We’ve noticed a distinctly improved malt character in the last two pale ales we’ve brewed at home, and think we know why.
Even though their grain bills consisted entirely of pale malt, for purely pragmatic reasons (using up ‘bag ends’) we used a mix of different varieties, from different sources, which we suspect has provided a subtle background texture.
We’re not talking about using different types of malt, e.g. crystal, chocolate, wheat or Munich, but multiple malts in the same category.
We’ve heard of brewers mixing malt from different suppliers to even out inconsistencies, i.e. if Bloggs Malting Ltd can’t deliver Maris Otter this month, it won’t be missed because it only makes up 10 per cent of the total. But that must also improve the complexity of the beer, even if only in the most subtle way.
One of those music analogies everyone loves: a key secret in the Beatles’ sound is double tracking. John Lennon’s vocals in particular were usually made up of at least two separate recordings played in sync so that his voice sounded ‘thicker’. If you’re not interested in recording technology, you probably won’t spot it, but it certainly makes a difference.
And another for those who prefer to use their peepers rather than their lugholes: there’s green, and there’s textured green.
The appeal of texture is why Instagram is so popular, and why people spend so much time using Photoshop to make things look as if they were printed on sugar paper using a 1920s press.
So, our hypothesis is that a ‘pale and hoppy’ ale made with 40 per cent Bloggs’s Maris Otter, 40 per cent Dibble’s Maris Otter and 20 per cent Grubb’s Optic will taste more interesting than a beer with a grist comprising 100 per cent of any of those malts.
Can any other brewers (home or otherwise) confirm or deny?