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Separate mashing scheme for dark beers

I hear tell some folks will separately mash their dark grains, then add them at the end of the boil. This apparently prevents any further darkening/burning of the darkened wort as well as producing a more flavorful/smooth beverage. I want to do this with an all grain porter but it will be my first attempt at this separation. Has anyone tried this before? Can you tell me your results?

Thanks,

Ian

I’ve never done it, but it sounds very German and unnecessary.

Simpler methods produce fantastic results.

I know some people cold mash the roast grain overnight, then add the runnings from that to their mash.

cold steep overnight is one way (though I’ve heard you need to use 2-3x more by weight).

steeping the dark grains in the first runnings is another.

what I do is add the dark grains just prior to beginning vorlauf/mash runoff. I mainly do this because its easier to maintain proper mash pH without the highly acidic dark grains added.

can’t hurt to try it and see what your experience/results are.

[quote=“blatz”]cold steep overnight is one way (though I’ve heard you need to use 2-3x more by weight).

steeping the dark grains in the first runnings is another.

what I do is add the dark grains just prior to beginning vorlauf/mash runoff. I mainly do this because its easier to maintain proper mash pH without the highly acidic dark grains added.

can’t hurt to try it and see what your experience/results are.[/quote]
I think I will do this on my next dark beer. Thanks for the tip, Paul.

I brew light beers and then eat handfuls of dark malts while drinking them, cuts down on the pH changes in the finished beer. I figure my stomach is more acid than the malts.

+1 But judges aren’t cooperative about eating the grains that I provide with the comp entries and I keep getting dinged on “SRM not to style” no matter what I put in the comments section!

So the point of a cold mash is to better control pH? I might just cold mash, do a small separate 30 minute mash and add at the last 15 minutes of boil. Something like that. If it doesnt work great. Il let ya know.

[quote=“georage”]I’ve never done it, but it sounds very German and unnecessary.

Simpler methods produce fantastic results.[/quote]

Depending on your water profile, it might actually be less complicated to add the dark grains during the sparge rather than having to add chalk to the mash to balance the pH.

The point of cold steeping or adding dark grains during vorlauf is to reduce harshness and bitterness. One added benefit, is that you don’t have the higher acidity of the darker grains bringing down your mash pH (which, depending on your water, may require the addition of chalk to balance). Another, is that you can add the cold steeped extract in increments to taste.

It definitely isn’t necessary to use these methods to brew an excellent beer using darker, roasted grains, but they can be useful.

By the way, if you’re going to cold steep you need to let the grains steep for longer than 30 minutes (more like most of the day).

I meant a hot mash ~152 F for 30 minutes.

If you want color only, this works. But for a stout or porter or any beer that should have some roasted character, I wouldn’t do it. If you get harshness in your beer when you add dark grains in the mash, you may have other things wrong.

I’ve recently changed my thinking on water for dark beers. Kai’s experiments have shown that roasted malts don’t contribute as much acidity per SRM as crystal malts. I’ve also lowered my target mash pH to 5.4-5.5 (@20C) as alkalinity/high pH are a major culprit in lifeless beer. But AJ DeLange’s posts (for example, here
http://www.thebrewingnetwork.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=&t=23075
) made me consider the possibility that I don’t need any chalk in my water despite it’s relatively low alkalinity.

I recently made a 40 SRM oatmeal stout with 2.5 pounds of roasted barley in the mash for a 12 gallon batch. Despite an alkalinity of only 48 (and RA of 25) in my tap water, I added no chalk or other carbonates. My mash pH was 5.5, and I wouldn’t want it any higher. Too much alkalinity can create tannic astringincy, and adding a lot of chalk could actually be a cause of this.

One side note is that ColorPhast pH strips were almost unreadable in the dark wort. If I had to guess, it looked like it read 4.7. With the .3 error, that’s still 5.0, while a freshly calibrated pH meter showed 5.5. I’m starting to question whether the ColorPhast strips are really worth using.

Thanks for the input. So even if I do a cold mash and a 30 minute hot mash and run the dark grain wort into the boil kettle you do not think I will be getting the full flavor profile? Seems like I would, isnt mashing dark grains pointless in that the starches in the grains are already converted? So the main issue is pulling the sugars/colors/flavors out of the grains? Am I missing something important to the mashing process for dark grains? I have made plenty of porters/stouts with the normal mashing routine and I am not upset or havent had troubles with anything. Just trying something new. I like to hear from you folks…

Yes you’re just wanting to extract the color/flavor compounds (not sure theres any usable sugar) and a long warm steep (aka mash) gives better extraction. The shorter warm steep or a long cold steep will work, it just extracts differently than the normal mash version. You can adjust your dark grain amounts to counter a reduced quantitatve extraction, and you have to decide whether the qualitative aspects of the different regimens represent a significant improvement that justifies the extra steps. Guess it most likely depends on whether you like a bit of roasty bite or a really smooth version of a stout or porter. I’d think a stout would be OK with the bite, and a porter might be made smoother. I already kind of do that with the use of roast barley in the stout, and black malts in porter. But this may represent a different way to skin that cat.

so you’re saying that people who make extract beers get no roast aroma or flavor when they make a stout and steep the roasted grains?

so you’re saying that people who make extract beers get no roast aroma or flavor when they make a stout and steep the roasted grains?[/quote]

I really don’t know. I’ve seen people claim this lends less roast flavor. Maybe it depends how long your sparge is? When I batch sparge, it’s a quick stir and maybe 5 minutes running off to the kettle, not 30-60 minutes of steeping.

If it doesn’t make any flavor difference, I don’t see a reason to do it unless you know your mash pH is falling below 5.3. As I said in my last post, that seems to be a lot harder to do than most people think.

so you’re saying that people who make extract beers get no roast aroma or flavor when they make a stout and steep the roasted grains?[/quote]

I really don’t know. I’ve seen people claim this lends less roast flavor. Maybe it depends how long your sparge is? When I batch sparge, it’s a quick stir and maybe 5 minutes running off to the kettle, not 30-60 minutes of steeping.

If it doesn’t make any flavor difference, I don’t see a reason to do it unless you know your mash pH is falling below 5.3. As I said in my last post, that seems to be a lot harder to do than most people think.[/quote]

we’ll see - the last two dark beers I made I put the roasted grains in a few minutes before I began my runoff, and I had phenomenal roast aroma and flavor, but smoother. I am making a porter on Friday night - maybe I will go back to the full mash time and see.

Without doing a side x side its hard to say for certain.

But one thing for certain is it’s better for your mash pH, yes? I’ll be brewing a black IPA soon using the yeast from the pale I’m brewing right now and I’d like to not make crazy water adjustments if I don’t have to.

yeah, the funny thing is exactly what narvin is saying is why I feel its effective - much easier to control pH in the 6-14SRM range (for most people’s water) while not having to add oodles of chalk to the mash. I’m still experimenting with it to see which way i like the best, but my results with the late or steeping method have been very favorable.

for a black IPA i’d say late addition or steeping is practically a must.

I’m reading now that one shouldn’t add much chalk to a mash for a dark beer, that the black malts aren’t as acidic as crystal. So I suppose it depends on what spreadsheet you go by.

If you look at your hypothetical adjustments and it seems crazy, chances are it is.

[quote=“tom sawyer”]
If you look at your hypothetical adjustments and it seems crazy, chances are it is [/quote]

good point lennie.

I use Bru’n Water now instead of Palmer and have been amazed at how much less the recommended additions are.

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