Anything I’m Fermenting

July 15, 2008

BIAB / Brewing Update

Filed under: Beer,Brewing — iwouldntlivethere @ 7:13 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

Thanks PistolPatch for the tip about doughing in! (“You will find it easier to add your water to your kettle first, … add your bag and THEN pour your grain in. You’ll have no doughballs this way and no heavy stirring to do either.”)

I’ll post some pictures soon of my new 5-gallon batches (the photos in the earlier post are of my 3-gallon system). About the tip, I’m not sure why, but I still got dough-balls using your method. I ended up having to very slowly pour in the grist, while constantly stirring, to prevent them. Perhaps I have a finer grind, and the substantial amounts of flour make dough-balls an inevitability. On balance, I think this was easier than adding the water to the grist though, so I will continue to do it this way.

Changing gears, I want to quickly describe an experience I’ve gone through home-brewing, hopefully it will add to the general level of knowledge about homebrewing (i.e. others avoid my mistakes!).

I live in Toronto, and rather bizzarely for a large city with an active beer culture, there are no home-brew shops. There are one or two brew-on-premises places that sometimes sell a bit of extra grain or hops, and maybe a place way out in the hinterlands of Brampton (not an great option for the car-less, or car owners for that matter – it is a substantial trip of unproven utility). But otherwise homebrewers are limited to mail-order, or banding together to buy wholesale via a very helpful local microbrewery.

In short, getting malt is a real hassle. To stretch my malt, I use whole wheat flour as an adjunct – usually equal in wieght to about 1/3 of my base malt. As well, I found an Italian coffee substitute called Orzo that is simply roasted barley (kind of like black patent?), and a Korean ‘tea’ made from lightly roasted barley grain (SRM of around 65?). Unfortunately, I ran out of Orzo, and kept forgetting to go up to Corso Italia on St. Clair Ave to buy some more – realizing this only after I had already started a brew session. So in a pinch I just used ground coffee. Yup, just dumped about 100 g of it into my mash.

The results? Well, regular roast coffee has less darkening power than I would have thought – maybe around 250 or 300. And I believe it adds an acrid taste to the finished beer. Perhaps if I had added brewed coffee, rather than the actual grounds, I could have avoided this – but that would have involve a bunch of new variables, so I never did that (not realizing that it would end up tasting weird). The other unknown is the flavour effect of the Korean tea barley. I made a little trial batch with a bit of pale malt and the tea barley – didn’t taste great, but I did end up boiling off most of the water, and had to keep adding more to maintain a boil.

In the end, I was able to get a selection of malts including Carafa from Justin. So in my last batch I did not use either coffee or the tea barley – I may never know which the acrid taste actually came from.


  1. Hey just stumbled across your blog via google. What effect does the Orzo have on brewing? I actually drink this regularly (I like the taste) but have never thought to use it for homebrewing.

    While i realize it’s a bit far from Toronto (especially with no car) I get all my supplies from brewtime in Hamilton (which is where I live). They have everything you could ever want for homebrewing and the staff are extremely helpfull!

    Comment by Chips — May 14, 2009 @ 7:19 pm | Reply

    • I haven’t used Orzo in a while because I have a ton of roast barley now. It is – as I point out – just roasted barley pre-ground for you, so it probably tastes about the same as the roasted barley used by brewers.
      I still use the Korean roasted barley they use for tea. It is only lightly roasted so is brown and puffed up looking, not black. I think it adds a nice nuttiness to the beer, but I have never brewed with it alone as the darkening agent in a beer, so I am not entirely sure. I especially like it because it matches descriptions of the original brown malts used in England long ago (see
      Brewtime seems like an OK brew-on-premises place. Not very helpful website though – no products or prices listed. This kind of lack of info is a pet peeve of mine – it drives me nuts that they’d go to the effort of setting up a website, but then fail to post the type of information a website is particularly good for – lists of products, specs, and prices that are a hassle to get via telephone. Anyways, you are right, it is a bit too far for me to travel.
      I don’t know if you homebrew yourself, but there is a fairly active homebrewing group called the Southern Ontario Brewers around Toronto and Hamilton. We do group buys of brewing ingredients fairly regularly, and are planning a brew-day in the fall. Let me know and I can send you the info.

      Comment by iwouldntlivethere — May 19, 2009 @ 5:40 pm | Reply

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