Best Malz Red-X Experiment Results

June 15, 2017

General posting

A few months ago, we challenged the loyal customers of Jay’s Brewing to an experiment. We wanted you to come into the shop, pick up some Best Malz Red X malt and make something unique. We went out of the gates with two recipes, a fairly complex Rye IPA and a very straight forward Munich Dunkel SMaSH.

The time has come to share the results.

Red X Rye IPA – ‘Red, Red Rye’

The Good: I hit my numbers perfectly. Starting gravity of 1.054 and a final of 1.008 for a total ABV of 6.1%. The malts worked really well together and the Red X did a real nice job of balancing out the spiciness of the rye, and adding some additional dimension without having to resort to crystal malts.

The Bad: Due to complete brewer error, and not recipe design, this beer tasted like a bitter, spiced biscuit.

The Story: First, it’s important to remember that when you brew beer, sometimes you make simple mistakes that can have very large repercussions in the final product. The day I headed into Jay’s to pick up the supplies I needed for these beers, I gathered my list of ingredients. I checked my current stocks to see what I had and only wrote down what I lacked. I had plenty of the Chinook and Cascade hops for the Rye IPA, while I lacked everything for the Dunkel.

Fast forward 4 weeks. I happily cracked open the first Rye IPA. The color was beautiful, although not overly red. This wasn’t too much of a surprise as the grist was only 31% Red X, with the remainder being 2-Row and rye malt. I was immediately impressed with the overall appearance and head on this beer. It looked beautiful and I knew I was in for a treat. I took a nice big inhale to get all of those hops I had used… wait, I used hops right? Where are the hops?! All I could smell was the sweet maltiness of the Red X and the spiciness of the rye. It wasn’t unpleasant, but it wasn’t expected either. I decided to take a nice big gulp so I could let it coat my whole mouth and maybe get some retro-hale on it. Again, nothing. For a beer that used nearly 7 oz of hops over a 5 gallon recipe, there was almost no hop aroma or flavor. There was definite bitterness. I know there are hops in this beer. Perplexed, I decided to hold off for another day thinking perhaps my palate was just off.

The original recipe called for 1 oz of each hop for dry hopping, I used double that, that only makes where this story is going  funnier.

 

The next day, I headed to a fellow homebrew club members house so we could judge the pale ale entries for our club’s bi-monthly competition. Once I tasted the first bottle, I knew my senses were back. Everything would be ok. I’d go home, try another Rye IPA and write up those tasting notes. Eventually, around the 5th or 6th beer in the clubs competition, we arrived on a pale ale that was beautifully brewed. This beer was brilliantly clear. The lacing on the glass and the head retention was better than any beer before it. I took a big whiff and … NOTHING! Oh no, it’s gone. My senses are broken again. Then the comments from the other judges started – It wasn’t just me. This beer had no aroma. Everyone took a sip, and in a moment of Déjà vu, it was like everyone was in my kitchen the night before. This beer also had no flavor. Just malty bitterness.  I finished my judging, clicked submit on the website we use and there it was “Brewed by: Stephen Boyajian” – This is my pale ale? This is not the beer I kegged 3 weeks ago.

Only it was… my brain was racing, what happened to what should have been a beautiful chorus of spicy fruitiness of Chinook and in your face citrus of Cascade. For the next 10 seconds, my brain went every direction trying to figure out what happened. Now, if your memory is better than mine, something very similar besides the end result has already hit you… “Didn’t he use Chinook and Cascade in that Rye IPA?” He sure did.

That’s when it occurred to me that I had 2 bags of Cascade and 2 bags of Chinook in my freezer. Each variety had an open bag and a sealed bag. The open bag was well over a year and not resealed with a vacuum sealer. You betcha, those are the ones I used for both. You see, when I tasted the Pale Ale at kegging, it had plenty of aroma and flavor. So I figured, “Might as well use these in the Rye IPA.” What I didn’t account for was the incredibly fast decline of both once the dry hops were removed. The beer while otherwise flawless, was almost impossible to drink.

So I’m sad to say, while the Red X Rye IPA had significant potential, due to a simple mistake on my part, it was ultimately a failure. That said, I was so impressed with the balance of malts, I plan on making it again. I promise this time I’ll use fresh hops.

Red X Munich Dunkel SMaSH – ‘REDunXilous’

The Good: This was the first time I had ever brewed a Munich Dunkel, having only had a dedicated fermentation chamber for less than a year. I have not had the equipment to churn out many lagers, however this beer changed all that. My assumptions of the makeup of Red X, whether correct or not, seemed to be close enough to accurate that it was the perfect malt for this beer. The color, the sweetness, the mouthfeel. Originally, I waffled on which hop to use for this, but I’m glad I settled on Liberty. It worked out perfect.

The Bad: I only made 1 gallon. Seriously, I wish I had made a full 5 gallon batch. If I’m being completely honest, the only thing that I could perceive as bad about this beer was that I had to do a 3 step mash because of the rumors that Red X beers under-attenuate. The mash schedule still was only 60 minutes, but having to split up the volumes and heat water 3 times before mashout added some extra attention I could have done without. A minor gripe at best, and not even something I should bring up since I believe the step mash was the reason this beer finished up at 1.010, 1 point lower than I anticipated and not potentially a few points higher.

The Story: I opened one of these 2 weeks after I bottled. I knew it was a bit early for a lager to be bottle conditioned given I didn’t add any additional yeast at bottling. It was about 40-50% carbed. I had previously paid for 5 slots in the 5th Annual Hop Blossom Homebrew Competition in Winchester, VA. Since obviously the Rye IPA wasn’t going to pan out, I decided I’d take a shot with this beer and hope it carbed in time. The next day, I dropped 3 bottles off at the dropoff location. I learned they would sit in the back room for about 2 more weeks before going into cold storage prior to judging – BONUS!

Out of 10 entries in the Dark/Strong European Lager category, the REDunXilous scored a 35/50 and received the bronze medal. Not bad for my first Munich Dunkel and an experiment of a new malt!

Now that I’ve done the SMaSH experiment with this malt, I think I would like to add a bit extra just to give it some extra dimension. The original recipe called for 11.4 lbs of Best Malz Red X Malt. The next attempt at brewing this has the bill changing to 9.5 lbs of Red X, 2 lbs of Pilsner Malt and 2 oz of Chocolate malt (mostly for color, and maybe a little more roundness in flavor).

Below are some of the judges notes from the Hop Blossom Homebrew Competition:

“A very rich and complex beer. Toasty bread malt well balanced against hop bitterness. A very nice clean fermentation. I enjoyed this beer very much. Great job!”

“This is a very smooth and drinkable beer. I finished the sample and would drink a pint. The color was a bit light and there could be more dark malt added.”

“Good beer. Great representation of style. Overall, good job! Would recommend slightly more unfermentable sugars.”

Final Verdict:

Well, the point of all of this was to make a red beer. A very red beer. I can honestly say I failed on both attempts.  The Dunkel was delicious, and the Rye IPA has potential, and I can honestly say Red X will now be a malt that I will use on a more regular basis. That said, I was not able to produce the vibrant red color that I was expecting.

Did you have better luck? Let us know in the comments or on Facebook!

 Until next time, happy brewing!

stephenStephen Boyajian has been an avid homebrewer for 4 years. A fan of many styles, with a particular love for IPA’s and Stouts. He lives in Gainesville, VA with his wife, 3 kids and dog. When not brewing, he enjoys playing golf or playing guitar.

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