I was looking for color in a recipe without any of the roastiness from dark crystal malt I would get from using it as steeped specialty grains. When I asked the manager at the LHBS about cold steeping, he instead recommended "late mashing". He told me to use a slightly darker crystal malt, and add it as a late mash addition in the last 10-15 minutes of the mash. Apparently, several breweries in my area have been doing this, per that guy.

I can't find much information on techniques, except this blog post, and these forum posts: link 1; link 2.

Is there an accepted technique for adding dark malts late in the mash for color? If not, any advice?

FYI, I don't have a grain mill, so I am limited to the LHBS's mill, which is locked at a 0.040" gap, if that is relevant.

  • 1
    "...without any of the roastiness from dark crystal malt..." you don't tend to get roastiness from dark crystal - usually more plum (Special B) or burnt toffee (e.g. Thomas Fawcett). Roastiness comes from highly kilned basemalt, like dark chocolate, roasted barley or black malt.
    – mdma
    Commented Dec 18, 2013 at 14:48
  • What kind of SRM increase are you going for?
    – Scott
    Commented Dec 18, 2013 at 16:38
  • Just a slight SRM increase from 11-12 to 16-18, but hoping for some copper-red color addition, also. From the comments and answers, it seems like there are easier ways to get there, and maybe I need to avoid this advanced and experimental idea for now. Commented Dec 20, 2013 at 4:52

2 Answers 2


I personally wouldn't use this technique, with how inconsistent and labor intensive it would be. I like the ease behind adding in malts to the mash and letting them sit without having to make late additions, stirring, and hoping I get the color right without overshooting it. Plus, your SRM estimates are essentially thrown out the window since mash length contributes to color as well as conversion. Doing a late mash addition would effectively throw all your SRM estimates off, as it is likely to be very inconsistent between batches.

I'd rather just add a very small percentage of Carafa III to the mash. By the sounds of it, if a dark crystal malt would give you the color you want, which at its (usual) highest is 120/150°L, and you want to avoid the flavor it would add, you'd be better off mashing in with a dramatically lower percentage of Carafa III, which has a lovibond of ~525°L, so you won't get much bitterness, but a lot of color. You'll notice a dramatic color change with as little as 2-3% Carafa III. If you want to go really pitch black dark though, roast is pretty much a given.

  • Maybe try the de-husked carafa which imparts a smoother flavor - I imagine that would contribute a lot of color with little flavor when used <3%.
    – mdma
    Commented Dec 18, 2013 at 16:49
  • Definitely de-husked. I haven't ever seen anything other than de-husked Carafa (never bothered to look), so I assumed it was implied.
    – Scott
    Commented Dec 18, 2013 at 17:20
  • There's carafa and carafa special - the special version is dehusked/debittered.
    – mdma
    Commented Dec 18, 2013 at 18:09

You can get color extracts from maltsters that are produced in a way to reduce the amount of bitterness imparted. For example, Sinamar from Weyermann:

SINAMAR® is produced solely from our roasted malt CARAFA®, according to the strict German "Reinheitsgebot" (purity-law).

To get the characteristic color and extract, SINAMAR® is carefully evaporated in a vacuum process, finely filtered and canisters and containers of different sizes are filled directly at 158°F - 167°F (70 - 75°C). Due to this special treatment the taste of SINAMAR® is less bitter. SINAMAR® causes no turbidity and remains pH stable.

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