Tuesday, May 21, 2013

LAMBIC! (Fantastic download)

Free information is good. Free, quality information is better. But this is a ton of free, quality information that is nearly impossible to find or get. So if you're interested in brewing anything in the Lambic stye, you need this download: lambic.zip

The download contains the PDF of this book which is $100 used, $500 new:
Lambic (Classic Beer Style) by Jean Guinard

And it contains the full 3-part series of Brewing in Styles: Practical Strategies for Brewing Lambic at Home by Jim Liddil. Which can only be found in the non-gettable back issues of the now-defunct magazine "Brewing Techniques"

And it also has this paper from the University of Colorado: Microbes Found in Lambic Wort by Mick Burgeson

All the PDFs are meticulously hand-scanned versions of the original texts.

Friday, May 17, 2013

What's More Valuable: Time or Ingredients?

After years of going down the wrong path I've finally realized that the most valuable thing is time. I can get more ingredients but I can't get more time. On brew-days past, I spent a lot of time messing around with the system so I didn't leave any wort behind in the pipes and tubes ad bottoms of keggles in my brewery system.

But no more. The upshot of this is that I will be brewing larger batches with a certain amount of waste built into the process, so I don't have to take so much time and expend so much effort to make sure I get every drop of goodness out of a batch. What does this mean in terms of dollars and cents? Not much. Lets take a Cream Ale recipe as an example.

I'll use the worst-case scenario, and look at the costs as if I was buying all my ingredients from the most expensive homebrew shop in my area. All the following prices include tax. Pilsner malt is one of the cheaper options there at $1.55 per pound, but other malts are as much as $2.75. Hops are $3.25 per ounce, dry yeast is $5.40 and liquid yeast is $8.10 per packet. Going up in batch size from five gallons to seven gallons means adding another three pounds or so of malt, and another ounce or two of hops. On the yeast I would just make a bigger starter. So if we say that the 'average' malt is $2.00 per pound, we're looking at bumping up the total cost of the batch $9.25 for the additional hops and malt for a fairly light, not overly hopped beer.

I'm OK with that. Looking at my regular sources where my costs are roughly half that much, I'm totally OK with blowing an extra five bucks per batch. The one gotcha here is that it will take a bit longer to get seven gallons of water up to temps rather than five. But I don't need to be fussing with it or standing around as that happens. I can set a timer and go do other stuff.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Beano Cream Ale Experiment

One of the joys of home brewing is building my very own beer recipes. One annoying feature of building beer recipes is that I'll get everything just the way I want it, only to find out that my final gravity isn't low enough, even when I start out with an original gravity that is mid-range for the style. This often happens on lower alcohol beers, so the problem isn't that the yeast isn't attenuative enough, or alcohol-tolerant enough to finish converting all the sugars. Basically, my brewing software (I've tried several) has decided that there will be too much unfermentable sugars created. Sometimes this ends up being true, sometimes not.

Fine. I'm going to fight back with Beano, which can help you to make bone dry beer. The magic ingredient in Beano is the enzyme amyloglucosidase (AMG) which breaks down any currently unfermentable dextrins into fermentable sugars, which will readjust the FG numbers in my favor. So I'm going to make a Cream Ale, but this time it's going to be a "Lite Cream Ale."

There are two main times to consider adding Beano: pre-boil and post-boil.

Let's consider post-boil first. You're ready to pitch your yeast, and you could pitch some crushed Beano tablets along with it. Plenty of non-fermentables in the wort waiting to be transformed into fermentable sugars.

The post-boil addition problem is that enzymes continue to work as long as their substrate is present, so all residual dextrins in the wort will eventually be converted to fermentable sugars which the yeast will then convert into alcohol and carbon dioxide. This process can go on for a very long time. This is not a major problem for me because I keg, but if you bottle your beer, this could lead to long-term bottle bombs. If you had a professional setup, you could stop the enzymes by pasteurizing your beer prior to bottling, but I don't see that as a viable option for home brewers.

The other way to use Beano is to add it to the mash. The questions here are how much time and how many tablets for the AMG to work on the dextrins. Enzyme activity is accelerated by heat, so the mash temps will help out. AMG should be stable at fairly high temperatures, hopefully up to around 176ºF, which means it will be working for the entire mash, and as the wort heats up for the boil, which means that it will have up to 1 1/2 hours to work. According to the Googles, about 1 tablet crushed per gallon should do the trick. I could let the collected wort stand for a couple of hours prior to boiling, but that will add too much time to my brew day.

If you're adding Beano pre-boil, the boiling step will denature the AMG along with all the malt enzymes and you'll avoid the danger of exploding bottles. I'm going with pre-boil because I'll have more controlled process without yeast continuing to work for weeks, months.

Liquid Sunshine Cream Ale

Batch size
7.0 gallons
Original Gravity
Final Gravity
19.0 IBU
3° SRM/ 6° EBC
Mash Efficiency
4.6% ABV
274 per 12 oz.


% LB OZ Type ppg °L
50% 6 0 Weyermann Pilsner Malt 37 2
41% 5 0 American 6-Row 36 3
9% 1 0 Flaked Corn 37 1


Use Time oz Variety Form aa
boil 60 mins 1.06 Hallertau pellet 4.4
boil 30 mins 0.75 Hallertau pellet 4.4
boil 1 mins 0.35 Hallertau pellet 4.4


Primary: Safale US-05


5ea. Beano
1ea. Whirfloc