Monday, January 31, 2011

Bread Made with Malt "Flour"

As outlined in my first bread post, I enjoy baking bread, particularly sourdough bread.  What we call sourdough today is naturally-leavened bread using an age-old baking technique.  Before commercial yeast, or even an understanding of yeast in general, bakers would make bread by reserving a portion of the previous day's dough and mixing it into the new dough.  This "starter" would leaven the new dough and the baker would repeat this process daily.  The starter is a complex culture of wild yeasts and bacteria that flourish in that particular bakery and would vary across different climates.  Thus, no sourdough bread will be exactly the same.  I created my starter directly from the micro-flora that exist in my kitchen, using the steps found here.

Like in the first post, I was again inspired by Sean Paxton, the Homebrew Chef, as featured on his Brewing Network show.  In the episode that aired in mid January, Sean explained how you can use brewing ingredients as cooking ingredients.  In particular, he discussed the complexities of malted barley and how it can be worked into existing dishes, including baked desserts and breads.  The idea was that you take malted barley and turn it into flour in a clean coffee grinder and then use it like you would any other flour.  The main concerns about the malt flour was that it does not have a strong gluten content and that its ability to add sweetness or roasted bitterness needed to be factored into the recipe.  Other than that, it can easily add additional flavor complexity and is easy to use.

I thought this was a brilliant idea and started experimenting with it immediately.  My kids and I tasted the different specialty malts I have in the brewing closet and we selected Weyermann's carared malt and Thomas Fawcett's pale chocolate malt.  I took a sourdough recipe I have made dozens of times in the past, Norwich Sourdough Bread from the Wild Yeast blog, and substituted 15 grams of pale chocolate and 45 grams of carared malt for 60 grams of bread flour.  The rest of the ingredients and steps in the recipe remained unchanged.

The resulting bread was much darker than normal, both in the crust and the crumb.  The bread aroma was about the same, which smelled wonderfully rich with a hint of sourness.  The flavor had a distinctive roast quality in it which could only have come from the pale chocolate malt.  That roast character obscured anything that I could have tasted from the carared and even the fresh spicy flavor that usually comes from rye flour.  In hindsight, it may have been better to try baking with individual malts first to determine their flavor before combining them.  But, it was good bread all the same.  I will definitely be experimenting further.

Has anyone else tried baking with malt flour?  Leave us a comment and let us know.

To Good Bread and Good Beer!


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Recipe Formulation Project (RFP) – Concept and Kick Off

How many people know what really goes into their favorite beer?  What contributes the flavors in that harmonize with our taste buds and make a particular beer stand out from the rest?  The simple answer is the ingredients.  But in reality, it is the combination of all the ingredients and how they work together that make amiable flavors pop.  Being able to identifying these combinations and embody the flavors in beer is what separates good brewers from great brewers.

After some discussions with Tom, the two of us though it would be rewarding and enjoyable to setup a project to explore flavor combinations and recipe formulation.  By walking through the steps of building a recipe – conceptualization, initial brewing attempt, tasting and revising, rebrewing, etc – it would serve as a great tool to refine our own perception of beer and what ingredients contribute to what flavors.  Additionally, it presents another facet of brewing that the two of us could explore together through this blog – a core goal we established from the very beginning.  Furthermore, if through this exploration we can generate information or inspiration for anyone who reads through our ramblings, it would be a welcomed bonus.

As a place to jump off from and to make sure we don’t retreat to ‘brewing’ comfort zones, we decided to force our hands a little and incorporate some randomly assigned brewing ingredients.  This would accomplish two things: first, it would help provide direction for a recipe’s conceptualization.  Second, it forces either of us to expand the stable of ingredients we have familiarity and comfort with.  So after more discussion, the decision was made to move forward and we established the following guidelines for how the project would operate.

Recipe Formulation Project Ground Rules
  1. Each participant is allotted three random ingredients from the list below.  Two of the three ingredients have to be used somewhere in the brewing recipe (i.e. one may be dropped).  Other ingredients may be used at the discretion of the participant. 
  2. Each participant has to commit to brewing the recipe at least twice, which allows for sensory analysis and revision of the recipe.
  3. Each participant must get feedback from other individuals (including other participants) when evaluating a particular iteration of the beer. 
  4. Each participant must be willing to write about each step of the experience (both the good and the bad) as a means of disseminating the information to anyone else who is interested.
For the pool of random ingredients that Tom and I were going to pull from, we decided to limit to pool to 20 items.  Each item was considered both obtainable, in that they could easily be mail ordered if needed, but also it would not be an everyday brewing ingredients.  Compiling the initial list of ingredients generated over 30 items.  However, we implemented a veto option – if either of us did not want to brew with a particular ingredient, it was scratched from the list.  Through this, the collection of ingredients was whittled down to the following 20 items.

Pool of Brewing Ingredients (randomly select 3; may drop one)
  1. Smoked Malt
  2. Extra Special Malt
  3. Rye Malt
  4. Oat Malt
  5. Flaked Oats
  6. Flaked Rye
  7. Honey Malt
  8. Acidulated Malt
  9. Caramel Wheat
  10. Chocolate Rye Malt
  11. Belgian Candi Sugar
  12. Brown Sugar
  13. Orange Peel
  14. Cinnamon
  15. Cardamom
  16. Coco Nibs
  17. Coriander
  18. Oak Chips / Cubes
  19. Fruit Puree / Juice
  20. Coffee / Espresso
After pulling numbers randomly from a mug, Tom and I had our individual list of mandatory ingredients.  To be honest, the selection process worked out better than I had envisioned.  The combinations we each received were not clashing in any way.  Instead, each combination provided a muse and a direction we could explore.  However, where the combination pointed us too and how we took it are topics for future posts.

Assignment of Brewing Ingredients
Tom's Selections:
  • 7. Honey Malt
  • 13. Orange Peel
  • 19. Fruit Puree / Juice
Jeff's Selections:
  • 2. Extra Special Malt
  • 3. Rye Malt
  • 15. Cardamom

As this project progresses and the positives and negatives are reported back, it is our desire to present the information in an easily references format.  To keep things consistent and easy to navigate, we will use the same reference footer with links at the bottom of each post for the project.  In the beginning, when the links are disabled, the footer will act as an outline of what is to come.  As more and more components are posted and we are able to provide links between components, the footer will act as a navigation tool to assist getting at the information of interest.

Recipe Formulation Project - Reference Guide
Tom's Recipe:
Jeff's Recipe:

The more interactive we can make this project, the more I believe we are going to get out of it. Tom and I are already planning to ship samples of each iteration to one another for ‘virtual’ tastings together (over the phone) to discuss what we have and how to refine it for the next brewing.

That being said, I'll throw the gauntlet out there and state in any if anyone else who reads this blog has the desire to participate, please do so. Just follow the guidelines above, randomly select your ingredients, and let us know how the recipe progresses.  You can even use a random ingredients generator a reader wrote for us - thanks Josh!  We'd love to keep tabs on anyone's thoughts, questions, or suggestions for the recipes, beers, concepts, or the project as a whole. So please do not hesitate to voice your thoughts either here as a comment or by shooting us an email. Input from those following this blog is one of the most rewarding features we get.



"Anyone can drink beer, but it takes intelligence to enjoy beer."
-Stephen Beaumont

Monday, January 24, 2011

Alcohol Tolerance Ranges by Yeast Strain (Wyeast Labs)

Below is the fourth and final Yeast Strain Chart in the Wyeast Labs series, which visually compares the alcohol tolerance ranges of each yeast strain in the Wyeast Labs homebrewer product line.  As mentioned in the first Yeast Strain Chart posting, this project intends to visually compare the critical parameters of each yeast strain to one another.

Click on the thumbnail below to get a higher resolution image of the chart.

In addition to the above, check out the other Wyeast Lab yeast strain charts previously posted:
If you'd like a higher resolution PDF of this or any of the charts, just shoot me an email.  I'm more than happy to share them.



"Work is the curse of the drinking classes."
-Oscar Wilde

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Homebrew Deals: Discount on Propane Refills

Quick Note: I first saw this over on Homebrew Finds (which is a great blog that highlights deals for homebrewers) and wanted to pass it along to our readers.  Whether you refill your propane tanks or take part in a propane tank exchange, odds are you've seen, heard of, or even purchased a Blue Rhino propane tank. 

The good news for those willing to use Blue Rhino's tank exchange: the company is now offering a $3 rebate on all tank purchases (with or without exchanging an empty tank).  While its not a huge savings, if your going to purchase the tank anyways (which I personally do about half the time), why wouldn't you want to take advantage of it.



"There can't be good living where there is not good drinking."
-Ben Franklin

Monday, January 17, 2011

Poll: Consumption of 'Holiday'-styled Beers

Similar to what has been done for all our prior blog polls, this post takes a moment to memorialize the results we received on our most recent blog poll.  The readers responses to the questions "During the holiday season, what percentage of your consumption is made up of 'Holiday'-styled beer?" are presented below.

Total Votes: 29

So only a few of us seem to get caught up in the holiday spirit for those slightly larger, spiced beers that always come into circulation at the end of the year.  My hat is off to the 7% who substitute holiday beer into the majority of their consumption - that's saying something.  On the other side of the coin, it looks like 30-50% of the voters only pick up the occasional Noel beer, if at all - my guess is these individuals don't like deviating off their normal preferences.

Let us know your thoughts, either as a comment or an email.  And if you are reading this, we've put up our next poll, which awaits your response.



"No, sir: There is nothing which has yet been contrived by man by which so much happiness is produced as by a good tavern or inn."
-Samuel Johnson

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Belgo-American Brew - Belgian Stout

Belgo-American style beers have gained recent popularity in the craft beer segment here in America.  This subset of beer styles combine ingredients or processes of Belgium, usually related to yeast, with ingredients or beer styles usually associated with America.  The results of this marriage can be fantastic if the relative ingredients mesh well together to produce a complex and interesting beer.  They can also become muddled and confused, where the components fight for dominance on the drinker's palate.

With these thoughts in mind, several members of my homebrewing club, the Charlottesville Area Masters of Real Ale (CAMRA), decided to play with Belgian stouts.  The idea was to gather for a group brew where a common volume of stout wort was divided amongst the participants.  They, in turn, would ferment the wort with a Belgian yeast strain of their choosing and finish it using techniques as they see fit.  These techniques could include dry hopping, aging with on oak chips or cubes, encouraging a secondary fermentation on fruit, souring using bacteria, etc.  The experiment would conclude with a presentation to CAMRA about the style and how each brewer interpreted it, along with a side-by-side tasting of the different beers.

Greg B. of CAMRA created the wort recipe that is found below.  Three of us gathered at my house on a cold (for Virginia) Saturday afternoon in January to brew the triple batch.  The brew session went well and we enjoyed each other's company, and beer, a great deal.  The resulting wort is now under the control of each brewer and a future post will highlight the results.

For further information, here are a few commercial examples of Belgo-American styles:



Stout de la Belgique
Style: 13-F Belgian Imperial Stout
Author: Greg B.

Recipe Specifics
Batch Size (Gal): 6.0
Total Fermentables (Lbs): 19.5
OG: 1.078
FG: 1.018
SRM: 35
IBU: 50 (Rager)
ABV: 7.9%
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70%
Wort Boil Time: 90 Minutes

10.0 lbs Pilsner Malt
 5.0 lbs German Dark Munich
 1.0 lbs Barley Flaked
 1.0 lbs German CaraMunich III
 0.5 lbs Special B - Caramel malt
 0.5 lbs 2-Row Chocolate Malt
 0.5 lbs Pale Chocolate Malt
 0.5 lbs Roast Barley
 0.5 lbs German Carafa III

1.0 oz Magnum Pellet Hops (14.5% AA) at 60 minutes

1.0 Tab Whirlfloc at 15 minutes
1.0 tsp Chalk in mash
1.0 tsp Calcium Chloride in boil
32 drops of Foam Control in the boil

TBD by each brewer (I used a 2 L starter of WLP 530 - Abbey Ale

Mash Schedule
60 min at 150°F
Batch sparged to get 8 gallons in brew kettle

Monday, January 10, 2011

Fun with Art III: Meat Sections

Similar to the prior times we have featured the Meat Sections blog, I continue to to be amused by this non-beer blog.  Every day, the blog's owner, Alyson, displays an illustration/painting in the style of a butcher's meat section diagram - with some being traditional and others being abstract.

For Day 219, the following 'Meat Section' painting featured another great beer: The Bruery's fall seasonal, Autumn Maple.  This is one of the fall beers that I typically jump at when I see it on the shelf, so I was very happy to see Alyson stylize it.

For more images, check out our prior post about Meat Sections which highlights several of my favorites.  Or better yet, stop over to Alyson's blog and subscribe to her feed.



"Fermentation and civilization are inseparable."
-John Ciardi

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Visit to Baying Hound Aleworks

Last week I had the opportunity to meet someone I first interacted with on this blog.  This is the first time my "blogging life" has intersected with my real life.  I was visiting family near Silver Spring, MD who live a short drive away from Baying Hound Aleworks, who we recently interviewed as part of our nanobrewery series.  I contacted Paul Rinehart and he graciously agreed to let my family and I visit his brewery.

My immediate observation upon seeing the brewery is how small nanobrewing can be.  This is something I understood intellectually, but it did not fully dawn on me until we walked around Paul's brewery.  The brew house features two 55-gallon Blichmann stainless pots, one acting as the mash tun and the other as the kettle, with two 42-gallon Blichmann conical fermenters and a plastic fermenter.  While bigger than many homebrewer breweries, it is not that much larger (they use the same size propane burner as Jeff does at home).  The other observation that stuck me is the obvious enjoyment that Paul and his assistant brewer, Hank Miller, take in their jobs.  This was apparent in their interest in discussing brewing processes with me, their excitement in tasting and analyzing the Baying Hound ales, and their excitement over Paul's plans for the future.  Their good-natured humor is best captured through the following "Brewery Rules," which were posted on the wall:

  1. Must consume [beer] at least once during bottling and/or brewing.
  2. No burping unless you can't help it.
  3. When in doubt, have a beer.
  4. It is encouraged to break into song, especially when you have a beer in your hand.
  5. The beer you drink at the brewery is only rented.
  6. The toilet [seat] may be left up if no ladies are present.
Here are some of the pictures I took at the brewery.

Baying Hound Blichmann pots and burners, which is the same burner Jeff uses at home

Baying Hound Blichmann fermenters - they use the plastic one for test batches

Baying Hound Pale Ale labels, which were just redesigned, the new one is on the left

Thanks to Paul and Hank for sharing their beer and stories with me.  The visit was definitely a highlight of my holiday travels.



Monday, January 3, 2011

Lug Wrench Brewing's One Year Anniversary

With 2010 now just a scene in the rear view mirror, it is a bit surprising to mention that Lug Wrench Brewing has officially been online for a full year now.  While Tom and I had discussed the concept of doing a blog for much longer than a year, it was 1/3/10 when our first post hit the cyber landscape.  Now, here we are on the anniversary and this pet project strangely does not feel like a one-year-old.  Time flies.

Looking back at our short history, I wanted to roll up the numbers we have achieved and look at what some of the most popular topics have been.  As of today, a year after the first words were published ...

Number of Posts: 123
Number of Days Old: 365
Number of Comments: 63
Number of Subscribers (via Feedburner): 82

Top 10 Pages Visited (via Google Analytics):
  1. Nanobreweries - How Small is Small? (2,119 pageviews)
  2. SRM Color Range by Beer Style Chart (1,306 pageviews)
  3. Wort Pump in a Toolbox #3 - Build Steps (1,211 pageviews)
  4. Brew-in-a-Bag-Brewing: Something Worth Trying (1,106 pageviews)
  5. IBU Bitterness Ranges by Beer Style Chart (993 pageviews)
  6. Fermentation Attenuation Ranges by Yeast Strain (909 pageviews)
  7. Original and Final Gravity Ranges by Beer Style Chart (835 pageviews)
  8. Wort Pump in a Toolbox #2 - Parts List (677 pageviews)
  9. Wort Pump in a Toolbox #1 - Concept (642 pageviews)
  10. Single Hop Beer Experiment (601 pageviews)
Number of Tags: 167
Top Ten Tags Used:
  1. Breweries (15 tags)
  2. Nanobrewery (15 tags)
  3. Homebrew Recipes (14 tags)
  4. Interviews (14 tags)
  5. Nanobrewery Interviews (13 tags)
  6. Charts (12 tags)
  7. Collaborative Beers (12 tags)
  8. Humor (12 tags)
  9. The Session (11 tags)
  10. Poll Results (9 tags)
Number of Lug Wrench Collaborative Beers: 6
Number of Gallons of Collaborative Beer Brewed: 36 gallons
Number of Gallons Remaining: ?
Number of Blog Polls:
Number of Poll Participants: 190
Now, with our foot into 2011, we hope to keep the momentum and posting cadence we've been able to maintain so far.  As always, if you have any comments, suggestions, or questions about anything on the site, please let us know - we always love hearing from readers.



"There is more to life than beer alone, but beer makes those other things even better."
-Stephen Morris
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