Saving a Beer, One draft at a time

    I had a beer, which was made with just LME + cascade hops. The goal was a simple beer my buddy Dan could brew exactly the same. I targeted just LME and cascades. We brewed it when he was visiting after thanksgiving (http://hopville.com/recipe/1687073). Normally I would add Crystal 40 and Carapils (Dextrine) (http://hopville.com/recipe/154926) to an APA like that.

    The problem was the beer. It was not bad, just "Meh." The malt was missing in flavor, body and mouthfeel. After a while I decided I wanted to "fix it." My first thought was to mash/steep the crystal 40 and Carapils and just add it. Then I realized that might not work, since the malt would not be boiled fermented and the yeast does other things to it besides convert to alcohol. There I set out to test the idea, before I ruined a whole keg.  My plan was to add one pint’s worth of malt to a pint of beer, tweak, and then add the scaled amount to the whole keg.

    About that time I heard the Specialty Grains shows on Basic Brewing on Jan 17th 2013 with Darnelle Brawner (http://www.basicbrewing.com/index.php?page=radio). I decided to try a variety of grains and explore my grain library, and of course science ensued.

    Then I recorded a podcast with James Spencer for Basic Brewing which posted March 6th, 2013 (http://www.basicbrewing.com/index.php?page=radio).

    Caveats:

    This experiment does not really replicate adding grains to a mash, it is a bit closer to adding steeping grains to a boil. It does show you some of the flavors and colors you get from the grains.

    Technique:

    The basic technique was to steep 11g of grain, strain it, and add beer. The compare to the base beer.

    Requirements:

    1. Infrared thermometer
    2. Kettle and/microwave
    3. 2 glasses
    4. Small Strainer
    5. Small Scale (1-11 grams will be measured)
    6. Mediocre Beer
    7. Specialty Grains
    8. Notepad or other way to record results, say a brewers log book!

    Procedure

    1. Startup
      1. Start water boiling in a kettle, or microwave it to about 170.
      2. Get two glasses and a scale.
      3. Place one glass on the sale and tare it (zero it).
      4. Add 11g of grain to the glass (based off of what I would have added to 5 gallons of beer, and some very sketchy math)

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    1. Steeping the grains
      1. Add hot water just enough to go over the grains (in a nonic pint glass, it is about 1/2 inch)
      2. Measure the temp, this is where the infrared thermometer kicks butt, or just guess. If it is too low (normal) put it in a microwave for 15 seconds.  It will foam up! Check temp, repeat until about 170F.
      3. Wrap glass in beer cozy or towel, place second glass on top to hold in heat (stack the glasses). The following picture is two nonic glasses stacked with a 1/2 of water in he bottom glass with grains.

    clip_image002

    1. Strain
      1. After 30 minutes, remove top glass, smell the grain tea, write down notes
      2. Strain the water from the grain tea into the second glass.  I have a small tea strainer that was perfect.
      3. Rinse the first glass
    1. Pour
      1. Pour a full pint into the glass with grain tea in it. Get decent foam to help bring up the aromatics.
      2. Pour a half pint into the second glass.
  • Observe
    1. Run a judge sheet on the first beer, check appearance, aroma, taste and mouth feel.  Write down notes!
    2. Compare with the other glass (non-tea beer).
    1. Mix
      1. After drinking about 1/2 of the grain tea beer, if it too strong, pour
      2. the other half pint in, compare and take notes.
    1. Repeat
      1. Repeat with every specialty grain you have, borrow some from friends, get small amounts from your LBHS.
    2. Thoughts What would I do different?

  • Grind? Might work for 1 grain, but painful for mail grains, I think mortar and pestle would work.
  • Steep longer and colder? Seems like it is a time waster
  • Not brew a mediocre beer? Only in the name of science!
  • I am changing my base beer away from Crystal 40, towards 80
  • I will likely do something with bittering hops with my Xlite (1025 APA) Zythos hop beer. Tastes bit malt-flat and needs bittering, but mixing with Ninkasi IPA was very good.
  • Would I do it with Pilsners? YES! I would added darker malts to move in the BJCP spectrum, Alt, Schwartz, etc.
  • My Results

    1/22/2013 Crystal 40

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    Added 11gm of Crystal 40, did not crush,

  • Water about 140F after being microwave, just enough water to cover the seeds. Let sit for 30 minutes
  • Smells like mash, getting more flavors than I thought.
  • Strained and added to pint. Poured pint on top
  • Much darker than test beer
  • Malt aroma is overpowering, very bready
  • Head Retention less?
  • Might want to cold crash it, forgot that part
  • 1/23 Carapils:

    clip_image004

  • Not as much flavor
  • Not as much color
  • Not as much impact
  • Probably really need to crush this grain.
  • 1/24 Crystal 80

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  • Seems like same aroma as Crystal 40
  • Much darker
  • More balanced than the 40, expected otherwise
  • Still too much, or too soon. Liked it much better than expected.
  • Slight more water this time.
  • 1/25 Wheat malt

    clip_image006

    Great aroma

    Slightly acidic/sour, no matter what Jamil says (I was listening to his podcasts on wheat styles and he said people say it has an sour note, but he said it didn’t, I think people are tasting the grain…)

    Much better mouthfeel

    Victory

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  • Grainy/Bread aroma and flavor, strong like crystal 40, surprising, might be hard to tell them from flavor/aroma.
  • Maybe color is different?
  • 1/26 Dark Chocolate Malt

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  • Very roasty/coffee in the raw, black
  • Not as aromatic as I expected
  • Taste of coffee very apparent
  • Cut it in half, much more caramel than coffee, very well rounded, hops seems to pop better
  • 1/27 Carafa II

    clip_image009

  • Very roast, very black in glass
  • Very black mixed in, darkened head
  • Coffee taste high, when cold, less as it warmed up
  • 2/9 Special B

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  • Grain had rasiny smell, not present in beer
  • More deep copper than brown or black, pleasant aroma, went from grainy to fruity as it warmed
  • Vienna

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  • Very little impact, bit grainy aroma, no color difference
  • Slightly better aroma
  • Cherry Smoke

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  • Vienna doing nothing, so I added cherry smoke to it.
  • Not as much aroma as expected, lots of taste, too much
  • Added more body though
  • Mixed pint much better.
  • 2/10/2013 Pale Chocolate 250

    clip_image013

  • Smelled like old coffee, I had just brushed teeth, maybe that is affecting the taste?
  • Picking it up in beer, not as chocolate as I expected/hoped
  • killed keg!  Time to write this up
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