Friday, October 12, 2012

Olde Fortran Malt Liquor

Malt liquor is a North American term referring to high alcohol beer. Legally, it usually means not lower than 5% ABV and made with some malted barley. Sugar, corn or other adjuncts are added to the malted barley to boost the total amount of fermentable sugars in the wort. "High Gravity" or "HG" malt liquor may have high levels of fusel alcohols, which give off solventy or fuel-like aromas and flavors. Examples of malt liquors sold in forty ounce bottles include Olde English 800, Colt 45, Mickey's, Camo, Country Club, Steel Reserve 211 an a host of others.

Despite all this I was inspired by my friend Ben to brew a Malt Liquor...
"Olde Fortran" was the malt liquor in Futurama, and I like Futurama. So there you go. First problem: Malt Liquor is not a recognized BJCP style, so not many malt liquor homebrew recipes seem to exist. I decided to sort of riff on the Classic American Pilsner (CAP) theme, and build an "Imperial" version.

The basic ingredients for a CAP are base malt, adjunct (corn or rice), hops, water and yeast. I was planning on an authentic mix of six-row and two-row malt, but supply limitations lead me to two-row only. Six-row pale malt has more diastatic power (DP) than domestic two-row malts, and I was initially looking for the "extra" enzymatic power to convert to starches from the adjuncts, so I'm going a little "light" on the adjuncts to compensate.

Barley malt occupies around 60–70% of the total grain bill of a Classic American Pilsner, with the remaining 30–40% being corn or rice adjuncts. I decided to use a bit of both, since both yield very little color, their flavor is nearly neutral and are low in protein compared to malt. I decided to go with flaked corn since it is cheaper than the grits I have used in the past for a CAP. Flaked corn is "pre-gelatinized" so it can simply be stirred into the mash. For the rice I will need to do a cereal mash.

The hopping rate for Classic American Pilsners is very low, with IBU levels generally around 10–14. I'm going to double the hops along with the fermentables Cluster was popular among American brewers, so I'll include a bit of that. Classic American Pilsners are brewed with lager yeasts and most lager strains will do a decent job. The ideal is probably Wyeast 2007 (Pilsen Lager) or White Labs WLP840 (American Lager), but I'm going with Saflager S-23 Dry Yeast, just to see what the hell happens. I somewhat distrust the FG number from my calculations. I'm betting it finishes in the high teens.

I was planning to hit 8% alcohol, but I ran off a bit too much during the sparge and a cold, rainy day kept the the evaporation level lower than expected. I ended up with six gallons at 7.2 rather than 5.5 at 8. Oh well.

Batch size
6.0 gallons
Original Gravity
1.075/ 18.2° Plato
(1.0798 to 1.089)
Final Gravity
1.021 / 5.3° Plato
(1.018 to 1.023)
25.7 IBU / 10 HBU
ƒ: Tinseth
3° SRM/ 6° EBC
Mash Efficiency
7.2% ABV / 6% ABW
258 per 12 oz.


% LB OZ Type ppg °L
72% 12 0 Two-row Pale 37 2
18% 3 0 Flaked Corn 40 1
9% 1 8 Rice 40 1
0% 0 4 Rice Hulls 0 0


Use Time oz Variety Form aa
boil 60 mins 1.25 Crystal pellet 7.7


Primary: Saflager S-23, medium flocculation and 73% attenuation

1 comment:

  1. well done Bob!!! Can't wait to try it :)

    I've been pretty busy lately so Malt Liquor Appreciation Day kind of fizzled...but still a good chance to slide one in the 2012 calendar sometime in December