Monday, July 30, 2012

Standard American Pale Ale Recipe (Yeah Right)

Why come to market with yet another American pale ale when there are so many well-made, reliable versions already available? Probably 75% of the breweries and brewpubs in this country make some version of the signature style of the American craft beer movement. There are so many other flavor paradigms to explore, why would we pick a style that has already been picked-over? Well there aren’t many pale ales like this one. At Modern Times Jacob and I are hoping to produce a malty, hoppy, pale that can give IPAs a run for their money aromatically. Inspired by beers like Three Floyds Alpha King, Alpine Hoppy Birthday, and Hill Farmstead Edward.

A freezer full of hops, and I've been brewing a lot of hoppy beers...The grist for this test batch was based on Jamil’s APA from Brewing Classic Styles. Maltiness comes from Munich and Victory, and a head retention boost from wheat malt. For whatever reason Victory has never been one of my go to malts, but its crackery flavor should enhance the relatively bland pale 2-row base. No crystal malt, trying to keep the balance similar to dry West Coast IPA. I’m hoping to have enough breadiness to catch glimpses of it through the hop forest.

As a jumping-off point I borrowed the hop bill from my favorite batch of DIPA (Simcoe, Columbus, and Amarillo), but adjusted the timing of the additions to suit the more slender base. I hop-bursted, waiting to add the first charge until there were just 15 minutes left in the boil. In addition to a big flame-out dose I stuffed the hop-back with nearly four ounces of whole hops. A similarly sized addition will be added to the keg. Despite around 50 IBUs, this beer should not be harshly bitter owing to the lower perceived bitterness of late additions.

This was a slightly larger batch than normal, which allowed me to divert one gallon of the chilled wort into a jug where I pitched yeast I had cultured from a can of The Alchemist Heady Topper (their English origin house strain lends a nice peachy counterpoint to the massive hopping of their deservedly hyped DIPA). After pouring the beer into glasses I added about a half cup of wort to the can and covered with sanitized aluminum foil. After seeing good activity two days later I poured the entire contents of the can into a flask of .5 L of fresh wort for a few days on my stir-plate. The rest of the batch received a thin six ounces of WLP001 slurry harvested from Hoppy Wheat #2 that morning.

Both versions are fermenting well, and should be ready to keg/bottle in a couple weeks.

A Very Hoppy UnBirthday

Recipe Specifics
----------------
Batch Size (Gal): 6.30
Total Grain (Lbs): 13.63
Anticipated OG: 1.050
Anticipated SRM: 6.8
Anticipated IBU: 48.8
Brewhouse Efficiency: 64 %
Wort Boil Time: 75 Minutes

Grain
------
69.7% - 9.50 lbs. American "2-row" Pale Malt
14.7% - 2.00 lbs. German Munich Malt
9.2% - 1.25 lbs. German Wheat Malt
6.4% - 0.88 lbs. Victory

Hops
------
1.25 oz. Amarillo (Whole, 10.00% AA) @ 15 min.
1.25 oz. Columbus (Pellet, 13.40% AA) @ 10 min.
1.25 oz. Simcoe (Pellet, 11.50% AA) @ 5 min.
0.75 oz. Amarillo (Whole, 10.00% AA) @ 0 min.
0.75 oz. Columbus (Pellet, 13.40% AA) @ 0 min.
0.75 oz. Simcoe (Pellet, 11.50% AA) @ 0 min.
1.00 oz. Amarillo (Whole, 10.00% AA) @ Hop-Back
1.75 oz. Simcoe (Whole, 14.00% AA) @ Hop-Back
1.25 oz. Columbus (Whole, 15.00% AA) @ Hop-Back
1.00 oz. Amarillo (Whole, 10.00% AA) @ Dry Hop
2.00 oz. Simcoe (Whole, 14.00% AA) @ Dry Hop
1.50 oz. Columbus (Whole, 15.00% AA) @ Dry Hop

Extras
-------
1.00 Whirlfloc @ 9 min.
0.50 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 9 min.

Yeast
------
White Labs WLP001 California Ale

Water Profile
--------------
Profile: Washington, Hoppy

Mash Schedule
----------------
Sacch Rest - 45 min @ 155F

Notes
-------
Brewed 7/28/12

Water cut 50% with distilled, 8 g of gypsum and 5 g of CaCl added to the mash and sparge total.

Collected 7.25 gallons of 1.052 wort. Extended the boil as a result of issues with the hop back. All hop additions were bagged. 0 minute hops added to to the kettle for about 10 minutes before chilling started.

Collected 5.25 gallons of wort at 1.062. Diluted with 1 gallon of chilled distilled water. Still only got down to 74 F. Split a bit less than a gallon into a glass jug.

Pitched 3/4 cup of loose slurry from the Hoppy Wheat #2 into the bucket after aerating for 45 seconds with pure O2. The jug was aerated for 15 seconds with pure O2 then pitched 1/4 cup of slurry grown from a can of Alchemist Heady Topper first in a can, then on a stir-plate.

Left both at 66 F to ferment. I left the AC off overnight accidentally and the temperature got up to 69 by the time I realized it the next morning and cranked it down to 63. Already fermenting well by then.

8/18/12 Kegged the 001 portion with the dry hops.

8/13/12 Down to 1.013, kegged the 001 with the dry hops. 

8/20/12 Bottled the Alchemist yeast fermente portion with 5/8 oz of table sugar.

9/17/12 Tasting of both versions. Turned out well, but a bit maltier than I wanted. The Alchemist yeast gave a surprising amount of fruit and spice, interesting, but a bit over-the-top.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Nectarine Pale Sour Ale Tasting

Down to my last couple bottles of this one gallon experiment that was aged on white nectarines. It was a portion of a larger batch, the second in our group red wine barrel project, that was based on Russian River's first batch of Beatification. That is to say a pale, sharply acidic, but not aggressively funky beer.

Nectarine pale sour, in the freezer with some frozen fruit.
While I've had good luck with white peaches, white nectarines may be my new favorite fruit in a pale sour beer. More complementary than bolder fruits like cherry and raspberry. I've enjoyed the results of this test batch so much that last weekend I bought five pounds of white nectarines at the local farmers' market that I have since pitted and frozen. I’m not sure exactly what beer they will eventually be added to, but I’m sure I’ll find something that makes sense.

Nectarine Beatification

Appearance – Blurry yellow-gold body. The thin, tight, white head dissipates completely almost instantly upon pouring. Unlike a few of my other batches recently, this is not much of a looker.

Smell – The nose is a mingling of juicy-fresh nectarines, vanilla laden oak, and mild earthy Brett funk. All of the elements that I look for in a sour beer are present. It gives a good impression of the sourness to follow. As it approaches room temperature I get just a hint of ethyl acetate (nail polish remover); it isn’t offensive, but I’d also prefer it wasn’t there.

Taste – Electric sourness on the tip of the tongue that explodes in the finish with a hint of vinegar. After the first sip the acidity begins to slowly fade. Wonderful fleshy fruit flavor, it is amazing to think that it is contributed by fruit harvested a year ago. The nectarines evolve through each sip, reminding me of taking a bite of fresh fruit. The funk and oak from the nose is less apparent in the flavor than it was in the nose, but they still help to cut through the fruit.

Mouthfeel – Relatively soft carbonation, despite adding wine yeast at bottling this one took quite a while to show any sign of refermentation. The body is thin, but not harsh/tannic.


Drinkability & Notes – I had a friend tell me he thought this batch was on-par with Lost Abbey’s near-mythical Yellow Bus (a pale sour aged on white peaches). I never had the chance to sample it, nor will I unless they make another batch, but given its reputation, quite the compliment. My friend Dyan had the opportunity to drink one of the few remaining bottles of Yellow Bus at a tasting here in DC a few weeks ago when Tomme showed up unexpectedly.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Pomegranate Quad Tasting

To refresh your memory, I brewed this Pomegranate-Cardamom Quad six months ago with my neighbor Dan. About two months later all but a six-pack of the 10 gallon batch was consumed at an Easter vigil celebration. Bottling some of the beer from one of the kegs using a Beer Gun was suboptimal compared to either bottle conditioning or drinking on tap, but I didn’t have another option to give my share the age it deserved. We added twice as much pomegranate molasses to half of the batch (10 ounces in five gallons), and that is the one I decided to take my share from.

Pomegranate Quad in the Hill Farmstead glass I got at their 2nd Anniversary party.
Modern Times bought me the Beer Gun to facilitate shipping samples of test batches (I dropped off a box of Coffee Stout and Dank IPA earlier tonight). It is relatively simple to operate. A button floods the bottle with carbon-dioxide from the tank, and the trigger fills the bottle with beer. Beer is not dispensed into a pressurized bottle, like a counter-pressure system, but the long narrow beer-line minimizes foaming (as do cold, wet bottles). After more than four months in the bottle I’m thinking of this tasting as a gauge to measure how much oxygen the system allows into the beer.

Easter Spiced Pomegranate Quad

Appearance – At cellar temperature the beer gushes a bit, surprising given that this was force-carbonated in a keg and bottled with my Beer Gun. Although not so surprising because it was fermented relatively cool and kegged sooner than I normally would have (in light of our Easter deadline). The airy head sinks relatively quickly into the deep-garnet body.

Smell – The nose is a complex combination of dark red fruits (I wouldn’t say pomegranate if I didn’t know it was in there). The spice comes in at a level where it is hard to tell what is yeast-derived and what is from the cardamom. Some malt toastiness, and slight alcohol heat. As it warms I get a subtle clay-like aromatic, odd but not off-putting.

Taste – Dry, fruity, yeasty, and potent. The pomegranate adds a subtle tartness that helps to balance a big beer that lacks much (if any) hop bitterness. Dried cherry, and plums, not as dark (raisin/fig) as many quads. The alcohol isn’t hot, but it warms the finish.No sign of Brett or anything like that, so I assume the excess carbonation was a result of the primary yeast.

Mouthfeel – Firm carbonation, but not as much as I expected given the way it poured. Medium-light body, nice to have a beer that is dry but not thin.

Drinkability & Notes – For a big beer this is an easy drinker. The balance, especially the tartness, helps to make it easy to drink. I like it as is, but some dark candi syrup would give it some of the flavors it is missing from a style-standpoint.This would be a great candidate for aging in a port barrel...

Monday, July 16, 2012

Citrusy (Hopped) American Wheat Rebrew

With all of the recipe formulation work I’ve been doing for the impending opening of Modern Times, I may sound like I'm repeating myself more often than usual. In the past I rarely brewed the same style twice in one year, let alone one month. However, the second batches of both the Dank Amber IPA and Coffee Oatmeal Stout are pretty close to the vision that Jacob and I have for these beers. In some ways it makes me regret that I’ve never concentrated my efforts into dialing in recipes before. However, I think the range of ingredients and techniques that I’ve used over the last seven years has given me the tools to make quick work of these adjustments.

There is only so close that we will be able to get to the target for any of these beers before we know exactly what we will and won’t be capable of in terms of process and ingredients commercially. Jacob is selecting a brewing systems at the moment. Most of the manufacturers indicate that takes about six months from order to delivery. Hop contracts for pretty much every variety are still available for the 2013 harvest, but some suppliers are asking for three-year deals. A commitment like that would be close to six figures, just for the scarcer varieties we want. Hard to pull the trigger on something like that based on just a couple homebrew test batches, especially because we’d rather let consumers decide what is good enough to sell year-round.

Hoppy wheat 48 hours into fermentation.This re-brewed Hoppy American Wheat didn’t fall far from the first batch. I replaced the Honey and CaraMunich malts from the original with CaraVienna to bring a more singular light-caramel flavor. The primary hops are the same (Citra and Amarillo), but I dropped the Calypso dry hop because I didn’t love the ripe-pear aromatics it contributed. I'm also thinking of doing a short/warm dry hopping (as opposed to a long/cold keg hopping) to keep the hop aromatics as bright as possible. Especially because adding dry hops to a packaged beer on the commercial scale isn't a viable option any place other than the tasting room.

This batch was the second using the hop-back and plate chiller. I’ve read several threads full of complaints about a lack of flow through HopRockets. Based on that advice I've been opening the valve from the pump slowly, allowing the system to gradually fill over a couple minutes to avoid compacting the hops against the top screen. So far my only issue with my configuration has been the lack of a quick-disconnect after the pump, which makes draining the residual half gallon of wort from the system a hassle once the kettle is empty.

In the next few weeks I’m brewing several test batches for new recipes. I'll be pitching the yeast cake from the wheat into a spicy-hopped red-rye IPA, and a toasty pale ale hopped with Amarillo, Simcoe, and Columbus (a smaller variant of one of my favorite batches of all time). In August I’ll brew a light, summer saison with spelt and a smidgen of corn, which I’m thinking of splitting between White Lab’s Saison II and the new Saison III. Finally I’ll be brewing a hoppy kölsch, sort of a quick version of a Czech Pils, a more aromatic version of my German Bitter from a few years ago.

Fortunate Islands #2

Recipe Specifics
-------------------
Batch Size (Gal): 5.25
Total Grain (Lbs): 9.00
Anticipated OG: 1.040
Anticipated SRM: 4.5
Anticipated IBU: 46.3
Brewhouse Efficiency: 65%
Wort Boil Time: 90 Minutes

Grain
-------
55.6% - 5.00 lbs. German Wheat Malt
38.9% - 3.50 lbs. American Pale "2-row"
5.6% - 0.50 lbs. CaraVienna

Hops
------
5 ml HopShot (Extract) @ 45 min.
1.25 oz. Citra  (Whole, 10.00% AA) @ 0 min.
1.00 oz. Amarillo (Whole, 10.00% AA) @ 0 min.
2.00 oz. Citra  (Whole, 10.00% AA) @ Hop-Back
1.00 oz. Amarillo  (Whole, 10.00% AA) @ Hop-Back
2.00 oz. Citra  (Whole, 10.00% AA) @ Dry Hop
1.00 oz. Amarillo  (Whole, 10.00% AA) @ Dry Hop

Extras
--------
0.50 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 15 min.

Yeast
------
White Labs WLP001 California Ale

Water Profile
---------------
Profile: Washington, Hoppy

Calcium(Ca): 103.0 ppm
Magnesium(Mg): 4.4 ppm
Sodium(Na): 10.0 ppm
Sulfate(SO4): 174.0 ppm
Chloride(Cl): 57.0 ppm
biCarbonate(HCO3): 83.0 ppm

Mash Schedule
------------------
Sacch Rest - 60 min @ 153 F

Notes
-------
7/13/12 Made a .6 L starter with the tube of 001 on my stir plate.

7/14/12 Brewed with Scott and Bill

Filtered tap water cut with 4 gallons of distilled. 3.5 g of CaCl, and 7 g of gypsum split between the mash and batch sparge. Sparged with 175 F water.

Collected 7.25 gallons of 1.035 wot.

Despite using 15 lbs of ice for the pre-chiller, the combined temperature was 75 at knock-out. Put into cool room for four hours at 66 F to get down to 70 F where I pitched the starter. Shook 60 seconds to aerate.

Gravity was a bit short of what I expected post-boil despite being on target pre-boil. Maybe just a misreading on one other other?

Good fermentation by the next morning.

 7/22/12 Boosted temperature to 75 F to ensure a complete fermentation.

7/25/12 Returned to 66 F, and added bagged dry hops to the primary fermentor for a short/cellar dry hop. FG 1.009 (78% AA).

728/12 Racked into a flushed keg. About 1/3 of the hop bag was floating above the surface of the wort.

8/16/12  Tasting notes, turned out really well. Soft citrusy hops, nice doughy wheat character. Just about there.

10/26/12 Brewed a third iteration of this recipe.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Dank Amber IPA Tasting

This was the first re-brew for one of the Modern Times recipes. Some variation on the “dank” amber IPA will most likely end up as one of our flagship beers. Trying to brew an IPA that stands out (positively) among Southern California’s fantastic brewing scene is going to be a challenge. Ballast Point, Kern River, Alpine, Stone, and Alesmith brew some of the best hoppy beers on the planet. If we want to compete we can’t come to market with a beer that is timid, or hopped on a budget. It is a bit sobering to be ballparking hop contracts with Jacob and seeing hop amounts in the tun range for multiple varieties just to brew two batches a month for a year.


Of course I take 17 pictures, and the first is the best one.Dank Amber IPA

Appearance – Leathery, the sort of color you expect to see in a barleywine or an old ale. It has cleared almost completely after a few weeks in the keg, surprising for a keg hopped beer. Sticky off-white head lingers long enough for me to take plenty of photos of one of the prettiest beers I’ve brewed recently.

Smell – Unique combination of melon from the Nelson and big dank (resiny-herbal) notes from the Columbus. This is the sort of beer I can smell clearly when Audrey is drinking a glass next to me on the couch. Powerful and pungent. Otherwise clean without much malt or yeast character coming through.

Taste – Firm bitterness, but nothing over-the-top or grating. Has slightly more sweetness than I prefer, although that may just be the fruitiness (strawberry?) from the hops playing tricks on me. There is a moderate toasty-malt flavor in the finish, not nearly what you’d expect from a beer based on Vienna, but it does taste more substantial than the usual West Coast IPA.

Mouthfeel – More body than most strong-hoppy beers, but there would be no way to get it confused with the stickiness of an imperial brown ale. Medium carbonation is just about right.

Drinkability & Notes – One of my best batches of hoppy beer to date. In terms of our goal of making a dank, amber IPA, we are almost there. For the next test batch I’ll back down on the pale chocolate (or drop the C120) to lighten the color slightly. I'd also like dry it out a few more points, either by removing the crystal or dropping the mash temperature.

Monday, July 9, 2012

100% Brett Trois IPA Recipe

Beers fermented with only Brettanomyces (as opposed to the more traditional secondary fermentation following brewer's yeast) are starting to really gain some traction. There was an initial wave of excitement in 2004-2005 when Pizza Port (Mo' Betta Bretta) and Russian River (Sanctification) released two of the first 100% Brett beers. I started this blog not much after by posting a recipe for my first 100% Brett beer, a fruity low-gravity saison.

Great cold break, but it all ended up in the fermentor.Recently there seems to has been another wave of interest in 100% Brett beers, thanks in no small part to Chad Yakobson’s research and enthusiasm for the technique. Chad is fermenting almost all of his beers at Crooked Stave with a variety of Brett strains, most of which he has isolated from beers and wines. Rather than featuring funky Brett byproducts as the dominate flavor, he is making spiced, hoppy, and dark beers that gain fruity-complexity from the unique fermentation. It is also exciting to see the recent re-release of Mo’ Betta Bretta (I'm looking forward to trying the bottle Jacob picked up for me... assuming Peter and Tomme were joking about the pineapple, garlic, and oregano?).

The batch I brewed last weekend was inspired by one of my favorite 100% Brett beers, the 2010 New York ultra-collaborative Super Friends IPA. Brewed at Ithaca with help from the brewers of Captain Lawrence, Ommegang, Southampton, and Flying Fisher, it was hopped with Citra and fermented with BSI Brett brux var. Drie and smaller amounts of a few other strains. Bright and citrusy hops with a complementary fruity-funkiness made for a unique IPA. With the release of White Labs Brett brux Trois, their version of Brett Drie, I decided to brew something similar. Hopefully White Lab's strain has similar characteristics to the original, which was isolated from a bottle of Drie Fonteinen J&J Blauw at the behest of Adam Avery. It will be interesting to see, especially considering Chad identified two separate isolates in the BSI culture.

I played around with the hops a bit, adding some Centennial to the Citra for complementary citrus character, and a bit of Chinook to keep it from being too fruity. I liked the combination of Citra and Chinook in the second runnings American Bitter I brewed two years ago, but I wanted to reduce the resiny/grapefruit character from the Chinook. I added a half pound of acid malt after starch conversion to provide some lactic acid for the Brett to create the fruity ester ethyl lactate.

HopRocket, Therminator, and March pump in action.
This batch was my first time using some new equipment, a HopRocket (hop back) and Therminator (plate chiller). In this setup the wort flows from the kettle, propelled by the March pump (mounted on the black tote), into the hops in the hop back, and finally through the plate chiller on the way to the fermentor. This configuration allows the hot wort to flow through whole hops before being immediately chilled. With warm (~85 F) ground water this time of year I usually rely on a pump recirculating ice water through my chiller to drop the wort the last few degrees, but this time I immersed my immersion chiller in a bucket of ice water to serve as a pre-chiller for the ground water. The wort only got down to 78 F (in just seven minutes though), a few hours in my spare fridge brought it down the rest of the way. I’ll do a more detailed write-up of my new chilling process once I make a few adjustments and get a bit more practice.

Great 100% Brett fermentation within 12 hours.
The biggest challenge of fermenting with only Brett is growing enough cells to pitch. While suggestions vary, most brewers pitch somewhere between ale and lager cell counts. I bought from White Labs, so I had to grow 3 billion cells into close to 150 billion. A two stage starter on my stir-plate at around 80 F was enough to do the job in about 10 days. The 1.5 L starter had the beer rocking by the following morning at 66 F. This morning I moved the still slowly fermenting beer out of the “cold room” and into the basement where the temperature is in the mid-70s to help the Brett finish. In another week or two I’ll dry hop the beer and get it on tap as quickly as I can.

Super 100% Brett IPA

Recipe Specifics
----------------
Batch Size (Gal): 5.25
Total Grain (Lbs): 13.50
Anticipated OG: 1.064
Anticipated SRM: 4.3
Anticipated IBU: 96.5
Brewhouse Efficiency: 69 %
Wort Boil Time: 75 Minutes

Grain
------
70.4% - 9.50 lbs. Canadian Pale "2-Row"
22.2% - 3.00 lbs. German Wheat Malt
3.7% - 0.50 lbs. Cara-Pils Dextrine Malt
3.7% - 0.50 lbs. Acid Malt

Hops
A closeup of the bubbles at the start of fermentation.-----
5 ml        HopShot (Extract) @ 60 min.
1.50 oz. Centennial (Pellet, 8.50% AA) @ 60 min.
2.00 oz. Centennial Pellet (Pellet, 8.50% AA) @ 0 min.
1.00 oz. Citra (Whole, 10.00% AA) @ 0 min.
1.00 oz. Chinook (Whole, 13.00% AA) @ Hop-Back
1.00 oz. Citra (Whole, 10.00% AA) @  Hop-Back
2.50 oz. Citra (Whole, 10.00% AA) @ Dry Hop
1.50 oz. Centennial  (Pellet, 8.50% AA) @ Dry Hop
1.00 oz. Chinook (Whole, 13.00% AA) @ Dry Hop

Extras
------
0.50 - Whirlfloc @ 15 min.
0.50 tsp - Yeast Nutrient @ 15 min.

Yeast
-----
WLP644 - White Labs Brettanomyces bruxellensis Trois

Water Profile
-------------
Profile: Pliny the Water

Mash Schedule
-------------
Sacch Rest - 60 min @ 153 F

Notes
-----
6/22/12 300 ml starter of WL Brett Trois, started.

6/28/12 Stepped up to 1.6 l (pitched .1 L into Berliner weisse)

7/1/12 Brewed with Keith

4 gallons distilled plus 5 gallons filtered DC tap water. 10 g gypsum, 3 g CaCl.

Added acid malt for the last 20 minutes of the mash since the pH was already low enough without it.

Fly sparged into Peter's keggle. Hot break.

One bag of ice was not enough for the pre-chiller for the plate chiller, only got the temperature down to 78. Put in the fridge for four hours to bring it down the rest of the way.

65 F ambient temp for fermentation.

No apparent fermentation the next morning, but when I shook the Better Bottle there was a huge CO2 release that cause it to blow off.

7/9/12 Moved out of cold room to 75 F to help finish fermentation.

7/12/12 Gravity down to 1.010, fermentation appears about finished. Big fruity flavor, hard to distinguish hops from the Brett.

7/22/12 Kegged with the bagged dry hops. Extra 3 cups put into a plastic bottle with 6 Chinook cones, force carbed.

8/23/12 What a terrific, tropical-fruity, balanced, quenching, summer IPA!

7/2/13 This recipe was reincarnated as Modern Times Neverwhere!

Monday, July 2, 2012

What is your favorite base malt?

Maris Otter - 34%
American/Canadian Pale 2-row - 22%
German Pilsner - 9%
Belgian Pilsner - 9%
Golden Promise - 8%
Belgian Pale - 3%
Munich - 3%
Vienna - 2%
Generic English Pale - 2%
American Pilsner - 1%
French Pilsner - 1%
Wheat Malt - 1%
American Pale 6-row - 1%
Rye Malt - 1%
Rauch Malt - 0% (5)
Oat Malt - 0% (3)
Mild Malt - 0% (3)
Other - 1%

Votes: 880

The ability to select the ideal base malts for a given batch is one of the biggest advantages to brewing all-grain. It allows you to brew beers that possess subtle malt flavors, where extract brewers often have to rely on heavy-handed specialty malt additions for character. Even within the categories listed in the poll, I imagine many brewers have strong preferences for a certain maltsters’s version of their favorite malts.

For the purposes of this poll, I defined base malts as any grain that contains enough amylase enzymes to convert its own starches into fermentable sugars (while I have heard some darker grains, like Aromatic, can do this trick given enough time, I have not heard positive things about the results). While there are some malts made from grains other than barley that appear on the list, these grains (wheat, rye, and oats) only accounted for 2% of the votes combined. Malting barley has just the right amount of protein and husk material to easily produce beers. As a result of its popularity there are also more varieties and toasting methods employed in their production.

As much as I enjoy brewing with a new variety of malt, buying in bulk is simply too cost effective for me to ignore. There are four malt that I tend to buy bulk. I use Maris Otter in English ales and dark American beers where the darker toasting provides more maltiness than lighter American pale “2-row” malt. Before I had enough storage space I used Maris Otter for all of my ales, but the softer/mellower flavor of American pale is now the base for most of my hop-forward beers (I even like it in dark Belgian beers). German Pilsner is so clean and crisp, perfect for pale Belgians and most lagers (other than those based on Vienna or Munch). I also buy a sack of wheat malt every year to provide its doughy flavor to Hefes and Berliners (and add some extra protein to other beers).

In addition to those four, I buy other grains in bulk if I know I’ll be using a large amount of them. Such as Munich when we filled our Apple Brandy Barrel, or most recently a sack of Vienna so I can brew multiple variations of the Dank Amber IPA recipe I’ve been developing.

For the 10 people who answered “Other” what did I leave off the list? English varietals (e.g., Optic), French Pils, or Kolsch Malt? I'm glad to see the number of base malts rising. For example, Weyermann recently started making oak smoked wheat malt, the key ingredient in Grätzer/Grodziskie. Between Stan Hieronymus's Brewing with Wheat and Evan Rail’s Why Beer Matters I’ve been inspired to brew one.

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