If you want a maltier flavor, use a small amount of one of the toasted malts (e.g.
vienna, munich, biscuit, etc.) in place of some of the base malt to help produce the
malty aromas of German Bocks and Oktoberfests. If you want a richer, sweeter
flavor, then use the next higher lovibond level of caramel malt to give a higher
proportion of unfermentable sugars than the preceding caramel malt. If the flavor
of the beer is too caramel sweet, then do the opposite. You can add Carastan or
Crystal 15 or 25 malt to produce a lighter, honey-like sweetness instead of the
caramel of Crystal 60 and 80 or the bittersweet of Crystal 120 and Special B.
20.3 Using Honey
I have not mentioned honey until now because I don't use it often. Fermented
honey is called mead, and a combination of fermented beer and honey is called
braggot. Mead and braggot are an acquired taste, but many brewers like them as
an alternative to beer. The water content varies in honey from batch to batch, so it
is hard to know how much fermentability is represented by a given weight or
volume. The only recourse is to dilute it with a known amount of water and
measure it with a hydrometer. Also, honey does not contain any of the amino acids
that yeast need for nutrition. Therefore when you are brewing with honey and
especially when you are making mead, you need to add yeast nutrient to the batch.
Honey can impart a strong aroma and sharp sweet flavor that can be overpowering
if more than a couple pounds are used in the batch. Start out with 1 - 2 pounds and
see how you like it. It can be added to any beer style, it's up to you. The bittering
hops should be increased accordingly. But be forewarned, honey based alcohol also
tends to give nasty hangovers...
20.4 Toasting Your Own Malt
As a homebrewer, you should feel free to experiment in your kitchen with malts.
Oven toasted base malt adds nutty and toasty flavor to your beer, which is a nice
addition for brown ales, porters, bocks, and oktoberfests. Toasting-your-own is
easy to do and the toasted grain can be used by both steeping and mashing. If
steeped, the malt will contribute a high proportion of unconverted starch to the
wort and the beer will be hazy, but a nice nutty toasted flavor will be evident in the
final beer. There are several combinations of time and temperature that can be
used in producing these special malts, so I will explain a couple of the factors that
influence the flavor and describe the two methods I use.
The principal reaction that takes place when you toast malt is the browning of
starches and proteins, known as the Maillard Reaction. As the starches and proteins
brown, various flavor and color compounds are produced. The color compounds are
called "melanoidins" and can improve the stability of beer by slowing oxidation and
staling reactions as the beer ages.
Since the browning reactions are influenced by the wetness of the grain, water can
be used in conjunction with the toasting process to produce different flavors in the
malt. Soaking the uncrushed malt in water for an hour will provide the water
necessary to optimize the Maillard browning reactions. Toasting wet malt will
produce more of a caramel flavor due to partial starch conversion taking place from
the heat. Toasting dry grain will produce more of a toast or Grape-Nuts cereal
flavor which is perfect for nut-brown ales.
Table 17 - Grain Toasting Times and Temperatures
Light nutty taste and aroma.
Light nutty taste and aroma.
Toasty, Grape-Nuts Flavor.
More roasted flavor, very similar to commercial
Light sweet Toasty flavor.
Toasted Malty, slightly sweet.
Strong Toast/Roast flavor similar to Brown Malt.
The malt should be stored in a paper bag for 2 weeks prior to use. This will allow
time for the harsher aromatics to escape. Commercial toasted malts are often aged
for 6 weeks before sale. This aging is more important for the highly toasted malts,
toasted for more than a half hour (dry) or 1 hour (wet).
20.5 Developing Your Own Recipes
Recipe design is easy and can be a lot of fun. Pull together the information on yeast
strains, hops, and malts, and start defining the kinds of tastes and character you
are looking for in a beer. Then choose a style that is close to your dream beer and
decide what you would like to change about it.
To help get your creative juices flowing, here is a rough approximation of the
recipes for the common ale styles:
Pale Ale - base malt plus a half pound of caramel malt,
Amber Ale - pale ale plus a half pound of dark caramel malt,
Brown Ale - pale ale plus a half pound of chocolate malt
Porter - amber ale plus a half pound of chocolate malt,
Stout - porter plus a half pound of roast barley.
Yes, those recipes are pretty crude, but I want you to realize how little effort it
takes to produce a different beer. When adding a new malt to a recipe, start out
with a half pound or less for a five gallon batch. Brew the recipe and then adjust up
or down depending on your tastes. Try commercial beers in each of the styles and
use the recipes and guidelines in this book to develop a feel for the flavors the
different ingredients contribute.
Read recipes listed in brewing magazines, even if they are all-grain and you are not
a grain brewer. By reading an all-grain recipe and the descriptions of the malts they
are using, you will gain a feel for what that beer would taste like. Use the principles
given in Chapter 12 to duplicate the recipe using extract and the specialty grains in
the recipe. You may need to use a partial mash for some recipes.
Look at yeast strain information and determine what flavors different strains would
give to the recipe. Use the calculations in Chapters 5 and 12 to estimate the IBUs
and the gravity of the beer. Plan a final gravity for the beer and decide what factors
you would use to achieve it, i.e., extract brand, mash schedule, yeast strain,
fermentation temperature, etc. You as the brewer have almost infinite control over
the end result. Don't be afraid to experiment.
Mosher, R., The Brewers Companion, Alephenalia Publishing, Seattle Washington,
Chapter 21 - Is My Beer Ruined?
Papazian, C., The Homebrewers Companion, Brewers Publications, Boulder
Gold, Elizabeth, ed. Evaluating Beer, Brewers Publications, Boulder Colorado, 1993.
Chapter 21 - Is My Beer Ruined?
This phrase has got to be the most frequently asked question by new brewers, and
usually the answer is "No." Depending on the cause, it might end up with an odd
flavor or aroma, but you will still be able to drink it and chalk it up as another
lesson on the way to brewing that perfect beer. Although a lot can potentially go
wrong with a batch, most problems arise from just a couple of root causes. If the
recipe was good and you used quality ingredients, there are three main culprits:
poor sanitation, bad yeast or the wrong temperature. Most problems become
noticeable once the beer is in the fermentor and nothing (or something weird) is
happening. Let's examine some common symptoms and their possible causes.
21.1 Common Problems
Symptom: I added the yeast 2 days ago and nothing is happening.
Cause 1: Leaky Bucket Lack of fermentation can be due to several things. If the
airlock is not bubbling, it may be due to a poor seal between the lid and the bucket.
Fermentation may be taking place but the CO2 is not coming out through the
Cure: This is not a real problem; it won't affect the batch. Fix the seal or get a new
lid next time.
Cause 2: Bad Yeast When a batch is not fermenting , the most common problem
is with the yeast. If dry yeast has been properly packaged and stored, it should be
fully viable for up to two years. However, if you are using a yeast package that
came taped to the top of a dusty can of malt extract, then the yeast may be too old
or may have been subjected to poor storage conditions, and will not work for you.
Yeast need to be treated with care and be given the proper growing conditions. Dry
yeast are de-hydrated, they're parched, they're in no condition to start work. They
need some nice warm water to get re-hydrated in, some time to do some
stretching, maybe an appetizer, and then they will be ready to tackle a full wort. If
the dry yeast is just sprinkled onto the surface of the wort, some of the yeast will
be up to the challenge, but most won't.
Cure: Re-hydration of yeast in plain water is strongly recommended because of the
principles of osmosis. In a wort with a high concentration of dissolved sugar, the
water that the yeast needs cannot be drawn across the cell membrane to wet it.
The water is instead locked up in the wort, hydrating the sugars. A friend of mine,
who insists on remaining nameless, was misled by the term, "pitching", and for his
first batch attempted to forcibly throw each granule of dried yeast into the wort so
that it would be wetted. That batch didn't turn out very well.
Likewise, liquid yeast cultures also need their breakfast routine. They have been
kept in a refrigerator and need to be warmed and fed before there will be enough
active yeast to do the job properly. There are a lot more yeast cells in a dry yeast
packet than in a liquid packet. The liquid packet needs to be grown in a starter to
produce enough cells to take on the job of a full five gallon wort. Both liquid and
dry yeast cultures will have a lag time from when they are pitched until they start
fermenting in earnest. Aeration, the process of dissolving oxygen into the wort,
provides the yeast with the oxygen they need to greatly boost their growth rate and
make enough yeast cells to do the job properly.
Cause 3: Too Cold The fermentation conditions may be too cold for an otherwise
healthy yeast population. Ale yeast tend to go dormant below 60¡F. If the yeast
were re-hydrated in really warm water (105¡F) and then pitched to a much cooler
wort (65¡F), the large difference in temperature can thermally shock the yeast and
cause a longer lag time as they adjust. Or in some cases, that otherwise normal ale
fermentation temperature could cause those warm-acclimated yeast to call it quits.
Cure: Try warming the fermentor by 5¡F; it may make all the difference.
Cause 4: Improper Sanitation Sanitation can be carried too far some times.
When you were preparing the warm water for rehydrating or boiling your yeast
starter, did you cool it to the proper temperature range? If the water is too cold
(below 80¡F) the yeast will be sluggish and have a hard time getting rehydrated. If
it is too hot (above 105¡F) then the yeast are going to get scalded, and refuse to
have anything to do with you and your wort. Also, if you added the yeast to the
Starter wort and then boiled it, well, they're dead.
Cure: Pitch new yeast.
Symptom: I added the yeast yesterday and it bubbled all day but is slowing
Cause 1: Lack of Preparation As I stated in the section above, yeast that are
improperly prepared, whether from lack of re-hydration, lack of numbers (i.e. lack
of Starter), or lack of aeration, will often fail to finish the job.
Cure: Pitch new yeast.
Cause 2: Too Cold Temperature can also be a major factor for fermentation
performance. If the temperature of the room where the fermentor is cools down,
even only 5 ¡F overnight, then the yeast can be slowed dramatically.
Cure: Always strive to keep the fermentation temperature constant, the yeast will
thank you for it.
Cause 3: Too Warm The flip side of the coin could be that the temperature was
warm, e.g. 75¡F, and the yeast got the job done ahead of schedule. This often
happens when a lot of yeast is pitched, the primary fermentation can be complete
within 48 hours. This is not necessarily a good thing, as ferments above 70¡F tend
to produce a lot of esters and phenolics that just don't taste right. The beer will still
be good, just not as good as it could have been. It will depend on your tastes and
the yeast strain.
Cure: Always strive to keep the fermentation temperature within the recommended
range, the yeast will thank you for it.
Symptom: The last batch (did that) but this batch is (doing this).
Cause 1: Different Conditions Different yeast strains behave differently and
different ingredients can cause the same yeast to behave differently. Different
temperatures can cause the same yeast working on the same ingredients to behave
differently. Different yeasts working on different ingredients at different
temperatures will produce different beers. Profound, eh?
Cure: Be patient; don't jump to conclusions. Go watch TV.
Cause 2: Yeast Health If you are brewing identical recipes at the identical
temperatures then a difference in fermentation vigor or length may be due to yeast
health, aeration or other factors. Only if something like odor or taste is severely
different should you worry.
Cure: Wait and see.
Symptom: The airlock is clogged with gunk.
Cause: Vigorous Fermentation Sometimes ferments are so vigorous that the
krausen is forced into the airlock. Pressure can build up in the fermentor if the
airlock gets plugged and you may end up spraying brown yeast and hop resins on
Cure: The best solution to this problem is to switch to a blow-off hose. Fit a large
diameter hose (e.g. 1 inch) into the opening of the bucket or carboy and run it
down to a bucket of water.
Symptom: White stuff/brown stuff/green stuff is loating/growing/moving.
Cause 1: Normal Fermentation The first time you look inside your fermentor,
you will be treated to an amazing sight. There will be whitish yellow-brown foam on
top of the wort, containing greenish areas of hops and resins. This is perfectly
normal. Even if it appears slightly slimy, it is probably normal. Only if something
hairy starts growing on top of the wort should you be concerned. I remember one
guy reporting a dead bat floating in his fermentor...That was definitely cause for
Cure: Get another bat.
Cause 2: Mold A simple case of mold.
Cure: Mold can usually be just skimmed off with no lasting effect on the beer's
flavor. Withdraw a sample of the wort with a siphon or turkey baster and taste it. If
it tastes foul then its not worth keeping. Otherwise the beer was probably not
harmed. Infections in beer caused by molds are not dangerous. Be meticulous in
your sanitation and you should not have any problems.
Symptom: It smells like rotten eggs.
Cause 1: Yeast Strain Rotten egg odors (hydrogen sulfide) can have two common
causes: the yeast strain and bacteria. Many lager yeast strains produce noticeable
amounts of hydrogen sulfide during fermentation. The smell and any sulfur taste
will dissipate during lagering.
Cure: Let the beer condition or lager for a few weeks after primary fermentation.
Cause 2: Bacteria Bacterial infections can also produce sulfury odors and if you
are not brewing a lager beer, then this is a good sign that you have an infection.
Cure: Let the fermentation complete and then taste it before bottling to see if it is
infected. Toss it if it is.
Symptom: It smells like vinegar.
Cause 1: Bacteria In this case, it probably is. Aceto bacteria (vinegar producing)
and Lacto bacteria (lactic acid producing) are common contaminates in breweries.
Sometimes the infection will produce sweet smells like malt vinegar, other times
they will produce cidery smells. It will depend on which bug is living in your wort.
Aceto bacteria often produce ropy strands of jelly which can be a good visual
indicator, as can excessive cloudiness, after several weeks in the fermentor
(although some cloudiness is not unusual, especially in all-grain beers).
Cure: If you don't like the taste, then pour it out. Lactic infections are desired in
some beer styles.
Cause 2: Wild Yeast/Bacteria Two other bugs are also common, Brettanomyces
and Pediococcus. Brettanomyces is supposed to smell like horse sweat or a horse
blanket. Raise your hand if you know what a horse smells like. From sweat, I mean.
Anyone? I think Brettanomyces smells like leather, myself. Pediococcus can
produce diacetyl and acidic aromas and flavors.
One man's garbage can be another man's gold though. These two cultures and
Lacto bacteria are actually essential to the Belgian Lambic beer styles. Under other
circumstances and styles, beers that taste like Lambics would be discarded instead
of being carefully nurtured and blended over a two year period. Lambic beers have
a pronounced tartness with fruity overtones. This type of beer is very refreshing
and is excellent with heavy food.
Cure: Be meticulous in your sanitation or investigate Lambic brewing.
Symptom: It won't stop bubbling.
Cause 1: Cool Temperatures A beer that has been continually
fermenting(bubbling) for a long time (more than a week for ales, more than 3
weeks for lagers) may not have something wrong with it. It is often due to the
fermentation being a bit too cool and the yeast are working slower than normal.
Cure: This condition is not a problem.
Cause 2: Gusher Infection However, the sustained bubbling is often due to
"gusher type" infection. These infections can occur at any time and are due to wild
yeasts or bacteria that eat the higher order sugars, like dextrins. The result in the
fermentor is a beer that keeps bubbling until all of the carbohydrates are
fermented, leaving a beer that has no body and very little taste. If it occurs at
bottling time, the beer will overcarbonate and will fizz like soda pop, fountaining out
of the bottle.
Cure: Improve your sanitation next time.
If the beer seems to be bubbling too long, check the gravity with a hydrometer.
Use a siphon or turkey baster to withdraw a sample from the fermentor and check
the gravity. If the gravity is still high, in the teens or twenties, then it is probably
due to lower than optimum temperature or sluggish yeast. If it is below 10 and still
bubbling at several per minute, then a bug has gotten hold. The beer will not be
worth drinking due to the lack of flavor.
Symptom: The fermentation seems to have stopped but the hydrometer
Cause 1: Too Cool This situation is commonly referred to as a "stuck
fermentation" and can have a couple causes. The simplest cause and probably the
most common is temperature. As previously discussed, a significant drop in
temperature can cause the yeast to go dormant and settle to the bottom.
Cure: Moving the fermentor to a warmer room and swirling the fermentor to stir up
the yeast and get them back into suspension will often fix the problem.
Cause 2: Yeast The other most common cause is weak yeast. Referring back to
previous discussions of yeast preparation, weak yeast or low volumes of healthy
yeast will often not be up to the task of fermenting a high gravity wort. This
problem is most common with higher gravity beers, OGs greater than 1.048.
Cure: Add more yeast.
Cause 3: Low Attenuating Extracts Another common cause for extract kit
brewers is the use of extracts high in dextrins. Two brands are known to be high in
unfermentables, Laaglanders Dry Malt Extract (Netherlands) and John Bull Liquid
Malt Extract (UK). These are not bad extracts, in fact they are high quality, but
their use is better suited to heavier bodied beers like strong ales, porters and
stouts, where a high finishing gravity is desired.
Symptom: It won't carbonate.
Causes: Need More Time Time, temperature and yeast strain all combine to form
a government committee with the charter to determine a range of times when they
can expect to be 90% finished with the Carbonation/Residual Attenuation Project.
This committee works best without distractions-- the meetings should be held in
quiet, low light areas in a warm room. If the committee was given enough budget
(priming sugar), then they should arrive at a consensus in about 2 weeks. If they
don't get their act together within a month, then its time to rattle their cages and
shake things up a bit.
Cure: The yeast may have settled out prematurely and the bottles need to be
shaken to get the yeast back into suspension. Likewise if the temperature is too
cool in the room, moving the bottles to a warmer room may do the trick.
Documents you may be interested
Documents you may be interested