Black Malt Overkill

The Homebrew Forum

Help Support The Homebrew Forum:

Miko

New Member
Joined
Apr 29, 2019
Messages
12
Reaction score
1
While ordering a custom grain kit I made the mistake of putting in 2 pounds of black malt instead of 2 ounces. I did not really look closely when I opened the grain bag and just added this grain mix to the mash...

What an interesting colour of this brown ale I'm making...

Anyway, I was too shocked to stop the process and since I have no replacement grain available I went on with the brew day, crying only inside.

It's been one day now, and it's now when I start thinking too much about my mistake. I'm worried that the mash pH is too low - although it shouldn't completely stop the yeast it is probably causing a long lag phase (I can easily imagine this could take 2-3 days before the fermentation kicks off).

But even though the wort tasted pretty wonderful (the sweetness was balancing the roasted flavour in a great way) I am suspecting the final product might taste like coal juice. Here's my grain bill:

6 lb Pale 2-Row
1/2 lb Toasted
1 lb Crystal
2 lb Chocolate (or 2 oz if you're not a halfwit)

Can you please share some advice, comments? I'm not experienced with brewing dark beer and this is obviously being a start to remember!
 

Miko

New Member
Joined
Apr 29, 2019
Messages
12
Reaction score
1
That was my first thought - but then I've got my doubts too since the quantities of dark malts seem pretty large even compared to some stout recipes I have seen in the past.
 
Joined
Aug 22, 2014
Messages
3,474
Reaction score
2,384
Location
North Pembs.
Well it's going to be very chocolatey, that's for sure! I've had as much as 7 oz of Choc malt in my usual brown ale and it was too much for me, but there again some people actually put real chocolate into their stouts...
Hope it isn't undrinkable. My current brew is a witbier (greg hughes recipe) and it tastes like s**t.
 

Argentum

Regular.
Joined
May 11, 2017
Messages
255
Reaction score
68
Location
N/E Ohio, USA
My thinking is that it will be quite drinkable. Chocolate malt is not black patent malt. It doesn't have anywhere near that sort of bitter/burnt edge to it. But I must preface this with a statement that I enjoy the Porter and Stout style(s).
 

Miko

New Member
Joined
Apr 29, 2019
Messages
12
Reaction score
1
I tasted the wort before pitching and it was actually pretty wonderful. It had a great balance of sweetness and acidity while giving a lot of chocolate aroma. That said, I'm afraid it does not really tell whether this will still be tasting good once the sugars are reduced and yeast do their work.

Also, I think the yeast may be now under stress, which can be another contributor to some funky notes and that could make the beer better or even worse. My lesson for next time (besides not being stupid) is to pay more attention to pH, especially for grain bills with a large percentage of dark malts that bring this acidity. I think if I had added something to bring up pH then the fermentation process would have been much healthier.
 

-Bezza-

Landlord.
Joined
Jan 3, 2018
Messages
1,515
Reaction score
783
Location
Surrey
I wonder if you should boil up a bit of lactose quickly and get that into the FV to keep some of that sweetness at the end?

No point stressing about it otherwise. It'll taste how it tastes.

Why do you think the yeast is under stress out of interest?

What was your OG / efficiency?
 

Miko

New Member
Joined
Apr 29, 2019
Messages
12
Reaction score
1
I wonder if you should boil up a bit of lactose quickly and get that into the FV to keep some of that sweetness at the end?

No point stressing about it otherwise. It'll taste how it tastes.

Why do you think the yeast is under stress out of interest?

What was your OG / efficiency?

OG of 1.055, with roughly 80% efficiency.

I think it may be under stress due to low pH just based on the fact that roasted malts make the water quite acidic. I think this amount of dark malts may drive pH quite low (although I don't think it would go below the 2.0 threshold that is often described as the minimum pH for yeast fermentation). I have not measured it and, in fact, this particular brew convinced me to buy a pH meter which I did yesterday.
 

foxbat

Landlord.
Joined
Nov 24, 2013
Messages
3,266
Reaction score
2,457
Location
Essex, UK
OK so which yeast did you use, how did you prepare it, what was your starting gravity and what temperature was the wort at when you pitched the yeast, what temperature has it been at since then?
 

Miko

New Member
Joined
Apr 29, 2019
Messages
12
Reaction score
1
I used British Ale II Wyeast 1335.

I did not make a starter - only smacked the nutrient pack and let it stand for about 2 hours.

I cooled the wort to about 19 degrees. The temperature rose to about 20.5 degrees but that is also the temperature of the environment (I realize that it may be due to yeast doing the work but it does not look like it).
 

foxbat

Landlord.
Joined
Nov 24, 2013
Messages
3,266
Reaction score
2,457
Location
Essex, UK
I used British Ale II Wyeast 1335.

I did not make a starter - only smacked the nutrient pack and let it stand for about 2 hours.

I cooled the wort to about 19 degrees. The temperature rose to about 20.5 degrees but that is also the temperature of the environment (I realize that it may be due to yeast doing the work but it does not look like it).
OK we're getting somewhere. What was the gravity when you pitched and what is the manufacturing date on the pack? If you can also tell us the volume of wort then it's easy to work out whether you underpitched. If you underpitched then the yeast will take more time to get started.
 

Miko

New Member
Joined
Apr 29, 2019
Messages
12
Reaction score
1
I have already thrown away the yeast packaging but I doubt it was manufactured too long ago - I ordered it last week from GetErBrewed. There is, of course, some likelihood that they gave out an old packet but I find it somewhat unlikely.

Otherwise, the volume of the wort is 20 litres post-boil.
 

-Bezza-

Landlord.
Joined
Jan 3, 2018
Messages
1,515
Reaction score
783
Location
Surrey
OG of 1.055, with roughly 80% efficiency.

I think it may be under stress due to low pH just based on the fact that roasted malts make the water quite acidic. I think this amount of dark malts may drive pH quite low (although I don't think it would go below the 2.0 threshold that is often described as the minimum pH for yeast fermentation). I have not measured it and, in fact, this particular brew convinced me to buy a pH meter which I did yesterday.

I'm far from an expert on these matters but the reasonable level of efficiency achieved would suggest to me that your pH has remained in the correct range.
 

Miko

New Member
Joined
Apr 29, 2019
Messages
12
Reaction score
1
What was the gravity when you pitched and what is the manufacturing date on the pack?

I actually found the packaging in the trash.

It says it's been produced on 13 November 2018. Now, according to a pitch rate calculator, this is basically dead yeast. The packaging, however, suggests that the yeast should be usable for up to 6 months after the manufacture date.

Edit: And obviously it needs a starter, so if it is alive at all it should take a few days before it kicks off.
 

foxbat

Landlord.
Joined
Nov 24, 2013
Messages
3,266
Reaction score
2,457
Location
Essex, UK
I actually found the packaging in the trash.

It says it's been produced on 13 November 2018. Now, according to a pitch rate calculator, this is basically dead yeast. The packaging, however, suggests that the yeast should be usable for up to 6 months after the manufacture date.

Edit: And obviously it needs a starter, so if it is alive at all it should take a few days before it kicks off.
Yes 6 months is the recommended best-before on these yeasts. A 2 stage starter would have been needed to get the recommended number of cells to ferment a 1.055 wort but it's too late for that now. I've stopped buying liquid yeast from suppliers that don't print the manufacturing date on the website. The Malt Miller do for some and will respond pretty much instantly to email requests about others where they don't show it. The-homebrew-shop do print the dates and I use them a lot.

If it were me I think I'd be pitching a rehydrated sachet of something reliable like Nottingham Yeast (aka. Wilko Gervin) as insurance to ensure it gets going before something undesirable takes hold and ferments it.
 

Miko

New Member
Joined
Apr 29, 2019
Messages
12
Reaction score
1
I never noticed that some of the shops do post the manufacture date online - I will now look for it next time I buy it.

I'll see how it does over the course of the next day and if it does not seem to be starting off I'll go out and get more healthy yeast.
 

Argentum

Regular.
Joined
May 11, 2017
Messages
255
Reaction score
68
Location
N/E Ohio, USA
I can't imagine it mashing at anything lower than a pH of ~4.9. Beta Amylase enzyme is OK with pH 4.9. Yeast are happy at pH 4.9, and should take it from there to about 4.0-4.1 pH.

Given ~50 ppm of calcium ions in the mash water I peg it at ~4.93 for the actual mash pH. And if there was alkalinity in the mash water, it would not even get this low in mash pH.
 
Last edited:

Hoppyland

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 18, 2015
Messages
999
Reaction score
513
Location
Dumfries & Galloway
You could always add some calcium carbonate to raise the pH. But then you'd really need to know what you're aiming for, and have a method of measuring it.
 
Top