ABOUT THIS ENTRY: I sum up my thoughts about cloning. My yeast research lead me on a journey in search of apple and bubblegum esters.
LAST ENTRY! I am going on hiatus. I was supposed to get this out earlier but some things have come up. I'm not sure when I will come back to this as I deal with some personal issues. It was great writing this as I could derive some conclusion to my research. As I say goodbye, I will be leaving you with some things to research for yourself.
BACK TO THE BEER TESTING LAB: Call me a mad scientist of beer brewing. I will continue to test and research brewing, but I'm not going to be publishing for awhile. I have more of my historical brewing methods to try as outlined in a previous article. It is not too late for you to start testing on your own too. You can do this. Ask yourself questions and search for an answer. Look at what I've found out.
1. IS THIS BETTER THAN DECOCTION? TRY NEWER COOKING METHODS. Maybe the best way to carmelize the grains is to use a mini-torch like the way crème brûlée is made. This may beat 5-6 hours of decoction. I'm still looking at this now. Check into this by searching for this kind of cooking on the web.
2. ARE BREWING METHODS WORTHWHILE FOR YOU? Test things for yourself to see if it is worthwhile in your brewing. I noticed a recent article in Brew Your Own magazine that showed experts debating methods of decoction and wort cooling. The magazine article was a great read, but test things for yourself to see whether it is worth the trouble for you. A couple of times grains were pulled out of the pot to fry with constant stirring gave me the significant carmelized taste I was looking for. Letting wort cool on its own overnight might be just the thing to make your sour beer recipe taste just right. The old way of cooling gradually over 24 hours may have given beer a mild souring that would do well in a Berliner Weisse.
3. CHECK OUT MAGAZINES, BOOKS, BLOGS AND PEOPLE INVOLVED IN BEER. I talked with my local brewmaster and owner of EagleMonk Pub and Brewery, in Lansing Michigan, about cask ale he has on draft. My research into the history of English cask ale showed it was placed into a separate container without carbonation. When it was meant to be consumed, it was tapped and a small amount of oxygen would enter the container. I'm looking at the old English brewing methods to see if there is a diacetyl effect (no rest) for cask ale.
4. KEEP RESEARCHING YOUR CLONE. I had found a book that listed all the ingredients for the beers by Fred Scheer, Frankenmuth Brewery's previous brewmaster, that I had fallen in love with. The only quest was to find the right yeast. My attempt to clone a beer has lead to a lot of research into yeasts that cause esters. I have found from reading that green apple esters can come from lower yeast pitching, halting a fermenting sooner than normal and exposing a batch to oxygen. Try many yeasts to find your favorites.
5. DESIGN RECIPES YOU'VE NEVER HAD BEFORE. You may find out some new things. A brew made with tortilla shells or popcorn? Want to brew beer with wild ingredients? Test and test again. Who knows what you will find out. I will be doing more experiments with corn and potato ale. I will also be testing more cold brew batches that don't involve heating. Call it laziness, but I wouldn't mind creating a batch with a lot less work - just infuse by letting it soak in the refrigerator. Honey, fruits, vegetables and ginger can help convert sugars. Tea bags and honey can also help sterilize a batch while it is fermenting. (Review my older entries in this blog) I'm still not convinced I have to cook hops to harness their bitterness - if I use a mortar and pestle first. I can't give all my secrets away as some may make a great recipe in a beer brewing book someday. I've been checking out an old colonial beer recipe that involves simmering peas for 3 hours.
6. GET YOUR FAVORITE BEER WHILE YOU CAN! If you like a particular (Pilsner, Helles, Altbier, Kolsch, Bock or Gose for example) enjoy the source of it now - it might be at your grocery store or brewery restaurant. Enjoy it while you can. Patronize those businesses with your favorite beers while you can get them. America is seeing a closing of stores and businesses it hasn't seen in quite awhile. There may come a day when you can't get it any longer. Then, it will be up to you to clone it. I only clone what I can't get anymore. Those styles of beer, mentioned previously, are great and I have my favorite commercial versions. Germans might say I can't have a true Kolsch unless I go to get their authentic beer. Many styles are available here in the States and many brewmasters follow traditional German brewing methods. My Kolsch comes from Leinenkugel and had won 3rd place in a national contest. It is refreshing with my grilled Chicago-style hot dogs. Later in the summer months, I really crave a Gose from Sierra Nevada with prickly pear cactus and grapefruit.
7. BE A DETECTIVE AND STUDY THE HISTORY ABOUT THE BEER YOU ARE TRYING TO CLONE. If you followed the outline steps above you've seen some of the points I've made about cloning a beer. Many of you know what clone I've been trying to find. Drinkers have given reviews that the commercial version of this beer contains apple and bubblegum esters. There are a limited number of yeasts that create the particular aroma and flavor for your favorite beer also. The English translation of this German beer magazine was excellent in helping me track down bubblegum esters in a wheat beer: http://braumagazin.de/article/brewing-bavarian-weissbier-all-you-ever-wanted-to-know/ Just when I thought I couldn't read anything more on wheat beer, Beer and Brewing's April-May 2017, taught me even more about wheat beer. Check out https://beerandbrewing.com/ I even started tracking down my yeasts at Weihenstephan: https://hefebank-weihenstephan.de/produkte/ I used a search engine translator to change the German to English. I've always find beer research fascinating.
8. DO YOUR BREW WORK AND PUT OFF FOLLOWING THE LATEST FADS: I've heard all the hoopla about newer methods of brewing. The craze lately is all about low oxygen (LODO) brewing. If you haven't tried varying your brew water to different pH levels, your grain amount, your fermentation temperature, your aging or lagering time or temperature, your quantity or type of yeast to narrow down your clone - this may be the real reason you haven't narrowed down your clone yet. There are many variables to consider when brewing beer. If you haven't tried changing the different ways your clone could be made you haven't done the work yet. There is a good chance LODO brewing won't help you get to your correct clone taste either. Stay true to your goal and don't get sidetracked into the latest trends. The problem with LODO is the rotten sulfur smell from the sodium metabisulfite that the homebrewers are now having to deal with. I didn't know all the different grains possible until I discovered the website: https://chicagobrewwerks.com/ There are a lot more grains I need to try in my beers. Just the brand name of the grain can make a difference in your recipe.
9. FOLLOW YOUR GUT OR YOUR INTUITION AT THE START. Right at the beginning of my clone research I tried using my intuition. I've used and trusted my gut instinct for years now. I suggest you try it to make some decisions in your life when you can't decide some decision with logic or reason. It can be fun and may lead you in a new direction. You may not be right, but then again, you may hit your answer right on the nose. For my clone, my intuition suggested my pH needed to be 6.5 to 7 at the start. I'll ask, "Does my pH need to be higher or lower than 7?" Wait for an answer to pop into my head. Record it. I keep narrowing the number down. Intuition lead me that I needed to hit 67 degrees F first for 3 days and then lower it to 61 F for first fermentation. Secondary fermenting should be for 9 days at 67 F again. Lager for 2-3 weeks at 46 F. Sounds crazy? I've got all my mineral amounts by gut instinct also. Hey, it's worth a try and I've gotten to a solution quicker before by starting with my gut instinct and then trying different possibilities later.
A FINAL NOTE AND GOODBYE: I'm still reading beer magazines, books and blog articles presently. There are a lot of articles about brewing out there. Experiment, question the status quo of brewing, test and experiment some more. Some readers thought I was against scientific experimentation. Nothing could be further from the truth. I don't like experiments that try to prove someone's ideology such as when the United States FDA tries to prove their allopathic medicine is the best. I know adjusting a sample set can allow a politician to lie with a skewed statistic. Just remember that what isn't proved by science is probably propaganda. If your leaders tell you your water is safe to drink and it has an acceptable level of pollution in it follow your gut instinct. Don't put your trust in a politician. Get a water pitcher that filters all the impurities out. Besides, you need good clean water for your brewing. Enough of my soapbox preaching. Perhaps, I will be reading about your brewing results someday. You can be a homebrewer pioneer too. Cheers to all my readers. I wish you the best of success in all your brewing.