Brut IPA (IV: Yeast and Fermentation)

This article has three sections preceding it. The first installment dealt with the concept of a brut IPA, the grist, and the mash. The second installment discussed the enzyme used to make a highly fermentable wort, amyloglucosidase. The third installment discussed hopping and the boil.

Once you have boiled the wort and cooled it, it is time for fermentation. Brut IPA is a pale ale to IPA-strength ale, so the fermentation should not present an enormous challenge. All the usual advice — pitch an adequate amount of yeast, aerate well, and hold your fermentation temperature steady — should be heeded. However, there are two additional considerations — attenuation and yeast nutrition.   [Read more…]

Brut IPA (III: Boiling and Bitterness)

The first installment of this article discussed the idea behind a brut IPA, the grist, and the mash. The second installment discussed the enzyme used to make a highly — to completely — fermentable wort. This installment will discuss the boil and packaging. 

Once the wort is in the kettle, and the enzyme treatment is over, the brewer should proceed to the boil. Brut IPA is supposed to have a lot of hop aroma, but not as much hop bitterness as a normal IPA. How much bitterness is, of course, up to you. The main things to consider when choosing a level of bitterness are the OG and FG of the beer, and — of course — your personal preference. [Read more…]

Brut IPA (II: The Enzyme)

The first part of this article describes brut IPA and discusses the grist and the mash.

Moonshiners like it, too.

A step mash can yield a highly fermentable wort that results in a dry to very dry beer. However, if you wish to go beyond “ordinary dryness” — as the pioneers of brut IPA do — you need something extra. That thing is an exogenous enzyme (i.e. an enzyme you add) that will degrade the “dextrins” in your wort to a degree beyond that accomplished in any mash. For the brewers of brut IPA, the enzyme of choice is amyloglucosidase. [Read more…]

Brut IPA (I: Description, Grist, and Mash)

Not a brut IPA

Many brewers are excited about a new type of beer that originated last year (2017) in California — brut IPA. Brut IPA is a dry, fizzy beer with plenty of hop aromatics, but not as much bitterness as a typical American IPA. The first commercial example is attributed to Kim Sturdavant of San Francisco’s Social Kitchen and Brewery. The name “brut” is taken from the terminology used to rank sweetness in Champagne and other sparkling wines — brut is the driest category in that ranking (although it is sometimes subdivided into brut and extra brut).

Now, I’m sure some brewers are wondering if this beer is just a fad or if it is going to become an official beer style, and if so what will the style guidelines say about this beer? In addition, some will likely question if it should really be called an IPA given its comparatively low bitterness. I’m sure someone out in beer writing land would love to pontificate loudly on these questions, so I will leave that to them. Instead, I will address the much more practical question — how could a homebrewer brew a brut IPA at home? [Read more…]

70% Ethanol as a Sanitizer

I learned to homebrew back in graduate school. At first, I used bleach as a sanitizer because it was cheap and effective. Later, as I became aware of bleach’s potential to cause off flavors (and pit stainless steel), I switched to iodophor and later Star San. In my lab, however, as in biology labs worldwide, there was a sanitizer I used almost every day — 70% ethanol (sometimes written 70% EtOH). It didn’t occur to me until recently that this could be used in a brewery.

Ethanol, combined with a little water, is an effective sanitizer. Scientists have figured out that it is most effective at a concentration of 70% ethanol (v/v, with the remaining 30% being water) — although it is almost as effective throughout the entire range of 40–95%. The water helps the ethanol penetrate bacterial cells better. In biology laboratories, 70% ethanol is most often used to wipe down lab benches. (Glassware is generally sterilized by being autoclaved.) When sprayed on a clean surface, it kills bacteria in a manner of seconds. [Read more…]

A Surefire Way to Improve Your Beers . . . And Why You Will Ignore This Advice

I once met a fellow brewer who had built his own RIMS system. He had two temperature probes in his mash vessel and had fiddled with the engineering of the heating loop and wort return. He had also tweaked his process, varying how the wort was heated, his pump speed, etc., and finally arrived at a point that he was proud of. He could hold his mash temperatures steady, within only 0.5 °F (~0.25 °C) over time or between different places in the mash (except for inside the heating loop, obviously). He could program virtually any step mash into his controller and the rig would carry it out. He was very proud of his accomplishment (as he should have been) and he offered me one of his beers. It was contaminated. [Read more…]

The Sad Path to Happiness

The grist of this batch included around 10 lb. (4.5 kg) of malt and roughy 8 lb. (3.6 kg) of beer bread (bappir) made from crushed malt and honey. 3.0 lb. (1.4 kg) of honey was also added to the boil.

For my Ancient Sumerian Happy Juice brewday, I was all set have a relaxed brew day where I just winged everything. After all, I’ve brewed before. I could deal with things on the fly, right?  And, the beer I was brewing was my interpretation of the English translation of a poem written by ancient Sumerians. So, no living person — including me — would ever know if my recipe and approach was right or wrong. As it turns out, I rediscovered why I normally never wing things on brew day. [Read more…]

Beer is Bread. Bread is Beer.

Cookies! Actually, “logs” of bappir (beer bread).

The first step in making Ancient Sumerian Happy Juice is making the wine. I’ve done that, it’s bubbling away, and it smells like wine. I also added some beer yeast to the mix, just to cover all the bases. The second step in brewing “the juice” is baking the beer bread, called bappir.  [Read more…]

Time to Get Happy

Grapes rotting — er, I mean turning into wine — in a pot.

OK, it’s time for me to get happy. And to do so, I’m going to brew another version of one of my favorite beers — Ancient Sumerian Happy Juice. Several years ago, I read the English translation of the poem Hymn to Ninkasi. This poem praises the goddess Ninkasi, who the ancient Sumerians believed watched over beer production. From the poem, I came up with a “beer” recipe. The beverage contains honey and fruits, as well as grains, so it’s really a hybrid beer, wine, and mead. The basic idea was that dates were crushed and made into wine. Barley was milled and mixed with honey and baked into bread, which the poem called bappir. Malted grains were then mashed along with the bread. The wort from this was boiled and then cooled and the fermenting date wine was added to it. I used some smoked malt in the recipe as I figured that ancient malting techniques may have yielded malt tainted with smoke.  [Read more…]

Cry Censorship and Let Slip the Flying Dogs of War

Four beers good. Two beers better. Don’t believe it.

Free speech and beer are two topics that are near and dear to my heart. So, I wanted to depart from Beer and Wine Journal’s usual homebrewing— but mysteriously not winemaking — content and write an opinion piece.

To start things off, and just so everyone is clear, the current kerfuffle between Flying Dog and the Brewer’s Association (BA) is not a First Amendment issue. The government isn’t trying (or succeeding) to censor anyone, so nobody’s Constitutional rights are being abridged. Secondly, the BA is a private group. As such, they can make whatever rules they want (within the bounds of legality). Thirdly — and this will be the main theme of this article — all groups that give themselves the power to make rules will continue to make rules until they run into opposition. Any group that has the ability to tell others what to do will attract people who like telling others what to do. And those who really like making rules will likely rise to a position of leadership. In turn, the people who like bucking rules will resist them. As Kurt Vonnegut would say, “And so it goes.” [Read more…]