Archives for October 2014

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)


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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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Starch for Brewers (III:Amylopectin)


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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.

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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.


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.

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