The Fence that Dylan built. Our front patio is nearing completion and Dylan’s idea for the fence turns heads as cars pass by. One guy on a bike asked today, “What is that going to be, a Golden Corral?”
I owe you one. Informative Blog Post I mean. A(n) IBP. I just read my last blog post and man, it had some good topics but maybe an all time low of sensationalism and virtually no ripped Wikipedia info. So here goes! Loosen up your hat because your brain is gonna need the room. First, put a hat on and then loosen it.
INGREDIENTS! You just simply can't make beer without them. I even asked that at Seibel and after my instructor looked at me for a long time and got a drink of water, she said, "Nobody has figured out how to make beer without Ingredients". So there went my idea on how to cut costs. So what are they? The biggest brewers would have you believe that beer is made out of sporting events, dogs, preppy young people, rice, corn, and triple hops. And while a beer made with rice (SAKE) is indeed a treat the best tasting beer out there is made from Malt, Hops, Water, and Yeast. There are also a lot of great tasting beers brewed with adjuncts, and we'll (meaning me) cover that laterino.
Since there are only 4 basic ingredients you can bet they are equally important. So without any preference, lets start with MALT. Malt is the generic word for grains that have undergone the Malting process. Malt-ing is a process that takes a raw kernel of barley (or wheat etc...) and essentially gets that kernel worked up to think its going to become another stalk of grain. The Maltster sprays the kernels with water, the kernels begin to germinate (which unlocks all kinds of brewing goodies) and then the Maltster arrests development with heat which in turn also makes the grain shelf stable. Thats it in a nutshell, but If you asked a Maltster what happens prepare to listen for 3.4 hours and have a tablet of paper handy. In a very real way the Maltster is the most pivotal part of the Beerification (I stole that word from you Steve) process. In the olden days when everything was uphill, 'malt' was a very different animal. It was less predictable on the farm, rotted fast, and was either not done or way too done. Now Malt has an Ivy League education, can speak 3 languages, a condo in the city and a country house, and could probably show me how to use this computer better than I do. (what the heck are all those "F" buttons?) Anyway, Yeah MALT! I told you all that so I could tell you this- we just ordered our first round of Malt and we got some really really good stuff. We sourced most of our malt from Britain and Germany, but we also like some Malt from Rahr which is a heckovalot closer with a base in Minnesota. Obviously this is not the whole story on Malt, but if you'd like to know more read 'Malts and Malting' by Briggs; at 824 pages it should answer most of your questions.
Hops- Ok. Now we have the poster child of beer at the moment. Hops are a flower that grow on a vine. They look like little leafy green pine cones. Under the leaves is a golden powder called Lupulin. This resinous powder is what gives beer its bitterness. Hops are harvested and either processed as whole cone hops or pellets. Whole cone hops leave the entire hop flower intact and simply dry them out for storage purposes. Pellets are whole cones which have been chopped up and compressed into well... pellets. The lupulin levels on each variety of hops differs so each kind of hop will deliver more or less bitterness when added in equal amounts. This is expressed as AA's (or Alpha Acid Units). There are a lot of different kinds of hops. Some are used for intense bittering purposes and some are more delicate imparting floral, fruity, or foresty types of aromas. Every sentence in this paragraph is a statement. Apparently Hops are not funny nor are they to be triffled with.
Yeast. Ok. Yeast are funny. Yeast are Fun guys. I mean Fungi. They are microorganisms and I'm pretty sure George Lucas got his idea for midichlorians while drinking a beer. Yeast are on the surface of just about everything which again, is why I think GL got the idea for midichorians while drinking a beer (it was probably Romulan Ale - HA!). Getting the specific yeast you want in your beer and not others is the job of the brewer. Yeast are not able to be marketed by the biggest beer companies because they don't look like dogs. Just like hops and barley there are specific types of yeast that do different jobs. Beer yeast is broken into Lager (bottom fermenting) and Ale (top fermenting) types. Yeast are far too complicated to even be mentioned in a paltry and ill-written blog post, but just know this - these guys make beer and take their job seriously. If you mess with them they will screw up your beer and blog about it. Further nerdy reading can be found here....'Yeast, the Practical Guide to Beer Fermentation' by Zainasheff and White. 300 pages.
Water. Cool. Clear. water. W-a-t-e-r. Well, now we have it. The most underrated component of beer. H20. Well, nobody has just H20, every brewer has some other stuff in there (I can't believe I just typed that, 'their' 'there' but I'm leaving it for the sake of authenticity) water, mostly minerals but these minerals are very influential and help buffer the effects of true H20 which is the universal solvent. Back in the olden days when everything was uphill you couldn't fancy up your water. It either tasted good or like not good. And you know what? That in conjunction with Malting science (or lack of) resulted in certain styles of beer tasting better in certain cities or certain areas of the world. Now we can build water. That is totally neat. At The Civil Life Brewing Co, we won't initially 'build' our water because we've developed some beer that tastes real tasty with straight STL water (ok, we do have a really nice water filter...) The STL has good water and The Civil Life will make it even better by combining it with the ingredients above - thats the plan. Oh, further reading about water can be found here - Moby Dick, 704 pages.
Dylan Mosley is the Civil Life’s Brewer. He is also responsible for changing out the pirate flag every 8 months. His annual compensation package here is directly related to the amount of time his beard is a minimum of two inches long.