Thursday, June 23, 2016

Enzymes in Beer: What’s Happening In the Mash

#mash #makeyourownbeer Brew Boss Electric Homebrew Equipment
Enzymes in Beer

by John Moorhead, National Homebrew Competition Director

As homebrewers, we’re usually never satisfied until we know how things work. We constantly ask why and how something is done until we understand the basic concept. When you start brewing all-grain, you hit a certain temperature to hit a specific characteristic because you were told to do so. You start picking up on words like alpha-amylase, beta-amylase, mash out and protein rest, and now you’re more curious than ever about what’s going on in the mash.

Here we’ll discuss the enzymes in beer, which convert the starch in malt into soluble sugars. By understanding and making enzymes work for you, an all-grain brewer can control a multitude of components in their beer. Here is a list of the attributes of a beer that can be controlled during the mashing process:

  • Aroma
  • Flavor
  • Body
  • Overall mouthfeel
  • Attenuation
  • Color
  • Alcohol content

What Are Enzymes In Beer?

Enzymes are proteins that are found practically everywhere—your saliva and digestive system, plant photosynthesis, and most importantly, your livers. They have an important role as a non-living biomolecule because they catalyze biochemical reactions. Each enzyme is made up of several thousand different amino acid chains which take on specific shapes suited for specific jobs. In other words, they make reactions occur quickly and at the temperatures of living organisms. They join molecules together, take large molecules apart and rearrange molecules into something different.

Each biochemical reactions is catalyzed by a very specific enzyme. The molecule the enzyme acts on is called a substrate, and the enzyme is usually named after the substrate (i.e. Beta-Glucanase acts on Beta-Glucans). Just know that the enzyme’s shape is fragile and can be damaged by a multitude of factors, thereby rendering the enzyme unable to act as a catalyst. This is called denaturing the enzyme, and once it’s been damaged, it’s very difficult to renature it.

The rate at which the chemical reaction occurs is affected by temperature, enzyme and substrate concentration and pH. Enzymes catalyze reactions more quickly as temperature increases in their specific range. But, they’re also denatured by heating above their specified range, and reach peak activity just before they are destroyed.
Malt Enzymes Homebrewing

Mashing Enzymes In Beer

All the enzymes you’ll need for conversion are present in the final malt. The malting process develops enzymes that reduce starches and proteins during malting and mashing, which helps create better clarity, head retention and body.

For homebrewers, we are concerned with the activity of two primary enzymes in beer: alpha- and beta-amylase.

Alpha-amylase breaks down large, complex, insoluble starch molecules into smaller, soluble molecules for the beta-amylase. It is stable in hot, watery mashes and will convert starch to soluble sugars in a temperature range from 145°F to 158°F.

Remember that the temperature range is important because as you reach higher temperatures, the denaturation process increases and enzymes are mostly gone within five minutes. Pouring grains into hotter “strike” water to account for temperature drops can cause problems, too. Exposure to hotter temperatures even for a few seconds can affect enzymatic activity, so make sure to get your temperature down as quickly as possible.

Beta-amylase is the other mash enzyme capable of breaking down starches and creating soluble sugars. After the alpha-amylase enzymes create smaller soluble molecules, the beta-amylase enzymes create most of the fermentable sugars by breaking down starch to create maltose, glucose and maltose. These enzymes help create lighter bodies and more alcohol and are most active from 131°F-149°F. As the temperature approaches 149°F, these enzymes are operating extremely fast, but are also being denatured quickly. In short, if the mash is held at a temperature within the beta-amylase range, then a greater proportion of soluble sugars will be maltose and thereby be more fermentable.
Temperature Rests in the Mash

Mash temperatures play a very critical role in determining the body, fermentability and developing the aroma and flavor profile of your beer. Depending on the style of beer brewed and the type of malt and/or adjuncts used, a different mash temperature or a combination of temperatures and schedule may be best for the brewing beer.
NameTemperaturepH RangeDescription
Phytase (Acid) Rest86° – 126°F5.0 – 5.5Acidifies the mash. Best with under modified malts. Will not reduce the pH a lot by itself. More of a historical method used with pale malt in Pilsen due to water devoid of minerals.
Beta-Glucanase Rest95°-113°F4.5-5.0Beta-glucans are carbohydrates found in the protein layer in grains. Found in rye, wheat, oats and under modified malts. Not needed for well modified grains. Good to use if you’re using 25% or more of un-malted barley, wheat, rye and oats.
Proteinase (Protein Rest)111°-131°F4.2-5.3Optimal from 122°F. Breaks down peptones, polypeptides and peptides to make them smaller, improving clarity without negatively affecting head retention or body. Breaks down long-chain proteins to medium and short-chains. Typically done for 15-30 minutes.
Peptidase Rest115°-135°FBelow 5.3Breaks down polypeptides and peptides to amino acids. In fully modified malts has done its work during malting process.
Cytase Rest113°-131° F5.5Dissolves protective cellulose coating of barley grains, giving access to the starch. Good for under modified malt, and un-mlated barley, wheat, rye and oats if using more than 25%.
Beta-Amylase131°-150°F5.0-5.6This rest works well at 153°F as a compromise for beta and alpha rests. Creates small sugar chains that are highly fermentable and leaves the lowest finished gravity and lightest body. One of the diastatic enzymes required for saccharification.
Alpha-Amylase149°-162°F5.3-5.8Produces glucose, maltose and un-fermentable dextrins. Leaves the highest finished gravity and fuller body. Can be slower to work than beta-amylase. Most active at 158°F.
Malt Enzymes Homebrewing

Influencing Factors on Denaturing Enzymes in Beer

Alpha and beta-amylase act together to degrade starches to produce a range of soluble sugars in the wort. Below a certain temperature (149°F), alpha-amylase activity is low and so the large starch molecules remain insoluble because the enzyme is unable to break them up. Same goes for above a certain temperature (150° F), beta-amylase activity is hindered, limiting the amount of fermentable sugars for the wort.

These temperature ranges are small, and leaves little room for a brewer to operate and influence the types of sugars that end up in the wort. A lower temperature results in a wort that is more fermentable but may yield slightly less, while a higher temperature will yield less fermentability but increased extract efficiency. Here are some important influencing factors on denaturing enzymes in beer.
  • Enzyme and substrate concentration
  • Temperature
  • pH

Enzyme & Substrate Concentration

Enzyme and substrate concentration is how concentrated your mash is, and mostly dependent on mash thickness. Although not a critical factor, mash thickness is still important to consider when you start mashing. A thick mash is anywhere between 1-1.25 quarts water/pound of grain.

A thick mash gives a quicker starch conversion and is more beneficial for protein breakdown because it offers better protection for your enzymes (i.e. beta-amylase). It’s more suited for step mashes because enzymes are not denatured as fast by temperature increases. A thin mash is anywhere around 2 quarts water/pound of grain, which dilutes the concentration of enzymes and thereby gives them less protection, a slower conversion, but provides a more fermentable mash because the enzymes are not inhibited by a higher concentration of sugars.


Each enzyme has an optimum temperature, the temperature at which the enzyme is most active. Once the temperature goes below or above the temperature range, you affect the productivity of that enzyme. Think about a cold morning. You’re lethargic and slow, but as it warms up you start to move faster and your energy improves. However, if it gets too hot, you start to slow down again. This is essentially how enzymes work. More specifically, the active site on the enzyme changes and the substrate that pairs with the enzyme will no longer fit and becomes inactive.


Mash pH is another factor that affects the activity of various enzymes. It should fall within a range of about 5.2 to 5.5 for the primary enzyme activity. If you mash using distilled water, you’ll end up with a pH in between 5.8 and 6.0. Adding calcium ions to the water will cause the mash pH to drop down into the 5.5 to 5.6 range, with additional calcium ions dropping it further. You’ll want to use a pH strip to calibrate your water pH level as you mash.

 Key Take Aways

  • Although enzymes are fragile, they are reusable and generally affected by temperature and pH.
  • Enzymes have an optimum temperature and pH that they are most active.
  • Enzymes have a significant affect on finished beer and are also present in yeast cells.
  • Understand the primary mash enzymes (alpha and beta-amylase) and their optimal temperature and pH levels to achieve best results.
  • It’s important to understand the factors that denature enzymes.
  • Know what you want to accomplish before deciding your mash technique.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Homebrew Recipe: Kalyke Blonde

#brewonbrewboss #beerrecipe Brew Boss Homebrew Equipment
An award-winning blonde ale with its easy-drinking, slightly malty, and clean qualities, the Kalyke Blonde is a recipe by Scott Strain and Bobby Kros that was created for the Sower’s Cup competition in 2015. The two gentlemen took home Best of Show with this simple, yet complex ale. The addition of rye grains gives this beer crisp and spicy aspects, while the customary Belgian yeast showcases the traditional, yeast-forward characteristics of Belgian ale.
The name Kalyke comes from a retrograde irregular satellite of Jupiter. This Belgian specialty ale certainly lives up to its name, representing itself at the Sower’s Cup as a beer that is truly out of this world. The Kalyke blonde ale was featured in the Jan/Feb 2016 issue of Zymurgy .

Kalyke Blonde | Belgian Specialty Ale


  • For 11 gallons (41.6 L)

    • 15.0 lb (6.8 kg) German Pilsner malt (78.9%)
    • 2.0 lb (0.9 kg) Rye malt (10.5%)
    • 1.0 lb (0.45 kg) Flaked barley (5.3%)
    • 1.0 lb (0.45 kg) table sugar (5.3%)
    • 0.93 oz (25 g) Sterling, 5% a.a. (75 min) 8.4 IBUs
    • 2.0 oz (57 g) Sterling, 5% a.a. (15 min) 8.5 IBUs
    • 0.26 oz (7 g) Mt. Hood, 5.5% a.a. (15 min) 1/2 IBUs
    • Belgian Ardennes yeast


    • Original Gravity: 1.051
    • Final Gravity: 1.008
    • ABV: 5.5%
    • IBU: 18.3
    • SRM: 3.6
    • Boil Time: 75 minutes
    • Efficiency: 87%


    Mash at 152° F (67° C) for 45 minutes. Mash out at 170° F (77° C).
    Pitch yeast at 68° F (20° C) and let free rise to 72–74° F (22–23° C).

    Partial Mash Recipe

    Mash 2 lb (0.9 kg) Pilsner malt and 2 lb rye malt with 1 lb (0.45 kg) flaked barley at 152° F (57° C) for one hour. Drain, rinse grains, and dissolve 10.75 lb (4.88 kg) Pilsner malt extract syrup and sugar completely in wort. Top off with reverse osmosis water to desired boil volume and proceed with recipe as above. Color will be slightly darker (4.2 SRM) with partial mash recipe.

    Sunday, June 19, 2016

    How to Add Fruit to Beer

    #makebeerwithbrewboss #electricbrewing Brew-Boss Homebrew Equipment

    So you want to brew a fruit beer. You’ve selected the perfect base beer style and fruit combination and it’s time to start sourcing the fruit and making a plan of attack.

    As with many aspects of homebrewing, there are many ways to achieve a similar outcome, so think about which of the following processes will work best when planning to add fruit to beer.

    Finding Fruit

    Finding the fruit for your beer is as simple as heading down to the grocery store and loading up the cart, right? To some extent, yes, but a beer can only be as great as its raw ingredients, so it is crucial to try and find the highest quality produce you can get your hands on.

    In a perfect world, fruit is grown in your backyard. Buy growing your own, you can allow the fruit to achieve optimal ripeness, and you know the exact what conditions the fruit was grown in. But, alas, growing fruit trees is not something you wake up and decide to and have ready for your next brew day. Off to the market…

    Before heading to the grocery store, look for local farms and nurseries or visit your neighborhood farmers market. These sources produce the “heirloom” type of produce that typically use minimal amounts of chemical growers and pesticides and focusing on quality product rather than speedy mass production. This option may be a bit pricier than going to the store, but the quality is worth the expense to achieve delicious fruit flavor in your beer.

    And if all else fails, head to the grocery store! Great fruit beers can still be made with produce purchased from grocery chains, with a little extra care. First, spend some time rummaging the fruit bins for the ripest specimens you can find. Mass producers of fruits often harvest before the point of optimal ripeness to extend shipping and shelf life. The trade off is a less-flavorful fruit. Grocery store fruits are also often grown and treated with chemicals, so take care to give fruit a thorough washing before adding to a beer (though, this should be done with any produce purchased).

    If fresh fruit is not available, frozen fruit and purees are the next best option. Frozen fruit and purees are also a great way to purchase quality fruit ingredients at a more affordable cost, especially if your recipe calls for large additions. They also take less time to prepare when adding to beer. Keep an eye on the ingredients and avoid products that have large amounts of preservatives.

    Juices are another option that can be used with great success, and like frozen fruits and purees, you should look for products free of preservatives and made of real fruit. Some folks use extracts and essences of fruits, but this is where you start to get into the realm of the artificial-tasting fruit beers.

    Fruit Amounts

    With a source of fruit determined, you now need to know how much fruit to purchase. This is not a cut-and-dry situation, and since fruit beers are created from many different base styles, you need to focus on balancing the strength and qualities of the beer with that of the fruit.

    For example, two pounds of raspberries may be perfect in your five-gallons of strong stout, but the same amount in a session wheat beer could be overwhelmed with raspberry character. Also, take into account whether or not the fruit has a strong acidic quality, which will require more consideration in creating balance between the fruit and base beer.

    Be sure to keep careful notes of the amounts you use in relation to your batch size and recipe, so in the future you can make more informed decisions based on your experiences and your preferred taste. The following chart can be used as a starting point to determine the appropriate fruit amounts in any given homebrew recipe:

    Fruit (fresh) Pounds/Gallon Grams/Liter

    • Apricots 0.25 – 2.0 30 – 240
    • Blackberries 0.5 – 4.0 60 – 480
    • Blueberries 0.5 – 3.0 60 – 360
    • Cherries (sour) o.25 – 2.0 30 – 240
    • Cherries (sweet) 0.33 – 4.0 40 – 480
    • Citrus 0.25 – 1.0 30 – 120
    • Currants 0.33 – 1.5 40 – 180
    • Peaches 0.5 – 5.0 60 – 600
    • Plums 0.5 – 2.0 60 – 240
    • Raspberries 0.25 – 2.0 30 – 240
    • Strawberries 0.5 – 3.0 60 – 360

    This table was taken from “Sweet & Sour: Adding Fruit to Sour Beer” by Kevin Wright featured in the May/June 2015 Zymurgy magazine. Access the article and see the full chart which includes equivalents for purees, concentrates and dehydrated/dried fruits.

    Preparing & Adding Fruit

    The methods of preparing fruit will largely depend on the form of the fruit (ex. whole, puree, juice, etc.), and at what point the fruit will be added to the beer. Again, there are many ways to skin the proverbial cat.

    Whole, puree and juiced fruit is often added in the last minutes of the boil. This acts as a quick pasteurization step to prevent any potential bacterial contamination that could make your fruit beer go south. Adding fruit to the boil means the fruit is in the wort during active fermentation. Having fruit in the fermenter during fermentation causes a much different fruit character then you might find when adding fruit post-fermentation.

    For starters, the fruit will likely add fermentable sugars to the wort, which you may want to account for when formulating the recipe. Fermented fruit also has a much different character then post-fermentation fruit additions. A lot of the fruit character will be blown off from the rigor of fermentation, and what remains will be a more wine-like fruit character since the fruit’s sugars were fermented, rather than a fresh fruit quality. In some fruit beers, especially those that may use wine grapes, the fermented fruit character may be desired.

    Purees and juices can be added directly to the boil kettle. You can do the same with whole fruit, but you may want to consider mashing or pulse-blending the fruit before adding it to the boil to help release more of the juices. Bagging the fruit in a hop bag is suggested if dealing with a lot of flesh and seeds, but it’s not 100 percent necessary if you take care not to rack the solids into the primary fermenter.

    If you’re after more fresh fruit character that is reminsicent of the raw fruit being used, then stick with post-fermentation additions after primary fermentation has nearly completed. However, since you don’t have the high temperatures as you would when boiling fruit, you need to take extra care to avoid contamination (unless, of course, you are after something wild). Often times juices, purees and frozen fruits undergo flash-pasteurization which leaves little risk for contamimation if added to beer. Whole fruit, on the other hand, is another story.

    First, mash or pulse-blend the fruit to release the juices and create more surface area for the beer to be in contact with the fruit. Now you have three options for pasteurization. First, is a low-heat pasteurization method that you can do in a double boiler or carefully directly on heat. Hold the mashed fruit at around 150-170°F for about 15 minutes, and that should rid the fruit of most of the unwanted bacteria. Second, simply freezing the mashed fruit before adding it to the fermenter. It is said that freezing and thawing fruit a few times helps release more flavors by breaking down cell walls, which means a fruitier brew! Third, simply do nothing at all and hoping for the best (good luck!).

    Once you’ve pasteurized your mashed fruit, bag it in a hop bag like you would dry hops and add it to your secondary fermenter or keg. Make sure all the juices make it into the fermenter, too, even if the bag doesn’t contain it. Then, simply age it on the fruit like you would dry hops. Pull samples and once it tastes as you hoped, yank the bag and bottle or start serving! You can forgo the hop bags and add fruit directly to the fermenter, but this will likely require filtering, racking to additional fermenters and/or cold crashing to get clear, solid-free fruit beer.

    Friday, June 17, 2016

    Using Fresh Wet Hops in Home Brewed Beer

    Brew Boss Electric Homebrew Equipment #hops #ebiab #homebrew


    #Wethops are #hops that are freshly harvested and have not yet been dried or processed. These can be used for home brewing beer, but you need to make some adjustments to your recipe and expectations when using wet hops.

    Wet Hops

    Some time ago I wrote an article on the growing hops in the garden. When you harvest your hop cones you typically will dry them right after harvesting to preserve them. All of the hops you buy from your local brew store are dried – typically down to a moisture level of 8-10%. However there is an alternative – using the hops right off the bine while they are still fresh. These hops are called “wet hops” or fresh hops. Wet hops contain 75-80% water by weight – enough to drip water if you squeeze them hard enough.

    Wet hops will spoil quickly so they should be used immediately after harvest. It is best if you can use them 24-48 hours after harvesting.

    It is difficult to get wet hops from hop growers unless you can make special arrangements. Some small breweries such as Sierra Nevada brew wet hopped beers, but they have the hops shipped overnight as soon as they are harvested in containers designed to provide proper ventilation for the hops. For home brewers, growing and harvesting your own wet hops is usually the best option.

    Brewing with Wet Hops

    Your brewing schedule will be dictated by the hop harvest. Hops reach peak flavor for harvesting for only a few days, and since the hops need to be used immediately you’ll need to schedule around the harvest.

    Wet hops have a larger concentration of fresh plant material, which can result in more vegetal and even tobacco flavors. Chlorophyl and “green” flavors if used properly give the distinctive fresh hop flavor to the beer. However, the risk in 100% wet hopped beers is that these flavors can be overdone and spoil the profile for the beer. For this reason many brewers avoid using wet hops on very highly hopped beers like IPAs, while others embrace the green flavors as part of a fresh hopped beer.

    Commercial and home grown hops also don’t come with a hop analysis data sheet. There is always an element of mystery when wet hopping. The brewer is left to guess, based on the variety, what this season’s alpha content might be for a given wet hop. This means that targeting a bitterness level for your hops might mean picking a range of IBUs rather than a single number.

    Further complicating hop yield calculations is the fact that wet hops are mostly water by weight. So one ounce of wet hops is nowhere near the same as an ounce of dry hops. Most brewers use a rule of thumb, often derived from experience, to determine how much wet hops to substitute for an equivalent weight in dry hops. A good starting point is somewhere in the range of 6-8 – so you might use 6-8 times as much wet hops by weight to achieve the same bitterness as the equivalent dried hop weight.

    Wet hops can be used anywhere in the brewing process, including as a boil addition, whirlpool addition or for dry hopping. It is usually hard to both brew and dry hop with the same hops, however, due to the very short 1-2 day shelf life of the hops itself. However some brewers have experimented with dry hopping during primary fermentation, which might be an option if you are trying to brew and dry hop with your freshly harvested home grown variety.

    It is not uncommon to mix wet and dry hops when brewing. For example you could boil with regular dried hops from the store, and use fresh hops for “dry hopping”, or mix varieties bought from the store with your home grown fresh hops.

    Are wet hops for everyone? Well clearly not everyone has access to freshly picked hops or the ability and time to grow hops in their garden. However, fresh hops can add exciting fresh flavors to your beers once a year and also offer a unique challenge to the brewer and hop grower.

    Wednesday, June 15, 2016

    Should You Treat Your Sparge Water for Home Brewing?

    #sparge Brew Boss Electric Homebrew Equipment #thebeernationGrain-Glass-Web
    A controversial subject in home brewing is whether to treat your #sparge water the same as you do your mash water when home brewing beer? We look at several competing camps and try to answer this difficult question for home brewers.

    Treating your brewing water may include adding salts (Epsom salt, baking soda, gypsum, etc…) as well as acids (usually lactic acid, acid malt or phosphoric acid). Salts are usually added to achieve a desired water profile for the beer, while acids are commonly added to bring the mash pH down to an ideal range of 5.1-5.4 for mashing.

    There are several competing factors in treating mash and sparge water. As mentioned above water salts are typically added to achieve a desired water profile which can be done to lower the residual alkalinity of the water, control the chloride to sulfate ratio (which drives bitterness), match a profile for a given city or beer style or perhaps just to place the six major water ions within the acceptable range for brewing and a healthy fermentation. Common additives include gypsum, epsom salt, table salt, calcium chloride and baking soda.

    In many cases the addition of salts alone is not sufficient to achieve a low enough mash pH. In these cases you should measure your pH and add an acid if it is not low enough. Typically lactic acid, phosphoric acid and acid malts are used at the homebrew level to control the mash pH for optimal mashing.

    Finally, during the sparge you need to avoid allowing the mash pH to rise too high (called “oversparging”). In particular, pH levels above 5.8-6.0 can result in excessive tannin extraction from the grains leaving an astringent flavor in the finished beer. In practice oversparging is pretty rare in home brewing as home brewing equipment is not as efficient as commercial brewing equipment and also we rarely sparge to the point of maximum extraction.

    A Summary of the Various Camps

    • I Don’t Treat No Stinking Sparge Water! – There is one group of brewers that simply don’t add any water treatment at all to their sparge water. Some of the reasons include a belief that salts won’t have enough time to work, the fact that oversparging is very rare in home brewing, and finally a belief that adding more acid could result in off flavors. Phosphoric and lactic acids have their own flavor if used in high enough quantity. These people also point out that pH is most critical during the mash itself, and absent the rare event of “oversparging”, adding more stuff to your sparge water may just be solving a problem that does not exist. Just treat your mash water and its good enough!
    • Add Salts but Don’t Add Acids – The middle group of brewers do add water salts to their mash and sparge water but don’t bother with adding acid to control the pH. Like the previous group they believe that oversparging is unlikely and the acid is not really needed. However, they do support adding salts to match the overall water profile for the beer. This is important if you want to be sure of your final water profile and have the correct range of the six major ions in the finished beer.
    • Add Acids but No Salts – Another middle group treats their sparge water only for pH using acid additions, but does not bother with salt additions. Their rationale is that managing the pH during the sparge is important to avoid oversparging, but not that important for maintaining the overall water profile. Some of these people that do use salt additions will just add all of their salts to the mash water, arguing that it will all work out in the end.
    • Treat Both Sparge and Mash Water – The final group treats the mash and sparge water the same – adding proportionally the same amount of salts and acid to the sparge as they used in the original mash water. This way all of the water has the proper ion content for brewing and all of the water is treated for the proper pH to avoid oversparging.

    So which camp is right on sparge water? Well to tell the truth, oversparging is a fairly rare phenomenon in home brewing, but it can happen particularly if you are not measuring and adjusting your pH during the mash. However if you are measuring and controlling your mash pH, the chances of oversparging are very small for typical beers. On the other hand, if you are adding acids proportionally to both your mash and sparge water, you are effectively lowering the pH of both. This means you will further lower the chance of oversparging.

    Salt additions to get a proper ion range do play a role in the mash chemistry, so I would recommend at a minimum adding salts to achieve your desired water profile to the mash. Salts play a smaller role in sparging, but on the other hand there is usually little downside to adding salts to both the sparge and mash water, so I will typically treat both the sparge and mash water the same (i.e. add salts in proportion to the volumes). This avoids too much salt in the mash itself, and also assures me of achieving my final water profile.

    So I guess if I have to choose sides, I fall into the last camp – I treat my mash and sparge water the same, adding both salts and acid in proportion to the volume for each. This assures that I’ll get the water profile I want and also significantly reduces the chance of oversparging.

    Monday, June 13, 2016

    Research Suggests Chinese brewed beer 5,000 years ago,

    Brew Boss Electric Homebrew Systems #beernation #oldchinesebeer

    Chinese drinkers may have been brewing beer as many as 5,000 years ago, new research suggests.

    US and Chinese researchers say they found traces of barley, millet, grain, and tubers used in fermentation.

    It was found on pottery discovered in Shaanxi province in northern China during an archaeological dig 10 years ago.

    It would be the earliest known instance of beer-making in China and suggest a sophisticated approach.

    Published in the US Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the study also suggested that barley may have been used for booze before being used for food.

    Image copyrightJIAJING WANG

    As every home-brewer knows, funnels are an essential piece of kit

    The pottery fragments were originally found in an archaeological dig in 2004-2006, but only had their residue analysed by Stanford University researchers in late 2015, confirming earlier speculation by Chinese scholars that they might have been used for brewing.

    The find included pots and pottery funnels, covered with a residue of broomcorn millet, barley, a chewy grain known as Job's tears, and tubers.

    It also included stoves that could have been used to heat and mash grains, as well as underground spaces that would have kept the brew at a cool, consistent fermentation temperature - and helped stop it going off quickly once it was made.

    Image copyrightREUTERSImage caption

    While the scale has changed, the basic recipe for beer remains much as it was 5,000 years ago

    "The discovery of barley is a surprise," lead author Jiajing Wang of Stanford University told the BBC in an email, as it was previously thought the grain arrived in China 1,000 years later.

    "This beer recipe indicates a mix of Chinese and Western traditions - barley from the West; millet, Job's tears and tubers from China."

    The latest find would suggest that drinkers in China first began to develop a taste for beer around the same time as people in ancient Egypt and Iran - from where the barley may have come.

    The exact taste of the ancient brew will remain a mystery however, as while the scientists say they know what ingredients were used, they don't know the quantities.

    Saturday, June 11, 2016

    Smell your beer. Does it reek of gimmickry?

    Brew Boss Automated Homebrew Systems

    by Joe Stange

    A couple of weeks ago here, I blurted out an idea that sounded suspiciously refined. Really it was more like an amorphous phlegmatic thing, coughed out while clearing my throat mid-ramble. I barely stopped to marvel at how that loogie has the face of Elvis.

    Then an author as accomplished as Stan Hieronymus had to point and say, “I wish I had written this.” As my head swelled I sighed deeply, realizing that I would have to bear the heavy, heavy burden of fleshing this thing out before some marketing whiz swipes it and runs with it and makes a gazillion dollars, and here I would remain, holding up a sign: “WILL WRITE FOR SOUP.”

    So let’s talk more about “sincere beer.” It sounds so nice — and it rhymes! — but what is it? How can we explain this thing so that the really bored ones among you can start grassroots campaigns to promote and defend it? (Please don’t.) How can you know if you’re drinking a sincere beer?

    Maybe you can’t. We’ll get to that. I’m going to raise a whole flotilla of questions you can ask your next beer. But first, the context: Sincere means honest; it implies simplicity. We might be talking about old-fashioned folk beers, or those that have barely changed in a century or two, but more to the point we’re talking about a reaction to today’s bewildering, disconnected, limitless variety.

    Our thirst for variety has convinced breweries to pump out novelty after novelty — always on to the next new thing, the seasonal rotation taken to absurdity — rarely settling down to perfect a drinkable product.

    Why improve a beer, after all, if we never drink the same thing twice?

    Today a brewer can theoretically produce anything by rebuilding water, getting fresh ingredients from anywhere in the world, and ordering yeast from fetishistic catalogues. But that beer will not necessarily have anything to do with the place from whence it comes. Sincere beer represents a different sort of choice — and we should recognize that it is a choice, not an inevitability. Not modern, but metamodern.

    The days when brewers were limited to local water and ingredients and drinkers are gone. Thankfully. But we’re allowed to be nostalgic. On to sincere beer. Trying to define it clearly just strikes me as pedantic. So instead I’m going to raise a whole bunch of questions. Not all are relevant, but Socratic method is more fun.

    • Do you know where your beer is made? Are you sure?
    • Is the label clear about the beer’s origins? Is it clear about the ingredients?
    • How many ingredients are there, anyway? Are they from far away?
    • Did it come from a cask spiced with Cocoa Puffs and dingleberries?
    • If the beer is made locally, does the name include a foreign city?
    • What did that beer cost you? Did you feel it?
    • Read all of the label’s text. How many exclamation points do you count?
    • Any yeast in there? Is the beer alive, or merely embalmed by refrigeration?
    • When it’s done, would you like another?
    • Would your grandpa have liked it? Do you think it might still be around for your own grandkids to try one day?

    And maybe there is another thing to consider, in an age when any sort of beer can be made and shipped anywhere in the world. For whom was that beer made? Is it for anyone or everyone?There has been much written lately about beer that somehow expresses terroir — or sense of place, or somewhereness. But I think my favorite explanation comes from Tim Webb, who writes (with Stephen Beaumont) the World Atlas of Beer and (with me) the Good Beer Guide Belgium.

    “Beer has terroir,” Tim says, “not for the soil where the grain or hops are grown, but for the people in the area for whom the beer is brewed, who shape by their cultural expectations of how that beer will be.”

    That reminds me of one of the classic pieces of advice for writers, which I received as a young reporter: Imagine your reader. Name him. Talk to him.

    I wonder if many brewers imagine their drinker. The way they’re cranking out new beers, I wonder if they even have time.

    Thursday, June 9, 2016

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    Tuesday, June 7, 2016

    What is Diastatic Power?... Definition and Chart.

    #homebrew Brew Boss Electric Homebrew Equipment

    by David Ackley
    If you’ve been brewing for a while, you’ve probably come across the term “diastatic power” when exploring different malts and learning how to mash. What is #diastatic power? What’s the big deal?

    A good "diastatic power" (DP) definition would be that it is a measurement of a #maltedgrain’s #enzymatic content. When grain is malted, enzymes are produced during germination. These enzymes are responsible for converting the grain’s starches into sugar during mashing. Diastatic power is an indicator of the amount of enzymes available to convert those starches into sugar.

    In the US, diastatic power is generally measured in degrees Lintner. Malts with enough DP to convert themselves are at least 30 degrees Lintner; base malts can reach as high as 180 or more. That covers the question as to "what is diastatic power". Now here's some actual numbers to take a look at.

    Here is a diastatic power chart for some of the more common malted grains:

    Malt Degrees Lintner

    Briess Red Wheat Malt 180
    Briess White Wheat Malt 160
    Briess Two-Row Malt 140
    Briess Pilsen Malt 140
    Briess Vienna Malt 130
    Briess Rye Malt 105
    Briess Munich Malt 10L 40
    Briess Caramel 20-120 0
    Briess Chocolate Malt 0
    Briess Black Malt 0

    For most all-grain beer recipes with a substantial amount of base malt, diastatic power isn’t going to be a major issue. DP comes in to play when brewing with a high proportion of specialty malts or unmalted adjuncts. There needs to be enough DP to not only convert the starches in the base grains, but in the specialty malts as well. One of the reasons American adjunct lagers are so high in two-row malt is that the extra DP is needed to convert the adjunct starches into sugar.

    Diastatic power is also important when brewing partial mash. Take for example the grain bill for a partial mash recipe such as this one:
    • 6.6 lbs. Light LME
    • 1.5 lb. Caramel 40L
    • 1 lb. Munich Malt (10L)
    We know that the Caramel 40L contributes no diastatic power and the Munich only 40 degrees Lintner. The DP available to convert this mini-mash (simply the average by weight of the grains) is only about 16. This is far below the minimum recommended value of 30. Some recommend aiming for 70. In short, the higher the average DP, the more likely your chances are of a successful starch conversion.

    There are several possible solutions for the example above:

    1. We could replace the Munich with Vienna malt without a huge impact on flavor and bring up the average diastatic power to 52.
    2. Alternatively, we could add 1 lb. of two-row barley malt to the mini-mash, bringing the average diastatic power to 52, as well.
    3. We could also “cheat” by adding a small amount of diatase enzyme.

    The point is, all it takes is a little tweaking to help make sure the mash has enough DP to convert. The good news is that with a partial mash recipe, the mash represents such a small proportion of the overall gravity that it won’t make a huge difference if it doesn’t. Most of the gravity points will come from the LME.

    The next time you brew, calculate your diastatic power and record your brewhouse efficiency. Did you have enough DP for a successful conversion? These are all advantages to know the answer to the question, what is diastatic power.

    - See more at:

    Friday, June 3, 2016

    Chew, Spit, Brew: How to Make Chicha Beer

    #chicha #homebrew #funkybeer Brew Boss Electric Homebrew Equipment

    Those plants that are more important to the survival of man, or which have stimulating psychological effects upon him, are, in tribal and early Western societies, thought to incorporate a particularly powerful force.” – Mikal Aasved, 1988

    Unless you’ve spent some time in South America or follow Sam Calagione and Dogfish Head Brewery, you probably haven’t heard of chicha. What if I told you an ancient beer is made from chewed up corn, spit and a few spices. Would you still make it (or drink it)?

    Similar to Belgian beers, chicha is not a single, homogenized drink – there are variations native to each region and group. In fact, other than the use of corn, chicha can be made with different ingredients such as manioc (a woody shrub), wild fruits, cacti, rice and potatoes, among others, native to the particular region it’s brewed. Historians have recreated many traditional versions of the drink, while other modern drinkers tweak and experiment with the fermented beverage.

    At the end of the day, it’s entirely up to you what to put in your chicha (and whether or not you want to chew or germinate the maize). The drink that follows is simple, light in body that primarily smells and tastes like corn with a slight farmhouse funk.
    Origins of Chicha

    Chicha is an ancient beer indigenous to many cultures ranging from the Andes up to what is now the southwestern United States. Somewhere along history, either someone decided it’d be a good idea to chew up corn, spit it out, boil it and then ferment it in a clay pot for a few days until it was ready to drink or someone lost a bad bet.

    The drink’s history dates back to around 5000 B.C.E. where there’s evidence of early pottery in the Andean region used as vessels to carry and store chicha. The drink soon played a crucial role in history and civilization. It became a cultural signifier for many Andean groups (i.e. Incas and Aztecs) and was not only central to many economies as a means of payment, but also became important for its intoxicating effects.

    For many of the Andean groups, drunkenness was a way to spiritually communicate as well as develop a sense of community and togetherness. Sharing a drink with another person was seen as an act of friendship and understanding. Sound familiar? To better grasp chicha’s significance, we need only look at the Incan Empire for some answers.

    Corn was a sacred crop for the Incas. Huge farms were dedicated to the production of corn, primarily powered by the demand for chicha, which was considered a sign of high social status. Recent archaeological evidence suggests that even some Pueblo tribes of modern-day New Mexico, long thought to be teetotalers, were making their own fermented corn drink about 800 years ago. So, arguably, chicha is the most original American beer you could drink. Sip on that idea for a while.

    Today, chicha is still an important drink for many in Central and South America. After surviving centuries of Spanish colonial rule and oppression, the tradition of making, sharing and drinking chicha is a source of pride. It’s becoming known worldwide and brewers in many different countries are trying their hands at making their own modern version of chicha. Just like beer styles native to other countries, chicha has become a transnational identity for the Andes and South American region at large. Whether or not you want to drink a beer made from saliva is entirely different question.
    Brewing Procedures

    Warning: You may experience dry-mouth during this process. Please chew responsibly.

    Traditional Method: The first step to making traditional chicha is moistening the maize with water, rolling it into a small ball and placing in your mouth. Work the maize thoroughly with the tongue until it is completely saturated with saliva. The natural enzymes (ptyalin) from human saliva work to convert the cornstarch into fermentable sugar. Then, the chewed up corn (called muko) is dried out. You’ll use two pounds of the cornmeal for this step.

    To make the beer, combine the dried out muko with the other pound of raw cornmeal along with any other additives you think would be tasty. For the recipe below, we use squash pulp and prickly pear cactus fruits, but you can use pineapple, cinnamon, cloves, strawberries or limes. Heat the three gallons of water to 150° F (65° C) and add it to your ingredients. Let it stand until cool. Ladle out the top layer of liquid (called upi) and set aside. Next, scoop out the jelly-like middle layer (called misqui kketa) and cook in a pot on the stove until it turns a caramel-like color. While this is cooking, press the grains and other ingredients by using a strainer or a lid to strain the liquid from the grain. Add this liquid to the initial liquid you drew off (upi) and boil for an hour. Once the jelly-like middle layer turns to a caramel-like color, add it to the boiling liquid. Cool the final mixture to 70° F (21° C), pour into a fermenter and add yeast. Allow for fermentation to complete (about a week), siphon into bottles, prime and cap.

    • 3 pounds coarsely ground cornmeal
    • 1 pound squash pulp (any will do, from pumpkin to winter squash)
    • 1 pound prickly pear cactus fruits
    • 3 gallons of water
    • ale yeast

    Modern Method: For those of you who don’t want to sit around for hours chewing up corn (we know who you are), use the following recipe. Crush the germinated corn coarsely and pour in the brewpot with 8 quarts of cold water. Sit and let sit one hour. Bring it to a boil, add the sugar, then lower the heat and simmer three hours (stirring regularly). Add whatever spices you desire at the end of the boil. In this recipe we use cloves but you can use anything from cinnamon to ginger. Remove and let it sit for one hour. Next, strain the liquid into a fermenter using a strainer, cheese cloth or any other method you prefer. Once it cools to 70° F (21° C), pitch the yeast and ferment at room temperature (between 60 and 75° F) for five days. Rack to secondary and ferment for one to two weeks until clarified. Bottle using 1 teaspoon corn sugar per bottle for priming. Finally, let it sit two more weeks after bottling before drinking.

    Ingredients (1 gallon)
    • 8 quarts water
    • 1 pound germinated corn (jora)
    • 2 cups brown sugar
    • 8 whole allspice or cloves
    • ale yeast

    Wednesday, June 1, 2016

    Recipe: Summertime Ginger Ale

    #homebrew Brew Boss Electric Homebrew Systems #makebeertoday

    In 1516, the Reinheitsgebot—commonly referred to as the “German Purity Law”—initially went into affect in Bavaria. Though earlier variations of the law were adopted almost half a century before its official enactment on April 23 that year, the law eventually would go into effect across all of Germany.

    Among other reasons, the law was originally adopted to control the price of grain used in the brewing process and only allowed brewers to use three ingredients in their beer: water, hops, and barley. The law has since been adapted to modern regulations, but its impact on the history of brewing and beer styles is still renowned today.

    In honor of the 500th anniversary of the Reinheitsgebot, the American Homebrewers Association is celebrating its impact by encouraging homebrewers worldwide to brew their choice of two recipes: a Northern German Altbier or a spiced beer.

    The Summertime Ginger Ale homebrew recipe uses malt, hops, and water, but also tosses in honey, lactose, and ginger to really throw those Reinheitsgebot purists into a dizzy.

    Summertime Ginger Ale | Spice/Herb/Vegetable Beer


  • For 5 Gallons (18.93 L)

    • 2.0 lb (0.91 kg) 2 row malt
    • 1.0 lb (0.45 kg) Belgian aromatic malt
    • 1.0 lb (0.45 kg) clover honey (added to the boil)
    • 0.5 lb (0.23 kg) lactose (added to the boil)
    • 1.0 oz (28 g) Spalt whole hops, 2.5% a.a. (45 min)
    • Wyeast 2565 Kölsch Yeast, or White Labs WLP029 German Ale/Kölsch yeast, or a sufficient yeast starter
    • 0.75 tsp (3 g) Irish moss added 15 minutes before end of the boil (optional)
    • 2 oz (56 g) fresh chopped ginger added to the boil (15 min)
    • 2 oz (56 g) fresh chopped ginger added to secondary fermenter for 7 days


    • Original Gravity: 1.028
    • Final Gravity: 1.000
    • ABV: 3.68%
    • IBU: 19
    • SRM: 6


    To brew the Summertime Ginger Ale, mash grains at 152° F (67° C) for 60 minutes. Mash out at 168° F (76° C), with pre-boil wort volume of 6.5 gal. (25 L).
    Bring to a rolling boil for 60 minutes, add hops, honey, lactose, and ginger at specified intervals from end of boil. Chill wort to 65° F (18° C) and pitch yeast.
    After 5 days, rack to secondary fermenter and age for another 10 days, adding remaining ginger for the last 7 days.
    Keg at 2.5 volumes of CO2 or bottle condition with 4 oz (113 g) corn sugar.
    Extract Version
    • 2.0 lb (0.91 kg) extra light dry malt extract
    • 1.0 lb (0.45 kg) Belgian aromatic malt
    • 1.0 lb (0.45 kg) clover honey (added to the boil)
    • 0.5 lb (0.23 kg) lactose (added to the boil)
    • 1.0 oz (28 g) Spalt whole hops, 2.5% a.a. (45 min)
    • Wyeast 2565 Kölsch Yeast, or White Labs WLP029 German Ale/Kölsch yeast, or a sufficient yeast starter
    • 0.75 tsp (3 g) Irish moss added 15 minutes before end of the boil (optional)
    • 2 oz (56 g) fresh chopped ginger added to the boil (15 min)
    • 2 oz (56 g) fresh chopped ginger added to secondary fermenter for 7 days
    • 5 Gallons (18.93 L)
    • Original Gravity: 1.028
    • Final Gravity: 1.000
    • SRM: 6
    • IBU: 19
    • ABV: 3.68%
    To brew an extract version of Summertime Ginger Ale homebrew recipe, put 2 gallons (7.6 L) of water in the boil pot and heat to150° F (66° C). While the water is heating, put the Belgian aromatic malt into a grain bag and tie off the ends so the grains can't escape.
    Once the water has reached 150° F (66° C), immerse the grain bag in the water for 30 minutes. For more information on steeping specialty grains, visit theIntermediate section of Let's Brew on the AHA website.
    After 30 minutes, remove the grain bag and let it drip until it stops. Add the extra light dry malt extract to the water and stir until totally dissolved. Bring to a rolling boil for 60 minutes; add hops, honey, lactose, ginger, and Irish moss at specified intervals from end of boil.
    Strain wort into sanitized fermentation vessel with 2–3 gallons (7.6–11.4 L) of pre-boiled and chilled water for a total volume of 5 gallons (19 L). Pitch yeast when temperature reaches 65° F (18° C). 
    After 5 days, rack to secondary fermenter and age for another 10 days, adding remaining ginger for the last 7 days.
    Keg at 2.5 volumes of CO2 or bottle condition with 4 oz (113 g) corn sugar.