Sunday, 12 January 2020

The black malt in the copper mystery solved

My current boss, has been a brewer for many a year, occasionally drops a fascinating fact into the conversation. He started out working for Courage, so Imperial Russian Stout occasionally crops up, and I'm pleased to say that last week the mystery of black malt in the copper was solved.

For those of you unfamiliar with brewing Imperial Russian Stout the instructions tell you to add black malt to the copper (kettle) two hours into the three hour boil. Nowadays it might be common for hops to be added at just about any stage of brewing but having malt anywhere but the mash tun is decidedly odd. As indeed my boss said when he talked about it. He couldn't work out why until he realised that the malt in the copper acted as an abrasive agent to scrub off some of the crud that builds up on the heating element during a long boil of a strong wort so restoring some efficiency.

I for one have been able to sleep easier in my bed knowing this. I wonder if he ever brewed an AK in his Courage days?


  1. Gives a whole new impetus to the maxim of "clean as you go!"

  2. This doesn't seem to have been that uncommon. At least according to Ron Pattinson, who usually knows what he's talking about. See for example or in this 2008 post about black malt:

  3. Adding black malt to the kettle for color adjustment is a relatively common practice in older US brewing texts, although that is mostly for brewing pale lages/ales. I have also seen it stated that BM (being largely microbially stable) could be ground into a powder and added to fermented beer for to adjust the color as well. Not sure I'd do that one.

    I'd be curious to hear what your boss has to say about the Courage yeast; where it came from and how it was used in the brewery back in the day.

    1. He thinks the Courage yeast probably came from Simmonds.