How much Special B?

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Kingfisher4
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How much Special B?

Post by Kingfisher4 » Tue Dec 04, 2018 7:46 am

I am dipping my toe in the realms of recipe construction from scratch for the first time and would like to try to make something similar to Anspach and Hobday "The smoked brown".
I have never used Special B and suspect it can be overpowering but also is critical to the balance of this beer commercially.

What limits should I set for it's proportion? About 5-7% maybe?

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Re: How much Special B?

Post by MTW » Tue Dec 04, 2018 8:57 am

They list the malts as extra pale Maris Otter, Rauch, dark crystal and special B and the beer is 6% and 50 EBC. If that colour came equally from the dc and sB, then that would be around 7.5% of each in the grain bill; maybe just slightly more of the dc than sB (as sB is slightly darker). Seeing that the IBUs are relatively low too, that could be a pretty cloying beer!

I haven't had that beer, but I have brewed with 10% sB recently, and I know the taste of dc very well. Without any inside knowledge or a tested recipe, I would say you could have a stab at guessing that weighting (sb/dc) from raisiny/dark fruit (sb) vs warming, fireside, almost 'oakiness' (dc)... but that's just my perception, from beers I've had an brewed with heavy doses of each. Both can be cloying, both can be overdone, so I would say the US-05 yeast they list is pretty necessary to attenuate well; that's an easy one!

From the malts listed, I can't see that they would get to 50 EBC without well over 10% (probably nearer 14-15%) of the grains coming from those two malts combined, even if you allow a bit of colour from the rauch and some margin of error. Could be great, could be tricky!
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Re: How much Special B?

Post by Dave S » Tue Dec 04, 2018 8:59 am

Kingfisher4 wrote:
Tue Dec 04, 2018 7:46 am
I am dipping my toe in the realms of recipe construction from scratch for the first time and would like to try to make something similar to Anspach and Hobday "The smoked brown".
I have never used Special B and suspect it can be overpowering but also is critical to the balance of this beer commercially.

What limits should I set for it's proportion? About 5-7% maybe?
I would say 5-7% is might be too much. I've done a couple of bitters with a little Special B and find about 2-3% OK. I've also brewed a Belgian Dubbel with 6.5% where the Special B was very noticeable. I don't know the nature of the beer you are planning but be aware that 7% will make the Special B very prominent.
Best wishes

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Re: How much Special B?

Post by MTW » Tue Dec 04, 2018 10:16 am

In fairness, I guess if a very large proportion of the bill is rauch, then it would mean the 50 EBC would be reached without as much dark crystal or special B as I suggested above.
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Re: How much Special B?

Post by orlando » Tue Dec 04, 2018 10:46 am

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Re: How much Special B?

Post by Kingfisher4 » Tue Dec 04, 2018 1:07 pm

MTW wrote:
Tue Dec 04, 2018 10:16 am
In fairness, I guess if a very large proportion of the bill is rauch, then it would mean the 50 EBC would be reached without as much dark crystal or special B as I suggested above.
The proportion of Rauch is about the only other known quantity! Paul of A&H confirmed that is 30%. However, the Weyerman Rauch at the MM is only 5 EBC.

Thanks for all your replies already, I won’t be too worried if I don’t quite reach the EBC, So will probably go lighter on the two darker Malts to avoid overpowering or cloying results.

Will try US-05 as per their listed yeast, but if the first brew goes well I might be tempted to try MJ Empire Ale M15 next time.

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Re: How much Special B?

Post by Robwalkeragain » Tue Dec 04, 2018 2:56 pm

Yeah it's mega, 5-7% is probably about the upper limit.

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Re: How much Special B?

Post by Rubbery » Tue Dec 04, 2018 4:17 pm

I like Special B, but only at around 1%. More than 2% gives me an overpowering taste of prunes.

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Re: How much Special B?

Post by Rookie » Tue Dec 04, 2018 7:02 pm

If 1% isn't to your taste you can steep more and add it to the fv on day 5 or 6.
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Re: How much Special B?

Post by Kingfisher4 » Wed Dec 05, 2018 3:24 pm

On balance, I will probably try 3 or 4% sB with slightly more dark Crystal, hopefully, early in the New Year after installation of some sort of better temperature control for my fermentation.

Will report back in due course.

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Re: How much Special B?

Post by MTW » Thu Dec 06, 2018 10:53 pm

Just noticed Rob-the-Maltmiller's own recipe for an imperial brown ale, which features over 16% special B :shock:

Just that and pale malt.
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Re: How much Special B?

Post by Kingfisher4 » Fri Dec 07, 2018 12:24 am

MTW wrote:
Thu Dec 06, 2018 10:53 pm
Just noticed Rob-the-Maltmiller's own recipe for an imperial brown ale, which features over 16% special B :shock:

Just that and pale malt.
Wow! Pretty diverse answers from 1% to 16%!!

Looks like it will be a guess with a relatively modest percentage and hope it's drinkable then adjust from there, thanks again!

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Re: How much Special B?

Post by PhilB » Fri Dec 07, 2018 11:21 am

Hi MTW
MTW wrote:
Tue Dec 04, 2018 8:57 am
They list the malts as extra pale Maris Otter, Rauch, dark crystal and special B and the beer is 6% and 50 EBC. ... From the malts listed, I can't see that they would get to 50 EBC without well over 10% (probably nearer 14-15%) of the grains coming from those two malts combined, even if you allow a bit of colour from the rauch and some margin of error. Could be great, could be tricky!
... I think this might be one of those times where you'd need to consider how the commercial brewers (Anspach and Hobday) came to that 50EBC figure that they quoted ... because if they had the beer professionally analysed, or they calculated their recipe using the more accurate* MCU method of calculating colour, rather than the Morey method which I guess the software you use bases its calculations on, then they might find they can get that colour from much less of those dark malts than you would need :?

When I put the grain bill below (just 3% each of Special B and Dark Crystal) into Graham's Beer Engine software (which uses the MCU method of calculating colour), it suggests I would get a beer with the following vital statistics ...

Fermentable Colour lb: oz Grams Ratio
Pale Malt 5 EBC 8 lbs. 13.2 oz 4010 grams 64%
Rauch Malt 5 EBC 4 lbs. 2.2 oz 1880 grams 30%
Crystal Malt, Dark 300 EBC 0 lbs. 6.6 oz 185 grams 3%
Special B 400 EBC 0 lbs. 6.6 oz 185 grams 3%

Final Volume: 23 Litres
Original Gravity: 1.061
Final Gravity: 1.015
Alcohol Content: 6% ABV
Mash Efficiency: 75 %
Colour: 52 EBC

... hey Kingfisher, maybe you don't need to use all that much of that Special B after all. How dark is the beer? :?

Cheers, PhilB

* see there (link) for Graham Wheeler's explanation as to why Morey's equation is flawed ... and this mid to dark brown range is particularly problematic, because Morey and MCU tend to (roughly) agree with pale beers below around 20 EBC and you don't really need a number to tell you how black your black beer is, do you :?

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Re: How much Special B?

Post by MTW » Fri Dec 07, 2018 12:18 pm

PhilB wrote:
Fri Dec 07, 2018 11:21 am
Hi MTW
MTW wrote:
Tue Dec 04, 2018 8:57 am
They list the malts as extra pale Maris Otter, Rauch, dark crystal and special B and the beer is 6% and 50 EBC. ... From the malts listed, I can't see that they would get to 50 EBC without well over 10% (probably nearer 14-15%) of the grains coming from those two malts combined, even if you allow a bit of colour from the rauch and some margin of error. Could be great, could be tricky!
... I think this might be one of those times where you'd need to consider how the commercial brewers (Anspach and Hobday) came to that 50EBC figure that they quoted ... because if they had the beer professionally analysed, or they calculated their recipe using the more accurate* MCU method of calculating colour, rather than the Morey method which I guess the software you use bases its calculations on, then they might find they can get that colour from much less of those dark malts than you would need :?

When I put the grain bill below (just 3% each of Special B and Dark Crystal) into Graham's Beer Engine software (which uses the MCU method of calculating colour), it suggests I would get a beer with the following vital statistics ...

Fermentable Colour lb: oz Grams Ratio
Pale Malt 5 EBC 8 lbs. 13.2 oz 4010 grams 64%
Rauch Malt 5 EBC 4 lbs. 2.2 oz 1880 grams 30%
Crystal Malt, Dark 300 EBC 0 lbs. 6.6 oz 185 grams 3%
Special B 400 EBC 0 lbs. 6.6 oz 185 grams 3%

Final Volume: 23 Litres
Original Gravity: 1.061
Final Gravity: 1.015
Alcohol Content: 6% ABV
Mash Efficiency: 75 %
Colour: 52 EBC

... hey Kingfisher, maybe you don't need to use all that much of that Special B after all. How dark is the beer? :?

Cheers, PhilB

* see there (link) for Graham Wheeler's explanation as to why Morey's equation is flawed ... and this mid to dark brown range is particularly problematic, because Morey and MCU tend to (roughly) agree with pale beers below around 20 EBC and you don't really need a number to tell you how black your black beer is, do you :?
Great stuff, PhilB!

Your crystal and Special B are a shade darker than mine going into those calculations, but only by enough to make maybe 4 EBC difference. We'd all just have to taste the beer really, I know.
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Re: How much Special B?

Post by Kingfisher4 » Fri Dec 07, 2018 7:17 pm

PhilB wrote:
Fri Dec 07, 2018 11:21 am
Hi MTW
MTW wrote:
Tue Dec 04, 2018 8:57 am
They list the malts as extra pale Maris Otter, Rauch, dark crystal and special B and the beer is 6% and 50 EBC. ... From the malts listed, I can't see that they would get to 50 EBC without well over 10% (probably nearer 14-15%) of the grains coming from those two malts combined, even if you allow a bit of colour from the rauch and some margin of error. Could be great, could be tricky!
... I think this might be one of those times where you'd need to consider how the commercial brewers (Anspach and Hobday) came to that 50EBC figure that they quoted ... because if they had the beer professionally analysed, or they calculated their recipe using the more accurate* MCU method of calculating colour, rather than the Morey method which I guess the software you use bases its calculations on, then they might find they can get that colour from much less of those dark malts than you would need :?

When I put the grain bill below (just 3% each of Special B and Dark Crystal) into Graham's Beer Engine software (which uses the MCU method of calculating colour), it suggests I would get a beer with the following vital statistics ...

Fermentable Colour lb: oz Grams Ratio
Pale Malt 5 EBC 8 lbs. 13.2 oz 4010 grams 64%
Rauch Malt 5 EBC 4 lbs. 2.2 oz 1880 grams 30%
Crystal Malt, Dark 300 EBC 0 lbs. 6.6 oz 185 grams 3%
Special B 400 EBC 0 lbs. 6.6 oz 185 grams 3%

Final Volume: 23 Litres
Original Gravity: 1.061
Final Gravity: 1.015
Alcohol Content: 6% ABV
Mash Efficiency: 75 %
Colour: 52 EBC

... hey Kingfisher, maybe you don't need to use all that much of that Special B after all. How dark is the beer? :?

Cheers, PhilB

* see there (link) for Graham Wheeler's explanation as to why Morey's equation is flawed ... and this mid to dark brown range is particularly problematic, because Morey and MCU tend to (roughly) agree with pale beers below around 20 EBC and you don't really need a number to tell you how black your black beer is, do you :?
Hi PhilB,

That is fantastic, thank you. Your proportions will form the basis of my attempt to brew something like The A&H Smoked Brown, perhaps adjusted slightly as the EBC's of the darker 2 malts I will use are also slightly lower than your recipe above, but certainly no more than 4% each.

I was really only using the EBC as a way of guessing the malt ratios, I haven't yet progressed to recipe formulating software, having a Grainfather and plugging recipes into its software, which must also use the flawed Morey method too.

The original A&H beer was a mid brown, much lighter than my recent attempt at a low ABV mild based on Graham's Hopback Mild recipe; Graham quotes EBC of 92, the GF app calculates 33.4 but it is much darker than that!! I will certainly now start to explore Graham's beer engine software.

Graham's explanation is so clear and concise too; it reminds me of the flawed science and vehement defence of it which caused the massive decline in uptake of the measles vaccine; the only difference is that no-one will die, go deaf or get meningitis if my beer is paler or darker than the original, unlike a surge in measles caused by that other flawed science !!! Your recipe is much more likely to get to the right sort of ballpark reverse engineering from EBC using valid science though.

I plan to try this early in the New Year so thank you again for generously sharing that insight and wisdom.

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