By Eric Freberg
Thanks in part to word of mouth about our club at the recently completed beer appreciation class, turnout for the November meeting was the highest it's been in recent memory. The reason was not only that prospective beer judges wanted to put their new skills to the test, but also that Garrett Oliver was once again taking time out from his busy schedule at Brooklyn Brewery to speak to us and share some of his latest brew, Brooklyn Abbey Ale, a.k.a Abbeye de Breukelen.
Garrett and Brooklyn have recently been the source of pride for New York City at the GABF, where Brooklyner Weisse scored a Gold medal in its category, and Blanche de Brooklyn was the recipient of a Bronze medal in the Belgian White style. He pointed out coyly that this was a better showing than Celis White, which is well respected as the premier Belgian White produced in this country.
The Abbey Ale uses the same yeast as the Blanche de Brooklyn, only at higher fermentation temperature (70 degrees F). The recipe is still being tweaked. This version was somewhat light in flavor due to the desire to reach as large an audience as possible. With beer drinkers gaining a familiarity with the style, though, this should allow for a bigger beer in future batches. This would have the side benefit of covering up warm-temperature fermentation by-products which will not get the chance to dissipate over time. The Abbey does feature nine different malts, of which club members were able to guess more than half, as well as Mexican and Dominican sugar, obtained unprocessed from Domino. Garrett felt that this may have more aromatic qualities than Turbinado, but the driving factor here was cost savings; Belgian Candi sugar as an ingredient and Abbey styles in general are much more common for homebrewers than brewpubs or micros.
In addition to future versions of the Abbey, Brooklyn will have another batch of Monster Barleywine out in February to commemorate its 10-year anniversary. We were given an advance sampling of the then two-week-old Monster, which started at 23.6 degrees Plato (about 1.094 OG), and is now down to a low 3.7 (1.015). The young Barleywine had a pleasant underlying malt and berry nose and flavor, but was dominated by hops and alcohol in the aroma which should decline with further aging.
Also, a cask-conditioned Pennant Pale Ale is under development, and the Dunkel Weiss has been available for the last couple of weeks. Finally, Brooklyn Brown Ale will now be produced in Brooklyn (formerly at F.X. Matt in Utica), Garrett plans a slightly revised malt selection to improve the body of this beer. (Editor's Note: The Brooklyn Brewery will be producing the draft version only.)
As a final note, Brooklyn Brewery will be the site of a homebrew contest hosted by the MBAS on February 7, 1998. More details to follow at the December meeting. Start brewing now, the contest is open to all styles, but the deadline for entries will be the end of January.
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On Wednesday, December 10, 7:30 PM, the Malted Barley Appreciation Society will have our next monthly meeting. The guest for this month's meeting has not yet been definitely set; however, our esteemed President, Professor George De Piro, will give a homebrew talk at the beginning of the meeting. There should also be some holiday goodies. In addition, many good homebrews should be available for the tasting. As usual, the meeting will be held at Mug's Ale House, 125 Bedford Avenue in Brooklyn. See you there!
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by George De Piro
Those of you with Internet access may be familiar with the Homebrew Digest. It is a discussion group for homebrewers. If you've been participating in it for a while, you'll see that certain questions come up again and again. In this new series of articles, I'll be addressing some of the most often asked homebrew questions.
For those of you with E-mail access that would like to subscribe to the homebrew digest, simply send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org. The body of the message should contain only one word: "subscribe." A computer reads it, so don't bother with niceties like, "Dear" or "Please."
Stuck fermentation: Often caused by stressing the yeast in some way (one or more of the following: high-gravity wort, underpitching, under-aerating, too low a temperature, or too much carbon dioxide dissolved in the wort. Most assuredly cured by adding a large, strong yeast culture at high Kr�usen. If CO2 toxicity is the problem, swirling the fermenter a few times per day will release the CO2 and allow fermentation too continue. If the ferment is too cold, simply warming and swirling to resuspend the yeast will usually work.
Low Body and/or Poor Head Retention: Medium-size proteins give beer most of its body and head retaining abilities. If there aren't enough of them, the beer will be thin and headless. This is often caused by resting the mash between 113 -130 F (45 -54.4 C) for too long a time (it is usually unnecessary to rest here at all with most modern malts). In that temperature range peptidases break medium-sized proteins into free amino acids and small proteins.
Astringency can also make a beer seem thin; infected beers are often thin because the invading organism metabolized the desirable proteins and the astringent flavor they cause gives the perception of thin beer.
Stuck Mash: This term refers to the cessation of runoff during the lauter process. It can be caused by running the wort from the lauter tun too quickly. It can also be caused by crushing the grains too fine, or by using grains with a high level of proteins and glucans (wheat and rye).
If a "problem" grain is being used, stuck mashes can be avoided by utilizing mash schedules that break down large proteins and glucans. If the grind or the flow are the cause, simply use a coarser grind and slower runoff rate.
It is also important to have plenty of "open area" (the holes in the false bottom are the "open area") in your lauter tun, and to fill the space beneath the false bottom with hot water before adding the grains ("underletting").
Haze in beer: Cloudy beer has four main causes: Protein-tannin complexes (chill haze), nonflocculent yeast, unconverted (heathen) starch, and bacteria. Chill haze can be reduced by maximizing the degradation and removal of large proteins and tannins during the brewing process. Utilizing protease rests during the mash, decoction mashing, long, vigorous boils at pH ~ 5.0, and removing hot and cold "trub" will minimize chill haze. Long, cold lagering will also remove chill haze by allowing it to settle out before packaging.
Nonflocculent yeast can be settled by utilizing fining materials such as gelatin or Isinglass, or by simply reducing the temperature of the ferment to near freezing.
If the haze is caused by starch or bacteria you have to filter it out, but you may as not waste your time because the beer will very likely have other problems associated with infection.
Poor Extraction Efficiency: Extraction efficiency is the measure of how much sugar was made in the mash tun versus how much sugar could theoretically have been produced. There are many causes for poor yields in the mash tun. The simplest is an inaccurate scale leading to lower than believed grain weights. The next easiest to fix is too course of a grind.
The mash pH must be between 5.2 and 5.6 to get decent conversion efficiency, so if you never measure pH and get poor yields, perhaps you should check the pH!
Sparging too quickly will also lower your extraction efficiency. It should take 45-60 minutes to run the sparge water through the lauter tun if you want to achieve good efficiency.
Many homebrewers believe that it is OK to accept poor extraction efficiencies (because grain is relatively inexpensive), but there are potential problems. One is that by using extra grain, you are also introducing extra husk material, which can contribute tannins that can produce haze and/or astringency. Poor efficiency is also a signal that something is fundamentally wrong with your system, and could lead to lowering the quality of your beer.
Beer not carbonating: Sometimes homebrewers will encounter bottles of flat brew. One cause of this can be forgetting the priming sugar. In that case the fix is easy; don't forget next time!. Flat beer can also be the result of relying on yeast exhausted by a high-gravity ferment, or yeast that have been "put to sleep" by a long, cold lagering. If this is the case, you should add fresh, healthy yeast at bottling time along with your priming solution.
If the carbonation problem varies from bottle to bottle, then the cause can be either inadequate mixing of the priming solution into the beer or poor seals on some of the bottle caps. Many people boil their caps to sterilize them before use. While this is a good idea, the plastic on the caps can become deformed after more than a few minutes at boiling temperature, so go easy on them!
by Jim Simpson
I trust you all read last month's article by B.R. on her escapades in Germany. If not then you probably will skip this one too. For the rest of you, I will try to give some insight into brewing this style of beer. The parameters for this style are very narrow. The specific gravity falls into the 1.044-1.048 range. Bitterness should be around 20-25, just enough to feel their presence. Very little hop flavor and aroma are appropriate. The color you should be aiming for is golden straw.
The beer is fermented on the cool side (60-65F) for an ale and usually lagered near freezing. This is a very delicate beer. There should be a faint fruitiness, slight malt character, mild floral hop aroma and a dry wine like finish. Some examples can have some sourness. The yeast plays a major role in producing the dry-crisp finish. Wyeast 2565, Kolsch, is probably a lager strain, but gives fine results. If you want to go for a maltier finish you might try 1338, European ale.
The grist is of course all malt (Reinheitsgebot) and can contain up to 15% wheat. I find this adds to the fruity-spiciness and also helps head retention. I added some rye malt to add a little complexity and some Vienna malt to add maltiness and color. If you want a dry finish, then you'll want to mash at a low saccharification temperature (148150F). Most commercial breweries will do a single decoction but for the homebrewer a step infusion will work fine.
I find that Kolsch beer makes a good base for a fruit beer. The hops do not over power the fruit flavor and if you go for a maltier finish, the sweetness will help support the fruit flavor.
Here is an extract recipe for 5 gallons followed by an all-grain recipe for 12.
Here is the all-grain version.
Recipe makes 12 gallons
Starting gravity 1.047
First Mash temperature 130F
Decocted Mash boiled for 10 minutes added back to raised temperature to 155F
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