Malted Barley Appreciation Society

Malted Barley Appreciation Society Newsletter

Vol. 4,  No. 3, March 1997


The February Meeting

by Lucy Zachman

The Monster Mash

If you missed the February meeting, you missed our first guest speaker of 1997. Garrett Oliver, of the Brooklyn Brewery, came over to share his Monster Barleywine with us. It was big, but not too scary.

Garrett said he aimed to produce a barleywine that was somewhere between an English and a West Coast style. On the English end of the scale you have old and modern styles. An example of old English barleywine is Thomas Hardy's, a thick, malty elixir designed to improve with age. In the modern English category you'll find Fullers Golden Pride, a variety that is made with 10% pale malt to give it a distinctive hue. This beer is often an alternative to scotch and is expected to age only moderately.

Cascade hops give Foghorn and Bigfoot that familiar West Coast flavor. Aged for only two months to a year, these beers are usually holiday favorites.

Garrett wanted his barleywine to have a soft malt character and 8-12% alcohol. This was particularly important since the Monster had little time to grow up -- about 3 � months. His recipe was primarily a 50/50 blend of pale and Maris Otter malts, with a sprinkling of crystal and chocolate malts to round and soft the flavor. (Brooklyn's Pennant Ale was made with 100% Maris Otter malt.)

In the end, one ton of malt was used to create 25.5 barrels. Garrett noted that he also added 1% dextrose, a traditional additive, to enhance the alcohol content without arresting the yeast as dextrine would.

To give it that West Coast hop character, about 45 pounds of hops were used -- 25 lbs. of Willamette and Cascade for bittering and 20 lbs of U.S. Fuggles for aroma. No dry hopping was necessary.

Finally, Fuller's yeast was pitched at about 62-68 degrees to attain attenuation of 23.7 (that's 1.096 to 1.014 for us homebrewers). While Garrett felt this was a challenging beer to brew, the results were well appreciated by our group.

Next on Brooklyn Brewery's schedule is an Irish Dry Stout which will be (or was depending on when you read this) unveiled on Friday, March 7. In fact, it may have come out -- check your local beer bar!

As a final note, I want to mention another exceptional homebrew we had the opportunity to try. Jimmy Eisenhower and Francis Kucija allowed us to sample their delicious imperial stout. This is the first time these two have given us the pleasure of trying their beer and we can only hope there is more to come. Their all-extract stout was intensely chocolatey with a hint of licorice -- a real treat! Thanks guys, see you all next time.

This Month's Meeting: Our Guest is Sebbie Buhler, of the Rogue Brewery, who will tell us all about their wonderful beers. As usual, it is at Mug's Ale House, 125 Bedford Avenue in Brooklyn, on Wednesday, March 12, 7:30 PM. See you there!

Note to readers: The Malted Barley Appreciation Society has joined the World Wide Web. Check out our page, courtesy of the New York Beer Guide, at: Malted Barley Appreciation Society.

We also have a new home page, under construction, by your editor, at: Malted Barley Appreciation Society Home Page.

Lastly, we have an E-Mail address. Any E-Mail can be sent to the editor at:
my E-Mail address. Keep those E-Mails coming in!

Secrets of Recipe Formulation, Part 2

by Jim Simpson

Now that you understand how malts contribute to the flavor profile and starting gravity of your beer. We will now explore how hops and yeast will impart their characteristics.

Hops contribute three primary attributes to your brew. The first being bitterness which offsets the sweetness of the malt. Bitterness comes mainly from the alpha-acids contained in the lupulin glands of the hop flower. Alpha-acids are insoluble in wort. Hops must be boiled to isomerize the alpha-acids. The iso-alpha-acids are soluble in wort. So when we boil for an hour we impart the maximum bitterness. Hop flavor is imparted with less boiling time. When boiled for 15 to 30 minutes hops will contribute a varying degree of flavor and a proportionate amount of bitterness. Essential hop oils give off the hop aroma. This can be very desirable in many beer styles but can be distracting in bocks, stouts and inappropriate in scotch styles. Boiling will drive off these oils. Adding hops at the end of the boil or in the secondary fermentor will retain the aroma from these oils.

Some hops are used primarily for bittering. Cluster, Chinook, Eroica, and nugget have high alpha-acid contents. They can be used in small amounts to achieve moderate amounts of bitterness. When used in large amounts they will give off an harsh flavor.

Traditional aroma hops can be used for bittering, flavor, and aroma. Saaz, Hallertau, Tettnang, and East Kent goldings are prized for their essential oils. Some commercial beers from Germany will use only "noble" hops for their beers. These brewers recognize the subtle qualities that these hops will provide even in the bitterness.

To predict the amount of bitterness we an use two accepted methods. The first is the "easy" way. Developed by Charlie Papazian using alpha-acid units (AAU's) or homebrewer's units (HBU's). One AAU or HBU equals one ounce of one percent alpha-acid hops boiled for one hour in five gallons of wort. So if I boil one ounce of Cascade @ 5.5% alpha-acid for one hour and one ounce Fuggles @ 4.5% alpha-acid for 30 minutes I would have a total of 7.8 AAU or HBU.

The other method uses International Bitterness Units (IBU's). This method takes into account a utilization factor which varies with specific gravity, kettle design and how vigorous the wort is boiled. Many breweries will send samples of their product to labs to have it analyzed. This will tell them among other things how the hops are being utilized in their kettle. If you take good notes and have a decent palate you can tell what kind of utilization you are getting. If you know how many IBU's are in a beer you are trying to make you can use this following formula to figure the bitterness level.

IBU = ounces of hops % alpha-acid utilization factor gallons of wort 1.34

For a one hour boil in normal gravity wort (<1.060) the utilization factor will be 25%, for 30 minutes 15% and for 15 minutes 5%. Therefore using the above example we end up with 30.6 IBU's:

This is a good way to replicate certain beers but you will also have to do some research and experimentation to get the varieties right. A good source for researching beers is any book by Michael Jackson. With a little practice you can come surprisingly close to your favorite brew and make some interesting discoveries on the way!

Yeast selection is the last major influential ingredient we have to choose. When deciding on my next batch I usually will make my decision based on what yeast I have available. If I plan a few weeks ahead I can order special yeast to grow for my beer. Most yeast culturing companies can give you a list of properties specific to each culture of yeast they offer. If you are still using dry yeast you are severely limited in choices. Stepping up to liquid yeast's will not only give you more variety but will also assure you of getting pure yeast cultures. (I am not going to explain yeast culturing since Bill Coleman wrote a magnificent series on the subject, which can be seen at Yeast Culturing!)

Wyeast, the most famous yeast supplier in the US, has a pamphlet it supplies to retailers. It lists all the properties and gives a basic flavor profile for each yeast. An example of the description follows.

1007 German ale yeast. Ferments dry and crisp, leaving a complex but mild flavor. Produces an extremely rocky head and ferments down to 55 degrees F. Flocculation - low; apparent attenuation -- 73-77%. (55-66 degrees.)

From this description I can evaluate what types of beers to make. Since it ferments at such a low range I do not expect many fruity esters. The attenuation indicates what my final gravity should be. I don't expect much residual sweetness at 77% apparent attenuation. Dry and crisp also tell me that. I guess this would work well in a Kolsh or an American wheat ale. If I wanted to make a Scottish or Scotch ale I would choose a yeast with a low apparent attenuation, able to ferment at low temperatures and not estery. Luckily Wyeast makes an excellent Scotch ale yeast that also ferments high gravity worts.

Well I hope these two articles shed some light into formulating your next brew. Just remember to have fun, take some notes, be adventurous and make sure you bring it to the next meeting!

Oktoberfest in March!

By  George De Piro

Some of you might be wondering why we're printing an article about Oktoberfest beers in March. Well, the answer is simple. Oktoberfest, or Maerzenbier, was traditionally brewed in a March and lagered until September. The other reason is that I missed the October deadline...

Oktoberfest. To people dreaming of beer heaven, the word conjures up visions of oom-pah bands, men in liederhosen, and barmaids hoisting more steins than should be humanly possible! The best part of this dream has got to be the beer in those steins.

M�rzen is the traditional Oktoberfest beer. It is an amber lager of respectable strength, dominated by wonderful toasted malt aroma and flavor. Hops are used in a subtle fashion, adding just enough bitterness to enhance the beauty of the malt. Like all beers brewed in accordance with the famous Reinheitsgebot (the Bavarian Purity Law), M�rzen contains only malted barley, hops, water, and yeast. Only a beer of such elegance and depth could stand as the centerpiece of the great festival.

The Oktoberfest as we now know it has only been celebrated since 1810, when the first fest was held to celebrate the engagement of Bavaria's crown prince. Before then, the festival marked the reopening of the breweries after the summer "off season." In the days before glycol-cooled cylindroconical fermenters, brewing was not usually done year-round in Bavaria. A strong beer was brewed in March and was stored and consumed throughout the summer (hence the name M�rzen: M�rz = March). The beer's high gravity enabled it to avoid infection. At summer's end, the leftovers were consumed at one heck of a party!

The original M�rzen must have been a warm-fermented ale (lagers weren't known until the middle of the 19th century), and was probably sweeter then modern fest beers. This is probably the case with most "ancient" beers, because of poor temperature control during the mash, amongst other reasons.

The first modern Oktoberfest beer was brewed by the Spaten brewery in Munich during the mid-1800's. Gabriel Sedylmayr, owner of the Spaten brewery, utilized advances in refrigeration technology to ferment beers with special yeast at low temperatures. The resulting brews lacked the fruity yeast by-products associated with warm-fermented ales, thus allowing the malt and hops to be more fully expressed. This new beer style, called lager, was an instant success in Munich.

Spaten's Oktoberfest beer was similar to Vienna lager, but brewed to a higher gravity (around 1.060; weaker than bock, but not by much) and lagered cold for 9 months. In our time, fest beers are now of a somewhat lower gravity (about 1.055) and some are available year-round. They are not usually lagered for as long as in the past.

Brewing a good Oktoberfest beer at home is quite challenging. The first hurdle to overcome is proper interpretation of the malt profile. Traditional Oktoberfest beer should be malty, with plenty of toasted malt character. It should have a slightly dry, malty finish, but not be bitter. Hop flavor is also quite subdued, and hop aroma is negligible. This is a malt-driven beer.

The biggest mistake made by homebrewers is to misinterpret the malt profile and make a beer that has caramel notes. While the beer might be quite palatable, it will not be true to the style. The use of crystal malts should therefore be minimized.

The desired toasty malt character can be achieved through the use of high-quality, imported Munich malt and, if you're a masochist, decoction mashing.

My Oktoberfest recipe yields excellent results when decoction mashed. If an infusion mash schedule is to be followed I suggest increasing the Munich to Pils malt ratio to ensure that the product will have the desired malt profile.

The next challenge to be met is one faced by every lager brewer: maintaining low fermentation temperatures and handling the wort in such a way that the resulting beer is clean tasting. Fermentation by-products like esters and diacetyl must be minimized. The wort must be quickly chilled, pitched with an adequate amount of yeast, and be well aerated to ensure a clean product.

The following recipe won me a gold medal at this year's AHA National Homebrew Contest. It is a malty beer with some toasty notes. The hops are perceptible, but only enough to make you appreciate the malt. The color is just a bit lighter than Spaten Ur-M�rzen. Dave Miller, one of the second round judges, commented, "Just about dead-on for style."

Oktoberfest beer is a truly wonderful and elegant style. It is not an easy beer to brew, but if you succeed you'll find that it's even harder to keep it in the keg! "Just one more pint, then I won't touch it till September..."

Milo-M�rzen #2

(named after my abnormally huge, 2 year-old black Lab)

I used a double decoction mash, with rests at 122F (20 min.), 149F ('till iodine is negative), and 158F ('till Iodine is neg.).

The 1.5 gallon decoctions are pulled after the 122 and 149 rests, are quite thick, and boiled for 30 min. each. The first decoction has a rest at ~154F for 30 min. before boiling. The second decoction is brought to boiling immediately.

Mash-out at 168, lauter, and boil for 1.5-2 hours. Chill rapidly to ~50F. Removal of both hot and cold break is recommended (use your favorite techniques). Pitch yeast and aerate well.

Primary fermentation is at 45-50F, secondary fermentation for 2-3 weeks at the same temperature in a carboy with an airlock to allow hydrogen sulfide gas to escape (German lager yeast produces this foul-smelling gas), then lager at 32F for a while (9 months is traditional). Taste it during lagering to help determine when you think it's done.

The lagering step was in a keg. Carbonation was achieved by force carbonating at the beginning of lagering. If you bottle condition, be sure to add fresh yeast at bottling time because the original yeast will probably not wake up from it's long, cold rest.

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