Beer: A Story of Sugar and Starch

The first alcoholic beverage made probably wasn't beer. The first fermented drink of which chemical traces have been found was made from a mixture of ingredients that included rice, honey, and wild grapes. Beer has, however, become the most consumed alcoholic beverage on Earth. To get a sense of the sheer scale of brewing today, consider that annual production volumes of major breweries are reported in millions of hectoliters (100 liters each), or millions of beer barrels (31 gallons each). Most other fermented beverages—such as wine, cider, or mead—simply cannot be produced on such a scale. Barley's crop yield is unmatched among ingredients well-suited for producing alcoholic drinks. Understanding why other high-yield ingredients—such as wheat, corn, or rice—are not generally used in beer, except in combination with barley, requires understanding the basic chemistry of the malting process. Malted barley is composed of barley grains which have been steeped in water to initiate the germination process, in which the barley seed prepares to sprout. The grains are then rapidly dried with hot air to halt the germination process before the grains actually sprout. The goal of this process is to activate certain enzymes, namely alpha- and beta-amylase, which can break down the starches—which yeast cannot ferment into alcohol—into sugars, which yeast can ferment. Barley has a much higher enzyme content (or diastatic power) than other cereal grains like corn and rice, and is therefore much more capable of converting its starch into sugar in the mashing process. If you think this sounds complex, try making sake (technically a form of beer). Since rice has a relatively low enzyme content, sake makers use an Aspergillus mold to convert the rice starch into sugar over the course of several weeks. Mashing is the first stage of brewing—brewers usually leaving the malting up to the maltsters. In the mash, malted barley is introduced to water between 140 and 160 degrees farenheit, and held at this temperature for a period of time, often 60 minutes. The heat and moisture allow the enzymes present in the barley to convert its starches to sugars. Mashing is performed in a large insulated container known as a mash tun. After draining the hot liquor from the mash tun, the grains are often rinsed, or sparged, with more hot water. The sugary malt solution, which is now called wort ("wert"), is transferred to a large kettle and brought to a boil. At this point, beer's third ingredient (after barley and water) is added. Hops. In the western United States, they've become something of a fetish, but hops weren't a common ingredient in beer until the Middle Ages. Before then, a variety of different plants were used to flavor and preserve beer, such as sweet gale, wild rosemary and yarrow. Recently, some American brewers have again begun to produce beers using these herbs. These ales are known as gruits, but they're still quite rare—for now the hop remains king. Hops serve two functions. First of all, they make beer taste better (i.e., bitter). The bitterness they provide balances the sweetness of the malted barley, and the spicy, floral, or fruity flavors they contribute are often pleasant, sometimes divine. Secondly, hops contain alpha acids that are toxic to gram-positive bacteria such as Lactobacillus and Pediococcus, which often spoil beer, so hopped beer is less prone to infection and the off-flavors resulting from infection.

Hops are usually added to beer during the boil. Beer—or, more precisely, wort—is boiled for a long period of time, usually 60-90 minutes, which, among other things, isomerizes the alpha acids in the hops. This is important because alpha acids do not taste bitter as they are found in nature—only isomerized alpha acids provide bitterness. Hops boiled for a longer period of time will therefore contribute more bitterness, but the long boil will also destroy much of the hops' other flavors. Brewers often distinguish between bittering hops, added early in the boil, and flavor or aroma hops, which are boiled for a shorter period of time. Adding hops anytime after the wort has cooled, a technique known as dry hopping, contributes negligible bitterness but lots of hop flavor. Once the beer has cooled, the wort is transferred into a fermentation vessel. The brewer usually pitches a single strain of ale yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, either from a lab or harvested from a previous batch of beer. Notable exceptions include lagers, which require lager yeast, Saccharomyces pastorianus, and wild beers, which make use of a variety of wild yeasts and bacteria. Even within S. cerevisiae, there are as many different yeast strains as there are breweries, due to the speed at which yeast evolves. Yeast strains crucially differ in how much they attenuate, that is, what percentage of the malt sugars they can convert into alcohol, as well as in what flavor compounds they produce as byproducts of fermentation. Belgian ale strains, for example, tend to be highly attenuative and produce pungent flavor compounds. The yeast convert the malt sugars into alcohol over the course of a week or two in a stage known as primary fermentation. At the end of this stage the yeast begin to flocculate, or clump together, and drop to the bottom of the fermenter. Most brewers employ at least a short conditioning period following primary fermentation to allow the beer to clear of yeast and the yeast to clean up some less pleasant byproducts of fermentation, such as diacetyl and acetaldehyde. After conditioning, the beer is ready to be carbonated. Most commercial breweries carbonate their beers mechanically, while most homebrewers and Belgians use a process known as bottle conditioning. In this process, the brewer adds a precisely measured amount of sugar to the beer immediately before bottling. The yeast ferment the sugar in the sealed bottle, producing only a very small amount of alcohol, but enough carbon dioxide to make a crisp, fizzy beverage. Bottle conditioned beers often have a small but significant amount of yeast at the bottom, so decanting the beer carefully into a glass, leaving the yeast with the last 1/4 inch of beer, is generally recommended to preserve clarity of appearance and flavor.

Glossary of Terms Ingredients: Hops - There are dozens of hop varietals, with widely ranging flavors. Wikipedia has a pretty good list. American hops tend towards citrus and pine-like flavors, while European hops tend to be more mild, earthy, and spicy. New Zealand and Japanese hops are the next frontier. Malt extract - Available in liquid (LME) or dry (DME) forms, this extract is a concentration of the sugars present in the wort after the mash. Using extract obviates the need for a mash. Base malt - Malt that has been relatively lightly kilned, so as to not destroy the starchconverting enzymes. Base malt is the only malt that must be included in beer, since only base malt can produce fermentable sugars. Common varieties of base malt include: Pilsner, 2 row, Marris Otter, Vienna and Munich (ordered from palest to darkest). Specialty grains: Crystal; crystal malt - Malted barley that has been stewed and then dried, in a process that causes starches to be converted into sugars via enzymatic action. These malts do not need to be mashed (i.e., steeped carefully to allow this very enzymatic conversion), and can be steeped very casually. Crystal malts add caramel-type flavors and unfermentable sugars to a beer, making it sweeter and more viscous. Crystal malt is categorized according to how dark it has been roasted, where a higher number corresponds to a darker malt and a more intense caramel flavor. Darker crystal malts also contribute dark fruit flavors. Roasted barley; black barley - Unmalted barley that has been very deeply roasted. Gives beer a nutty, coffee-like flavor. The characteristic flavor of modern stouts. Black patent - Malted barley that has been very deeply roasted. Similar in flavor to roasted barley, but less coffee-like and with a bit more of an smoky edge. Often included in smaller quantities than roasted barley in stouts and porters. Chocolate malt - Malted barley that has been roasted slightly less than black patent. Flavors of unsweetened chocolate and bread-crust dominate. The characteristic flavor of modern brown ales. Measurements: Original Gravity (OG) - A measurement of the specific gravity (i.e., density) of the wort before fermentation. Water has a specific gravity of 1, and a liquid with anything held in solution will increase that liquid's specific gravity. Therefore, a wort with a high specific gravity, such as 1.080, is a wort with a lot of stuff in solution, the majority of which is generally fermentable sugar (chiefly glucose and maltose). Final Gravity (FG) - A measurement of the specific gravity (i.e., density) of a beer after fermentation. As the sugars, which are heavier than water, are converted to alcohol, the density of the beer decreases. A beer with a low final gravity is a beer with very few

unfermented sugars left—a dry beer, in other words. ABV - We calculate alcohol content by subtracting a beer's final gravity from its original gravity and multiplying by a nonlinear coefficient, which is about 131 in the usual range for beer. For example, the Golden Bear has an original gravity of 1.073 and a final gravity of 1.008. 1.073 - 1.008 = 0.065 0.065 * 131 = 8.5 Thus, the Golden Bear is a calculated 8.5 percent alcohol. Starter - When using liquid yeast, homebrewers often make a starter—essential a mini batch of beer that allows the yeast to replicate—because liquid yeast packages generally contain less than the optimal number of yeast cells for a five gallon batch. Higher alcohol beers require larger starters. International Bitterness Units (IBUs) - A measure of the concentration of isomerized alpha acids, which are the main bittering compounds in beer. A beer with higher IBUs will probably taste more bitter. We calculate IBUs using the Tinseth formula, which we've found to be closer to what we perceive in our beers than the Rager formula, which is the other commonly used formula. In any case, calculated IBUs of any sort should only be considered an estimate, useful for comparing beers, but with serious limitations in the upper range. Alpha Acid Percentage (AA%) - A measure of the concentration of alpha acids in hops. Hops high in alpha acids have a high bittering potential. Flavor compounds: Acetaldehyde - A yeast byproduct with a sharp, green apple flavor. Generally considered an off-flavor at detectable levels. Diacetyl - A yeast byproduct with a buttery flavor. Generally considered an off-flavor at detectable levels. Esters - Usually yeast byproducts; typically associated with fruit flavors. English ale yeasts produce moderate amounts of esters. Hefeweizen yeasts and some Belgian ale yeasts produce high levels of esters. Fusel alcohols - In addition to ethanol, yeast produce smaller amounts of higher alcohols. Fusel alcohols contribute boozy flavors associated with wine and spirits, which can be sharp and unpleasant. Phenols - Usually yeast byproducts; typically associated with spices such as clove or black pepper. Hefeweizen yeasts and some Belgian ale yeasts produce high levels of phenols. Styles: For information on beer styles, see the BJCP style guidelines.

Brewing equipment: Mash tun: An insulated container that maintains a near-constant temperature over the course of a mash. Brew kettle: A large container that holds the wort during the boil. Ours is a big (7 gallon) stainless steel pot that we put on our stove. Wort chiller: Not strictly necessary, but very helpful. We've recently purchased a copper immersion wort chiller, which replaces our previous system of putting the brew kettle in the bathtub with a bunch of ice cubes and/or snow, frozen 2L soda bottles, &c. Fermenter: The vessel in which the beer is fermented. We've used 7-gallon food-grade plastic buckets, a 6-gallon PET carboy (a container shaped like the water jug on an office cooler), and various 1-gallon glass wine and cider jugs. Serving/carbonation system: Since we bottle condition all of our beers, our bottling system serves as both a carbonation and serving method. We have a bucket with a spigot that we use to decant the beer into (from the fermenter), as well as mixing the priming sugar into the beer. We then attach a bottling tube to the bucket's spigot and draw the beer into bottles, capping them with our hand-capper. Two to three weeks later, the beer is carbonated and ready to drink, though pouring the beer off the yeast and into a glass is recommended.

The Hit List As Angry Monocle's joint brewing operations come to a close, we take a moment to reflect on what we've learned over the last 36 documented batches of beer (as well as three batches of cider, and a handful of undocumented batches). Most were very good, but a couple were terrible, a few were mediocre, and four were among the greatest things I've ever tasted. Hit list (Lee): Surly Sunday (Imperial Coffee Stout) The Bloom (Double IPA) The Cosmos (Belgian-style Quadruple with roasted barley) Golden Bear (Belgian-style Golden Strong Ale) Learning experiences (Lee): Belgian Pale (failed experiment, tasted like rubber bands) Mon Oncle (possibly infected, over-carbonated, tasted like bark) The Mad Hopper (cloyingly sweet) Dunkelweizen (soy sauce, barely drinkable for me, though some liked it)

What went right: 1. Yeast. The most noteworthy yeasts we've used are Belgian strains from Wyeast and White Labs. Sourced from the great breweries of Belgium, these yeast strains produce high concentrations of esters and phenolic compounds, lending beer fruit- and spice-like flavors. One of our most universally enjoyed beers (the Golden Bear) was made from the simplest recipe possible, but the yeast we used (WLP 570, from Duvel Moortgat) gave it an incredibly complex aroma and flavor. Belgian yeasts are best with a couple pounds of sugar to make the beer drier and more drinkable. 2. Roasted Barley (lots). Our stouts regularly exceed 15% roasted barley. There are other worthwhile roasted grains, but unmalted barley roasted black is one to treasure, and a key part of all our stouts. Two of them stand out from the rest in quality: The Cosmos, a 12% ABV Belgian-style stout, and Surly Sunday, our first coffee stout. 3. American hops (lots). Now that summer has finally come to Seattle, I want to drink IPAs all the time. Though the British invented the style, Americans have taken it to another level, using new American hop varieties and increasing the amount of hops per gallon of beer. To get a sense of how the way we use hops compares to the way big breweries use hops, consider that Budweiser and MillerCoors use about two ounces of hops per beer barrel (31 gallons). Our last IPA had 11 ounces of hops in five gallons—over 32 times the rate of the big breweries. Hops we like for IPAs include: Ahtanum, Amarillo, Cascade, Citra, Centennial, Chinook, Horizon, and Nugget. Europeans sometimes deride American hops for producing "catty" (i.e., cat piss) aromas in beer. I have tasted this in American IPAs, and believe that it is almost exclusively associated with old or mistreated IPAs, and therefore a result of oxidation (i.e., staling). Depending on

how the beer is treated and how sensitive your palate is to the flavors of oxidation, you may start to taste off flavors at 2 months after bottling—or at two weeks after bottling. The difference between a week-old IPA and a year-old IPA is profound; they are barely recognizable as the same beer. Accordingly, good IPA yeasts ferment quickly and need little conditioning time to clean up off-flavors created during fermentation. The Chico strain from Sierra Nevada (Wyeast 1056) and its descendants are industry standards, but dry British ale yeasts are also worth exploring. We prefer well-attenuated IPAs. What went awry: 1. Under-attenuation. Attenuation refers to the percentage of sugars that are converted into alcohol by the yeast. A highly attenuated beer is therefore a dry beer, while an underattenuated beer is sweet. I find that, with the possible exception of stout, beer that is under 75% apparent attenuation suffers in drinkability. This is especially true of Belgian ales. Underattenuated Belgians tend to be cloyingly sweet. We use very little or no crystal malt in our Belgians nowadays, and always add some sugar to further improve attenuation. Adequate aeration and pitching the proper amount of yeast is also crucial. 2. Yeast. Belgian yeasts are not suited for all beers. After brewing two Belgian IPAs (The Mad Hopper and Chomp Chomp) and several Belgian ales with roasted grains (Le Jardin, The Cosmos, The Belgian Black) I am inclined to think that these yeast strains do not complement beers with chocolate malt or high levels of hop bitterness. All of this holds even more true for Hefeweizen yeasts, which we have stopped using altogether. The strong banana notes they produce are hard to pair with other flavors, and Hefe yeasts have not attenuated very well for us. 3. Chocolate. We've used chocolate in two beers: The Aphrodisiac and The Mocha. In the Aphrodisiac we used cacao nibs from Theo Chocolates, which contribute complex, raw chocolate flavors, but lack the classic straight-up chocolate flavor. In the Mocha we used 100% Dutch-processed cocoa powder with five minutes left in the boil. It gave the beer some chocolate flavor, along with some additional bitterness, but had trouble distinguishing itself through the coffee and the under-attenuation of the beer. I think my main mistake was trying to use chocolate as a secondary flavor. I probably won't use chocolate again soon, but if I did I would make a straight-up chocolate stout, with a full pound of chocolate (maybe a little vanilla, too). I would add 8 oz of cocoa powder (5 gallon batch size) at flameout and 8 oz of cacao nibs (soaked in vodka for 24 hours) to secondary. I would also use 5% roasted barley, 5% pale chocolate malt, 5% Crystal 80, and 5% de-bittered black malt. I'd also lower the IBUs to 25 to compensate for the bitterness added by the chocolate. 4. Infection. Note: the yeast and bacteria that infect beer are non-pathenogenic—i.e., harmless. As much fun as exploding bottles are, infection really cuts into the shelf life of your beer. I suspect our main problems stemmed from wild yeast contamination from inadequately cleaned bottles. We always Oxiclean our bottles when we first get them, both to remove the labels and clean out the insides. Soaking and rinsing 100 bottles is a pretty huge pain, though, so after the initial Oxicleaning we just rinse and sanitize our bottles between batches. This works well enough if you're good about rinsing the bottles immediately after drinking the beer. We lapsed in this respect for awhile, and as a result found evidence of contamination in

The Cosmos and The Aphrodisiac. We've since borrowed a high-pressure bottle rinser that we use if a bottle isn't rinsed immediately after use. Reflections on coffee stouts: Even though Surly Sunday, when fresh, was the best coffee stout and one of the best beers I've ever had, I think there is still a lot to learn about brewing this style of beer. Coffee stouts are challenging due mainly to the following fact: coffee tastes best immediately after brewing, while imperial stouts generally peak between six months and two years after brewing. To help compensate for this, we let the beer mature in secondary for extra time and add the coffee at bottling. One strategy I might pursue in the future is to brew plain imperial stouts and keep fresh extra-strength iced coffee on hand to add when serving. We've been using cold-brewed coffee for our stouts, because it seems to last better. I've recently been impressed by hotbrewed iced coffee (chilled immediately by the addition of ice), which I'd like to experiment with in beer. I've also heard reports that steeping whole-bean or coarsely ground (percolator grind) in the beer for 12–24 hours produces a more stable coffee flavor. One other practical difficulty with brewing coffee stouts is filtration. Paper or cloth filters do the best job of removing sediment from coffee, but using a drip method of filtration also tends to introduce a lot of oxygen into the coffee, which is bad news for flavor stability. One could boil the brewed coffee to remove dissolved oxygen, but this would also destroy the coffee's flavor. For cold-brewed coffee, in the future I plan to use a nylon bag and very coarsely ground coffee (percolator grind). I would also like to experiment more with coffee selection. We've been using Peet's Arabian Mocha-Java, because it has a very recognizable classic flavor and its roasty, chocolatey flavors complement roasted barley very well. One idea I've been toying with for awhile is using a more delicate, lighter-roasted coffee (Ethiopian springs to mind) in a subtler beer, like a dark Belgian ale or English brown ale, and staying away from grains darker than pale chocolate. I also want to make a dry-hopped coffee stout with Indonesian coffee.

Surly Sunday (Imperial Coffee Stout)
Batch Size: 5 gallons OG: 1.089 (including sugar during fermentation) FG: 1.020 ABV: 9.1 Calculated IBUs (Tinseth): 49 Yeast: Wyeast American Ale 1056 or WLP001 Starter: 4 liters 8 lbs DME or 10 lbs LME 2.2 lbs roasted barley 1.5 lbs chocolate malt 0.5 lbs dark Belgian candi syrup (added on 3 rd day) 1.5 oz Horizon at 60 minutes Carbonate to 2 volumes of CO2 (2.9 ounces of cane sugar). Add 1 quart cold-brewed coffee to the bottling bucket. (0.25 lbs of fresh ground coffee; 1.25 quarts room temperature water; steep for 12–24 hours.)

The Bloom (Double IPA)
Batch Size: 5 gallons OG: 1.071 (including sugar during fermentation) FG: 1.013 ABV: 7.6 Calculated IBUs (Tinseth): 145 Yeast: Wyeast American Ale 1056 or WLP001 Starter: 2.5 liters 6 lbs DME or 7.5 lbs LME 2.25 lbs cane sugar (added on 3 rd day)

Hops/Additions Horizon Chinook Ahtanum Citra Ahtanum

Amount 1 2 0.5 0.5 0.5

Time 60 60 30 20 10

AA% 11.0% 12.0% 6.0% 12.0% 6.0%

IBU's 59.57 129.97 12.49 19.68 5.89

Dry hop with 2 ounces of Chinook and 1.5 ounces of Citra for 10–12 days. Carbonate to 2.5 volumes of CO2 (4.1 ounces of cane sugar).

The Cosmos (Belgian-style Quadrupel with roasted barley)
Batch size: 5 gallons OG: 1.113 FG: 1.022 ABV: 12 Calculated IBUs (Tinseth): 27 Yeast: Wyeast 3787 or WLP530 (Westmalle strain) Starter: 2.5 gallons (yeast cake from a lower gravity beer) 10.75 lbs DME or 13.5 lbs LME 2 lbs roasted barley 1 lbs Special B 1.5 lbs dark Belgian candi syrup (added on 3rd day)

Hops/Additions Horizon Fuggles Fuggles

Amount 0.8 0.5 0.5

Time 60 30 20

AA% 11.9% 4.5% 4.5%

Carbonate to 2.7 volumes of CO2 (4.6 oz of cane sugar)

Golden Bear (Belgian-style Golden Strong Ale)
Batch size: 5 gallons OG: 1.072 (including sugar during fermentation) FG: 1.008 ABV: 8.5 Calculated IBUs (Tinseth): 30 Yeast: WLP570 or Wyeast 1388 (Duvel strain) Starter: 1.5 liters 6.5 lbs DME or 8 lbs LME 2 lbs cane sugar added on 3rd day 3.5 oz Saaz at 60 minutes Carbonate to 2.9 volumes of CO2 (5.1 oz of cane sugar)