Now, yesterday we delved into a bit of Utah’s weird liquor laws and how it measures our transgressions.
I started down a really (to me) interesting topic of Brettanomyces yeast. Â And I still would like to go there.
But I think the 2 readers I have need a little more background before we can get to that topic and discuss in a way that will be meaningful in the end.
So let’s talk for just a moment about beer and what it really is.
If you want to know more, and/or how to make it, I really recommend reading Palmer and Papizan.
But, in a blog length and depth format, here is where beer comes from.
Barley is grown.
Then the grain is separated from the stalk and it is Malted.
Malting starts when the grain is sprayed with water to make it damp, then spread in thin layers on a malting floor.
The moisture causes the grain to germinate.
As the grain starts to grow, the Acrosperm releases enzymes that convert the carbohydrates, proteins and starches of the Endosperm into more soluble components, amino acids and lipids.
When the Maltster (the person who is contolling the malt process) determines that the now Malt has reached the desired stage, the grain is dried to cease germination. Â Thereby leaving accessable chemicals and enzymes for the brewer to extract by mashing.
The brewer then takes these grains, and crushes them in a controlled fashion to allow the grain out of the husk, but without destroying the husk, as it would introduce tannins and other off flavors into the beer if over-crushed.
The grain is steeped in hot water.
In this time, called mashing, the enzymes reactivate and the starches, carbohydrates and proteins go into solution of the water.
The now sugar-water is drained, rinsed (sparging) and the liquid (wort) is placed in a large pot and brought to a boil.
Then hops are added at various times during the boil for bitterness, flavor and aroma.
After a minimum of 60 minutes of boiling to sterilize the wort, it is cooled down to fermentation temperatures, placed in a carboy (fermentation chamber).
Then yeast is added (pitched) to the wort and it is sealed with an airlock.
Yeast, in the metaphor I have used to explain it to my children, eat sugar, burp CO2 and pee alcohol.
Thus after some time, you have beer.
I might spend some time going through more detail of the process soon.
While #30DaysOfContent seems to be going well, I thought I would share a list of others, who though they may not be participating in such a challenge, produce excellent CONTENT on a regular basis.
Mike See – http://lacemine29.blogspot.com/
Fantastic photography (and now videography) and a monster snowbiker.
Chiot’s Run – http://chiotsrun.com/
A great garden blog. Nice photography as well.
Dan Connely – http://djconnel.blogspot.com/
Another science/engineer/athlete dork.
Seth Goding – http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/
Mad Fermentationist – http://www.themadfermentationist.com/
Great beer blog on wild and crazy styles.
A great local blog with MUCH science content about the world we live in…
If you have others, I would love to hear about them.
Is this getting easier? Â Am I hitting my stride?
Or am I running out of ideas and conversations to have with myself?
I feel the pull of a linked post. Â Lots of pictures, lots of links, lots of formatting and indentation calling me.
There was a post recently on the Watcher’s blog where there was a discussion of yeast.
One of my last beers I did a yeast experimentation. Â I brewed a Saison and bottle conditioned half the batch on the standard primary fermentation yeast strain. Â The other half I inoculated with a “wild” yeast called brettanomyces.
It is a comman wild yeast in a lot of belgian beers and many american beer which try to create these beers.
I grew the brett from a bottle of Orval as they also bottle condition with this variety.
It is interesting as a yeast, since it is highly alcohol tolerant, which allows it to ferment to a lower final gravity. Â Ok, I just lost all my non-brewing audience with that one, so, how about a primer?
Brewers will often talk about gravities. Â You will hear phrases like “high gravity beers” as well as the measurements of OG, SG and FG.
So what does this all mean?
SG: Specific Gravity
Specific Gravity is also Relative Density, or how dense a liquid is compared to water.
OG: Original Gravity
This is the SG of the wort (pre-beer liquid) before yeast is added and fermentation begins. Â It, in combination with the yeast selected (more on this another day) define how strong the beer can become.
FG: Final Gravity
This is the SG of the beer when fermentation is ended or stopped by the brewer.
Basically, to get from these measurements to something most consumers care about (and perhaps shed a little light on weird Utah liquor laws):
(OG-FG) * 105 = Alcohol By Weight or ABW
ABW * 1.25 = Alcohol By Volume or ABV
What does that have to do with Utah? Â Well, most of the beer drinking world knows %alcohol in terms of ABV. Â But Utah regulates it’s over the counter and draft beer by ABW.
So while it is not “full strength” beer, it isn’t terribly weak either.
Standard “6.4″ beer is 6.4% ABV. Â But that is only 5.1% ABW.
Draft beer in Utah is 4% ABV or 3.2% ABW.
Is it weaker than elsewhere? Â Sure, but not a huge amount. Â And the reality is, unless you are dealing with mostly macro-beers, alcohol content is all over the map and varies with both brewer and style. Â And even the style guidelines that beers are judged under can have a range of target alcohol that can be several percentage points.
So, what does that have to do with the wild brett and the saison? Â Well I ran down the rabbit hole and think that will have to wait for another day, but at least you know that I will be here writing tomorrow, so won’t be long…..