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Organic vs English Roasted Barley

New to brewing and desperately want to make a nice dry stout. I’d simply buy a NB all grain kit, but i don’t have any 5-gal equipment (yet), so i need to keep this to a 1-gal batch. I decided to divide NB’s Dry Irish Stout recipe by 5, substituting some grains so my ingredients on hand would match other planned recipes.

Here’s what the recipe calls for…
60-min MASH
– 6 lbs English Maris Otter
– 2 lbs Flaked Barley
– 1 lb English Roasted Barley
– 1.5 oz Cluster (60 min)

… and here’s what i did…
60-min MASH
– 1.2 lbs Warminster Floor-Malted Maris Otter
– 0.4 lbs Flaked Barley
– 0.2 lbs Organic Roasted Barley
– 0.3 oz Cluster (60 min)

Result: The (would-be) stout is brown, not black. After revisiting my ingredients, it looks like Organic Roasted Barley (300°L) isn’t really a good substitute for English Roasted Barley (500-600°L), at least not when it comes to colour. Otherwise the wort smells fine; it’s already bubbling fairly strong five hours after pitch.

Questions for you experts:

  • Is the Organic Roasted Barley the culprit in why this didn’t turn out black, or did i mess up something else?
  • Should this at least taste like a dry stout when it’s done?
  • If i decide to try this again and still use the organic roast, should i use 0.4 lbs organic roast (twice the amount), or stick with 0.2 lbs organic roast and also add 0.1 - 0.2 lbs of something like Blackprinz to try to keep the flavors even and just darken the colour?


Its clear that your roast barley is the culprit, its the only thing adding color. Could be the difference between 300L and 500+, although it might also be that the organic stuff was actually lower than 300L. I’d taste your current brew to see if it has enough roast character. Generally the color and flavor go hand in hand so it might both need more and maybe some additional black malt. I’d be tempted to buy some proper roast barley if the flavor isn’t there, I’m not sure doubling the amount would help but you’ll know once you taste the results.

Roasted barley is often 300 L whereas black barley is 500 L +. 300 L is light even for chocolate malt so clearly roasted barley at this color isn’t really meant to be the only dark grain in a black beer.

His recipe is exactly the same as NB’s dry Irish stout. NB’s own description of the organic roast barley does say its less dark and roasty than the Simpson’s they use in the stout recipe.

@tom sawyer (or is it Lennie?) - great advice, thanks! I should’ve read more carefully before I went on an organic shopping craze … no point in trying to stick to organic roast in a recipe with non-organic ingredients anyways. Some proper roast will def be included in my next order. When i get around to making it right, i’ll post an update on how they compare flavor wise. Cheers! -matt

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