When I got into doing mashes, first doing partial mash, then doing all-grain, I kept it pretty close to the vest on my base grains, using Pilsner, UK 2-row and American 2- or 6-row, depending on what I was making. Those are probably the big 4, with Pilsner for German-style beers, UK 2-row for fuller-flavored ales and US pale malts for ales that need a cleaner flavor.
With my next couple of beers, I’m going to break out of that rut and try a couple new base malts, and I’m excited about them. I’m going to make a Whisky Ale with Maris Otter, which is very traditional for cask-style ales. (By the way, tomorrow’s Beginner’s Tuesday post is about how to make a cask ale.) Maris Otter has a distinctive nutty/biscuity aroma. I’m intrigued to see how it goes. I can envision it becoming my go-to base malt for less-hoppy British style ales.
With that whisky ale, I’m also going to try New Zealand-grown Pacific Gem hops, which are reported to have an earthy flavor with a dark berry note. I think that will match nicely with the peat-smoked malt and the oak tannins.
I’m really very excited about this Whisky Ale!
I’m also looking at doing version 3 of my Oatmeal Java Stout in the foreseeable future. I don’t feel like ‘m getting the right profile from the UK 2-row with that beer, so I’m going to use Mild Malt, which is a traditional base for stouts and dark porters. I also need to adjust my specialty grains because the batch is too chocolately. I need some more aggressive darkness to make it work, so maybe roasted barley…. We shall see.