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I recall tasting a beer a couple years back that, from the first sip, screamed "molasses". I'd like to impart some of that flavor into a brew I'm concocting, but wasn't sure exactly where to aim.

I was thinking some 80 L crystal might get me in the right direction. Or perhaps even a small amount of, say, 120 L mixed in with some more in the 40 - 60 range. If I go with too much of the 120, I'm thinking it might be too dark for what I'm looking for, so if I mix that with a somewhat lighter specialty malt, can I get the flavor profile I'm aiming at?

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Why not use molasses? –  baka Aug 25 '11 at 3:45
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I've never done this--is it common practice? I suppose I assumed that molasses would be largely fermentable sugars, not leaving around much flavor –  Ray Aug 25 '11 at 9:46
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I've used it to good effect in a Porter (A pound in 5 gallons of 1.078OG beer provided some noticeable flavor). It's not common, but it's not rare, either. According to Daniels (Designing Great Beers p.26), light grades are around 90% fermentable, and blackstrap is 50-60% fermentable. Blackstrap definitely leaves some flavor behind. –  baka Aug 25 '11 at 11:14
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Molasses has fermentable sugar in it, but its packed with flavor compounds that aren't fermentable. +1 with aka on using molasses in the beer, especially at bottling. –  brewchez Aug 25 '11 at 11:48
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1 Answer

up vote 5 down vote accepted

The crystal malts don't really get you to molasses in my experience. The darker you go its more like dried dark fruits. Molasses is more unique than that. I'd make the beer you are looking for then substitute some molasses at bottling time with your priming sugar. You'd need to calculate the amount of priming sugar to remove to compensate for the sugar in the molasses thought.

Molasses is about 36ppg. (That is if you were to put one pound in one gallon you'd have an SG of 1.036)

I'd start with maybe 1/3 to 1/2 of your priming sugar with molasses, depending on the style the beer is and how strong its flavor is.

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From everything I've read, you should really go easy on the molasses at first. I've seen literally dozens of forums threads all saying "dang, added too much molasses and the beer isn't drinkable." Google around homebrew forums to figure out how much molasses to add to get a nice dose of the flavor without it being overwhelming. –  Graham Aug 25 '11 at 18:15
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