Saturday, September 26, 2009

Almond Brown

Almond Brown
Style: American Brown Ale
Type: All Grain
OG: 1.083
FG: 1.022
ABV: 7.99 %
Calories: 272
IBU's: 33.21
Primary: 7 days @ 68°F
Secondary: 14 days @ 72°F
Aging: 21 days @ 74°F
Color: 41.3 SRM

Grains & Adjuncts
9.00 lbs Pale Malt (2 Row) US
0.50 lbs Black Barley (Stout)
1.00 lbs Caramel/Crystal Malt - 60L
0.75 lbs Chocolate Malt
0.75 lbs Caramunich Malt

1.00 ozs Northern Brewer - 60 mins
0.50 ozs Williamette - 20 mins
0.50 ozs Cascade - 20 mins
0.50 ozs Williamette - 5 mins
0.50 ozs Cascade - 5 mins

1.0 pkg California Ale V

Add one to one-half lbs. of crushes roasted almonds to grains, steep and sparge.

Homebrewers, I sing the praise of the iBrewMaster App. There truly is an app for everything and beer brewing is no exception. If you use the iPhone I highly recommend it. It has 50 or so preset recipes ranging from Extract and Partial Mash to full All-Grain. You can also type in your own recipe as I did above. You select the type and amount of grain or extract and it calculates an estimated ABV (%) and SRM (color) based on a 70% efficiency brew system (which I have never quite achieved). You can select hops and boil time, including dry hopping, and get estimated IBU's (International Bittering Units). With the aging times set it will even give you a calender of events to follow for best results.

Today I set to brew an Almond Brown Ale with real Almonds. I made this recipe as a Partial Mash last year for my wife's birthday in February. If this all-grain adaptation is anything like the original, it will be quite a treat. The problem with using real nuts is that the oil in the nuts can kill head retention. Lazy Magnolia, in Kiln, MS, uses Pecans and roast them three times to remove oil before using it in their beer. I chose Almonds because a) they are my wife's favorite and b) they are not as oily as other nuts.

Unfortunately, I cannot remember how I prepped the nuts last year. Hopefully the App mentioned above will remedy my poor recording practices. I read on the intranet from a natural foods website that almonds should be roasted at low temp for 15-20 minutes as to preserve the healthy oils for consumption. That's exactly what I didn't want so I roasted them for about 1/2 an hour at 250 in my oven then left them in a brown paper bag for another 1/2 hour to get as much oil out as possible. Then I crushed them in a food processor and added them to the grains for the mash. I mash in a 5 gallon Igloo water container, although I don't spare in it. I heated 4 gallons of water to 170 degrees and dumped it into the mash tun/Igloo cooler, then stirred in the grains and the nuts in. After the addition, the water was just above 150. I let it sit for a good hour to do its thing, and the final temperature was just below 150, so my Igloo seems effective as a mash tun. We'll see how it comes out.

This recipe was a little bit of this and a little bit of that from brown recipes I've read and seen. I fear it might be a black ale rather than brown. Perhaps the Roasted Barley, aka Black Barley, was too much, but I wanted the roasted coffee taste that it would impart. I figured the coffee taste would compliment the almonds like coffee and amaretto does. Finally I used some Chocolate Malt, because hey why not! I might be mixing too many flavors for a solid nut brown ale. It might come out more like a porter or stout than a brown, but again we shall see.

I took a hydrometer reading of 1.050 so I'm far off of the estimated 1.083, but it seems every beer I make lately is 1.050. Maybe my hydrometer is broken. For those of you who don't know, a hydrometer is a buoyant thermometer like device. Using a test tube of wort (unfermented beer) you drop the hydrometer into the sugar water and depending on the level of sugars it will float up to a certain level, this is called the OG or Original Gravity. More sugar in the solution will cause the device to float higher, because the solution is more dense. After Fermentation is complete - usually one week for Ales - a second hydrometer reading is taken. The difference in the OG and the second reading, FG or Final Gravity, gives the amount of sugar that has been consumed by the yeast. Multiplying this difference by 1.31 or 4/3 will give you a rough idea of the amount of alcohol produced. Here's the example:

My Estimated OG is 1.084 and FG 1.023:

1.084 - 1.023 = 0.061 <-- This amount of sugar is gone, where did it go? Yeast food.

0.061 * 1.31 = 0.0799 * 100% = 7.99% or 8% ABV (Alcohol By Volume)

Actually I'm looking at an OG of 1.050 and because I don't take the time to get those sweet unfermentable sugars just right I usually end up with an FG of 1.010 so:

1.050 - 1.010 = 0.040

0.040 * 1.31 = 0.0524 * 100% = 5.24% which is fine by me, I'm done with my days of high gravity and high alcohol. Make a beer that taste good, and not to get drunk on.

A hydrometer reading of 1.000 is a neutral, sugar-free solutions like water. You might be asking yourself why doesn't the yeast eat all the sugar so the FG is always 1.000. Well my alcohol loving friends that would produce a very boring beer. There are sugars that can be desirable that are unfermentable. These sugars add complexity to a beer, like a sweet Porter or toffee-rich English Ale. With a Brown Ale these unfermentables are desirable, but I am not nearly talented enough to control their production. Unfermentable sugars are produced with varying temperature in the mash. My Igloo Mash Tun is plastic and therefore trying to apply heat to it is difficult.

UPDATE: 10/3/2009

The Almond Brown is Black. As I had feared, it was too dark. I should have know since the est SRM is 41. After one solid week of fermentation I transferred it to a secondary carboy to sit for another 2 weeks before it is kegged or bottled. I took a final hydrometer reading (FG) and a tasting. It is roasty, no doubt about that. It's what I said I wanted, and it is what I got. Unfortunately, I think the Almonds were overshadowed. There is a perceptible woody taste I could attribute to the Almonds or the Roasted Barley. The Chocolate is not overpowering either. It is a very drinkable beer and it shall be good, but perhaps something other than what I set out to craft. The brew is more akin to a porter, but I will call it a brown none the less. I'll play with the recipe and make it again. I've settled on a name. Andrea's Almond Brown Ale. Andrea, my wife, is whom I originally made this recipe for, and the initials AABA have a special connotation to musicians. It's the pattern of most pop song structures. Two verses (AA) a chorus or bridge (B) and back to the verse (A). Besides being black as the night the other porter characteristic of this brew is the low alcohol.

The final gravity was 1.020. Using the formula from above and the OG 1.050:

1.050 - 1.020 = 0.03

0.03 * 1.31 = 0.0393 * 100% = 3.93% ABV or about 4%

That's good for me. If I so choose I could add some cane syrup, maple syrup, or molasses boiled in water to sterilizes, and then add them to the beer. Those three sugars would add a nice flavor to the beer. The fermentation would start again and if enough was added I could bring it up to stout levels of alcohol, around 8%, but I won't. That would take time. Since siphoning the beer from one carboy to another I filtered out massive amounts of yeast. To be sure, there are still millions of living cells suspended in the beer, (there always will and should be in unfiltered beer) but it would take some time for those cells to process the new tougher sugars. Then I would need to siphon again and let age for longer periods of time, months as oppose to weeks. Leaving it at 4%, I believe I will allow it to age longer than most as the flavors in this beer are complex and varied. Which is a good thing. A Final Gravity of 1.020 after a week of strong fermentation means I achieved some of those unfermentable sugars that are desirable in this type of beer.

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