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)

    clip_image001

    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.

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    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:

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  • 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

    clip_image007

  • 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

Cider Experiment #3–1 week Cider–1 day boom #homebrew

After bottling Cider Experiment #2 (still haven’t posted) Divide! commented that he liked the cider but hated the bottling (this was 100 bottles!).

I thought about it some more, and an experiment was born.

The Hypotheses

“could you make cider lazily, and  just bottle in the juice jugs themselves and be carbonated in a week?”

 

The steps:

My first experimental steps were:

  1. Buy 4 Jugs of cider
  2. Put yeast in all 4
  3. After 1 day, seal the lid for Jug 1
  4. 2 days in, seal Jug 2, do the same for Jugs 3 and 4 on days 3 and 4…
  5. At a week, bring them to a party and see what level of carbonation is best.

The things that held me back was I did not have an event where I could bring 4 gallons of cider.  Then we started planning a party…

I had a big brewing day.  I was making a mild with 2nd runnings from brewing  at Tom Schmidling’s, and I was brewing 3 versions of a CDA with 3 smoked malts (future post).  The counters were full of brewing goodnesses.

    WP_000622

    The Test

    I went for a reduced experiment.

    1. 2 1 Gallon jugs of cider (same as previous).
    2. Put hydrated yeast in both,
    3. Just place the lids on loosely
    4. at 20 hours I closed the lid on #1.
    5. With in 2 hours it was puffing":
    6. WP_000624

      Hmmm, This is science so I should measure
      :WP_000625
      5 hours later, this is starting to look like a bad idea, and by bad idea, I mean explosively bad, and by that, I mean AWESOME.
       WP_000629
      I decided  to take a precaution and put the sealed jug in a pot:
      WP_000626
      Yeah, that is going to blow… I put a grocery bag over the top… Which was a great idea, when 2 hours later, it blew:WP_000631WP_000632WP_000634

    The sound was like a gunshot.  Amazingly, no one woke up for that…

    Since I still had a gallon of cider, or so, in the pot, I decided to pour it into a 2 liter bottle and put an airlock in the top.  Now when you write that sentence the fact that 2 litres is significantly less than 1 gallon seems obvious, but at the time it did not.  The problem was pouring from a large pot into a 2 litre bottle.  I did it in the sink, with the idea that any spills would go into the sink…

    It worked, for filling.  It was tricky, holding a funnel and bottle in one hand, and pouring from a 3 gallon pot in the other (2 liter bottles are not very tip proof).  I poured the cider in, suddenly realizing I has too much in the pot.  I then carefully put pot on the counter.  Did I mention the counter was full of brewing goodness, ginger bread houses, and other things?  Well I carefully set the pot on the counter, making sure it was stable, only to discover it was not.  The liquid in the pot has sloshed toward the middle of the counter letting me thing it was stable, and then sloshed back informing me it was not, by dropping to the floor.  The loud clatter was what woke people up, and made the floor sticky, not the explosion.  I mopped the floor 3 times that night, and it was still sticky the next day.

    Results/Observations

    The results are that you cannot carbonate in the juice jugs, they are not pressure worthy.

    Conclusion

    This was likely a known bad idea Smile had I thought about the jugs [insert joke here].  I could have test the pressure worthiness of the jug before hand.  However, using a 2 litre bottle as a back gave me a further idea, that I could just ferment the 2 gallons in 4 of those. 

    So the idea of just going to the store for cider and the LHBS for wine yeast and having cider in a week, now requires more equipment (bottles seem to hold up to 200PSI), but that can be found material.

    Alternative Priming Sugars in Cider experiment

    This is a combination of experiments.  The first is the BBR-BYO #9 experiment (Basic Brewing Podcast April 14, 2011 – New Experiments and Scandinavian Brewing) where you hydrate dry yeast for one batch, and then just sprinkle it on others.  I won’t go into the results of that one here (no spoilers). 

     

    For this experiment I chose to replicate the cider brew that was in the Basic Brewing Video   (Jan 30th, 2011, Simple Cider).  The simple steps were:

     

    1. Buy two jugs of Treehouse cider from Costco.  This is pasteurized and has no preservatives, and comes in a pack with two 1 gallon jugs.
    2. Add yeast (Red Star Pasteur Champagne ).
    3. Place airlock, tin foil, or just light screw the lid on.
    4. Wait (and beg forgiveness from your wife for leaving yet more crap on the counter).

     

    Photo of the jugs:

     

    clip_image001

     

     

    Now at the end of the experiment I had 2 gallons of cider which I needed to bottle.  Never satisfied to do things simply, I decided to play with alternative priming sugars.  I grabbed some sugars around the house, and using the method discussed in the Basic Brewing Podcast (October 28, 2010 – Alternate Priming Sugars) I tried to calculate the correct amounts to match the amount in 1 carb drop (take grams of sugar from nutrition label and make it  equal to that of a 12 oz, and I think I target 2.4 volumes for 12 oz. Using http://kotmf.com/tools/prime.php I targeted about 2g. There was a fair amount of guess work, and honestly on the honey, which was hand labeled "Blackberry," I just did a dollop.  All of the other sugars were unopened so I did not sanitize them.

     

    I added each sugar to one each of the batches, but because their FG was different, I did not taste batch vs. batch.  I actually labeled each with tape, then a paper label.  Each type of sugar priming had its own cap (which I kept a table of as well).  Here are the bottles complete:

     

    clip_image002

     

    Following is the table of the priming schedule, I managed 10 bottles per gallon: 6  sugars had 1 from each batch, I did 2 carb drops , 1 just still, and 1 with a campden tablet and apple juice to sweeten it.

     

    I tasted 2 of them with my friend Toby.  I then brought 6 bottles to the National Homebrewers Conference in June of 2011.  There I gather some friend, hornswoggled John Palmer, and met with the Basic Brewing crew and recorded a podcast.  Only James had a slight clue what I was up to, the tasting was blind.  Here are my notes from memory.

     

    Sugar

    Amount

    Tasting Notes

    Tasted with Toby

     

     

    Apple juice

    16 ml

    It was definitely more apple flavored than the honey, almost "concentrated."

    Honey

    Bit on fork

    Carbonated but drier than the Apple Juice.  No Honey flavor

     

     

     

    Tasted on Podcast

     

     

    Carb Drop

    1

    Control:  Good bubble, good flavor

    Muscovado

    2g

    Less carb, interest flavors

    Cinnamon Syrup

    2ml

    Less carb than expect, no cinnamon at all

    Mini marshmallow

    2

    Funniest, coated the tongue

    Light Agave

    4g

    Most carb, almost a gusher, different flavor than carb drop though

    Still

    0

    Did not like compared to carb’ed ones

    Mixed

    ?

    Mixed the remain, was actually quite good

     

     

     

    Not Tasted

     

     

    Camden Tablet and Apple Juice

    15ml

    Thought on this, and it  was a bad idea 🙂

     

    The details will be on the podcast which should air in late July.   It was a lot of fun and we finished with a Princess Peach Ale, which was enjoyed by all.

     

    My favorite line was from Steve who said "I thought you were going to do some thing like Glucose, Dextrose, Fructose."  Really he should have known better 🙂

     

    Conclusion:

     

    I was surprised how much the priming sugars added flavor.  Even the agave, which I expect to have little flavor impact, had an impact.  The Cinnamon Syrup was also the surprise in not imparting the expected flavor.  I was hoping for apple pie on that one.  I also was worried the mini-marshmallows were going to not dissolve and land in a  cup like a hot chocolate.

     

    In the future I would probably do a few more sugars:  maple syrup, brown sugars, different honeys, different juices, DME, among others.  I might also just add cinnamon to see what that comes out like.

     

    Most people felt they like the carb drops the best, but I think you could really tweak the final flavor of a cider like this.  I think I would recommend the apple juice.

     

    clip_image003

     

    http://twitpic.com/5d25kl

     

    Big thanks to the (starting on my right in the photos):   John Palmer, Andy Sparks, Nathaniel Muller, Steve Antoch, Michael Berta, Steve Wilkes, and  of course James Spencer who took the photo!

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