Beer News (Oct 27–Nov. 21)

BWJlogoOK, let’s start with some listicles (articles in the form of a list). Thrillist gives their 15 beers to drink this winter and Paste lists their 15 best Christmas beers. And, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel gives their 9 beers to put you in the holiday spirit


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Thanksgiving Recipes


Mmmm . . . turkey.

Beer and Wine Journal is mostly about brewing, with a little winemaking and mead making content thrown in. But we also run the occasional story about food. Last year, I posted one Thanksgiving beer recipe (Cranberry Zinger) and one beer recipe that uses a typical Thanksgiving ingredient (Sweet Potato ESB). We also have a Pumpkin Beer recipe, if that’s your thing. I also posted a variety of Thanksgiving food recipes, which I summarize here.

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Cranberry Zinger (All-grain)


It”s that time of year again.

Thanksgiving is two weeks away and so today I’m posting the all-grain version of my Cranberry Zinger — a great beer to serve on Thanksgiving day. Quick and easy to brew, and virtually foolproof, this is a great seasonal beer.

The all-grain version differs slightly from the extract version. Basically, the OG is little lower, but don’t worry — it’s not brain surgery. Almost any wheat beer base from 10–13 °Plato (1.040–1.052), all-grain or extract, will work fine. This recipe actually makes a nice American wheat beer, so you could brew 10 gallons (38 L) and split half into a straight up American wheat beer and add fruit to the second half.

Cranberries are tart, and they are also a bit tannic. The orange pith in the recipe (part of the whole orange) gives some added bitterness beyond the hopping (which is low). The dry, tart, slightly puckering flavor (and mouthfeel) of the beer is accentuated by the high level of carbonation.

This beer ferments quickly (3–4 days) and, after the beer has contacted the fruit for about a week, you can keg it and it will be ready to go. If you keg your beer, you can brew the base this weekend and have it ready for Thanksgiving.

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The Steps in a Step Mash (II)

This is the continuation of a previous post


brewpotThe lower temperature rests in a step mash deal with hydration, mash pH, proteins, and beta glucans. They are not needed with most fully-modified malts, but work well with undermodified malts or home malted barley. Two of the three remaining rests deal with the degradation of carbohydrates — how starch is broken down into a mixture of fermentable sugars and unfermentable carbohydrates. These rests can be performed regardless of the type of malt you are mashing.

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The Steps in a Step Mash (I)

This a follow up to my recent post on single infusion mashes. Reviewing how enzymes work will make some parts of this article make more sense. 


brewpotSingle infusion mashes work well when brewing with fully-modified malts. However, there are times when a step mash is more appropriate. In a step mash, the mash is initially rested at a temperature below the usual saccharification range, then raised through one or more rests at progressively higher temperatures. To raise the temperature, the mash may be directly heated, infused with hot water, or decoctions may be pulled, heated, and returned to the main mash. (Additionally, in a cereal mash, a mash that was initiated separately from the main mash may be stirred in to raise the overall temperature of the combined mash.)

Performing a step mash is beneficial when using undermodified malt or home malted grains. In home malted grains — for which the degree of modification is likely to be uneven, compared to commercial standards — a decoction mash is likely your best bet.

There are historically relevant step mashes, such as the “standard” triple decoction mash, in which a specific set of rests is called for. On the other hand, any brewer can come up with his or her own step mash by choosing to rest or not at various temperatures. Here’s a quick rundown on the common steps found in a step mash, with some final thoughts on the overall mash program.

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Brewing In The Zombie Apocalypse


The dead have risen. It’s time to brew.

So the shambling horde is pounding at your door and the TV newscaster is telling you that you must destroy their brains to stop them. The zombie apocalypse is here and you just sit back and smile. Everything is going to be fine — I can brew my own beer.

Can you though? You do know that your malt (or most extract) will be stale in about 8 months, right? The hops in your freezer will lose their bitterness and, unless you have a generator to keep them frozen, they will become cheesy. (Even if you do have a generator, the gas used to power it will gel in a few years.) Those liquid yeast cultures won’t last forever, either. Unless this is the sort of zombie apocalypse in which your local homebrew shop stays open and stocked, you may need an extended guide to brewing in the zombie apocalypse. This is that guide.

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Barley Starch for Brewers (V: Gelatinization)


This is the fifth article in this series on starch. After an introductory article, I have posted articles on amylose, amylopectin, and starch granules

In the mash, brewers need to get the starch-degrading enzymes (amylase enzymes) to reduce the large molecules of amylose and amylopectin into mixture of fermentable carbohydrates (esp. the sugar maltose) and non-fermentable carbohydrates. In order for this to occur, the starch needs to be dissolved in water hot enough to dissolve it. This step is call gelatinization, even though gelation might be a more appropriate term. (When starch is dissolved in water, it would be more appropriate to describe the result as a gel. Gelatin is an animal product, formed from collagen.) However, the term “gelatinization” is firmly entrenched in the brewing literature, so I’ll use it here.

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Choosing a Mash Method (I: Single Infusion Mashes)


A single infusion mash.

When brewing an all-grain beer, you need to decide on a mash method. If you are following a recipe, the mash details are likely spelled out for you. However, if you’ve drawn up your own recipe — or are using an existing recipe and want to pick the best mash method for it — you should know how to choose a mash method.

Many homebrewers will choose their mash method based on the style of beer they are brewing — a single infusion mash for an English ale, a decoction mash for a German lager, or one of the slew of different mash methods used in traditional Belgian brewing for brewing a Belgian beer. (You will also need to decide on a lautering method — of which continuous sparging, batch sparging, and the no-sparge, brew-in-a-bag (BIAB) method are three popular choices for homebrewers. But that’s another topic.)

Practical homebrewers should understand that mashing is an extension of malting and the vast majority of malts produced today are intended to be single infusion mashed. These malts are called fully-modified. Unless your malt is labelled otherwise, any base malt you buy is overwhelmingly likely to be fully modified.

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Beer News (Sep 25–Oct 26)

BWJlogoHalloween is coming up, so let’s start with a listicle (an article in the form of the list) giving 13 Halloween beers. If you like fall beers, as long as they don’t contain pumpkin, here’s a list of 5 non-pumpkin beers to try. If you’re Australian, Gizmodo lists 5 Australian beers it thinks you should try. And, if you’d a taste of the US’s colonial past, here are 5 colonial-era cocktails to try, via Serious Eats.

And for the last of the listicles, here’s a list of 20 facts about working in a brewery.

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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.

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