Anything I’m Fermenting

July 15, 2008

BIAB / Brewing Update

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

May 7, 2008

Brew-in-a-Bag (BIAB)

Filed under: Beer,Brewing,Pictures — iwouldntlivethere @ 8:46 pm
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As I said in the first post about National Homebrew day, my brewing method is based on the BIAB method described by ‘Thirsty Boy’ on the Brewing Network’s forums. I have put together a few shots of my brewing day, just to compare to Justin’s more normal home-brewing set up. Please note that Justin brews 10 gallons per batch, compared to my 3.3 gallons – it may be difficult to scale the BIAB method much above 5 gallons, or so I hear.

The usual procedure in home brewing is to gently mill your grain – taking care to crush the grain rather than grind it, as the husks should be kept as entire as possible. These are put into a mash tun – usually some sort of picnic cooler with a manifold of one type or another at the bottom to allow drainage of the mash. Water is heated in the brew kettle to a strike temperature considerably above the mash temperature – it will decline when mixed with the milled grain. The mash is allowed to rest for about an hour. The mash mixture is then drained – the first runnings are ‘recirculated’ back into the tun, to ensure clear wort. Additional hot water is poured into the mash tun to ‘sparge’ the grain – wash out remaining sugars. This wort is then boiled with hops, and fermented.

In contrast, here is the method I use:

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