Category Archives: Beer Brewing

Chilling the Wort – Brewer Tips

If you have ever brewed your own beer at home you will have become at least somewhat familiar with the concept of cooling down your “wort”. Chilling down the wort is vital to the clarity of beer, and provides several other benefits to the finished product and the brewer.

For those that aren’t familiar, Wort is “beer starter” — comprised of malt extract (from grain mash) and water. That’s it. Generally, brewers will take it to the next level with their preferred flavorings and different kinds of hops. via FoodRepublic

 

Chilling down the wort is basically the last major step on brew day before adding the yeast and waiting until primary fermentation is complete. Anyone who has done the process of brewing beer without having a proper way to cool down the wort can attest to the lack of clarity and the amount of extra time they were forced to spend brewing. Faster chilling of the wort increases protein coagulation in the sweet mixture, and generally is what lead to clearer beer. Another crucial benefit of getting this whole process including pitching the yeast done faster is that it will leave far less room for contamination assuming that you have proper practices and procedures down.

 

If you have a relatively small container of hot wort, or a relatively big outer bucket available then you can easily cool the wort bu placing it inside another container full of ice and water. This is not optimal as it may take an hour to get down to the desired temperature, but its cheap and easy to do in a pinch.

A better way is to use an in-wort chiller referred to as an immersion chiller. This method works best for many homebrewers. It’s basically a long copper tube with hose attachments on the ends wound in a way to be submerged in the hot wort. Then simply run cold water through the copper tube until the wort is at the desired temperature for pitching yeast.

Another method that is used by homebrewers is to buy a long copper tube rig it into a giant coil inside a large bucket. Attach hoses to the ends and make sure the bucket plugs at the bottom. Fill the bucket with ice and some salt to drop temps, all around the coils to the top and add some water to distribute the cold from the ice. Simply run the wort through the coil and out into the fermenter and the wort shouldn’t be too far from optimal temperature.

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Beer: To Filter or Not to Filter

Is beer better filtered or unfiltered?

For beer brewers and connoisseurs alike, this question is likely to come up sooner rather than later. I would first tell you that this isn’t the full question as not all methods of filtering beer are the same. What it all comes down to is clarity and the prevention of sediment in bottling. Most homebrew and unfiltered beers lack the clarity of brewery filtered beers, and often will have a small yeast accumulation at the bottom of bottles from naturally carbonating in the bottles.

Now how do these big filtering breweries do it? In reality, a brewery that filters beer will likely have a few stages of filtration to separate the different size impurities that remain within the beer.

For our purposes, we can break it down to three main classes of beer, unfiltered, standard membrane filtered as above, and centrifugal filtered. Centrifugal filtering doesn’t involve passing the beer through any filters, and

Membrane filtering – Generally there are four main clarification stages including primary filtration, trap filtration, fine filtration and final membrane filtration. Filtration at each stage is for a particular purpose: 1. Primary filtration removes solids and bulk yeast from the beer. 2. Trap filtration removes DE or other process additives 3. Fine filtration may reduce yeast level and removes fine particulates that could foul a final membrane filter. 4. Final membrane filtration removes organisms (bacteria and yeast) that could spoil the packaged beer. Via Probrewer.com

Centrifugal filtering – Doesn’t involve passing the beer through any filters, as a result it seems to achieve good to great levels of clarity without affecting the other properties of the beer. This is a huge benefit over the traditional membrane filters as some theorize that they affect the final beer product taste among other characteristics. This method is very uncommon and to my knowledge is only in place at a couple breweries such as Deschutes Brewery in Bend, OR.

Unfiltered – Some purists out there believe this is the only way to enjoy beer the way it was meant to be enjoyed. Unfiltered beer will likely have murky clarity, some hop and yeast “contaminants”, and a pure unfiltered taste. Although it is technically unfiltered, many brewers using this method will use brewing strategies that reduce the amount of yeast and hops remaining in the beer. Basic chemical tablets can be used during the brew process to increase clarity of unfiltered beers as well.

Based on my studies, centrifugal filtering is the best bet for delivering a pure unadulterated beer taste without sacrificing clarity or having contaminates in the final product.

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Tradition or Variety first… Reinheitsgebot?

What makes a beer a beer? Is it defined by strict rules and codes set in place when beer was a new trend, or can the definition of beer change with the times to allow for creativity and variety?

Beer has been around for literally thousands of years. Some cultures that still exist today such as Germany and Ireland have beer roots that go back over 5000 years! Stories of Germanic and Irish tribes spreading beer as they traveled throughout Europe have long persisted. Along with this great beer heritage comes the burden of carrying on the traditions set for a culture by its ancestors.

Germany has even gone so far as to implement the Reinheitsgebot around the 16th century! The Reinheitsgebot is referred to in Eglish as the “German beer purity law”. Everyone in the brewing industry will instantly know what you are talking about when you mention the Reinheitsgebot. According to the Bavarian founded law, the only ingredients allowed for the finished product to still be called beer are; water, barley, hops.

On contrast in countries like The United States America where the brewing history is extremely small, complacency with traditional beer styles is nearly impossible to find in a micro brewery. Alternative grains such as Rye and millet, as well as techniques for producing gluten-free beer are being experimented with across the nation. For Americans there is no traditon to break, beer brewing is increasingly being seen as an art. As with any form of art the styles are expected to evolve over time and push boundaries.

A large portion of American craft beer could not legally be sold as beer under the Reinheitsgebot.

I challenge you to go enjoy a beer that contains ingredients other than water, barely, and hops. While you do that, decide if you think it should be considered beer or something else and let me know what you think.