Anything I’m Fermenting

February 14, 2012

Sake pt 2: Fail!

Filed under: Brewing,Sake — iwouldntlivethere @ 4:23 am
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Fail! Just want to report and discuss the failure of the koji batch.

I didn’t take photos, but after 12 hours the koji was looking great – starting to stick together, getting a good covering of white fuzz. Then… it flat-lined. The white fuzz disappeared, the rice just looked like boiled (n.b. – not steamed) rice; it smelled nice and koji-ish, but wasn’t sticking together. It just didn’t feel right. I gave it an extra two days, but nothing changed, so I composted it.

I wasn’t obsessively monitoring the temperature, but I did notice it go up to 103F once. However, my suspicion is that it over-heated. Unlike in Bob Taylor’s method, where the rice is spread out on a plastic tray, I tried using a ziplock bag. I believe that this reduced the surface area of the growing koji enough to enable it to create enough internal heat to cook itself. Also, there’s a photo on the Ontario Spring Water Sake Co’s homepage of a cake of koji – it isn’t very thick, maybe 1.25 inches. Considering the size of koji batches they make, where growing the koji in thicker cakes would save a lot of space, it must be important to them to keep the cakes thin. The over-heating hypothesis also explains why the koji failed after apparent success – it took the first 12 hours to build up enough cell mass to generate heat. Live and learn; good thing I have lots of koji-kin!

I’m trying again, but with the rice spread out in two plastic containers:

It's just two trays stacked on top of each other.

The lids are not closed, they don’t even fit well into the cooler, so there is a lot of air exchange. They’re mostly there to keep condensation off the rice.

Here’s the thickness of the rice (very fluffy at this point):

You’ll probably notice the brownish spots in the photo. I absentmindedly forgot to close the lid of the koji-kin jar when I was innoculating this batch, and about 20 g of koji-kin rice fell in. I just went with it and mixed it in and hope this is enough innoculant, and that nothing bad will happen.

I’ve also been thinking about the placement of the thermometer probe in the rice. My feeling is that putting it in the middle of the rice means that the outside could get pretty hot before the heat reaches the middle. However, once the koji is generating its own heat, if the probe is not in the middle, it will not be measuring the maximum temperature. Not sure what to do yet.


February 10, 2012

Sake: The Mother of All Ferments, pt 1

Filed under: Brewing,Sake — iwouldntlivethere @ 8:53 pm
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I’ve never really liked sake. The stuff served at sushi joints and even izakaya type places around here always seemed insipid – drinkable, but not worth searching out. Then somebody got me to go to a tour/tasting at the new Ontario Spring Water Sake Company‘s Izumi sake brewery nearby. The sake they make blew my mind – I really, really liked it. I guess all it takes to be a good sake is being a freshly made, unpasteurized, 100% rice sake made in small batches by expert sake brewers! If you can get your hands on some, you should.

Of course, this being me, I now had to try making some myself. Turns out it’s not that easy, but not impossible. What’s really intriguing about sake is that it can involve three fermentations – one by koji mold to create amylase enzymes to break down the starch in rice to simple sugars, one by lactic acid bacteria to slightly acidify the mash, and one by yeast to make the alcohol. Beyond this the cool thing about the yeast ferment is that it happens on the grain, as the enzymes from the koji break down the rice, so the yeast is fed a steady amount of sugar over the period of the fermentation. This allows the yeast to ferment to much higher alcohol levels than found in other fermented drinks, without distillation.

From various sources, it seems to be accepted that the main objective in sake making is to minimize flavour. The main flavour components of finished sake come from the koji mold, plus a little from the yeast. The regular practice is to use highly milled (polished) white rice – the more milled, the less flavour, the better. The yeast ferment is kept fairly cold to prevent much flavour creation (like in lagers), and even the lactic acid bacteria’s contributions are negated by the common practice of using refined lactic acid to acidify the mash.

I guess this is why the mass-market sakes I had were not appealing, as they use further practices to reduce the flavour like carbon filtering (Zima, anyone?), diluting and adding alcohol, etc. Even some of the high-end sakes I’ve since tried have been very uninspiring because they didn’t taste like much. However, there seems to be a happy zone achieved by some sake brewers where off-flavours are reduced, but there still remain enough other flavours to make the sake interesting and enjoyable.

The sake brewing method I’m using is based on the instructions found on Bob Taylor’s excellent website Taylor-MadeAK – Brewing Sake, and the insights (and koji spores) gained from Home Brew Sake. Rather than repeat what they’ve already written about, I’ll just note my variations. As with all my posts on this blog, my main objective to to record my thoughts and processes for myself in the future, and secondarily for anybody from the public to learn something.

Step 1: Make Koji

1.1 Rinse, soak, drain, then steam 5 cups short-grain white rice (3.5 for koji, 1.5 for the moto):

Rinsing rice half-way

This is after about ten changes of water

Rinsing Rice end

This is after at least 20 changes of water; you can just about see the rice now

I gave up rinsing after about half an hour of continuously rinsing and changing the water. The water was still cloudy at this point, but there was no end in sight, so maybe starch from the actual rice grains was washing into the water.. In any case, the rice turned out fine, so I’m not concerned.

The rice soaked for 2.5 hours (this includes the half hour of rinsing) – this is about the time I found I needed based on earlier trials with this type of rice (Shirakiku Brand Calrose rice). It drained for another couple hours (we went for dinner), and I steamed it for 45 minutes in a steamer lined with a piece of leftover mesh material from the bag I use for brewing (‘voile’ curtain sheer fabric). I have this fabric on hand, and the rice doesn’t stick to it.

Rice loaded into steamer, lined with voile fabric square

1.2 Innoculating the rice

After steaming the rice for koji was cooled on a cookie sheet, then loaded into a large ziplock bag (the rice for the moto went into the fridge). I had made a batch of koji previously that I let go to spore, rather than use for sake. This is the source of spores for the koji (the original spores come from Home Brew Sake). To inoculate, I punched a lot of holes in the lid of a mason jar with a nail and hammer – this is very effective because the holes made sharp little points on the inside of the lid, which abrade the rice/spore/koji mixture and help release the spores. When I’m not using the koji-kin, I put a paper coffee filter over the lid to allow the koji-kin to stay dry and fresh, but not escape.

Inside the lid

The perforations are quite sharp!

Koji Kin in Jar

The jar is covered with the filter seen in the background when not in use.

To actually get the spores onto the rice, I lay the ziplock bag of rice on its side and put the koji-kin jar’s mouth into the bag, then close the zipper of the bag as tightly as I can around the mouth of the jar. Then I invert the jar over the rice and shake it up and down for a bit. When I see a layer of spores on the rice I remove the jar and close the zipper fully, then mix the rice up inside the bag. The rice is then dumped onto the cookie sheet again, and fully mixed by hand.

Repeat the process once more – the rice should look a bit green from the spores. Try not to let air into and out of the bag when you are shaking the jar as this releases the spores from the bag before they’ve had a chance to stick to the rice.

1.3 Incubating the koji

The inoculated rice must be kept in a warm, humid environment. As per Bob Taylor’s instructions, I made an incubator out of a cooler, with some minor modifications. For a heat source I used a cable heater meant for reptiles – it’s cheap, readily available, doesn’t need to be modified (no thermostat), has a safety margin in that it doesn’t heat beyond 50C, and is waterproof. The instructions say not to use it near water (likely for liability issues if the silicone coating has been scratched by, say, an iguana), but during my first koji attempt, the cable was under a centimeter of water for many days with no problems. For this time, I’m using a different configuration to keep the cable off the bottom of the cooler where condensation collects – better safe than sorry. But in any case, it can easily handle the damp and condensation inside the cooler.

(NOTE: This method – using a ziplock bag – DID NOT WORK. The koji over-heated, see Sake pt 2.] Also, the rice is in the same ziplock bag I used to innoculate it as it can be folded over, but still open to the air (see photo). In my first attempt at koji I found that condensation would drip off the top of my cooler and onto the rice, making little spots of infection on the surface. The bag will prevent this. Like Bob Taylor, I use a temperature controller I have for brewing beer to keep the temperature around 96F.

Incubator loaded with koji

The temperature controller is to the right, its temp probe is inserted into the bag of rice in the cooler.

Here’s a photo of the incubator empty. The rectangular plastic container is to hold the bag of rice off the bottom of the cooler, and the small one holds water for humidification. The repti-heat cable is wrapped around the bottom half of the cooler, and is taped in place with aluminum vent tape (what I had on hand, I presume it is heat and damp proof).

Empty Incubator

June 30, 2010

Lauku Alus, part 2

Filed under: Beer,Brewing — iwouldntlivethere @ 5:24 pm
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Looks like I’ll be making this beer again – for both good and bad reasons. (more…)

June 23, 2010

Lauku Alus (No-Boil Latvian Country Ale)

Filed under: Beer,Brewing — iwouldntlivethere @ 7:16 pm
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Introduction :
This spring I started researching online about the local beers in Latvia, where my grandparents are from. I found out that there is a fairly vibrant culture of farm-house brewing still being practiced, although it is mostly old-timers now. As such it is in a bit of danger of dying out, so there are efforts in Latvia to record how these beers are made. Some of this info has made it online.
One of the interesting things about these beers is that many are made without boiling the wort after mashing – it is simply allowed to cool, and yeast is pitched. Hops are boiled separately, as a hop tea that is added to the wort. (more…)

March 12, 2009

Absolutely! Dry Beer.

Filed under: Brewing — iwouldntlivethere @ 6:41 pm
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Rather than respond to Sjoerd’s question in the comments, I think it is worth discussing it in it’s own blog post.

Here’s the question (I’ve edited it a bit to summarize):

I wonder if it is possible to create an absolutely dry beer, by first doing the alpha-step on 73 degrees, and then adding beta-amylase enzymes and continue mashing at 60 degrees. I remember reading that enzymes reside in the liquid parts for the most. Most of the starch, however, resides in the non-liquid parts. (more…)

March 10, 2009

Making the ‘Champage of Beers’ Part 8 (finally!)


So I’ve been otherwise engaged for the last few months. Sorry. Maybe this will make Sjoerd happy? The cliffhanger I’ve left you with was how will I make the Champagne of Beers ‘dry’? Actually, the cliffhanger is more like how did the beer turn out!

In regards to the dryness, I aimed to ensure a complete conversion of starches to simple sugars (as far as possible) by regulating the temperature. I started relatively low (around 63 C) and stayed there for 30 minutes. Then raised the heat to 67 C for another 30 minutes, finally I brought it up to 70 C for 30 minutes. The first step is ideal for beta-amylases, so they get to make a lot of simple sugars. Unfortunately, they leave behind a lot of starch because they are stumped by branches on the starch molecules. So the rest at 67 C (the typical homebrew saccharification rest) tried to get the alpha-amylase into the action to break apart the big starches into smaller ones – but still allow the beta-amylase to continue its work chewing up the starch into simple sugars at the new end-points of the starch molecules created by the alpha-amylases’s snips. The final rest, at 70 C is to get the alpha-amylase into its happy place. Unfortunely, this is hot enough to cook the beta-amylase, but my hope was that it would have finished its work by now. However, the alpha-amylase could still snip apart ‘branch-limit dextrines’ and other complex sugars in to smaller, hopefully simpler ones, that the yeast could then tear into (and so drying out the beer).

The other contributor to dryness in the Champagne of Beers is all the cane sugar I added to it. This is a bit counter-intuitive (isn’t sugar sweet, which is not dry?). Being completely composed of a simple sugar, the yeast can convert all of it into alcohol. So no worries about sweetness. In addition, by relying on cane sugar for a substantial part of the extract in this recipe, the proportion of complex, unfermentable sugar is correspondingly lower. Further, I believe that the taste of alcohol itself balances sweetness, so the added alcohol content in this beer also will make it taste dryer.

The yeast for this beer ( Wyeast’s 1388 Belgian Strong Ale yeast) is also known for finishing dry – one of the considerations in choosing it.

Finally, I have been fermenting it a long time in secondary – several months now. With hope, the yeast will have become desperate enough to try eating any sugars in the beer. This may take some time to be noticable, because the activity level of the yeast is so low, but that’s why this long period is partly for.

November 22, 2008

Making the ‘Champage of Beers’ Part 7

Getting near the end of this series on the Champagne of Beers – you may have noticed that I combined two characteristics – low bitterness, and no hop flavour or aroma. That was simply because it really didn’t serve any purpose to separate them – both related to the use of hops. Here are all the characteristics I am aiming for, with the one’s already discussed struck out.

1. Very light colour

2. Fizzy, but without much head

3. Alcohol content of around 8% abv

4. Noticeable acidity

5. Light body

6. Clear – minimal cloudiness

7. Low bitterness and no hop flavour or aroma

8. Fruitiness

9. Dry (i.e. not sweet)

8. Fruitiness. When beer is described as being fruity, it usually means that some of the flavours noticed in the beer are more usually associated with fruit – raisin, prune, plum, wine, cider, banana, citrus, etc. Occasionally it means that fruit have been literally added to the beer at some point.

Champagne, being a wine, is made from grapes, a type of fruit. So while champagne is not usually described as fruity, it is only because that would be stating the obvious (wines are sometimes described as being ‘fruity’, if fresh fruit flavours are very noticeable). Fruitiness in beer is sometimes a good thing, and sometimes undesirable, depending on the style and the drinker’s expectations. Many Belgian ales, continental wheat beers, and English ales have pronounced fruit flavours. Golden lagers – the major type of beer produced currently – are generally devoid of them, and they would be considered a fault. Certain American ales have strong citrus flavours that come from heavy hopping with certain types of hops.

These fruit flavours come from many sources – the malts used, the yeasts used, and the hops used. In my case, my malts will not contribute much fruit flavour. On the other hand, using a lot of cane sugar as part of the grain bill is said to contribute to wine or cider flavours, although this is a result of the yeast more than any flavour in the sugar. Usually beer makers try to avoid this cidery-ness by using dextrose – a sugar different from sucrose. Another thing I hypothesized may help is using jasmine rice for the rice in the beer – thinking the jasmine is somewhat fruity. I have just cooked a batch of the rice, and it really does not have much of a scent other than rice. So either the rice I bought does not have a strong jasmine scent, or that the scent is so subtle that it is unlikely to make it through mashing and fermentation.

Yeasts are not just the agents of fermentation in beer, they also contribute enormously to the flavour profile of the beer. Many beers with essentially identical grains and hops nevertheless taste very different due to different yeast strains at different breweries. Even if the breweries started with the same strain, the yeasts will evolve differently in the different breweries, leading to differences in flavour. Yeasts produce the esters and polyphenols and other chemicals that cause the fruit flavours in beers. The yeast strain I’m using (I just activated it an hour ago) is known for making fruity and spicy flavours in beer. This obviously works well for my objective – even the spicyness is not really a problem I think. It also likes to ferment at relatively high temperatures. Higher temperature ferments tend to produce more flavours – again sometimes a good thing (as in many ales) and sometimes not (as in many ‘clean-tasting’ lagers and ales).

In terms of the hops – in theory I could add some American-style hops to the secondary fermentor to provide the citrusy flavours associated with them, and not worry about bitterness. However, I’m holding off because strong citrus scents are not usually associated with wines, and because dry-hopping would add a lot of regular hop flavours, something I am trying to avoid (in order to distance the ‘champagne of beers’ from beer.)

In sum, I hope to get fruit flavours from using a lot of cane sugar, from using a yeast known to produce fruity flavours, and from fermenting at a relatively high temperature – around 20 to 22 degrees.

November 21, 2008

Making the ‘Champage of Beers’ Part 6

Filed under: Beer,Brewing — iwouldntlivethere @ 9:40 pm
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At this point in this series on the Champagne of Beers I will finally provide a photo for us to look at. Here are all the characteristics I am aiming for, with the one’s already discussed struck out.

1. Very light colour

2. Fizzy, but without much head

3. Alcohol content of around 8% abv

4. Noticeable acidity

5. Light body

6. Clear – minimal cloudiness

7. Low bitterness and no hop flavour or aroma

8. Fruitiness

9. Dry (i.e. not sweet)

7. Low bitterness and no hop flavour or aroma. Superficially, this should be an easy characteristic to achieve – just reduce or eliminate the hops altogether! But hops play a complex and many-faceted role in beer, so it isn’t that simple. Or maybe it is, and I’ve just fallen for the mystery surrounding beer making…

Hops are traditionally associated with the bitterness of beer, which they do indeed impart. Less appreciated is their contribution of flavours and aromas to beer. Also less known are their anti-bacterial and anti-oxidative roles.

The bitterness and flavours of hops come from prolonged boiling in the wort. The boiling isomerizes some of the hop oils and resins, making them soluble. The longer the boil, the more bitter the beer (within reason). Adding more hops obviously also adds bitterness and flavour. Hops also impart aromas to beer from volatile oils. These are, paradoxically, driven off by long boiling, so hops tend to be added in several additions to the wort – some at the beginning, some at the middle, and some near the end. Sometimes brewers also ‘dry-hop’ beer – adding hops to their secondary fermentors – to get extra hop aroma. I do this usually, as I like the hop aromas.

Of course, we’re talking about the champagne of beers, not just any beer. This means that, like champagne, this beer should not be bitter, and should not have strong hop flavours or aromas. Beyond simply imitating champagne, I’ve read that bitter and acid flavours don’t work well together. Researching this, I came across an interesting article about Lambic beers in the NY Times. Meant as a come-on to wine snobs, what struck me was the author’s repeated comparison of lambic beers to champagne. This is a good sign, as what I am brewing is somewhat like a lambic in it’s lack of hop flavours or bitterness.

But as I allude earlier, achieving this is not a matter of simply eliminating the hops, because the anti-bacterial and anti-oxidative properties (I’ll call them preservative power) of hops are still valuable. This is where the accumulated expertise of lambic and ‘plambic’ brewers really helps out.

Hops have an ‘interesting’ or frustrating property, depending on how it affects you: they gradually go stale, or become ‘aged’, meaning that they lose their bittering power over time. It is frustrating when making normal beers, as your hops require special storage conditions, and you need to keep recalculating their bittering power over time to compensate for the aging. However, in the case of making lambics, or plambics (pseudo-lambics brewed outside of Belgium), this property becomes interesting, as brewers can used aged hops for their preservative power, without the bitterness.

As I haven’t owned hops long enough to age them (2-3 years) properly, I had to artificially age them (artifice within artifice! Artificially aging hops for an artificial champagne). This involved heating the hops in a 95 degree (200 F) oven for several hours. Here you can see the difference between the fresh (on the left) and ‘aged’ (on the right) hops:

Fresh vs. Aged Hops

Sorry about the focus, but you can clearly see that the aged hops became much lighter in colour – even yellowish. They lost their hop aroma (which pervaded my apartment during the baking – as warned, it smelled quite cheesy at times) as well. I guess to ensure the perservative power, lambic brewers use ridiculous amounts of these aged hops – equivalent to between 3 or 4 ounces per 5 gallons (i.e. multiples of the amounts usually used).

How much of these aged hops to use? On one hand, why not use 4 ounces for the batch? Well, I’m not convinced that these artificially aged hops have truly lost all their bittering power. When I crushed some of the hops, the some hop aroma was apparent, so perhaps some bittering power is hiding in there as well. As well, Micheal Tonsmeire reckons on his (awesome) blog that inoculating your wort with a pure culture of yeasts and maintaining generally sanitary conditions during the fermentation reduces the need for the preservative power of the aged hops – the chances of the beer becoming infected with unwanted microbes are much reduced compared to the conditions of traditional lambic breweries.

I’ll probably use 2 ounces of aged hops – a bit more than Mr. Tonsmeire, and a bit less than traditional lambics.

November 13, 2008

Making the ‘Champage of Beers’ Part 5

I’m realizing that this series on the Champagne of Beers has become my longest and wordiest yet. The previous 4 posts discussed how to achieve a very light colour, fizz without head, higher alcohol content, a noticeable acidity, and light body. Here are all the characteristics I am aiming for.

1. Very light colour

2. Fizzy, but without much head

3. Alcohol content of around 8% abv

4. Noticeable acidity

5. Light body

6. Clear – minimal cloudiness

7. Low bitterness and no hop flavour or aroma

8. Fruitiness

9. Dry (i.e. not sweet)

6. Clear – minimal cloudiness. Cloudiness, or haze, in beer is a bugbear for homebrewes (and I guess brewers generally). In most commercial beers, people expect perfect or near perfect clarity – the only exceptions being bottle-conditioned beers, and some wheat beers. If the beer’s expected clarity is not found, people will assume the beer has gone bad. This spills over into the homebrewing world.

Generally homebrewers, and drinkers of homebrew are much more forgiving of haze in their beer – they understand that it is a natural part of minimally processed beer. However, even homebrewers often feel that a clearer beer is a better beer. In some ways this is only due to the standards set by commercial breweries, but in others way it is an indicator that the beer may contain too much protein, and may not be ‘stable’.

Wine, like beer, is expected to be clear. Even champagne that has been yeast conditioned is always crystal clear. Such clarity is probably beyond my simple methods, but I do have a few techniques. As I explain in my post about homebrewing, my usual grain bill includes considerable unmalted wheat flour. Further, I use a ‘corona-style’ grain mill to mill my malts – I set it to a fairly fine grind, so it produces a lot of malt flour. Both unmalted wheat and finely ground grain are infamous for producing hazy beers.

This has lead me to use two main methods to clarify my [regular] homebrew. First, during the boil, I add Irish moss, a type of seaweed. This acts to bind together some of the haze forming proteins and precipitate them after the boil. The other thing I do is to add dissolved gelatin to my beer when I rack (transfer) the beer to my secondary fermenter. Gelatin also bonds to proteins and precipitates them, leaving them as trub at the bottom of the fermenter, which is left there when I bottle the beer (see for some details). I believe that both Irish moss and gelatin act by clumping together the proteins, which then become large and heavy enough to fall out of suspension in the beer. Although their action is similar, I think they bond differently with the proteins, so they act on different proteins. Kind of a one-two punch!

Beyond filtering (which I won’t be doing), another method used by brewers to clarify beer is to let them age for a while. Some proteins and haze particles simply need enough time to settle out. Others will oxidize or otherwise bond together over time and then settle out. For my regular homebrews I haven’t utilized this method as I tend to drink my beer fairly young. It seems that there’s always a party or something to bring some beer along to, and that wipes out my cellar! People don’t seem to complain about the clarity of my beer…maybe because it’s free?

For the champagne of beers I plan to age the beer for about 9 months, so the aging effect on clarity should kick in. Thinking about the aging process, I’ve started worrying a bit about how the champagne of beers will carbonate after aging so long. The yeast may have gone into hibernation by then, so will not be able to effectively bottle-condition the beer. I think I will pre-bottle a a bottle a few weeks before the main bottling, and then test the carbonation after two or three weeks. If it has not carbonated sufficiently I’ll probably add some dry yeast to the bottling bucket.

November 11, 2008

Making the ‘Champage of Beers’ Part 4

Onward on the quest to brew a champagne of beers! So far I have discussed how to achieve a very light colour, fizz without head, higher alcohol content, and a noticeable acidity. Here are all the characteristics I am aiming for.

1. Very light colour

2. Fizzy, but without much head

3. Alcohol content of around 8% abv

4. Noticeable acidity

5. Light body

6. Clear – minimal cloudiness

7. Low bitterness and no hop flavour or aroma

8. Fruitiness

9. Dry (i.e. not sweet)

5. Light body. I’ve already discussed this somewhat in the post about the alcohol content because both the level of alcohol, and the body of the beer relate to the type of grain used for mashing. A lot of the ‘body’ in beer comes from proteins and residual sugars that remain in the beer after fermentation. In contrast to beer, wine does not contain much protein, or residual sugar (in dry wines anyways), so this beer needs to reduce the amount of protein and sugar left.

The first strategy to achieve this was already discussed – namely that I will use a considerable amount of refined sugar and rice. Refined sugar can be completely fermented, leaving no residual sugars, as long as the alcohol content is not too high (which it won’t be in this beer). It can also act as a sort of ‘subsidy’ to the yeast, giving it ‘cheap’ energy so it can devote more effort to breaking down longer-chain sugars. This is referred to as drying out the beer. This dryness is also a phenomenon of the palate, as the fermentation of the refined sugar increases the alcohol content without a proportionate increase in residual sugar or protein, so the beer tastes dryer or more alcoholic (alcohol and sugar balance each other somewhat, in terms of taste; that’s why most cocktails are sweet – to hide the alcohol).

Rice is partway between using refined sugar and using barley malt. During mashing, the starch in rice will be broken down in the same way as it is in barley malt – it will produce mostly simple sugars, but also more complex long-chain and branching sugars that yeast finds difficult to ferment, and so they make it into the beer. These residual sugars usually don’t taste that ‘sweet’, but do make the beer taste thicker, richer, and maltier. While rice will contribute residual sugars, it does not contain much protein.

The protein content of beer is one of it’s defining characteristics. Without the protein, beer would feel like pop. But in this case, I do want it to taste pop-like, within reason. Wine does contain tannins, phenolics, and polysaccharides among other chemicals that contribute to mouth-feel. I think that with the exception of wine tannins, many of these are also found in beer. To reduce the protein content of the beer, I will use refined sugar and rice, as these both contain little or no protein. Further, during the mashing, I will utilize the protein rest.

John Palmer, in his excellent on-line book How to Brew describes the protein rest as being around 52 degrees, for 20 – 30 minutes. He warns that using a protein rest when mashing well modified malts (like the 2-row barley malt I will be using) is unnecessary, and “would break up the proteins responsible for body and head retention and result in a thin, watery beer.” Perfect.

Changing the mash temperature is another way to reduce the body and sweetness of beer. Regular mashing temperatures (the saccharification rest) are around 67 degrees. Palmer states that: “A lower mash temperature, less than or equal to 150°F [65.5°C], yields a thinner bodied, drier beer”. Again, perfect for my needs, so my target temperature will be between 65 and 66 degrees. This is because the lower mashing temperature favours beta amylase, which produces a lot of simple sugars. There is a bit of a cost to this – the mash efficiency declines because some of the starch will not be converted. Beta amylase is not able to break apart starch molecules where the molecule branches – alpha amylase is needed to break off the branched sections.

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