We’re on the dark beer kick right now and there is no doubt about that. This week, we review a little experiment I did to try and sample different dark roasted malts side by side. I conceived of this roasted malt experiment in an attempt to shortcut the need to brew several beers all with different kinds of roasted malts.

Maybe it worked.

Maybe it didn’t.

I created a concentrate of each dark roasted malt in water. I finely crushed each malt in order to get the most extraction from them. I did some fancy math to approximate what it would be like to have about a pound of each malt in a finished beer. My plan was to doctor a commercial beer with a few tablespoons of the concentrate and compare the resulting flavor profiles.

Here are the steps I followed:

  • I ground 3 ounces of each malt
  • Steeped each in 8oz of water heated to 160°F
  • I separated the grain using coffee filters
  • I put each infusion into mason jars with a loose lid
  • I put them all in a water bath and boiled them for 30 minutes

I boiled the solutions partially to sanitize them as well as create any astringency that might have normally come from the boil. I capped and cooled each one. On the day of the tasting, I put 2 tablespoons of each infusion into 2 oz of Bass Ale. I chose Bass Ale thinking it would be a decent malty stout-like base beer to display each roasted malt against a low hop profile and decent malt backbone.

This project was a complicated and ambitious one to pull of in one video. We quickly sampled the doctored brews each one in succession. It became apparent pretty quickly that this shortcut wasn’t really going to work much.

First off all, the samples taste very grainy and unrefined. I tasted like something non-beer in beer. In addition, although the concentrate did create the color I was looking for, the small amount used diluted the base beer a bit too much and the balance was bad.

I think we could agree that there were some slight differences with intensity of the roast, but the subtle flavors that you’d expect to find in each malt just weren’t there. It may be because the base beer doesn’t support it well enough. Another reason could be the lack of a ferment and resting stage, both of which work towards creating one beer flavor experience rather than a layered swill that I created. I sort of favor that latter as to what happened to make this not work well.

So it’s sort of back to the drawing board experimentally. I think I might have to pick the three that I really want to compare side by side and use John’s one gallon process and actually make real beers and try then out that way.

Perhaps it is a project over the holidays.

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