Malted Barley Appreciation Society

Vol. 3 No. 4 November 1996
The October Meeting
by Bill Coleman
We didn't have any guest speaker at the last meeting. We had a lot of good homebrew, enjoyed some great food and great craft beer at Mug's Ale House, and had a great time. That's all I can remember.

By George De Piro

Shameless Pseudo-Journalism
Many of you have seen or heard about the NBC Dateline episode about contract breweries. The editor of this newsletter felt that we should include an editorial expressing our views on this matter.

Let me start by saying that Dateline is not a well respected source of information. Do you remember when they used model rocket engines to ensure that the fuel tank on a car would ignite when doing an "expose" about the safety of a certain motor vehicle?

This episode was no different. The story was a one-sided lambasting of the Boston Brewing Company by Anheuser-Busch. They "exposed" the fact that Sam Adam's brands are mostly contract brewed. How shocking! What they didn't mention is that Anheuser-Busch is one of the largest contract brewers in the world (if not the largest). Who makes Bud in Canada? Who makes it in Europe? No, A-B does not have their own breweries there. They also didn't mention the blatant lie on the "King of Beers"
label ("We know of no beer...that costs so much to brew and age...").

They conveniently ran the disclaimer that Anheuser-Busch is financially linked to NBC so quickly that if you happened to be blinking you would miss it. The fact that the two companies share common interests makes it impossible for them to present a properly balanced piece.

You may all be reading this and thinking, "Yeah, big deal. Anybody that knows anything about beer won't care. They'll just think less of A-B." The fact is, most people DON'T know a thing about beer, and will believe such ridiculous pseudo-journalism. If you don't believe that, check the price of Boston Brewing Co. stock. It fell ~5 points in the week following the Dateline slander (that was a 25% decrease!).

As beer-geeks it is important for us to educate as many people as possible about the wonders of beer and brewing. Only when the majority of people in this country demand a wide selection of flavorful beers will prices, selection, and quality meet our expectations.

Pseudo-journalists like those employed by NBC are not helping our cause. We should all be angry about this. I would encourage all of you to write Dateline to express your feelings about this episode.

Their E-mail address is It won't change what they've done, but it may make them think a bit harder the next time they assume that the public is dumb enough to accept such garbage as journalism.

This Month's Meeting is once again at Mug's Ale House , 125 Bedford Avenue in Brooklyn, on Wednesday, November 13, 7:30 PM. Our guest speaker is once again Matthias Neidhart, of B. United International, who will be brining in some amazing new beers from Belgium and England, that are making their debut at these shores!

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

Just Mash It!
by George De Piro
A few issues ago we discussed the equipment that is necessary for doing an all grain batch of beer.

Now, because of popular demand (well, one person asked...) we'll discuss the mashing process. I know, some of you still think that mashing is too difficult. It is my hope that this article might change your mind.

I'll be describing the easiest mash schedule there is: the single step infusion. Just because it's easy doesn't mean it will produce mediocre beer; many great beers are produced this way. In this article I will discuss only what to do, not why. The why will come next month! I am assuming you are using the equipment described in last month's article. If not, adjust the procedure to meet your needs. I'm keeping this simple to try and encourage people to mash, so if any veterans think I've omitted something, it was for simplicity's sake (or I just forgot).

We'll be making a typical American pale ale wort. We'll be shooting for an original gravity of 1.056 and an amber color similar to that of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. For this recipe you'll need 8 pounds of pale malt, 1 pound of 40 L crystal malt, and 1 pound of dextrin (or cara-pils) malt (all available at Hop, Skip, and a Brew...).

Dechlorinate your brewing water using your favorite procedure. You should have ~10 gallons on hand for brew-day. Heat about 3.25 gallons of brewing water to 170 F. Slowly add the crushed grain, stirring constantly to avoid balling. Check the temperature when you are done; it should be about 152 F. If it is within a couple of degrees of this, you're fine. If it is less than 149 F, add heat to bring the temperature to 152 F. If it is over 156 F, add cold brewing water until the temperature is about 152 F.

If you have pH papers, now is the time to use them. If you don't have pH papers, don't worry. This grain bill will land at the correct pH with most of the area's water. Use a spoon to sample the liquid part of the mash. Let it cool to room temperature, then dip the pH paper in it and wait 30 seconds or so. Discard the sample, don't return it to the mash! Match the paper's color to the closest color on the side of the box and note the pH. If it is between 5.0 and 5.6, you're OK. If it is too high, add some gypsum (calcium sulfate) to lower it. If it is too low, add some calcium carbonate or baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) to the mash. Only add these � tsp. at a time, they have a substantial effect.

Simply maintain the temperature at 152 F for 60-90 minutes. This allows enzymes to convert starch to sugar. Stir the mash and check the temperature every 15 minutes and turn the heat on under the mash tun and stir as necessary. If you insulate the mash tun by wrapping a blanket around it (or in some other way) it will hold the temperature pretty steady. While you're waiting for the starch to be converted to sugar heat 5 gallons of water to about 168 F. This is called "sparge water" and will be used to rinse the sugar off the grains and into your brew kettle during "lautering."

After about 60 minutes you will notice that the liquid part of the mash is clear and sweet. That is an indication that starch conversion is complete. You can also check for complete conversion by putting a small sample of the liquid on a white plate and putting a few drops of iodine on it (iodine is available at most pharmacies). If it turns black or dark blue, conversion is not done. If it stays red or yellow, you're ready to mash out and lauter! (Editor's note: Be sure not to put the iodine back in the mash!)

Heat the mash to 168 F and hold it there for 5 minutes. Then dump the entire contents of the mash tun into the lauter tun. I hope the spigot was closed! Let the grain bed settle for 10 minutes and then start recirculating the wort. Open the spigot (not too fast) and collect the cloudy wort in a suitable container (measuring cups work well). Collect one or two quarts at a time and GENTLY
pour them back into the lauter tun. Continue this procedure until the wort is reasonably clear. It will not be as clear as finished beer, so don't recirculate forever!

After the wort clears you can start collecting it in your boiling kettle. Attach a length of tubing to the spigot of the lauter tun and place the other end in the boiler in a way that minimizes slashing. You don't want to aerate the hot wort!

As the liquid in the lauter tun falls to the level of the top of the grain bed, gently add some 170 F sparge water. Don't let the grain bed go dry or the wort may get cloudy again. If that happens, just recirculate the runoff until it's clear. It should take you about 45 minutes to run 5 gallons of sparge water through the grain bed. If you rush, you'll get lower extraction efficiency (lower than expected starting gravity).

At this point, it's the same as brewing from extract! Boil, chill, pitch, aerate, etc. That wasn't so hard, now, was it? Sure, it took a bit longer, but it was MUCH more FUN! The control you have over your ingredients is much higher, and by varying the mash temperature you can control the fermentability of the wort.

Next time I'll talk about the reasons for the different temperature rests, because it's always nice to know why you're doing something! If you can't wait that long, check out Dave Miller's latest
book. He discusses mashing coherently and in detail, a rare gift.

Beer Drinker's Paradise, Part 3
By Jim Simpson

The drive from Amsterdam to Dusseldorf was uneventful, except for getting lost trying to find the hotel. Dusseldorf is a very pretty city. Situated on the east bank of the Rhine, you can hang around the many bars and cafes and watch the sunset, and in this part of the world the sun doesn't set until 10:30 PM. My first taste of Alt beer was very pleasurable. At one of the cafes along the river, they had a Bier Garten. Ordering beer was no problem, you asked for either Alt or Pilsner. Ordering food was more of a problem. In Brussels and Amsterdam most people spoke English, but not here.

I tried to learn some German from a tape and booklet, but I was not prepared for anything on the "spiessecarte" (menu). But back to the beer. Alt is served in a small .33l straight sided glass. The beer is amber to light brown, the aroma is of malt with a hint of fruitiness, the taste is exquisite going from malt to bittering hops. The aftertaste is extremely dry from the intense bitterness. A lot going on for a 1048 original gravity. Zum Uerge was a little too bitter for the style. The malt fades quickly behind the 60 IBU bitterness. Im Shiffen (the boat) and Shlosser Alt are more typical.

We took a side trip to Koln, the city that gives us Kolsch. This city is larger than Dusseldorf, but its beer is blander. Kolsch is very pale top fermented beer resembling cream ale except corn can not be used in the mash. It has a subtle malt character with hops providing a little bitterness. The beer is so clean tasting that it is extremely hard to distinguish it from brand to brand and from some bland German Pilsners.

On our trip back to Brussels we took a side trip through Aachen, a Roman German city on the boarder with Belgium and Holland. This is where Charlemagne had his throne during his reign as Holy Roman Emperor. Nothing impressive, just a couple of slabs of marble on the balcony of a church. After retrieving our car from the lot, I made a turn down some narrow street. Guess what, Aachen has a red light street! Another block of whores. Well needless to say, we had enough of that. On our way back we stopped off at Lovain, about 25 miles from Brussels and had a couple of Wit beers. At this pint I'm not sure which brand! We walked around for some time and had a few more beers. I tried Ginder Ale, an amber fruity Belgian ale and a few others not tried before. On our drive back to Brussels we were feeling no pain.

The next 4 days in Brussels was a blur. Between picking up souvenirs, sight seeing and buying beer at different stores. We went to Lindemans. Lindemans is around 5 miles southwest of Brussels in the town of VleeZenbeek. Once you go outside of the Brussels ring, all you see are barley and wheat pastures. It's real serene, rolling hills of yellow and amber. I called ahead so our guide Derek Lindeman was expecting us.

He was happy to show us the newmodern brewery, which is along side the old musty looking one. They still use old coolships to inoculate the wort. He showed us all the cob webs and old wooden barrels before letting us have a taste. We started off with one year old and two year old lambics from the cask. This was a treat. The one year old still had some residual sweetness, while the two year old had completely soured. These two beers would be blended together to make Lindemans Gueuze and Curvee Rene. Derek was kind enough to give us a bottle of Curvee Rene and a small bottle of tea beer. This was a Lambic that had fermented over tea leaves for one year then bottled with sugar to give an iced tea like drink. It sounded better than it tasted. This was the last brewery we visited, but we kept on drinking.

The last memorable place to drink was Morte Subite, where they serve the beer with the same name. I tried the Gueuze and Iggy the Kriek. Both were excellent, tart and refreshing. Our last day in Brussels was depressing. We had to catch an 11:00 AM flight, which meant getting to bed early to check out at 9. The only regret was not being able to stay longer.

Editor's Note: The Complete Series of these articles can be found at Malted Barley Archives

Don't forget to purchase your
beer from
American Beer Distributing
256 Court Street,
Brooklyn, NY (Cobble Hill)
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