Germano-Bohemian Lager

GB PilsPWGermano-Bohemian Lager marries the idea of rich, full Bohemian Pilsner with the crisp bitterness and clean flavor characteristic of North German lager.

The recipe uses floor-malted Bohemian Pilsner malt, made from Bohemian spring barley. This malt shows a wider color range among individual grains than malt processed by modern pneumatic malting methods, with their tighter temperature control. The result is a fuller malty flavor, with a bit of residual sweetness. It is slightly under-modified however, and will benefit from an acid rest and protein rest.

The mash bill uses 3% acidulated malt to lower mash pH, in the German manner, which prohibits additives such as organic acids to do so. In soft water this is enough to bring the pH down to about 5.2 in a full-grain recipe.

Munich malt contributes a mild toasty bread flavor to the brew. Carapils is a high dextrin malt that provides foam stability and full body to the beer while adding very little flavor.

Because the starting gravity is a bit above the high-end of the range typical for North German Pilsner (which is around 13 Plato), the hopping rate is also a bit higher than the typical example (which is 35-45 IBU).

Malta Macho

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Malt-flavored soft drinks are popular in Latin America, where they go by the name Malta. The drink originated in Germany, where it was called malzbier. In that early version, the beverage was fermented to less than 2% ABV, then bottled and pasteurized, leaving considerable residual sugar. Modern commercial versions use corn syrup, malt extract and artificial carbonation.

This recipe calls for an all-malt approach with no fermentation, and adds a bit of herb tea to expand the flavor sensation. Easy to make, it is prepared as fully non-alcoholic syrup, and carbonated with club soda. The recipe is inexact with regard to herbs, so experiment with proportions to suit your taste.
The accompanying photo shows a malta made with two grams of whole Fuggle hops for every four liters of beverage. They have not been boiled with the malt, and so the flavor and aroma are prominent, but the bitterness is quite mild. The sweetness is there, but is subtly balanced by the hop addition.

To create a drink with even more complex flavor, with considerably more effort you can try an all-grain version. Mash base and specialty grains as you would for beer, collecting about 1.5 liters of liquid.

Heat water to 70 C, add cracked caramel malts in grain bag, steep 30 minutes and remove. Drain liquid from grains and add water to bring back to 1.2 L. Heat water to 100 C, remove from heat. Stir in malt extract and herbs. Cool one hour. Dispense 150 ml into each of eight 500 ml swing-top bottles.

Freeze syrup in bottles, top up with soda water, store in refrigerator. When the frozen syrup has thawed, gently agitate the bottles to suspend the ingredients. After 24 hours any grain flour or trub will again sink to the bottom, leaving the flavor and color components suspended. The liquid can be decanted off the sediment to serve a more clear drink.

Coachman’s Double Andover Stout

AndoverDstoutWIn 1973 an American with a taste for good beer and little money to buy expensive imports had few options. There were some widely scattered retail shops selling wine-making supplies. At that time brewing beer was illegal, but buying the makings was not. A look inside these shops revealed that they often sold the ingredients for beer too. In fact, since the ingredients were food items, there wasn’t even a tax on them.

Along with ingredients such as canned malt extract, and perhaps some crystal and black malt, there were dried ale yeasts by Edme, and Red Star. Vierka offered light and Munich dark lager yeast. There were also a couple of books available that were pretty simplistic by today’s standards, but were enough to get one started. With a bit of reading it was possible to brew a first batch that was excellent.

C.J.J. Berry’s Home Brewed Beers and Stouts was first published in 1963, shortly after the law changed in England making home brewing legal without a brewer’s licence or duty payment. This was the first book in modern times to deal with the process in sufficient detail to ensure a successful enterprise. An instant success, it sold more than 300,000 copies over four editions.

The recipe names in the book reflect the locale from which a beer example has been drawn. One of these is the town of Andover, Hampshire. A major stage coach stop on the Exeter-London road during the 18th and 19th centuries, it’s no surprise that Andover was known for its heavy, satisfying stout.
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In England, circa 1963, it was possible to find numerous bottle-conditioned beers containing yeast samples from their respective breweries. In that sphere at least, the home brewer was afforded a respectable range of possibilities, and Berry’s book suggests exploiting the situation. This recipe similarly takes advantage of the 21st Century’s availability of obscure English yeast strains by employing a Platinum English strain from White Labs’ yeast bank. East Midlands yeast, with its dry finish, low ester production and moderate alcolol tolerance, is comparable to the more familiar Nottingham strain.

This adaptation of Andover Stout, while inspired by the C. J. J. Berry book, also pays homage to William Black’s Brown Stout of 1849, a recipe discovered by the Durden Park Beer Club. That brew featured amber and brown malts, along with the black malt.
Coachman’s adds a full-spectrum touch by taking advantage of the even wider variety of ingredients now available.

A double stout, coming down the highway at 7.8% ABV, this is a monumental beer. A coach and six taking you to the coast.

Lotus Infused Makgeolli

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Until recently the Korean rice beverage makgeolli has been thought of as the working man’s mildly alcoholic lunch drink. It has long had its refined versions of course, but mostly it’s been “farmer’s wine.” Recently though, makgeolli has become trendy and sought after among young consumers in Asia for its refreshing and smooth tang.
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The secret ingredient for makgeolli Korean rice wine is a blend of Aspergillus mold-inoculated wheat, barley and rice. Called nuruk, it can be purchased on line or in the bagged-ingredient section of a well-stocked Korean grocery store. One brand is shown here. The large characters in the middle of the package window say nuruk in Korean. The package also says “Enzyme” in English.

Historically, makgeolli has been little more than nuruk, yeast, rice, and water. The rice is carefully prepared as it is for all fermented rice beverages, by steaming to keep the grains intact. Nuruk and yeast starter are kneaded into the steamed rice. Water is added and the mixture is allowed to ferment.

But now, boutique-made versions have appeared that feature infusions of herbs which provide further aromatic depth. Makgeolli is suddenly hip. This recipe reflects the new makgeolli trend, using lotus petals to add flavor and a bit of mellowness. Drink it warm in the winter and cold in the summer. It is nicely effervescent, creamy smooth, tangy without being sour, and provides a real kick to accompany your Bulgogi beef barbecue.

Gnomen von Zürich Starkbier

ZurichLagerWFor all the perception that “Zürich Lager” is something special to experience, it seems that most reviews of Swiss beer, at least those that refer to pale lager, report finding nothing special. From Lowenbrau Zürich, Quollfrisch Hell, Feldschlösschen, Calanda, Schützengarten, to probably a dozen more, the reviews go from “Swiss Bud Lite” to “nothing spectacular.”

I’ve only been to Switzerland once, and that was to Geneva, which, while beautiful, has a pretty nondescript beer scene. So what’s the deal with the legendary Zürich lager? Apparantly it all comes down to Hürlimann Samichlaus, a rare Christmas beer whose Swiss manufacture ceased in 1996. The gnomes of Zürich managed to cram an entire six-pack of flavor into a 335ml bottle, and at 14% ABV, there are still some cellared examples being consumed now and again to rave reviews. In 2000 the brand was revived by Austrian brewer Schloss Eggenberg.

Albert Hürlimann was a recognized expert in the scientific development of yeast, and his extremely alcohol-tolerant strain survives as White Labs WLP885. Equipped with a vial of this venerable strain, what is one to do who does not have the patience to wait three years for a lager to mature?

In this example, a brew of 16.5 degrees Plato starting gravity will turn out to be very drinkable in less than six months, finishing at 3 Plato with an ABV of about 7.2%. The beer starts with a hefty grain bill of lager malt, to which the brewer adds Munich, Vienna, Melanoidin and CaraPils specialty malts.

The Zürich lager yeast throws off a lot of phenolic flavor which comes through strongly in this beer, giving it a quality almost like a Belgian brew. It is a long, slow fermenter, and four to five months in the secondary is about the minimum necessary to bring the gravity down to a manageable level.

It is a very flavorful and full-bodied beer, and will improve with age for quite some time. I plan to keep a bottle at least another six months to see how it develops.

Barrel Body Winter Warmer

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I’m not a big fan of winter. In late October, scraping enough frost off the windshield to make a frozen Daiquiri, I’m dreading the ice to come. White Christmas is great. January skiing is fun. But as a California guy, by February I’m ready to go on a picnic.

That said, one thing that sustains me through the frigid season is Winter Warmer. A roaring fire, a good book, and a righteous, spicy ale make all the difference when the wind blows cold, the snowflakes fly, and the nights are long.

In the old days, folks could huddle around the barrel body of a pot-belly stove to keep warm. These days, even a gas log will do if there’s a fine winter warmer close at hand. Barrel Body Winter Warmer fills the bill.
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Barrel Body starts out as a pretty straightforward copper ale. A full grain bill augmented with lots of caramel and crystal malt is topped off with Melanoidin malt to boost the red color, and provide plenty of heavy mouthfeel. The recipe adds golden sugar and Belgian dark aromatic candi to raise the starting gravity and tweak the umami.

The baseline spiciness comes from cinnamon and nutmeg. To kick it up a notch, a hint of Voodoo Elixir in the secondary fermenter adds flavors of coffee, chicory, cubeb, gumbo, licorice, sassafras and sarsaparilla.

Safale US-05 ferments this one out full and dry. At about 7.9% ABV, Barrel Body Winter Warmer lives up to its name.

Scott’s Revenge BC Brown Ale

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British Columbian brewers have been trying hard to establish a unique style of beer, in the shadow, alas, of the huge brewing scenes of Washington and Oregon. Those two states, in turn, have led with their own brewing evolution, against the mega-hopped IPAs of Southern California.

The trend in all three Northern areas has been to less aggressively bitter, but no less flavorful beers, including Northwest Pale Ale, with the characteristically citrus-flavored hop varieties now emerging from the Oregon/Washington growing region.

In the 1940s B.C. grew more hops than any other region of the Commonwealth. The Molson Export recipe of that time specified only “B.C. Hops.” But since 1997 or so, there had been almost no commercial hops grown in British Columbia. Recently, however, that trend is reversing, as the demand from craft brewing again makes hop growing a viable industry in B.C.

What does not seem to be occurring though, is the expansion of flavor sensations accomplished by full-spectrum recipe formulations. B.C. beers, though tasty, frequently lack complexity. Scott Beauchamp, manager and buyer at Nelson Liquors in Nelson B.C. has tasted a lot of British Columbia beers, and he agrees. That’s why I brewed a full-spectrum beer using B.C. hops, with him in mind: Scott’s Revenge. The color is really more of a dark amber to copper, and the aroma is dominated by malty notes, with very light hoppiness.

Scott’s B.C. Brown has plenty of caramel flavors from five grades of crystal, plus CaraAroma and CaraMunich malts. Chocolate and Black Prinz malts provide deep roasty flavors.

The hops were grown in Nelson, B.C. and consist of a blend of Nugget, Willamette, Fuggle and Golding varieties. They were lightly air-dried for a week before going into the brew in three additions. Safale US-05 fermented it out nice and dry.

Next season I will likely get a bigger Golding crop, and I plan to try this recipe again with wet-hop and dry-hop additions. Then Scott’s revenge against bland B.C. ales will be complete.