|Home Brewing Recipes
Baker Street Ales Associate Brewer
the crossroads of the beer world
Thought I write something different than our usual recipes. First, an
answer to a question I was surprised to have been asked in several
e-mails and then some general things to save you money when brewing.
Even if you weren't the ones asking I think it's important that you
understand that acetaldehyde is an organic compound found in almost
all plant materials and the most common of the aromatic chemical
compounds called aldehydes.
Acetaldehyde is closely associated with ethyl alcohol (ethanol) through
reduction and oxidation. It is produced in the early stages of
fermentation and is reduced to ethanol in the latter stages of
fermentation. Acetaldehyde is the immediate product of the metabolism
of alcohol in the human body.
The body oxidizes ethanol back to acetaldehyde as the first step in its
processing of alcohol. Beer containing excessive levels of acetaldehyde
is characterized by the aroma and taste of green apples. People vary in
their sensitivity to acetaldehyde, but beyond its presence as a
background note, it is generally considered an off-flavor in beer.
If the yeast is not sufficiently active, either because it is not healthy or
because the fermentation temperature is too low, too much
acetaldehyde may remain in the beer. Bacterial infections can also
interfere with yeast fermentation, leaving elevated levels of
acetaldehyde in beer.
Acetaldehyde is further metabolized in the body by acetaldehyde
dehydrogenizes to acetate. In some people, acetaldehyde
dehydrogenase enzymes are inefficient in metabolizing acetaldehyde.
This can cause the well-known “flush” response observed when some
people drink alcoholic beverages.
Now a few tips that should be of value to all of you....
Know your hops. Hops are cone-shaped flowers that give bitterness,
flavor and aroma to beers. What variety you use depends on what type
of brew you're making. If you're doing a lager or something light, you
work with some of the German hops, like a Saaz or Opal. If you're
looking into the IPA category and pale ales, you can go traditional with
Cascade or Centennial. Or there's just tons of experimental, fruit-forward
hops that either come from the Yakima Valley or New Zealand. You can
grow your own hops, buy them online or at homebrewing stores. You
can also ask your local brewery for leftovers. They basically have on
their ground the amount of hops you need to home brew a beer.
Use what you already have. Home brewing doesn't have to hurt your
wallet. In fact, you can get started for under $100 simply by reusing what
you already have around the house. You can repurpose a lot of pots
and pumps, and even coolers repurposed into little (containers) that act
as fermenters,. Along with the core ingredients — hops, malt and yeast
— you definitely need to get some good hoses that are clean for
transferring (the extracted liquid) from your wort kettle to what you're
using as your fermenter.
Add flavors that natural ingredients in beer bring out. Often times
you'll get pineapple, orange or passion fruit flavors from really fruity
hops, so why not add flavors that complement that? Throwing in
peaches, after fermentation or during the boil, can help elevate the
natural flavors that are already in the beer. If you're dealing with dark,
malty beers, what are the flavors that are naturally coming out? If it's
coffee or chocolate, then why not add some fresh coffee grounds or
Keep it cool. The fermentation process can take anywhere from a
couple weeks for ales to at least a month for lagers. Assuming you don't
have a walk-in refrigerator to store your fermenter, a cool closet in an air-
conditioned room is fine. If it's outdoors, "throw a towel on it to make
sure the beer doesn't get light-struck because sun exposure can cause
a skunky odor.
Throw out the recipe book and follow your gut. The best beers that
I've tried are the folks that start with a vision, like, 'Here are the flavors I
want in my beer and (I'm not) afraid to try new things to get there,'.Beer
is so variable depending on where you are, what temperatures you're
dealing with and what equipment you're dealing with, so oftentimes
following a recipe too strictly can mess up the beer.
That's it for this month. Hope to see you next time!
Good Brewing and Cheers!