Vol. 3 No. 12 December 1996
The November Meeting
by Lucy Zachman
We had a hearty turnout for the November meeting, held, once again, at Mug's Ale House. We gathered with anticipation to greet Mathias Neidhardt and partake of some "first time in America" brews.
Alas, Mathias was summoned to England on a beer emergency. (One can only imagine!) Not to be denied a good time, we carried on without him.
Warren warmed up the crowd with a rousing round of announcements: Still Nacht is a new
holiday brew available at Thrifty Beverage from the Dolle Browers. The Belgian Trappist Westmalle
Triple and Rochefort 10 are now available in bottles, and, if you can wait until the Spring thaw,
Aventinus will be coming to a tap near you sometime in March of 97.
The main event was an unannounced (or at least unpublicized) Belgian beer contest. The usual suspects, Warren, Jim and Bill, each had a number of entries. Bill's Belgian triple took the prize with an average score of 45 (total score -138). Warren's grand cru came in a close second with an average score of 38. The winning beer will go on to a national Belgian club-only contest held in December.
John Naegele, our resident beer judge, said he knew the triple was a winner as soon as he opened the bottle. The "malty sourness and alcohol" aroma gave it away. "Uh oh, this is perfect!" John exclaimed. The "frothy thick, pure white head and perfect color" got a top score of 6 for appearance. To fellow judge Anthony Accardi, the "delicious fruitiness" made this brew a winner.
Due to lack of further organized activities, we fell into a frenzy of homebrew tastings -- the fun part! One of the highlights was a Belgian Strong Ale by Bill and Jim. This two year old, 10.5% alcohol elixir was just the thing we girls needed on a cold fall evening. Suzanne Davis, although somewhat biased toward one of the brewers, actually gave this beer two thumbs up! Now if you know Suzanne, you know this beer must have been something special. It had a nice apple-ly flavor that I really enjoyed, too.
Next month is sure to be a festive meeting as we all break out our holiday cheer. I hope to see a few more of you bring in homebrews, too. Eric and I will be subjecting you all to a new Rye beer we threw together, so be prepared!
This Month's Meeting is once again at Mug's Ale House, 125 Bedford Avenue in Brooklyn, on Wednesday, December 11, 7:30 PM, where we will be celebrating the Christmas season with all
sorts of holiday ales and other good things! God rest ye, merry gentleman-and gentlewomen, for
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Season's Greetings From
Hop, Skip and a Brew
Just Mash It, Part 2
by George De Piro
Yes, it's time for more of that boring series on mashing. This article promises to be the dullest of them all, because it's kind of scientific. I will be discussing what mashing is and how it works.
Hopefully, by the time you've completed reading this series, you'll feel knowledgeable enough to try mashing. It seems intimidating, but it isn't. The chemistry at work in the mash tun is very forgiving. People were successfully mashing for millennia before they even had thermometers!
The second largest ingredient in beer is cereal malt (barley, wheat, etc.). Most malts contains a small amount of sugar and a lot of starch. The goal of mashing is to convert the starch to sugar. This is accomplished through the action of certain proteins in the malt (called enzymes). Enzymes are biochemical catalysts (substances that enhance chemical reaction rates). Different enzymes work best under different conditions.
The enzymes that are most important to beer making (and what else matters?) can be split into two groups: those that break up proteins (proteases and peptidases) and those that convert starch to sugar (amylases). Fortunately for the masher, these enzymes all work well at about the same pH (~5.3). Even more fortunate for the brewer is that they all work best at different temperatures, so by simply changing the temperature of the mash one can completely control the characteristics of the wort.
The enzymes that break up proteins work best in the range of 113 �F (45 �C) to 130 �F (54 �C).
At the lower end of this range the peptidases work their best, breaking small and medium sized proteins into free amino acids and very small proteins. At the high end of this range the proteases best do their work of cleaving large proteins into medium sized ones.
Too high a concentration of large proteins will cause haze in the final beer and make the wort too viscous to lauter easily. Too little medium sized protein will lead to a watery body and poor head retention. The yeast need free amino acids to do their magic, though. What is a brewer to do?
Most modern malts, and all pale ale malts already contain enough free amino acids for adequate yeast nutrition, because they are highly modified. This means that in most cases, you can skip the "protein rest" all together. When using malts that are high in protein, such as wheat malt, a protein rest should be done. A rest at 122 �F (50 �C) for 30 minutes is usually adequate to break down the excess large proteins, but will leave enough medium sized ones for good head retention and body.
The enzymes that are probably considered the most important (because they make the sugar that will become alcohol) are the amylases. There are two that concern us: alpha and beta. Beta amylase converts starch to simple, fermentable sugars by "chopping off" the simple saccharide units from the ends of starch molecules.
Alpha amylase converts starch into non-fermentable dextrins by breaking the larger starch molecules at their branch points. Nonfermentable sugars give the beer sweetness and some body
(although proteins contribute more to the mouth feel of a beer).
The brewer can completely control the fermentability of the wort because beta amylase works well between 135 �F (57 �C) and 149 �F (65 �C), while alpha amylase works best at higher temperatures (152 F-160 F; 66 C-72 �C). By choosing a saccharification rest within the beta amylase optimum temperature range, a very fermentable wort is produced. The resulting beer will be quite dry. By holding the mash at a higher temperature, the alpha amylase will work best (beta amylase is denatured at temperatures above 149 �F (65 �C), and the wort will contain a lot of unfermentable sugars, resulting in a sweet beer.
Multiple rests can be taken to produce a wort somewhere between these extremes. For example, a mash schedule can include a rest at 145 �F (63 �C) and another at 158 �F (70 �C). The wort's fermentability can be increased by lengthening the amount of time spent at the lower temperature.
So you can see that the main advantage the masher has over the extract brewer is that of control. The brewer can custom make the wort in any way that is desired, and the final gravity of the beer can be accurately predicted. Until extract producers include the ingredients and mash schedule on the label, an extract brewer will have no way of predicting a beer's final properties.
To read the complete version of this article, go to Just Mash It!
by Jim Simpson
Seasons Greetings fellow brewers and brewsters. I hope
your holiday beers are already bottled or at least in the secondary. Yes the holiday
season is upon us and if your Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanza, winter, etc. beer yet time is a
Traditionally the holiday beers such as Anchor Christmas, Catamount and Boston Beer's Old Fezziwig are malty, rich and seasoned with spices. They go back to early brewing traditions before the introduction of hops in brewing. Some use cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and orange peel to name a few.
Sierra Nevada and others have a different approach. Sierra Nevada brews a strong highly hopped pale ale called Celebration. Although there is little time before the holidays are here you can still prepare a moderate gravity brew.
First let's start with a pale ale or a brown ale recipe. We'll make the pale ale a little stronger and hoppier and to the brown ale we'll add some spices.
Pale Holiday Ale
7 lbs. light dry malt extract
1/4 lb. 60L crystal malt
2 oz. Kent Goldings 60 min.
1 oz. fuggles 30 min.
1 oz. favorite aroma hop 2 min.
1 oz. aroma hop (dry hopped)
Brown Winter Brew
9 lbs pale malt
1/2 lb. 60L crystal malt
1/8 lb. chocolate malt
1 1/2 oz. fuggles 60 min.
1 oz coriander 30 min.
1/2 oz. cinnamon 5 min.
1/4 oz. ginger 5 min.
Both of these beers are easy to make and bottled in 10 to 14 days. Of course longer aging will help. The extract brew is straight forward. The all-grain brew should be mashed in at 153-155 degrees F to give some residual sweetness. They both could be ready for your Christmas party Where's my invitation ?) if you brew them soon.
If you wish to add spices to only a few bottles you can make a potion. Simply take some 100 proof vodka and add the desired spices to it in a sealed container (to slow evaporation of the alcohol). After only a few days the vodka will assimilate the flavors and aromas of the spices. You pour the spiced vodka through a coffee filter and can now add a controlled amount to just one bottle or the whole batch. Be careful, a little potion goes a long way! Don't worry about infecting your batch with the potion. The vodka will kill all harmful bacteria and yeasts.
I hope this gives you some ideas for holiday beers. If I don't see you at the next meeting, I hope your holiday season is very merry, happy and healthy!
Don't forget to purchase your beer from
American Beer Distributing
256 Court Street,
Brooklyn, NY (Cobble Hill)
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Malted Barley Appreciation Society members!
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