For this week’s malt, I’ve picked the Special X from Best Malz. Best is a German maltster with a pretty wide array of varieties. But the Special X caught my eye initially because I thought it might be a good alternative to Special B. Their web site says that it contributes “an intense malty-sweet flavor reminiscent of raisins or dried fruit.”
Special B, right? Not really. I haven’t had the chance to brew with this malt yet, so I did the next best think I could think of. Our head brewer Wes keeps a French press at the store for tea so I loaded into it a few oz of the Special X with a bit to 2-row base malt, steeped it around 150 degrees for a while, then we all tasted it!
A couple of the staff said they got raisins and dried fruit, but it was a very faint underlying character. Most of us picked up on intense toast flavors similar to Biscuit or Aromatic malt, but definitely much stronger. Finally, we all commented on the color. This malt comes in at 115-150 L, and it really shows. This small wort that I made had some really deep red hues!
As I’m thinking about using this malt, I also take into consideration another characteristic listed on Best’s web site. It “brings a mild smoothness to beer.” I’ve got an American Brown ale that I’ve been toying with for a few years. Currently I’ve got about 5% Special Roast from Briess. Next time I brew this I’m going to substitute the Special X and hopefully give it a bit more depth of flavor. And it’s supposed to be good up to about 20% of your grist. So I might bump up the quantity a little.
Use Special X the next time you brew a brown, porter or stout, or even a Belgian with a lower usage rate.