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Wikipedia says about Amber Malt the following...

Amber malt

Amber malt is a more toasted form of pale malt, kilned at temperatures of 150–160 °C, and is used in brown porter; older formulations of brown porter use amber malt as a base malt [2](though this was diastatic and produced in different conditions from a modern amber malt). Amber malt has a bitter flavor which mellows on aging, and can be quite intensely flavored; in addition to its use in porter, it also appears in a diverse range of British beer recipes. ASBC 50-70/EBC 100–140; amber malt has no diastatic power.

What exactly does that last part mean? Does it mean Amber Malt does not give off enough sugars when boiled and is therefore not suitable for use as a primary grain?

The website I bought it from said nothing about it not being suitable as a primary grain.

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    You should not boil your malt. Keep within the mashing temps. Boiling malt is only required when working with malts like sorghum that has a very high gelatinisation temp. – Atron Seige Nov 12 '15 at 6:52
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No diastatic power

Means that this malt does not have the required enzymes to break down starches into sugars. In other words, you need to add some malt that has diastatic power in conjunction to make it work.

The diastatic power is measured in Lintner degrees. It is estimated that you need a minimum 30°L in your mash to have sufficient diastatic power (40°L according to wikipedia). The less power you have, more time will be needed to convert starches.

You might consider modifying your recipe. So, if you add up to 30% of 2-Row or Maris Otter Malt to your mash, you should be fine.

It is easy to confuse the Lintner degree with the Lovibond degree (used for color) on websites. The bold is used for Lintner and regular for Lovibond, but some website use only the words diastatic power.

Some Lintner degree examples, according to HBT:

  • American 2 Row Pale Malt: 140 °L
  • American 6 Row Pale Malt: 160 °L
  • British Pale Malts: 40-70 °L
  • Maris Otter Pale Malt: 120 °L
  • Belgian Pale Malt (2 row): 60 °L
  • German Pilsner Malt: 110 °L
  • Munich Malt (10 SRM): 70 °L
  • Munich Malt (20 SRM): 25 °L
  • Vienna Malt: 50 °L
  • Wheat Malt, German: 60-90 °L
  • Wheat, Unmalted (flaked, Torrified): 0 °L
  • Crystal Malt (all): 0 °L
  • Chocolate Malt: 0 °L
  • Black Patent Malts: 0 °L

This article explains diastatic power well : Beersmith article
More information about Lintner degree : Wikipedia

| improve this answer | |
  • Would Halcyon Pale Ale Malt also work? I actually have some of that. – Neil Meyer Nov 9 '15 at 16:27
  • I should just use Maris Otter then. – Neil Meyer Nov 9 '15 at 16:36
  • According to this site it should be OK brewunited.com/grain_database.php – Neil Meyer Nov 9 '15 at 16:48
  • According to that site both maris otter and Halcyon can be used as base malt. – Neil Meyer Nov 9 '15 at 16:50
  • Yep, I was looking at that website as well. 70 °L according to them for Halcyon Pale malt. – Philippe Nov 9 '15 at 16:50
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Not this one

no diastatic power

This means that there are no active enzymes. Or at least none that could create maltose, so even if you would create some wort-like liquid, it would not be good beer wort. It have enough starch, it just lack the power to make it usable for your yeast.

But if you really want to

Then you may simply buy alpha and beta amylase from a shop. It comes in little bags and if you will buy from beer craft store, it will have amount of malt one bag can convert printed on the package. Mix it with water before mash-in.

However

Amber malt added in moderate quantity, like 10%, gives pretty strong amber colour and bread / toast taste. 100% of it might give you just too much. Now when you mentioned it, I would love to try the effect, but I wouldn't bet on it's "drinkability". For an experiment, fine. For simplistic amber beer, take 10% Amber and 90% Pale Ale.


Słodownia Srzegom, biggest malting house in my country, advises using from 2 to 12% of it, depending on style. My local shop claims it can be used as up to 30% of grain bill, I don't know where they got this number from, but at least it clearly indicates that this is not a base malt. And I can believe that in optimal conditions 30% might be doable.

Sorry that links are in my language - style names and percentages should be understandable anyway, and I'm willing to edit in additional references. These ones are, frankly, simply from the malting house and shop I bought things from and have positive experience with.

| improve this answer | |
  • Thank You very much for this information. This is the sort of thing that should be on the homebrewers shop that sold me it's website. – Neil Meyer Nov 9 '15 at 11:03
  • @NeilMeyer Probably it should. On the other hand, most of us think a long time before buying anything, so usually it's not that bad. But yes, on the website of my local shop they clearly said that up to 30% of it can be used. I think they got it bit high (I wouldn't go over 15~20% for brown ale, less for amber ale), but within the borders of feasibility. – Mołot Nov 9 '15 at 11:07
  • @NeilMeyer answer updated a bit. – Mołot Nov 9 '15 at 11:18

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