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I did two different dark beers, a rauchbier and a imperial stout, and noticed a grape aroma and flavor in them. The fermentables that there're in common are: pilsen, flaked oats, caramalt and black malt. My intuition says the black malt is the source of grape's flavor, but I'm not sure. While in the rauchbier (fermented at 18C, 5% of black malt) this flavor was too unpleasant, in the imperial stout (fermented at 16C, 1% black malt) it was smoother and didn't dominate. Apart from the difference in the temperature (higher producing more esters, i.e., fruity flavors), where are this grape flavor coming from? Is it coming from the black malt indeed?

  • Fruity flavors are expected when a beer is very strong, in that case it comes from the residual sugars that the yeast left behind due to high alcohol. How strong is your rauchbier? – Pepi May 3 '15 at 3:01
  • My rauchbier wasn't strong. The OG was 1.050, FG was 1.016 and ABV ~4.5%. Do you think it's strong enough for the fruity flavor appears? – Mr. K May 3 '15 at 13:26
  • 4.5 & 1.016 are not unusual at all. I was thinking more like barleywine strength beers, which can be quite fruity. – Pepi May 4 '15 at 13:46
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Black malts usually contribute a roasty flavor and color enhancement. As far as I know, they shouldn't impart a fruity flavor. Caramel malts, on the other hand, do. Check your caramalts.

Common flavor descriptions for roasted caramel malts between 80L and 120L are "raisin, plum, prunes, burnt sugar".

See Castle Malting's Château Special B or Briess's darker caramel malts (80L-120L) for reference.

  • The strange fact is that I didn't use any dark caramel in my rauchbier, only caramalt (10L). And yes, black malt can contribute to a fruity flavor. I found my answer here: byo.com/hops/item/… Anyway, thanks for your answer. – Mr. K May 7 '15 at 20:07
  • Nice read! I never really studied up on black malt and most of what I saw just stopped at describing it as roasty, bitter, etc... Good to know. – Nimrod May 11 '15 at 18:54

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