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I don't have a whole lot of experience (I've been brewing all-grain for less than a year) but I've found that every beer I've made with Munich or Vienna malt (usually 2 - 4 pounds in a 6-gallon batch) has a sort of pervading dullness about it. I've been extremely pleased with most of the beers I've made, but the ones with Munich or Vienna have simply left me unimpressed.

Has anyone else experienced this?

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Could you provide info about some of the styles you've brewed with Munich/Vienna? And maybe a sample recipe. Dullness is a hard thing to quantify without tasting your beer myself. –  brewchez Jul 9 '11 at 2:00
    
Yes, perhaps that was too vague of a question to get good answers. To fully ask it, with maybe 5 or 6 recipes, is probably a bit too complicated for a forum like this. I just wanted to see if anyone else has noticed this trend that I've seen. –  Jeff Roe Jul 9 '11 at 17:47
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3 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Possibly what's happening is that the increased maltiness from the Munich and Vienna is offsetting the hops and making the beer seem less balanced. Yeah, it's a long shot, but based on what you're tasting could it be something like that?

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Yeah, that's worth thinking about. Thanks. –  Jeff Roe Jul 10 '11 at 4:34
    
I've done several beers with all Vienna as the base and they are darn tasty. I don't necessarily think the V&M are covering up your hops without looking at your recipes, but its a possibility. –  Graham Jul 10 '11 at 21:11
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Another thing I've been wondering is if I need to do these beers as proper lagers. I've been doing them as pseudo-lagers (usually Nottingham yeast at as-low-as-I-can-easily-get temperatures). This is working great (as far as my taste buds are concerned) with the pilsners/light lagers I've been doing, but maybe I just can't get away with this slap-dash approach with my beers with munich and vienna?

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I don't brew lagers. I don't have the equipment or desire to do so. I've faked a lot of great lager-like beers using ale yeasts at lower temperatures or lager yeasts at high temperatures--you just have to do a little research on the yeast to see if it can handle it and determine what results you can expect. I've used the European Ale yeast to great effect in the low 60s using Munich and Vienna as base malts. –  Hop the Mad Alchemist Jul 16 '11 at 4:03
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How long are you mashing? If, for example, you mash for 60 minutes using American 2-Row Pale as a base and for the same amount of time with Munich, you might not be converting all of the sugars you need to.

Why? Enzymes. To put it simply, Munich malt (and to a lesser extent, Vienna) has lower diastatic power than American 2-Row. It will take longer to convert starch into fermentable sugars.

Weyermann's Munich II has a diastatic power of 25 Lintner. Briess 2-Row Pale has a diastatic power of 85 Lintner (Weyermann Vienna has 50).

I've seen multiple sources--though admittedly they might all come from the same origin--that say you should try to aim for about 25-35 °L per pound of grain in your mash. My results tend to show that you can completely ignore any grain that doesn't need to be mashed (e.g. crystal, chocolate, etc.) when calculating.

The quick way to calculate this:

  • Add up how many pounds of grain you have that needs to be mashed.
  • Find out the diastatic power of each grain (available online or in an app like BeerSmith). Multiply that diastatic power by how many pounds of each grain you are using and add them all up.
  • Divide the diastatic power by the pounds of grain. If it's above ~30, you should be fine, but you might want to increase your mash time to ensure proper conversion.

To use an example, I have a beer I'm brewing tomorrow that uses Munich II as a base and includes Aromatic, which must be mashed. All my other ingredients don't require mashing, so I'm ignoring them for my calculation.

  • Pounds of Grain: 8 pounds Munich II + 0.5 lbs Aromatic = 8.5 lbs
  • Total Diastatic Power: (8 lbs x 25 °L) [for Munich II] + (0.5 lbs x 30 °L) [for Aromatic] = 215
  • Diastatic Power for this Mash: 215 °L / 8.5 lbs = ~25.3

That's on the low end. Sometimes that means I'll add a little something with a lot of diastatic power (such as Briess 6-Row Brewers Malt, which has a diastatic power of 160 °L). What I usually do, though, is extend my mash time by 30-60 minutes. That usually serves me well and it doesn't alter the flavor of my beer.

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Yeah, I don't think it's a problem with inadequate conversion. The beers I'm talking about have been only around 20%-40% Munich or Vienna, and between mashing, vorlaufing, and sparging, they've all had at least 2 hours of conversion time at the correct temps. But thanks for this suggestion! –  Jeff Roe Jul 17 '11 at 0:33
    
(and the balance of the mash, the other 60%-80% has been well-modified pilsner malt) –  Jeff Roe Jul 17 '11 at 0:34
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