Author Topic: Need to lower the sweetness  (Read 2758 times)

Offline kw642

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Need to lower the sweetness
« on: April 30, 2019, 07:17:11 AM »
I came across an English Bitter recipe and it turned out really nice.  The way I would like to tweak it is to lower the sweetness.  Base malt is 2-row, then I added a 1/3 of a pound of the the following:
Special B
Caramel/Crystal - 120L
Aromatic Malt

Any suggestions on how do adjust those to lower the sweetness?

Offline dtapke

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Re: Need to lower the sweetness
« Reply #1 on: April 30, 2019, 07:52:07 AM »
you added 1/3 of a pound to how much base malt? what size recipe? whats your starting and finishing gravity? I brew between 15 and 32 gallons, 1/3 of a pound won't make much difference in a 32g batch, but i've got a friend who brews 1g biab batches,, 1/3 of a pound would be a large portion of the grain bill in that case.

Upload the .BSMX file and perhaps we can help you out a bit. Otherwise, the only help I can provide would be to use a higher attenuating yeast, adjust your mash temperature to capitalize on fermentable sugars, add some enzymes to the fermentation, or reduce the "1/3 of a pound malts" appropriately.

without knowing how it was brewed, accurate temperatures and gravity readings... there's nothing I can help you with.
32g eHERMS
Drinking: Dopplebock, NEIPA, Pils
Primary: empty
Secondary/Lagering:
Next Brew: RIS

Offline kw642

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Re: Need to lower the sweetness
« Reply #2 on: April 30, 2019, 07:59:07 AM »
It was a 5 gallon batch with roughly 9 3/4 lbs base.  Can't remember if we reached it, but we were aiming for 1.040 OG and a final gravity of 1.016

Offline dtapke

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Re: Need to lower the sweetness
« Reply #3 on: April 30, 2019, 08:02:16 AM »

Upload the .BSMX file and perhaps we can help you out a bit.

Otherwise, the only help I can provide would be to use a higher attenuating yeast, adjust your mash temperature to capitalize on fermentable sugars, add some enzymes to the fermentation, or reduce the "1/3 of a pound malts" appropriately.

without knowing how it was brewed, accurate temperatures and gravity readings... there's nothing I can help you with.
32g eHERMS
Drinking: Dopplebock, NEIPA, Pils
Primary: empty
Secondary/Lagering:
Next Brew: RIS

Offline Oginme

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Re: Need to lower the sweetness
« Reply #4 on: April 30, 2019, 08:47:10 AM »

Upload the .BSMX file and perhaps we can help you out a bit.

Otherwise, the only help I can provide would be to use a higher attenuating yeast, adjust your mash temperature to capitalize on fermentable sugars, add some enzymes to the fermentation, or reduce the "1/3 of a pound malts" appropriately.

without knowing how it was brewed, accurate temperatures and gravity readings... there's nothing I can help you with.

There are several ways to decrease the amount of residual sweetness, as dtapke stated, also add to the list changing your water chemistry to favor sulfates and increasing the bitterness which can be accomplished through water chemistry, more hops, or different yeast choice as also on the list.  Upload the recipe in importable format and we can look at it to help with the best way to approach reduction of apparent sweetness.

Recycle your grains, feed them to a goat!

Offline Kevin58

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Re: Need to lower the sweetness
« Reply #5 on: April 30, 2019, 10:35:19 AM »
I brew a lot of traditional English styles and I have never used a crystal or caramel in the 120L range in a bitter. Most traditional bitter recipes (that I've collected) rely on pale malt/pale ale malt along with some sugars like invert. Adjuncts such as maize and oats are not uncommon but in small amounts.
If you?re stressing over homebrewing, you?re doing something wrong.
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Offline Oginme

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Re: Need to lower the sweetness
« Reply #6 on: April 30, 2019, 10:57:38 AM »
I've seen some recipes with either C-120 or Special B in them, but usually at pretty low amounts and not both in the same recipe.  Brings in a hint of burnt dried fruit, similar I think to the darker invert syrups that some British brewers use.  Needless to say, without a look at the recipe and mash schedule any suggestions are really full on guesses. 
Recycle your grains, feed them to a goat!

Offline dtapke

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Re: Need to lower the sweetness
« Reply #7 on: April 30, 2019, 11:18:33 AM »
Kevin, I've actually used small amounts of carafa I on one I've brewed, as well as light bits of special B for some darker fruit flavors/aromas. This being an outlier and not the norm of course.

Usually one would use malts in the 30-50 lovibond or below, however for me i find they're best if done with just a solid base malt and very light additions of crystal in the 20-40 range. But "sweetness" can be altered so many ways. I've got a beer i mash at 160F that comes out with a lot of residual sweetness even with minimal additions of low kilned specialties. it could be he used a yeast that only attenuated out partially. White labs ESB yeast (1968? i think??) only attenuates around 65-70%, subbing a yeast with a higher attenuation could change the beer drastically as well in this case. I think even the WLP002 only attenuates to 65% as well?

Knowing the recipe, and method, is the only way to make any significant alterations. Even better would be understanding how all of these aspects work together to make the beer you want. Personally I love suggesting grabbing some books, or listening to some podcasts to learn how each ingredient and aspect of brewing effects the resulting beer.

I'd love to know more about the beer that was brewed so that I can help the brewer learn what needs to change; more importantly to learn WHY those things need to change, as thats the only way to improve upon the brewers abilities. Anyone can follow a recipe, but only those with this kind of knowledge can create a recipe that ends how they want. Understanding what 1.014 means as far as "sweetness" goes is a major aspect, and it doesn't seem as though KW even knows if his beer finished at 1.014? perhaps his OG was high? perhaps his FG was high? perhaps the beer didn't finish all the way?

I've been brewing for 10-15 years or so, and I'm still learning constantly, I would much rather someone explained to me WHY my beer didn't finish how i expected it to, than to just tell me what i should do differently.


As far as brewing "traditional ales" and brewing beers to style, I really enjoyed the book "The Secrets of Master Brewers" as it discusses the styles brewed, provides insight as to why they brew the way they do, and then provides recipes for someone to try.


Personally, I'd change the whole mash of what he described. Using predominately Maris Otter, Vienna, or even some Munich as a base (if i can reach the diastatic power to convert), with light additions of biscuit malt, Invert sugar as desired. But i've tried to shy away from generic pale malts as much as possible.
32g eHERMS
Drinking: Dopplebock, NEIPA, Pils
Primary: empty
Secondary/Lagering:
Next Brew: RIS

Offline kw642

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Re: Need to lower the sweetness
« Reply #8 on: May 01, 2019, 06:23:47 AM »
As always, thanks for all feedback.  I'm unable to get the recipe exactly as we did it, but I've tried to replicate it as close as possible.  I did enjoy it so I'll try it again, taking better notes this time.

Offline Oginme

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Re: Need to lower the sweetness
« Reply #9 on: May 01, 2019, 08:10:18 AM »
Interesting recipe.  I have attached a clone recipe for Wells Bombadier based upon the notes from an interview with the brewer.  They do a strange mashing schedule with a base amount of malts mashed at a very high temperature for the body and flavor and then achieve the fermentability and abv content from the invert sugars and simple sugars they add.  I would need to look up the interview to double check, but I believe that they used sucrose over dextrose.  I've attached the clone recipe as was developed on the Can You Brew It podcast from the Brewing Network. 

Looking at your recipe, the first thing I would do to cut down on the residual sweetness is to bring the hops up and target your IBU for around 30-ish.  Since you are going at this all-grain with your version, your mash temperature around the 152 F to 154 F should work OK.  You can always drop it a little bit to go drier in finish.  I would also consider dropping the C-120 for an English crystal of mid range color Simpson's medium or Crisp light crystal.  The special B would supply enough of a hint of dark raisins, prunes, etc. and the medium crystals would fill out the flavor a bit.



Recycle your grains, feed them to a goat!

Offline dtapke

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Re: Need to lower the sweetness
« Reply #10 on: May 01, 2019, 08:16:22 AM »
"Warning - while you were typing a new reply has been posted. You may wish to review your post."

argh. beat me to it.

without doing the weird stuff wells & young does, I would drop to a "light body" infusion, up your hops, make sure your "UK pale malt" has enough diastatic power to convert your starches (Some aren't fully modified)  and swap out either the special b or the crystal 120 for something in the mid range, or perhaps biscuit malt is what i would use.
32g eHERMS
Drinking: Dopplebock, NEIPA, Pils
Primary: empty
Secondary/Lagering:
Next Brew: RIS

Offline Oginme

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Re: Need to lower the sweetness
« Reply #11 on: May 01, 2019, 08:48:11 AM »
"Warning - while you were typing a new reply has been posted. You may wish to review your post."

argh. beat me to it.

without doing the weird stuff wells & young does, I would drop to a "light body" infusion, up your hops, make sure your "UK pale malt" has enough diastatic power to convert your starches (Some aren't fully modified)  and swap out either the special b or the crystal 120 for something in the mid range, or perhaps biscuit malt is what i would use.

Considering that it took me the better part of an hour to put that post together (work is such a distraction around here!), I'm surprised I got mine in first.

Recycle your grains, feed them to a goat!

Offline Kevin58

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Re: Need to lower the sweetness
« Reply #12 on: May 01, 2019, 09:35:46 AM »
I went back through my recipe archive of English styles and find that quite a few use crystal after World War II. I've been mostly brewing from the 1800's collection I've gathered from Ron Pattinson. http://barclayperkins.blogspot.com/ so that's whee I was coming from in my first response.

Most of the recipes I have which do have crystal in them however only use from 3% to 5%. Then again, my collection starts to peter out after WWII. For a more modern bitter, here is a snapshot of a page from the Fullers of London brew log (January, 2018) which has their Chiswick Bitter listed. Fullers always partigyles their ESB and London Pride (they both use the exact same grist). Bitter is not always produced but when it is it comes from a third gyle of the same mash. It is 94% pale ale malt, 4% crystal 150L, and 2% chocolate or black malt. Note that the page from the log doesn't indicate 150L... I got that from an interview with John Keeling who was head brewer at Fullers until a couple of  years ago.  https://twitter.com/FullersHayley/status/946762356914352133

The takeaway is; be careful using crystal malts in the higher lovibond range. There is something called "the harsh zone" which could impart undesirable flavors. Keep the percentage small unless the characteristic a larger amount imparts is something you are striving for in the finished beer. https://beersmith.com/blog/2017/08/31/harsh-zone-crystal-and-colored-malts-in-beer-brewing/
If you?re stressing over homebrewing, you?re doing something wrong.
- Denny Conn

Offline Oginme

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Re: Need to lower the sweetness
« Reply #13 on: May 01, 2019, 09:52:30 AM »
You have to be careful to specify the malt brand when you look at crystal malts such as Special B.  Dingeman's special B is in the 140L to 150L range.  I much prefer the Chateau brand's version which typically runs closer to the C-120 range falling in at around 98L to 120L.  For both of these, I agree with Kevin58 to stay below 5% to prevent some of the harsher flavors which can come from the darker crystals.  The impression of raisins and plums seems to be much more intense when you are at lower levels of 3% or 4% as well.  Maybe because the higher levels it is overtaken by the harsher, acrid burnt fruit flavors.
« Last Edit: May 01, 2019, 10:10:08 AM by Oginme »
Recycle your grains, feed them to a goat!

Offline kw642

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Re: Need to lower the sweetness
« Reply #14 on: May 01, 2019, 10:18:34 AM »
Thanks again.  Unfortunately, I can't open bsmx files from the discussion boards.  Anyone else ever run into this?