Barley Starch for Brewers (IV: Granules)

 

Screen Shot 2014-10-24 at 5.49.15 PM

Starch granules contain alternating layers of less dense, amorphous starch (light blue) interspersed with more tightly packed, semi-crystalline regions of starch (dark blue). When exposed to water, the less dense regions swell, disrupting the internal structure of the granule.

Starch is composed of amylose and amylopectin. In barley malt, however, starch does not exist as a pure mixture of these two molecules, contained by the husk. Instead, Amylose and amylopectin are associated with other molecules, and packed into to tiny granules.

[Read more...]

Starch for Brewers (III:Amylopectin)

 

Screen Shot 2014-10-16 at 8.34.34 PM

A branch point within a molecule of amylopectin. Three glucose residues linked 1 –> 4 with the top one branching off with a 1 — > 6 linkage.

It’s Starch Week on Beer and Wine Journal, and today’s topic is amylopectin. Amylopectin is one of the two components of starch, the other being amylose, which was covered on Tuesday.

[Read more...]

Barley Starch for Brewers (II: Amylose)

Today is the first day of starch week on Beer and Wine Journal. (It’s like Shark Week on Animal Planet, but instead of ridiculous made-up crap about sharks, it’s facts about starch.) See the introduction to the series for an overview of the topics to be covered. Today’s post deals with amylose, one of the two main components of starch.

Amylose_3Dprojection.corrected

Glucose molecules joined in alpha 1 –> 4 linkages. In barley, amylose molecules typically range from 500 to 5,000 glucose residues.

The articles that compose this series on starch will have a few common themes. The most important is that the word starch refers to a variety of things, not a single, defined entity. For example, starch is composed of amylose and amylopectin. Any combination of these two molecules — from 1% amylose to 99% amylose — would be considered a starch, even though differing mixtures would have different properties.

Additionally, in real life situations, starches maybe complexed with proteins and other molecules. These other molecules can change the properties of the starch. Starch is also packed into different sized granules, which affects its solubility. Even heating and cooling starch can change its structure and its properties.

[Read more...]

Barley Starch for Brewers (I: Intro and Overview)

Amylase_reactionMuch of the (fairly) recent scientific work on barley starch should be of interest to advanced homebrewers or homebrewers with an interest in biology. This post is an introduction to a series of articles that will review what modern science has revealed about barley starch. Recently, I posted a series of articles on enzymes for brewers. Although it dealt with all brewing-relevant enzymes, not just starch-degrading enzymes, you can look at these starch articles as covering a lot of the same or similar ground, but from the perspective of the substrate, not the enzymes. (There will also be a few new enzyme-related topics, as well)

In this article, I will give an overview of the subject. In the subsequent articles, I will fill in all the details. In the individual articles, I will try to explain the topics so that you don’t need an extensive background in biology or chemistry to understand them.

[Read more...]

Beer News (Aug 27–Sept 24)

BWJlogoAs usual, let’s start with some “listicles,” articles in the form of a list. Recently, GQ listed the best 50 craft beers as picked by experts. Who these mysterious experts were, they didn’t say. Next, here’s a beer list — 5 non-pumpkin beers for fall. The internet is filled with best beer lists, but this is the first list I’ve ever seen that collects beers that will activate your gag reflex. (I’ve actually tried the Belgian mustard beer and was pretty good. Interesting, but good.) Next, here is a list of 6 ways to incorporate beer into your desserts. And speaking of adding beer to things, Starbucks is testing a stout-flavored coffee.

[Read more...]

Plan Your Brewing Season (Repost)

Screen shot 2013-09-02 at 3.44.28 PM

This is a repost of an article I first posted last September. Homebrewing season is upon us. Here’s how to prepare. 

 

With temperatures cooling off, many homebrewers who lack a modified fridge or chest freezer for fermentation temperature control are going to resume active homebrewing. Likewise, homebrew competitions are more frequent through the fall, winter and spring than in the summer, so competitive brewers have more incentive to brew. One thing that can help you have a more productive and enjoyable “brewing season” is a little planning.

Making a plan will involve considering how much time can allot to brewing and what special occasions you really want to brew for. This will allow you to set priorities, as well as plan so that your beers are ready on time.

[Read more...]

Interview with Steve Piatz

meadcoverII9780760345641Recently, I interviewed Steve Piatz about his new book, “The Complete Guide to Making Mead: The Ingredients, Equipment, Processes, and Recipes for Crafting Honey Wine” (2014, Voyageur Press). Steve has been a mead maker for a long time, going back to the days when there was practically no information on mead making and people were still boiling their mead musts. Since then, he has won numerous awards for his meads, including the 2008 AHA Meadmaker of the Year Award. He is also a mead judge.

[Read more...]

Rain Delaying US Barley Harvest: Losses “Catastrophic” In Some Areas

971497_289797154500041_1583280131_n

The vast barley fields — OK garden — of Bastrop, TX (in 2012)

Farmers in Montana and Idaho should have been harvesting their barley in the past two weeks. However, heavy rains have caused delays. In addition, the rains have been causing barley to sprout in the field. As little as 2% sprouted kernels will usually lead maltsters to reject a crop of barley, but in some parts of Montana, sprouting has exceeded 50%.

Much of the rejected malting barley crop could be sold as feed grain. But with prices already very low for feed, this is not much help for farmers with damaged crops.

In North Dakota — third in US barley production, after Montana and Idaho — rain is delaying the harvest, too. It is possible that US maltsters may try to buy barley from Canada, but Canada’s harvest is also being delayed by rain.

Some ag sources are calling the losses in some areas “catastrophic”. And, with the typical restraint seen in many on-line news sources, some are already prophesying a “beerpocalypse.” A note on the Probrewer forum, however, gives a slightly more sober assessment. Given that there are barley stocks left over from last year’s good crop, and at least some barley can likely be purchased from Canada (or perhaps elsewhere), the worst case scenarios are unlikely to unfold. A shortage of malt, for example, is unlikely. However, be prepared for malt and beer prices to go up.

[Read more...]

Do Clone Recipes Produce Clone Brews?

k3719-1i

Cloned sheep

There are an abundance of homebrew clone recipes in the homebrewing literature. (We even have a couple on our site. See the links at the bottom of this article.) These purport to give you a recipe that will produce a beer that tastes like the commercial example. But can you really brew a clone brew by following a homebrew clone recipe?

The short answer is that it is highly unlikely. I am not saying this to be needlessly contrarian, nor to disparage the skills of homebrewers. It’s simply is a fact that a clone brew recipe is highly unlikely to produce an exact clone of its intended brew. However, if we carefully examine why this is, we can get on the path to actually brewing a very respectable clone brew – if that’s what we wish — or simply to become better homebrewers who are more aware of the sources of variation in beer.

[Read more...]

Clarity Ferm Experiment, by Chris Hamilton (III: Results)

Screen Shot 2014-09-03 at 3.27.53 PMThis is the final installment of the series on the efficacy Clarity Ferm, the enzyme that purports to produce gluten-free beer, from Dr. Chris Hamilton of Hillsdale College. The series began on Wednesday. Yesterday’s installment described the two sets of experiments. In the first, differing amounts of Clarity Ferm were used to treat different aliquots of cream ale. In the second, different mash schedules were used to produce a stout. Clarity Ferm was added to half of the stouts. The idea was to test if a step mash — that contained a “protein rest” — would lower gluten levels by itself or in conjunction with Clarity Ferm. Here are the results. Hear an interview and tasting of samples on Basic Brewing Radio – September 4, 2014.

[Read more...]