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Author Replies
SteveG
12/03/07 04:06 PM  
Kettle carmelization
I'd heard this term first like 10 years ago. I remeber reading about how makers of Scottish ales prefer carmelizing in the pot to using caramel malt. But none of the sources I'd seen refer to this ever described "carmelizing in the pot". It was like they all copied it from each other without ever acquiring an understanding of what it meant. I had a chance to ask John Hansell once, editor of the Malt Advocate (the first place I'd seen this). He said it means they boil longer.

So the Mild recipe was cool - it involved two things I'd never done before. One was to use hops via a hop tea, the other called for removing 1/2 gallon of pre-boiled wort and reducing it to a quart. Then yesterday I had a Barclay Perkins 1804 porter Al provided where he did this to an extreme, he boiled a quart of wort down to goo. Super rich beer, I can sure see how this practice impacts the final product. I wonder if this is actually what kettle carmelization is? If its not, it probably should be.

Funny, by coincidence its exactly what I did with my last cider experiment!!

Jimbo
12/03/07 04:45 PM  
Re: Kettle carmelization
I read somewhere (Radical Brewing, maybe?) of a process where brewers (I believe scottish) would preheat the brew kettle before it received the wort. When the wort hit the hot kettle, it would caramelize a bit of it before the rest of the wort stabilized the temp. Then the usual boil would occur. This led to lots of unfermentable caramelized stuff in the wort. It sounds a little dangerous to me and I think I would use the about techniques instead, but it might be what they mean by "caramelizing in the pot."
ErikH
12/03/07 08:29 PM  
Re: Kettle carmelization
While I have always understood the general term 'kettle caramelization' to refer to darkening of the work and some production of unfermentable sugars during the boil, the technique you describe (reserve work separately and reduce) certainly has been referenced elsewhere.

I have seen it in a number of Traquair House clone recipes, and I think maybe the book Jimbo is referring to may actually be Greg Noonan's "Scotch Ale" from the Brewers Publications Classic Beer Style series. I have inadvertently done this to extremes with burned/roasty as well as caramel-like results, but also did it to good effect in a Scotch Ale attempt last spring. It definitely added a perceptible cooked-sugar sweetness reminiscent of molasses or hard candy to me.

ErikH
12/03/07 08:30 PM  
Re: Kettle carmelization
Whoops - read "wort" for "work" as written twice above!
BenH
12/04/07 04:15 AM  
Re: Kettle carmelization
As I understand it, the purpose of what is referenced as kettle carmelization is the production of maillard reactions to the sugars in the wort resulting in a complex "carmelized" flavor commonly found in scotish ales. Here is the best definition that I found online.

"The Maillard reaction is a chemical reaction between an amino acid and a reducing sugar, usually requiring heat. Like caramelization, it is a form of non-enzymatic browning. The reactive carbonyl group of the sugar interacts with the nucleophilic amino group of the amino acid, and interesting but poorly characterized odor and flavor molecules result. This process accelerates in an alkaline environment because the amino groups do not neutralize. This reaction is the basis of the flavoring industry, since the type of amino acid determines the resulting flavor.

In the process, hundreds of different flavor compounds are created. These compounds in turn break down to form yet more new flavor compounds, and so on. Each type of food has a very distinctive set of flavor compounds that are formed during the Maillard reaction. It is these same compounds that flavor scientists have used over the years to create artificial flavors.

Although used since ancient times, the reaction is named after the chemist Louis-Camille Maillard who investigated it in the 1910s."

mallace
12/04/07 07:37 AM  
Re: Kettle carmelization
I experimented for the first time trying to achieve carmelization a couple months ago. I gave a biere de garde a vigorous 150-minute boil, with no extra steps such as reducing wort or sizzling it into a preheated kettle. My kettle does have a fairly thin bottom, and I had noticed patches of scorched crud on the bottom after previous boils, so I decided to try to maximize that effect. The resulting beer tastes, in a pleasant way, like burnt marshmallows, or at least like home-made caramel that's taken to a really, really, dark color.
Jimbo
12/04/07 12:25 PM  
Re: Kettle carmelization
As it turns out, I was only partially correct. The reference to heating a kettle prior to wort addition was from Radical Brewing (pg.199), but apparently it was an old German brewmaster trick. The reference to "kettle caramelization" came just before it in the text and did indeed refer to a longer boil.
SteveG
12/04/07 03:41 PM  
Re: Kettle carmelization
I actually tried the pre-heated kettle bottom once. I think you really need your timing down here, I ended up with scortch. I'm sure if I did it a few times I would understand the rules as they apply to my set up and could maximize the effect. Actually I like the steinbier approach here better, heating a couple rocks and dropping them into the pre-boiling wort. Seems like scortching would not be a risk then. Not so sure that practical for the home brewer though!

I have to say, I think the practice of pulling off some wort and super-reducing it is a way better idea. It sounds though that this might not actually count as a form of kettle carmelization. I think it should though, its very effective and does not risk the whole pot of wort.

Dave I
12/04/07 03:49 PM  
Re: Kettle carmelization
<<I have to say, I think the practice of pulling off some wort and super-reducing it is a way better idea. It sounds though that this might not actually count as a form of kettle carmelization. I think it should though, its very effective and does not risk the whole pot of wort.>>

Apparently it works great, especially for Scotch Ales and Barleywines. If you try a search for scotch or scottish and caramelization or caramel over at the Northerbrewer or Tastybrew forums you can read successful accounts of homebrewers doing that (caramelizing 1 gallon down to about a pint, sometimes camamelizing than liquid than that, never more that I have read about).

I tried it in one of my Barleywines brewed this summer, can't remember which one off the top of my head. I should sample it and see how it turned out; hydrometer samples of both of the ones I did turned out nice, but I have not tried them properly aged or tasted for caramelization yet, just for how they were smoothing out.

-Cheers

Jimbo
12/04/07 05:50 PM  
Re: Kettle carmelization
Truth be told, I didn't like the sound of the preheated kettle either, but I initially thought it may have been the process refered to in the first post. It is not, however. The carmelizing of a small amount of wort in a separate pan sounds much safer. Dropping hot rocks in scares me a bit as well. They can shatter violently in this situation. I wonder if metal could be used instead; a sort of "wort branding iron?"
TedJ
12/04/07 09:57 PM  
Re: Kettle carmelization
When our group of ten did a wee heavy for a bourbon barrel, part of the plan was to carmelize a portion of the wort based on previous experience that Dave Houseman had. Most did the separate boil down, but being lazy I did it in the kettle. I have a thick sandwich bottom kettle so when I was finished recircing, I fired up the burner about halfway then started running off into the empty kettle. As it spread across the bottom the thin layer started to "boil" in the center and it continued to do so for about 5 minutes. It was not too hard to judge how much flame was needed to balance the boil so that it would reduce the incoming liquid but not scorch/burn. Just like reducing a sauce in pan. Stiring helped to control the level of boil. As the level rose the boil died down to a gentle boil and I maintained that until the kettle was almost full and cranked it back up for the full rolling boil.

It did add to overall flavors of the wee heavy.

Jim K
12/05/07 03:42 PM  
Re: Kettle carmelization
Actually Steve, we were supposed to go from 1/2 gallon to a pint. I did a 10 gallon batch so I went from 1 gallon down to a quart. When you added your caramelized wort to the kettle was it nice and thick? It should have looked like melted caramel when poured. Very cool. I had to rinse my seperate pot with boiling wort to get it all out and into the kettle.
SteveG
12/05/07 04:50 PM  
Re: Kettle carmelization
Oh crap, it was supposed to be a pint. It was not gooey, but it really had a great aroma of caramel. Man, not one of my slicker brew days!!
Jim K
12/05/07 09:54 PM  
Re: Kettle carmelization
"Man, not one of my slicker brew days!!"

I am going to guess the beer turns out real good though. Looking forward to trying it.

SteveG
12/09/07 08:45 PM  
Re: Kettle carmelization
OK, for the porter I think I got it right. Went from a quart to ... actually I don't know, maybe a pint. I reduced it till it seemed like I should stop. The pot went from simmering porter-colored wort to this...

www.babblebelt.com/newboard/brew_resource/kettle_carm.jpg

It was a bit like the dark candy syrup actually. Felt nice pouring that in the pot!

ErikH
12/10/07 06:45 PM  
Re: Kettle carmelization
Wow, Steve. Nice pics on this and the ambient - really, sometimes they are worth 1K words.

I remember seeing a stage like you show during an unintentional boil-down, but by the time it looked like your photo (almost a skin forming on top), the bottom was irreparably scorched black. Sounds like you mananged to arrest this Maillard meltdown at just the right moment - quite a feat!

Al B
12/10/07 08:56 PM  
Re: Kettle carmelization
Yeah, thats the ticket........if ya ain't careful, it goes black/burnt real fast.....sorta like roux. Stirring it does prolong the Maillards and delay burning. Yeah!
BPotts
12/11/07 09:08 AM  
Re: Kettle carmelization
Looks like the old beer I boiled down not too long ago...
Ryan
12/11/07 02:04 PM  
Re: Kettle carmelization
Inspired: today I brewed a Belgian strong dark (sort of a dubble thing) and when I had transferred the wort to the fermenter I still had about 2 liters of wort in the kettle, so I syphoned it out and am now boiling it down to syrup that I will use to incrementally feed in a couple of day. the wort in the fermenter is at 1078 so I guess I'll call this a Quadd?

Any idea if there will be side effects of having chilled the wort prior to boiling it down?

John F
12/15/07 11:22 PM  
Re: Kettle carmelization
Although it's been years since I've done it (caramelizing, that is), it is a great method to enhance the maltiness in a given beer. The method to reduce wort was described in detail in the 1995 Zymurgy "Great Grain Special Issue." It would be great in Scotch Ales and perhaps Old Ales or strong pale ales.
ChrisPr
12/17/07 11:28 PM  
Re: Kettle carmelization
Exactly. It's all about the Maillard reaction. I use kettle carmelization in both Scotch/Scottish-style ales and, occasionally, a little bit in an Oktoberfest or Bock (I prefer to keep them on the lighter side color wise and like these flavors in my German lagers).

Just make sure to not have one of those foamy boil overs. Plus, the more sugar in solution, the more Maillard, meaning more carmel flavors. So, this is a great thing to do with your first runnings. Just boil the hell out of it (without a boilover) until it has the consistency of thick maple syrup, and add it back into the boil kettle. This definitely gives some nice flavors, especially to anything Scottish.

Ryan
12/18/07 06:37 AM  
Re: Kettle carmelization
Why only Scottish beers?

I repeat my above Q. Will this serve me well in a Dubbel? It seems that the carmel flavors would be desirable.

Al B
12/18/07 07:38 AM  
Re: Kettle carmelization
I just did alittle caramelization on a dubbel this past weekend. The grist had no crystal malt. The caramlizing of the first runnings (about a quart) also included black figs + some of the soft candi sugars/syrups too. I think its important not to use much crystal or none at all - it'll be too cloying and not as dry.

Al Brune

Al B
12/18/07 07:43 AM  
Re: Kettle carmelization
<<I think its important not to use much crystal or none at all - it'll be too cloying and not as dry.>>

- for a dubbel, that is - a mild is mild

SteveG
12/18/07 09:20 AM  
Re: Kettle carmelization
>>Why only Scottish beers?<<

Ryan, that's the kind of question I hope people will ask here. Like with the candi sugar/syrup. There was a suggestion that the 4 groups all do Belgian styles cause that's what the stuff was made for. I think it was made for brewing though, its a Belgian product so they use it but if its made for brewing why not see how else it can work. Same for the reduction approach IMO. I can understand associating such a technique with Scottish brewing, they are reportedly into kettle carmelization in lieu of crystal malts. But if it works then why only Scottish beers indeed.

Ryan
12/18/07 11:48 AM  
Re: Kettle carmelization
<<I think its important not to use much crystal or none at all - it'll be too cloying and not as dry.>>

Oh crap. I had a pound of Special B in there in addition to the amber candi syrup. Do you think thats too mucho?

Ryan
12/18/07 11:49 AM  
Re: Kettle carmelization
SteveG

I wonder if with a beer like Westy 12, a beer that purportedly has only base malt and dark sugar some say, whether kettle caremlization is responsible for the richness of flavors and color?

SteveG
12/18/07 12:03 PM  
Re: Kettle carmelization
Great thing about being a beer maker ... you can find out!! Its probably worth mentioning though that from what I understand of monks openness I would take any recipe direction with a grain of salt. I once saw a thread with two guys insisting they knew the recipe to Rochefort 10. Both conflicting, but straight from the mouth of a Rochefort monk. Sounds like a great experiment though.
 
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