Can I use 100% Gambrinus Honey Malt as a base malt?

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My LHBS is completely out of regular base malt -- no 2-row or 6-row.
(In the future I'll call first to check, but who would have figured?)
Anyway, since it is about 35 miles one-way and I was already there, and
because I was real disappointed since I definitely want to brew this
weekend, he suggested that I could use Gambrinus Honey Malt instead of
the usual 2-row pale, and that this would still make a reasonable beer.
  I have never used honey malt before, but I went ahead and purchased 10
pounds to brew a 5-gallon batch; however, now that I've searched a bit
on the Internet, I'm getting the distinct impression that this is NOT
appropriate as a base malt -- that it has an intense malt sweetness and
shouldn't comprise more than 20% of the grain bill.  I've searched and
can't find a website for the company, so I haven't been able to find out
anything specific such as whether it has sufficient diastatic power to
convert a pile of oatmeal or anything like that.  As far as I can tell,
it is something like a Munich malt -- which I have never used before
either -- and I think it is also referred to as a German "bruhmalt", if
that helps anyone here understand what it is.  Even my brewing software
is of no help in this.

I don't want to end up with a lousy brew, wasting a lot of my time and
money.  I'm afraid I probably ought to skip brewing until I can get a
regular base malt and just save the Gambrinus to use more appropriately
later.  But any suggestions are very welcome.  Thanks.

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Re: Can I use 100% Gambrinus Honey Malt as a base malt?

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I thought I had found their website once as I had picked up a sack each of
their pale & ESB malts and needed specs for them, but I'm not finding
anything more than a street address and phone numbers anywhere.

I found this in a post at

   Malt sweetness and honey like flavour and aroma make it perfect for any
   specialty beer. The closest comparison is a light caramel, but Honey Malt
   has a flavour of its own: sweet and a little bit nutty. Made by
   restricting the oxygen flow during the sprouting process, Honey Malt is
   essentially self-stewed. When the oxygen is cut off, the grain bed heats
   up, developing sugars and rich malt flavours. The malt is lightly kilned
   for a color color profile of 25 SRM and is devoid of astringent roast
   flavors. Honey malt has a diastatic power of 50, and can convert itself
   but not additional adjuncts. It is best mashed with a base malt. Use up
   to 25% in specialty beers for a unique flavour.

Other sites recommend using no more than 20%, so I suspect you're best off
not trying to use it as a base malt.

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Re: Can I use 100% Gambrinus Honey Malt as a base malt?

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I'll second the low temp mash, but give it an upper limit of 150F.  You
could also dry out the cloying sweetness with some sugar to lower the T.G.
for a given alcohol content.  Don't know if I'd go too citrusy, as it may
enhance the sweetness a bit.  I'd try more along the lines of Magnum,
Northdown, Perle, or N. Brewer for bittering.  Maybe even Nugget to bring
perhaps a little pineyness (is that a word).

If you wanted another way to balance it and could go amber to dark, use
Carafa or even Black Patent sparingly to dry it a bit.

Personally, I'd wait.
John Heubel

Re: Can I use 100% Gambrinus Honey Malt as a base malt?

I want to thank everyone for their various responses; although a few
brewers suggested that it might be okay to use 100% Honey Malt, or that
I ought to proceed as an experiment, the vast majority of replies that
I've received throughout the various forums I consulted were clearly
that Honey Malt should _NOT_ be used as a base malt, and that more than
10 to 20% would probably ruin the beer.  Since my time is worth more
than the ingredients, I decided to forego any "experiments" with such a
thing and postponed my brewing.  The next time I visited my LHBS, he
asked how my brew turned out; I explained that I did a bit of Internet
research first, and that the overwhelming concensus was that this should
not be done.  His reply was that he has done it before, and he knows a
couple of brewers who actually prefer to use the Honey Malt as a base
malt, but I imagine it's just a matter of different strokes for
different folks.  I'd really need to try one of those brews before I'd
go against the clear weight of opinion among so many experienced brewers
in these forums, especially considering that some brokers of this malt
also suggest that it comprise only a small percentage of the grist.

Anyway, I was a bit shocked that on my return visit to my LHBS, which
was more than a week after my prior visit when he was completely out of
base malt.  He had received a shipment in the interum, but because he
had such a 'limited supply', he wasn't selling full bags to any of his
customers ... plus the price was a shocker, too.  I bought 20 pounds of
Briess 2-row pale malt, milled, and had to pay $1.35 per pound; the
previous price had been $1.10/pound ($55.00 for a 50 pound sack).  He
said that the price of malt has gone up and is expected to get even
higher.  That news, on top of the recent news that hops prices are
expected to climb dramatically, is very disappointing.  I've always
tried to support my LHBS, but if he is charging a _significantly_ higher
price than I can find online, then maybe I ought to look elsewhere.
What is the current typical price for base malts?  Thanks.


Bill Velek

Re: Can I use 100% Gambrinus Honey Malt as a base malt?

Bill Velek wrote:

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Hop and malt proces are already on the rise, and will continue to go
up.  I've heard tto expect increases as much as 70%.


Life begins at 60...1.060, that is.

Rising prices of malt and hops
Denny Conn wrote:

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Hi, Denny.  Along those lines, another brewer just sent me a copy of
this Wall Street Journal Article (I don't know when it was published),
which is VERY dismal news for all of us:

**Copy and pasted from The Wall Street Journal Online**

Why Price Increases Are Brewing for Craft Beers

That six pack of high-brow beer is about to come at a higher price,
thanks to the sharpest surge in decades in the cost of the hops and
barley that give each brew its distinctive taste.

Consumers could pay 50 cents to $1 per six pack more in the coming
months for many small-batch "craft beers," as brewers pass on rising
hops and barley costs from an unpalatable brew of poor harvests, the
weak dollar and farmers' shift to more profitable crops. Other makers of
craft beers, the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. brewing industry,
say they may eat the higher ingredient costs, which will pare their profits.

"The hops are to Samuel Adams what grapes are to wine," says Jim Koch,
founder of Boston Beer Co., maker of Samuel Adams Boston Lager, one of
America's fastest-growing beers. The company has raised its prices just
over 3% this year to help offset the hops and barley costs. Mr. Koch
says that for next year, the company is "probably looking at the same or
maybe more."

"The cost increases have been the largest we've ever faced, both in
barley and in hops," says Mr. Koch, who founded the company in 1984. The
company only buys hops that are grown on several thousand acres in
Bavaria, and the crop has been smaller in the past two years, making
them more expensive, Mr. Koch says.

The cost pressures could slow the expansion of American craft brewers,
which account for about 5% of U.S. beer revenue, and even put some
smaller ones out of business. Craft-beer makers also are battling other
cost increases, including higher prices for glass, cardboard, gasoline
and the stainless steel used to make beer kegs. "People are very
concerned," says Kim Jordan, co-founder of Colorado's New Belgium
Brewing Co., which makes Fat Tire Amber Ale, a top-selling craft beer.
"It significantly affects profitability."

Big American brewers like Anheuser-Busch Cos. and SABMiller PLC's Miller
Brewing Co. also face cost increases, but the impact isn't nearly as
great for them. They use much less hops and barley in most of their
beers, which is why they are lighter in taste and calories. A barrel of
craft brew Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, for example, has about twice the malt
and as many as five times the hops of a mass-market brew, like Budweiser
or Miller High Life.

Large beer makers are also better able to secure long-term contracts to
mitigate the impact of rising ingredient costs. Most spirits makers,
such as Diageo PLC and Fortune Brands Inc., also face a relatively
limited impact from global increases in the cost of grains such as corn.

The craft-beer segment has been among the few bright spots in the
slow-growing U.S. beer industry. The number of barrels of craft beers
sold rose 11% in the first half of this year against year-earlier
levels, according to the Brewers Association, a craft-beer trade group
in Boulder, Colo. Meanwhile, the Beer Institute, a Washington-based
industry group, projects total U.S. beer sales, by barrel, will rise
1.5% this year. The boom in craft beers reflects heightened awareness of
their brands and a willingness by American beer drinkers to pay an extra
$2 or $3 per six pack to get a premium product.

Craft beer makers have faced escalating costs over the past year. Prices
for malting barley, which accounts for a beer's color and sweetness,
have jumped as farmers increasingly shifted to planting corn, which has
been bringing higher prices because of high demand from makers of
biofuels, like ethanol. The weak dollar also has made it more expensive
for U.S. brewers to buy commodities from Europe.

The news worsened for craft brewers significantly in recent weeks. Firms
that turn barley into brewing malt informed craft brewers of price
increases ranging from 40% to 80%, and hops suppliers announced
increases ranging from 20% to 100%, depending on the variety of hops.

The price of hops -- which give beers their bitterness and aroma -- has
risen because of shortages across the globe, due in part to poor crops
in Europe. Some European brewers are competing with American brewers for
hops grown in the Pacific Northwest.

For years, hops were cheap due to a glut. That prompted growers over the
past decade to replace hops with other crops, such as apples. Now, the
amount of hops acres world-wide is about half the total of 12 years ago,
says Ralph Olson, a hops dealer with Hopunion CBS LLC in Yakima, Wash.
That's caused some hops varieties to quadruple in price over the past
year, he says.

To cope with higher malt and hops prices, smaller brewers are trying to
secure longer-term contracts for the ingredients. And, in some cases,
they're tweaking their recipes.

At Bell's Brewery Inc. in Comstock, Mich., founder Larry Bell says he is
substituting other varieties of hops into the brewer's Bell's Oberon Ale
and Bell's Lager because he could only secure 60% of a Czech Saaz hops
that he normally uses in the beer.

Mr. Bell says employees who test beers at his company haven't been able
to detect a change with the new hops and that he won't make any changes
that will compromise quality. Starting next year, he anticipates he will
raise the price he charges beer wholesalers by 50 cents to 60 cents per
case. Customers may see an even higher price increase because retailers
typically mark up beer even further.

"I am concerned that there could be some small players out there that
will fail because of this," says Mr. Bell, whose brewery sold its first
beer in 1985.

Boston Beer has inked long-term contracts for some of its ingredient
needs. But many smaller brewers, such as Allagash Brewing Co. in
Portland, Maine, buy hops and malt on the open market, exposing them to
huge price swings. Rob Tod, president of Allagash, says the company
expects to absorb some of the recent cost increases. But it will likely
impose some price increases, resulting in a four-pack of its Allagash
White costing about $9 at retailers in the Northeast, up about 50 cents.
"We're getting hit on all sides," Mr. Tod says.

Ken Grossman, the founder of Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. in Chico, Calif.,
says the brewer plans some price increases, but it's better positioned
than others because a price spike for hops in the early 1980s prompted
him to sign long-term contracts. "I've gotten calls of panic from other
brewers," he says.

Dogfish Head Craft Brewery Inc. in Milton, Del., is coping by trying to
make its operations more efficient, locking in commodity contracts as
early as possible and weighing a price increase, says brewmaster Andy
Tveekrem, whose company is known for "hoppy" beers like 60 Minute IPA,
or India pale ale.

"I think there's going to be some brewers out there," Mr. Tveekrem says,
"if they haven't looked that far ahead, that actually might run out of
malt or hops, which would be a catastrophe."

**** End of Article ****


Bill Velek

Re: Can I use 100% Gambrinus Honey Malt as a base malt?

The wholesale price of malt has doubled since 2005. Propane has
doubled in wholesale price since 2004. Stainless steel prices have
doubled this decade. Has your income doubled?


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