Monday, April 16, 2012

Designing Recipe Kits - Quikie Kits

I heard an interesting concept on Basic Brewing Radio several months ago about making a very quick batch of beer when the brewer is pressed for time on brew day.  The idea combined several innovative techniques to cut the total brew day time down to approximately an hour, or maybe a little more.  The batch of beer would be created using extract and some steeping grains, added late in the boil, along with a large volume of hops, all with the goal of finishing the boil in approximately 15 minutes.  The method features the following:

Steeping Grains Added to Heating Water - Steeping grains can be added to the brewing water in a muslin bag while the water is cold.  Once the water heats up to around 160 F, the bag can be removed, thus having steeped the grains fully and potentially even converting some sugar.  All with no time added to the brew day, given that the water had to heat anyway.  This can be done in concentrated wort boils, to save more time, or in full volume boils too.

Dried Malt Extract Added Late - Malt extract is concentrated wort that has already been boiled.  It does not need to go through the full boiling cycle to coagulate proteins and generate break material because it has already done that.  However, malt extract needs to be sanitized, especially dried malt extract.  Thus, adding the malt extract to the boil for 15 minutes is sufficient to properly sanitize it and minimize any color darkening in concentrated boils

Hop Bursting - One of the major reason why wort is boiled for an hour is to isomerize the alpha acids in hops and generate the necessary bitterness in the beer.  This length of time efficiently uses the hops, minimizing the amount of hops needed to create the bitterness.  However, alpha acids isomerize during the entire length of the boil, so the required bitterness can be generated from a 15 minute addition, but a much larger volume of hops is required.  The larger volume of hops also generates increased hop flavor and aroma.  Large later boil additions of hops are called hop bursting.

These ideas can be combined into a method that massively reduces brew day time, especially if doing a concentrated boil.  After the steeping grains are removed from the brewing water, it is heated to a boil.  At that point, add the malt extract, hop charge, and whirlfloc/Irish moss and the boil can finish in 15 minutes.  The rest of the brew day proceeds as normal.  I have even used this method to make an entire extra beer during a normal all-grain brew day, with only extending the all-grain mash by 30 minutes.

I presented this idea to the owner of my local homebrewing shop, The Fermentation Trap.  Kenny was very interested in the concept and we set about developing some recipe kits around the idea.  The recipes needed to feature hops significantly, due to the hop bursting, but could range all over the beer style universe.  The main draw of the recipe kits would be how quick they could finish a brew day, thus we named the series "Quikie."  To date, we have developed an American Pale Ale, which is currently available.  We also have a red IPA that is almost complete, and several more in the pipeline including an American Red Ale, an American Stout, and a normal IPA.

Working on the recipe formulations has been very entertaining, and resulted in surprisingly tasty beer.  It reminds me that while most homebrewers aspire to all-grain brewing and complex and controlled brew days, there can be other driving forces as well.  Time is a precious commodity that we all have little of and any way that we can save it, while still enjoy the hobby we love, is something worth pursuing.



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