thanks guys. Part of the fun of this hobby has always been to push the envelope a bit and experiment to find something new and delicious, and my holiday ales are often a playground for new ideas. I may end up really liking this – only time will tell. I did think the wort going into the fermenter seemed quite promising to my palate. I will keep you posted on the results.

It’s just that as I was trying to read up more about melanoidin malt I was running across a great many warnings not to overdo it as people repeated the mantra that a little goes a long way – but I was also growing slightly frustrated that that is where the information stopped – no one was explaining quite what effect using too much had – does it make the beer taste like burnt toast? does it make it cloyingly sweet or syrupy? does it taste like sweaty donkey balls? or what?

Just hopiong to get more specifics while I wait for this one to ferment to see for myself what I’ve created.

(On a side note: I am slightly skeptical of my yeast this time, too – used a 1056 packet that had already slightly swollen after possibly freezing in the back recesses of my fridge, though it swelled just fine when I burst the nutrient pack – but the yeast going into my starter did not have that familiar yeasty smell, but rather smelled quite cidery – and so too my starter and now the smell coming out of my airlock were/are cidery more than that familiar yeasty smell. I’ve never had a bad Wyeast pack, but I will confess to fearing something may have been off with this one – again, time will tell.)

I’ve used 2 lbs in a 5 gallon batch, the Pro series Surly Bender kits calls for it.

(melanoidin malt and aromatic malt are the same thing) It was easily one of my favorite browns I’ve done and gives a good taste of what the malt can bring to a beer.

A few years ago I used 1lb of Melanoidin and 1 lb of CaraRed in a 5 gallon batch. It had a weird, cloying maltiness. But after lagering/aging it for three or four months the weirdness disappeared and it was quite good. So, if you don’t like it young try aging some of it and it might work out.

For your sake, and others who may drink it, I hope not. Now, I have never tasted sweaty donkey balls but I wouldn’t think them too satisfying. :stuck_out_tongue:

A couple of years ago I posted a clone recipe for Bitch Creek brown ale from Grand Teton Brewing. This recipe has 16% melanoidin and about 20% crystal malts. Everyone warned me it would be a disaster. I was so worried that I contacted the brewery, which confirmed the percentages. I brewed it up with WLP007 yeast and it was a dead on clone. Check out this beers awards.

Wow, beerginer, that is both interesting and encouraging. It may not end up being to my taste, but the fact that such a successful commercial beer out there uses 16% like I did does give me hope that this batch may not end up as drain fodder. Although their disclaimer, “not for the timid,” continues to suggest that I may end up with something somewhat inaccessible/unappealing to common tastebuds. I can’t wait for this batch to be ready now, as my curiosity just increases by the day.

If I end up with strong bready/toasty/spicy malt character, I will be happy. If I end up with cloying sweetness, I will be disappointed. But it’s not clear melanoidin in these quantities will produce either – “weird” seems to be the description many return to – and without tasting for myself, I just have no idea what that really means or whether I’ll like it – I’m not adverse to “weird” per se.

I think your ok with that much. it plays well with the Vienna malt. You can get a lot of grahm cracker flavor from it. Think of Stiegl Weizen Gold… that’s some yummy melanoidin goodness right there.

Saw this thread because I was searching for information on melanoidin malt. I haven’t used it, but saw it in a recipe for a rye IPA. I’m trying to better understand what’s in a recipe and how new ingredients contribue flavors. So, I have questions about what I see in the recipes. This week it’s melanoidin. For those that use it, help me understand what does it give me and why would I add it? I’ve read some stuff on the internet, but am very curious about actual users experiences; especially on this forum.


I love using melanoiden, but have never used 2 lbs. I think the other thing you need to consider is that you are also using a pound of carared and half pound of crystal - so it is not just the melanoiden that will be adding sweetness to your beer. Also, I have not used crystal rye, so not sure what that will add in the way of sweetness.

There is really only one way to find out - that is to brew it. However, if it is overly sweet, I would also consider the effects of the carared in assessing any changes in the future.