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SiriusDG

MB vs Partial Mash, Head to Head

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With the re-opening of Blue Jew Brewery, I am embarking on a bold, very long term experiment. I have spent the last month creating the Blue Jew Brew line of beers in BeerSmith; I have looked at everything I have done, and a few I have not gotten to yet, what I like and what I don't, and have come up with a list of beers I am calling our lineup, and that I plan on really focusing on nailing to perfection. At any time, two of my three kegs will be brewing these beers; keg 3 will be for specialty beers and experimentation. Here is the list --

Our Tabernacle Line
Garden Nectar -- Belgian Blonde
Liquid Manna -- Belgian Dubble
Blessings and Curses -- Belgian Specialty Ale
The Witch of Endor -- Belgian Dark Strong Ale
Three -- Belgian Tripple
Isaiah 53 -- Belgian Witbeir

Our Diaspora Line
ScapeGoat Lager -- Dopplebock
Zedekiah -- Munich Dunkle
Gabri-Ale -- Helles Bock
Salvation -- Traditional Bock
Mamre Red Oak Ale -- American Amber Ale
Old Moshe -- Imperial Stout
King David's Cream Stout -- Sweet Stout


For each of these beers, I have created both a Partial Mash recipe, and a MB recipe. Here are the running rules; For the partial mash, I can do anything I like. For the MB, the recipe has to be based on MB extracts, with DME; and all grain additions must be true steeping grains only, no mashing and no "mashing needed" grains. No boil times longer than 30 minutes for the MB recipes. Both must use the same yeast, and both must ferment on the same schedule.

I plan on making them either both on the same day, or one day apart, so that when I do side by side tasting, age will not be a distinguishing factor.

While I am sure the MB and PM versions of a given recipe will never be identical, that is not the point; the point is to make two beers that are conceptually, stylistically the same, that are very similar, that are both so enjoyable that when I say to myself "I want to brew my Belgian Blonde", I could go either way and be perfectly happy. And so if I feel like being a chef, and have the time, great; but if I only have a couple hours, I can be in and out of the kitchen in a short bit, and still get my beer.

First up was the belgian blonde, and the details of that are here. As I roll through all of the various stages of all of the various beers, I will continually update this thread. This is gonna take a while, obviously, so check back regularly.

Brew On!

David

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Owwwww I think this is really exciting!!! Can't wait to see how these turn out!!! Thinking of making it also to compare notes when all is finished.

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Round one is all but complete, and my oh my, we got us a game now.

The results are 100% conclusive -- the MB version rocks the house. While it is only one week in the bottle, I have done blind side by side taste tests with 4 people, two who are just average beer drinkers, and the other two being my wife and myself. It is completely unanimous...the MB version is better.

This is surprising, interesting, and exciting for the rest of the competition. I have a theory as to why this is true...for the blonde, which was the beer of round one, I was going for the lightest purest blonde I could get, which means a single malt beer, or as close as possible. So the PM version was lots of pilsen LME, a little carapils and a touch of Crystal 10 for some freshness. But for MB, there really is no golden light single malt UME...so I went with HCCD and Pale Export and Extra Light DME, and the same grains. But ultimately, it comes out more complex, more rounded, and I think the tongue likes that better when compared side to side. Fine. Also, while both were high octane, the MB version is sweeter...hmmm, perhaps MB extracts do not ferment as fully as I thought...this really makes sense, and explains many of the comments we commonly see about the differences between MB and other styles. Not that this is bad...my friends have been adamant that they like my sweeter brews...but just something to keep in mind.

Round two began last night...the Belgian Dubble...and the MB version is foaming like mad at 64 degrees right now, having been put together late last night. The PM version will go together today.

Ding Ding...Round Two...http://community.mrbeer.com/index.php?option=com_kunena&Itemid=58&func=view&catid=20&id=62540#62540

David

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I have been telling myself I'm going to do the same thing.... come up with my own recipes close to some of my Mr. Beer recipes, brew both at the same time, and compare.

So, far, I have only compared one that I call Tommy Hawk APA (partial mash) and Tommy Hawk APA (Mr. Beer).

My results are actually that the partial mash is better, but not by a whole lot. And my testers have only been me and my wife and one other guy. And, I didn't do a blind taste test. And, they were not brewed at the same time. So, I am going about it a quite a bit less scientifically than you.

Great experiment. I'll try to keep track of yours. I'll chime in if I ever get more organized to brew the similar recipes at the same time.

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Actually, I do want to add that I agree with your theory about the Blonde.

For the most part, I drink amber to dark beers, but I keep some lighter blonde beers around for my wife and for those "light beer drinking" friends and family that come by from time to time.

People really like my "Wetta Blonde" and "Girly Berry" which are both mostly Mr. Beer ingredients. I have also made a blondish beer that I call "Fools' Gold", which was not meant to mimic either, is closer to the Blonde styles than most of my own recipes.

And, I do have to say, Mr. Beer Blondes do (IMO) stack up real well. I have not done a side-by-side, but I am sure if I did (especially with my light beer drinking friends), the Mr. Beer recipes would win that class of beers hands-down.

Anyway ... more antidotal and less scientific even than my previous post, but it does sort of apply to your theory.

:chug:

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Thanx for the backup.

Round 2 is now fully underway, I brewed the PM version of Liquid Manna today. Check back in a few weeks for more data.

David

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Round one is complete, and at this point it is almost a dead heat. Round two is scheduled to be bottled up today; I will post another update after bottling with gravities and taste notes.

David

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Would be nice to have the grains/hops used in the HME/UME's. Would make complementing them with grains and such much easier. In guessing they would have to provide if someone requested.

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Update, and sorry for the delay.

Round two was a bust. I was trying to mock a brewing profile from some of the belgian brewers who pitch at about 75 and then cool, initially, ramp up rapidly back to the mid 70s all in a 5 day primary, then switch to a very cool (40's) two week secondary. I have tried it twice, it never works for me. I still have the beer, and will give it a little more time to age, but at this point, it is pretty nasty. So I am calling round two a do-over, but not anytime soon, as I already have the ingredients for many of the other rounds in inventory.

Round three was brewed up last weekend, King David's Cream Stout.

Here is the link.

This is being modeled after St. Peters Cream Stout, one of, if not my absolute, favorite cream stouts. Initial taste tests of both rounds indicates that it is going to be a super good cream stout in both cases; there are some significant taste differences, but it is VERY early in the running. Check back in about another month.

Brew On!!

David

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can you post your cream stout recipe? I just made one and would love to see your's.

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Quick update, the cream stout has now been bottled, and while I think it is going to be a great beer, it did have a very strong wine like tartness that was unexpected in the end. I added another 1/4 lb lactose to the prime, and plan on letting this age 6ish months before really getting into it. My Irish Oatmeal Stout from last St. Patty's dad was similar, and it mellowed out wonderfully. Time will tell.

David

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Today we began round 4 of the experiment, Old Moshe, a big Russian Imperial Stout. Hope to get the MB version in the keg tomorrow.

David

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Old Moshe went into the bottles tonight, and while I had some problems with the partial mash recipe, they were both good beers, even though there is a lot of aging to go...they are both WAY big and bold.

However, the MB version was by far the fave at this point. I must say I am not terribly surprise, but MB is doing REALLY well in the competition so far. ;)

David

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Small update, I have been quiet too long, life got crazy...

I am done making the head to head batches. For those I did not screw up, two are still aging, but then general sense all around is that MB, with steeping grains and a little fresh hops, competes quite well with all fresh ingredients, including some extract, and a partial mash. It really seems to come down to a personal preference in the end.

I learned a few things along the way, and if I were to do this over (which I won't) I would do it slightly different. But for those looking to pull the very best out of MB, I will make the following recommendations...these are just my own opinion, based on the combined comments of myself, my wife, and several good friends.

First, Booster and/or Sugar; IMHO, the amount of booster sold in a MB kit is too much, relatively speaking. For any normal beer, I would keep any sugar contribution to less than 10%. You can argue percent of ABV, percent of fermentables, percent by weight...if you stay below 10, you will be safe either way. I very often use more than that, but I make belgians, and I do that for a very specific reason. Study the role of sugar in beer, and then use it to make the beer you want...but if you are just looking to amp up the beer, you really should adjust this. Two cans of MB mix, and one bag of booster puts you at 26%. At the very least, I would recommend no more than half a bag, to keep the math easy.

Second, Steeping Grains. This was something I learned in the midst of this process and all the other beers I was making at the same time...steeping grains should really be used way more sparingly than I (and I suspect, many other new homebrewers) use them. That being said, the MB kits already have steeping grains in them, carefully crafted to create a specific taste. When we make big adjustments, it is kinda like taking grandmas perfect recipe, and adding a cup of sugar and saying it will come out better. My new method for dealing with this dilema is to add steeping grains very sparingly, along with a little dme; this results in an overall stronger brew, but with the fresh ingredients I want and still in balance. If I then want to knock it down to a more standard strength, a half gallon to a gallon of bottled water goes in the priming bucket when I bottle. This has worked out REALLY REALLY well for me.

Third, Hops. IMHO, the bittering of a MB kit is pretty much what it needs to be, so if I am going to add hops to a MB kit, I am going to do a very short boil (5 - 15) and use a very small amount. I am basically looking to add a little flavor and aroma, just to kick up the freshness a touch.

Finally, yeast. While I think the MB under the lid yeast will normally do the job, I also greatly respect the role of a proper yeast to a specific beer. I have even become comfortable with liquid yeasts, and that took a long time. Just did a starter bout an hour ago for a belgian lambic style I plan on brewing tomorrow. Learn, through experimentation and study, your yeast; find the half dozen or so that work for you, and use them. Your beers will be much better, even if just from the higher cell count.

Well, that is pretty much the end of the experiment. I have grown a lot through this experience, including understanding how shakey and inconsistent my processes still are. I have made improvements and my beers continue to get better.

I want to wrap this up by recapturing the spirit of the intended goal. Nothing I have said in this summary should be mistaken to mean if you do things different I think you are wrong...this was my effort to say, if I want to make a good beer, and I have 1-2 hours, and a MB kit with appropriate additions, can I make something on par with a hand crafted recipe from the LHBS. This does not address using MB ingredients in a highly personalized and more complex recipe that still may involve partial mashing...this is a different thing altogether. The goal was,that in any MB recipe used in this experiment, the additions should add no more than 1/2 hour to the process, and minimal extra equipment and work, and you should still be in and out of the kitchen very quickly. The only consistant thing that I have not worked out yet is that the MB kits seem to have a slightly stronger alcoholic note than the counterparts; but not so much as to negate the convenience and ease of use.

Happy Brewing all!

David

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Hi Sirius. It's been a while. Great summary. I think you did a great job evaluating Mr. Beer for an experienced-but-time-limited brewer. I understand almost everything you said - even if I otherwise have a different approach to brewing. I would like to get a little clarification/elaboration on the sugar/booster part, though.

There are lots of negative comments - even sometimes on this forum - about booster and/or sugar. I mostly ignore them. It's all too "obvious" that booster (or sugar) is the "beginner's ingredient", that only a drunkard would want to raise the alcohol level in a beer without adding extra flavor, that the "standard" refills are "inferior" to the more expensive "deluxe" or "premium" refills, that beers made with the standard recipe (or the equivalent for non-Mr. Beer kits) are lighter-bodied - and therefore not to be taken seriously, that booster (or sugar) is an "adjunct" and therefore not a "proper" ingredient in any "proper" beer (which should only contain the 4 basic ingredients - plus a few green raisins, pumpkins, bacon, human saliva, etc.)

But I digress. I'm not accusing you of having any of those opinions. That's why I want to hear more. :)

What sort of thing have you learned about the proper role of sugar in beer? What is the "specific reason" that you put so much sugar into your belgians? What is it you notice about going above 10% sugar that makes it inappropriate for any beers that aren't belgian?

Great to see you post again!

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Thanks for the excellent writeup. One quick question. When you say that steeping grains should be used sparingly, how sparingly. Let's say I'm making a batch with 1 HME, 1 kg (about) LME and maybe some booster.

I've got some Cara Munich I. How much of that should I add?

I'm doing a batch next week and adding 1/2 lb, but I'm also mashing some 2 row, so I'm doing the Cara with the 2 row, which I think makes it more of a mash than a steep. I was thinking 1/2 lb would be about right for extract recipes, also, but I'm new to mashing and steeping.

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I know you didn't ask me but, I would steep about 100 grams of the cara munich 1. As you know, I would also use the booster.

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Man! Following the experiment was like watching Brewmasters. Very informative. Even suspenseful. Keep it coming. Can't wait to read the reports on the other brews.

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Big Dave -- thanx for the follow up. I think this is a great subtopic, and love to talk about it whenever I can.

It was actually D-Rock, a name from the past here, that mad the comment that started me down the path of understanding. He said he would only consider using sugar in a beer above 1.0X (sorry, don't remember the exact number) and only to help it attenuate out to the proper FG. I instantly realized what he meant, and started researching it. The fact that it is a staple of belgian beer making mindset just turned out to be a happy coincidence.

I used to think that FG was a function of OG and the yeast, more or less. The more malt you add, the higher the OG...multiply that by your yeasts attenuation, and that is FG. Also, the diff between OG and FG, that is your ABV.

All those conversations you refer to, they start with "So I want to raise the ABV..." and that is where the thinking goes wrong right up front. IMHO, and in the belgian mindset, the conversation starts with "So I made this great beer, but to get the beer I wanted, it ended up too thick...how do I fix that? Oh, I know...I will add some sugar to thin it out...Oh, and while it thins my beer down to an enjoyable mouthfeel, as luck would have it, my abv goes up some too...Double Bonus!!"

See the difference?

Now, why is this not appropriate for beers other than belgians...well, the honest answer is likely "tradition"; but, to be to style will also take you down the same path...but, then, the styles are also just tradition. I could take a great belgian recipe, use a very clean yeast, brew it cold to keep the cider tastes down, and it would be a decent beer. But, if you follow the mindset expressed above, you would have started with a good strong malt beer, and THEN added sugar...as opposed to trying to save pennies by going cheap on the malt and trying to add abv with sugar.

Let me know if this answers yoru question...

Brew On!!

David

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BP Green...honestly, this idea of mine is still very much evolving...but as a good example, lets look at this recipe for a belgian blond...

Amount Item Type % or IBU
1.50 lb Extra Light Dry Extract (3.0 SRM) Dry Extract 27.37 %
1.21 lb High Country Canadian Draft (3.0 SRM) Extract 22.08 %
1.21 lb Pale Export (5.0 SRM) Extract 22.08 %
0.50 lb Caramel/Crystal Malt - 10L (10.0 SRM) Grain 9.12 %
0.25 lb Cara-Pils/Dextrine (2.0 SRM) Grain 4.56 %
0.20 oz Goldings, East Kent [5.00 %] (5 min) Hops 1.4 IBU
1.00 oz High Country Canadian Draft [12.40 %] (5 Hops 17.1 IBU
0.81 lb Booster (0.0 SRM) Sugar 14.78 %

This was as I made it last time, and if you review the notes, you will see that I said it was too dark, so I would cut the Crystal 10 in half next time...so that is 1/4 lb Crystal 10 and 1/4 lb CaraPils, in a pretty big beer. Normally at this point, I try to keep under 5% of any given steeping grain, and less than 1.5 lbs for the whole batch of anything other than base malt. I am finding that the contribution of the steeping grains is always more than I anticipated.

For the batch you reference, I would likely start with 1/4 lb of the CaraMunich...but, you don't say which HME/LME or what kind of beer you are trying to make. Still, that would be my out of the box starting point, tailored to hit color or flavor I was aiming for.

Good luck, keep us posted.

David

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SiriusDG wrote:


For the batch you reference, I would likely start with 1/4 lb of the CaraMunich...but, you don't say which HME/LME or what kind of beer you are trying to make. Still, that would be my out of the box starting point, tailored to hit color or flavor I was aiming for.

Good luck, keep us posted.

David

Thanks for the response. I didn't specify the HME because I was trying to keep it somewhat generic, but I have a few International Series 3-packs, so it would be OVL, HCCD or WWW.

The kind of beer I'm aiming for is something drinkable that will use the Caramunich I bought at the going out of business sale (actually, it was just a going online only sale, but his shipping costs kill me).

SA suggested 100g and you're suggesting 1/4 lb, so you're both pretty close and I think my 1/2 lb is probably too high.

I used 1/2 lb at the suggestion of my brother, but he does 5 gallon batches. I told him I did smaller batches, but I told him that a while back, so I'll bet he was thinking of a 5 gallon batch.

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HCCD has become one of my favorite beginning points for MB, but obviously, that is because of it's very basic nature...you don't have as much of an issue trying to balance the other flavors in it. OVL is another fave.

And, because of my belgian slant, CaraMunic is a staple in my brewery. If you are looking for a good all around drinker, I think the caramunic in the HCCD would be rockin.

Let us know.

David

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SiriusDG wrote:

HCCD has become one of my favorite beginning points for MB, but obviously, that is because of it's very basic nature...you don't have as much of an issue trying to balance the other flavors in it. OVL is another fave.

And, because of my belgian slant, CaraMunic is a staple in my brewery. If you are looking for a good all around drinker, I think the caramunic in the HCCD would be rockin.

Let us know.

David

That will probably be next (after the partial mash with no Mr Beer ingredients that I'm planning on for Tuesday evening). I really like the HCCD as a base also. I always add to it, but I think it makes a good starting point.

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SiriusDG wrote:

Big Dave -- thanx for the follow up. I think this is a great subtopic, and love to talk about it whenever I can.

Let me know if this answers yoru question...

Brew On!!

David

Thanks for the well-thought-out response. It got me to thinking too - which mostly explains my delay in responding (some people think quicker than others :) ) I sure hope you didn't think I was ignoring your response.

In short - though I'm probably oversimplifying your response - you are using sugar to lighten the body of your beer. So going back to your original statement, "Study the role of sugar in beer, and then use it to make the beer you want" I think one could say (and you might agree) that if the goal is to make a particularly light-bodied beer, the amount of booster in the Mr. Beer kit might be just right. I've certainly found that I like some of the lighter Mr. Beer recipes (the now archived :( Basic Brown comes to mind). Of course any recipe must be well-made to be good. :)

As you say, tradition seeems to practically "demand" that the bigger Belgian styles (Dubbel and Tripel and the like) should use sugar. But there are other styles where sugar really ought to be considered. Jamil Zainasheff, for example, recommends that brewers strongly consider sugar in IPA's (both English and American) and in Brown Porters to get lower F.G. One style where tradition really forbids sugar is the Bock style (reinheitsgebot and all that), but I could imagine someone ignoring that tradition and coming up with something pretty special. Blonde Bock with sugar = Tripel without the phenolic accents. A Dubbel made with lager yeast is some sort of very un-traditional Traditional Bock. I really don't know how such things would taste, but I think it might be worth trying. (Maybe I will :) )

One last thing. The reason I originally asked my question was that I wondered what (if any) flavors you thought you got from the use of all that sugar in your Belgians. I specifically wonder whether it really has to be "sugar" or whether something like rice syrup (or, say, flaked rice in a partial mash) would do the same thing. Even with sugar, I know the big Belgians use candi sugar (or syrup) but there are many recipes (including Jamil's if I recall correctly) that simply substitute cane sugar. Could you also substitute corn sugar or (back to the Mr. Beer theme) Booster? I wondered whether you think it matters.

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Dave -- frikkin GREAT response!! :cheer:

Okay, there is one element in your summary that I think is missing...specifically, the monks were making beer as liquid nurishment for fasting. Therefore, it was High Gravity beer by design. But, they wanted it to be light and drinkable...hence, as you say, the sugar to lighten the beer. So, if you have a high OG beer, then yes, you are correct...but if you start with a low gravity beer to begin with, then the sugar becomes extraneous overkill. For the amount of booster in a kit to be "just right" by my math would take at least 4 cans of LME, and last I checked, MB doesn't market a 4 can kit yet...although I can say from experience, they should, cuz it makes a kickass brew! :laugh:

Now, IPA's...odd you would call that out, since I don't make those, you may very well be right, and I would not know.

As for WHAT sugar...ya know, I started with belgian candy sugar, then learned about invert...then learned that to make invert sugar, you cook regular sugar in a slightly acidic solution...and wort is an acidic solution...so, boiling regular sugar in the boil should invert most of it anyway. At this point, I actually us turbinado, as it seems like that is probably the closest I could get to what monks of that age may have really used. And through it all, I cannot say I have noticed a big difference in taste. But these are all fairly refined sugars...not sure about anything else.

At this point, I do consider Booster a fair sub for sugar in all my recipes, and I assume it will work about the same but without lightening the body quite as much as normal sugar would...how to quantify that, I really don't know.

Brew On!!

David

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I re-read your post this morning...Porters...ya know, I had never thought of that, but that makes a lot of sense.

First, when I first began drinking beer seriously, I fell in love with Porters. Didn't know crap then, except I liked them. Now, knowing my tastes and the history of the beers, it makes perfect sense. Porter is (I know I am oversimplifying a touch) a well aged stout blended with a much younger ale. So, if I wanted to make a modern Porter, single batch, making essentially a stout and then adding some sugar to lighten the FG would make perfect sense. Cool!

Brew On!

David

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Sirius DG wrote:

At this point, I do consider Booster a fair sub for sugar in all my recipes, and I assume it will work about the same but without lightening the body quite as much as normal sugar would...how to quantify that, I really don't know.

Booster is about 80% fermentable, which isn't a whole lot different from an HME or UME.

This is a great thread, btw.

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Sirius DG

I am planning on making a Saison (sort of) with some leftovers I have. I will probally brew this after Christmas sometime. I was looking to substitute booster for the belgian candi sugar. What are your thoughts on this? here is the receipe I am working on.

1.4 lb can Alexanders Pale kicker
1.90 lbs Munich LME
1 pouch booster ( I also have 1 lb amber liquid candi sugar)

1/2oz Gr Spalt 40 mins
1/2oz Gr Spalt 25 mins
1 oz Tettang 7 mins

Wyeast 3711 French Saison yeast

I am torn because I initally was going to use Booster for this but I came across the candi sugar at a LHBS so I thought to use this instead BUT now I might save that for a Belgian that I might brew.

What are your thoughts on the booster vs candi for the Saison ?

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Zeke -- really glad you asked this, cuz I totally forgot to say something earlier about the candi sugar. The one exception to "All sugar ultimately is sugar" concept is the dark candi sugar...because it is truly caramelized sugar. You see, all that brown sugar we get in grocery stores...it is not really caramelized sugar. It is sugar with molassas added back to it. Different process, different flavor. So if I was making a darker beer, and wanted the flavor of caramelized sugar, THEN I may actually spring for the belgian candi.

Now, I have never made a saison, they are not my thing; but given the above as a guide, you know the color and flavor you want...if you think you may be making something else soon that you might like to lighten up in body while darkening in color (that really is the trick) save the candi for that, use the booster.

By the way, while researching the amber part a few minutes ago, I found this link, great reading related to this thread.

http://beervana.blogspot.com/2010/09/adjunct-that-dare-not-speak-its-name.html

Brew On!!

David

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SiriusDG wrote:

I have grown a lot through this experience, including understanding how shakey and inconsistent my processes still are. David

David, thanks so much for this; well written. I have had this page open in one of my tabs for 2 days trying to get the chance to read it, and now I have to catch up again but first wanted to comment quickly on this above:
I'm sure we can all say the same about our own inconsistencies, and I think it raves one more great point for the Mr.Beer refills. The consistency! For those that do like a brew, and want to stick with it, GL on trying to get it the same everytime, right from the beginning of your brewing experience. Again, thanks, and I hope I didn't just double what someone else has already said that I didn't get to reading yet. (just didn't want to forget to mention that part) ;-)

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SiriusDG wrote:

I have grown a lot through this experience, including understanding how shakey and inconsistent my processes still are. David

David, thanks so much for this; well written. I have had this page open in one of my tabs for 2 days trying to get the chance to read it, and now I have to catch up again but first wanted to comment quickly on this above:
I'm sure we can all say the same about our own inconsistencies, and I think it raves one more great point for the Mr.Beer refills. The consistency! For those that do like a brew, and want to stick with it, GL on trying to get it the same everytime, right from the beginning of your brewing experience. Again, thanks, and I hope I didn't just double what someone else has already said that I didn't get to reading yet. (just didn't want to forget to mention that part) ;-)

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David,

Thanks for the info. I am sticking with my orginal plan and going to use a full pouch of booster with this.

It is not truly a "saison" because there is too much Munich malt in it but I wanted to use up what I have in my inventory right now. I will save the candi sugar for a "true belgian" when I get around to making one ...hopefully this spring.

This will be my 3rd brew w/o an HME so far I have been pleased with the results of the last two.

:cheers:

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I successfully used Caramel Syrup, a darker form of Belgian Candi Sugar, in my Saranc Caramel Porter Clone recipe. Haven't tried a tester yet. Still too young.

The process was fun though! Before this, I didn't even know sugar could melt on it's own!

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Hey Dave,
Regarding the whole nurishment factor and thinning the beer, (mentioned in your head to head post, from the monks) how would sugar be as nurishing as grains? Does it come down to the simple fact that our body converts sugar (of any sort) to energy?

Secondly, As I began reading through your descriptions with a bit more intent and you mentioned the monks making it more drinkable, I related it to my very first 10.5% Imperial Stout (Founders). I poured this beer and it was like pouring oil, black as could be with thickness to match. I gotta say though, it was one of the tastiest stouts I've ever had. I was about done with it by time I finished my first bottle though. I almost felt a chalky lining to my mouth after that. haha

So, to make this beer "more drinkable" YET STILL have all of its flavor, is that a completely different railroad than making it as high in Gravity but with less Final Gravity? I mean, isn't FG what we are actually tasting in a brew? Isn't whatever's left that isn't just water, the stuff that gives it flavor and therefore, weight? It almost sounds to me like you were saying that yes, you start with a malty beer, then add more alcohol, er uh, excuse me, fermentalbe sugar than what you are supposed to have for it to taste right. I guess though, that statement would be defining "right" as tradition, wouldn't it.

Please help this rookie brewer understand the difference between taking a strong beer with extra sugar, and your begian style decriptions. Is it in the grain balance and proportions only, making it appear lighter than something else? thank you sir, much oblidged.

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REAL wrote:

Hey Dave,
Regarding the whole nurishment factor and thinning the beer, (mentioned in your head to head post, from the monks) how would sugar be as nurishing as grains? Does it come down to the simple fact that our body converts sugar (of any sort) to energy?

Secondly, As I began reading through your descriptions with a bit more intent and you mentioned the monks making it more drinkable, I related it to my very first 10.5% Imperial Stout (Founders). I poured this beer and it was like pouring oil, black as could be with thickness to match. I gotta say though, it was one of the tastiest stouts I've ever had. I was about done with it by time I finished my first bottle though. I almost felt a chalky lining to my mouth after that. haha

So, to make this beer "more drinkable" YET STILL have all of its flavor, is that a completely different railroad than making it as high in Gravity but with less Final Gravity? I mean, isn't FG what we are actually tasting in a brew? Isn't whatever's left that isn't just water, the stuff that gives it flavor and therefore, weight? It almost sounds to me like you were saying that yes, you start with a malty beer, then add more alcohol, er uh, excuse me, fermentalbe sugar than what you are supposed to have for it to taste right. I guess though, that statement would be defining "right" as tradition, wouldn't it.

Please help this rookie brewer understand the difference between taking a strong beer with extra sugar, and your begian style decriptions. Is it in the grain balance and proportions only, making it appear lighter than something else? thank you sir, much oblidged.

Dave is the real expert on these, but I think I know the answer to some of the questions you're asking.

You're not adding the sugar to make it more nourishing. You're adding the sugar because when you added all the ingredients that made it nourishing, you made it too thick, so you add the sugar to thin it out.

I think that's similar to what you're trying to do, but this part confuses me:


I mean, isn't FG what we are actually tasting in a brew? Isn't whatever's left that isn't just water, the stuff that gives it flavor and therefore, weight?

Not really. The flavor comes from all the various ingredients. the gravity readings just measure the thickness or weight of the brew. What's left after fermentation is water, unfermented sugars, alcohol and CO2 (and other things that contribute to the flavor).

OG and FG measure the specific gravity of your brew. In a way, they're representing the thickness of the liquid. Distilled water at 60F has a specific gravity of 1. When you add various sugars, you thicken the water, giving it a higher specific gravity. That's your OG.

Some of the sugars you add are fermentable, some aren't and some are partially fermentable. The yeast strain you use will also

Alcohol (specifically ethanol or ethyl alcohol) has a specific gravity of about .79. So when the yeast ferment the sugar, they take something that had a specific gravity more than 1 and change it to something that has a specific gravity of less than 1. There's still a lot that has a specific gravity more than one, though, so with beer, you'll never get below 1.0 FG (you can with things like cider and wine).

As the yeast ferments the sugars, the specific gravity drops because you've got the wort at 1.0xx mixing with the alcohol at .79.

If you have a very heavy/thick beer (meaning the FG is fairly high), sugar will thin it out because sugar is nearly 100% fermentable, so all of it will convert to the lower gravity of alcohol.

But keep in mind that the yeast strain plays a role also. If you're using something like Nottingham yeast, you will likely see more attenuation (more sugar converted to alcohol) than if you use the Mr Beer yeast. The Mr Beer yeast will ferment up to about 11% ABV, but as the ABV goes up, the attenuation goes down, so even though the yeast won't die, it won't convert as much sugar to alcohol. Other yeast will simply die as the alcohol level rises.

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First off Dave, let me say that after reading (and re-reading) your experiments, I'm getting a lot out of it.

The thing that's striking me the most is similar to what bpgreen mentioned. In most of the batches that I've used steeping grains, I've always tended to go with 1/2 lb. I admit, this was initially at the suggestion of the guy that ran the LHBS I got my grains from (RIP Epicurean Outpost :( ). Ever since then I've followed the same amount.

However, considering what you found out with your experiments, I'm starting to wonder if I'm overdoing it. None of the beers I steeped grains for have turned out bad, but this has me wondering if less is more when it comes to grains. :unsure:

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First off, sorry for the delay, life continues to be very busy.

Sugar, Nurishment, and thinning beer. Well, I agree a lot with what BPGreen said; however, I think it is important to keep in mind that the monks were making this beer for a very specific purpose, given the proper context. It was literally liquid bread, because as such, it was allowed for consumption during times of fasting. Therefore, regardless of whether it was yummy or not (which of course it was) they found, through trial and error, I would guess, how to adjust mashing and brewing to create a beer with a ton of non fermentable sugars, ergo higher level and ratio of complex carbs (even though they may not have thought of it as such) that would be filling and lasting and nutritive. Problem was it was also cloying and syrupy. Then they figured out how to fix that without having to mess with the mash, and while saving some coin in the process...add sugar.

As for the stout...yeah, I think that is a very valid consideration...brew up the worlds most grained out stout possible, keep your wort temps on the really high side to keep the non-fermentable sugars in the majority, then add sugar to the boil to bring the FG back to earth. Also raises the ABV. Should be killer. Hmmmm.....

As to your final questions, it is a bit muddy; Style and Tradition play big into this conversation. The stout I just described would be all wrong based on beer purity laws...so you would have to adjust the mash, and possibly the grain bill, to hit FG, but maybe that is not the stout you want to make. I think you are very close, because you start with a great beer, and then use the sugar to tweak FG, so all other considerations aside, I would say at this point you are using sugar properly. My concern is that normally, new brewers go the other way...they wanna cheap way to make a great beer, and sugar will NOT get you there.

Brew On!!

David

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Grains -- I gotta say, I am finding it hard to design a rule of thumb that works there. It depends on the grain, the beer, and your personal taste. But overall, I try to keep individual contributions under 1/2 lb, and overall grain additions under 2 lbs. Way under, unless I really think I need it.

Having said that though...I would toss in 1/2 lb of Crystal 10 and not blink. Into almost any MB recipe. Just gonna be a little better, IMHO. But if I was making a MB Stout, for instance, I would be VERY cautious about adding much Black Patent, or Crystal 120. Those are powerful tools, gotta be restrained. Mid level crystals as well, and Aromatic in my belgians...it really is very specific. Practice makes perfect, and is a helluva lot of fun.

Brew On!

David

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SiriusDG wrote:

Grains -- I gotta say, I am finding it hard to design a rule of thumb that works there. It depends on the grain, the beer, and your personal taste. But overall, I try to keep individual contributions under 1/2 lb, and overall grain additions under 2 lbs. Way under, unless I really think I need it.

Having said that though...I would toss in 1/2 lb of Crystal 10 and not blink. Into almost any MB recipe. Just gonna be a little better, IMHO. But if I was making a MB Stout, for instance, I would be VERY cautious about adding much Black Patent, or Crystal 120. Those are powerful tools, gotta be restrained. Mid level crystals as well, and Aromatic in my belgians...it really is very specific. Practice makes perfect, and is a helluva lot of fun.

Brew On!

David

SiriusDG I'm late to the party but thank you for sharing and starting such a great thread. The most steeping grains I've added to a MB sized batch of stout was about 5/8 lbs. Although I used DME in place of the St. Pat's Stout, which I found to be too earthy for my liking. As for steeping the Crystal 10, it really does help your beer's head retention and adds freshness to your beer.

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Yeah, somewhere along the way I totally dumped carapils in favor of Crystal 10. Kills two birds with one stone and makes life better all around. ;)

Brew On!!

David

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