Ok, This tittle is a bit of a stretch! If you are familiar with this blog structure, you have noticed the attempt to link movie theme to my posts. This one though is a bit unusual. The purpose of this web existence has always been about photography but fortunately, one man does not exist with one hobby! Those who know me (that is about 99% of the very few people visiting this URL) know me as a keen (and hopefully decent) home brewer. Photography has been focused on school work and for obvious reasons cannot be broadcast as freely on my personal web site (should you be curious, you can visit www.cfbl.org.uk to check out my work… any bad picture you encounter on the site will of course be someone else’s!!!) Back to home brewing… no, I am not going to start a new section of the web site dedicated to the art of producing divine beers since several fellow brewers do so already. Instead, I wanted to share the basics of what’s involved in my own terms, illustrated by bad phone pictures… nothing prepared, just a rough cut of one full day of brewing.
Brewing with unusual ingredients can be funny but leads very often to terrible results (some of my fellow brewers would not dare to object as they have produced an incessant flow of undrinkable alcoholic beverage because of their very fertile imagination!) Nevertheless, some of these ingredients are already in use among professionals with pleasant results and Chicory is one of them. Since it tastes like coffee (or enough to be a substitute) I chose to brew a Porter.
Porters are dark beers, with coffee, chocolate tones and very light bitterness so I wanted to elaborate a recipe that would forget hops (at least aromatic ones) and enhance the guest ingredient flavour. Hold on… already 300 words and not a single picture yet?… Should I also start writing as a new hobby?…
For you friends and fans who do not know beer, learn that it’s made mainly from malted barley (sometimes wheat or other cereals) but the magic comes from Yeast… (sorry Ladies if it brings back bad memories). Let’s make sure we do have plenty at hand when the time comes…Yeast infection is the best that can happen to brewed malts!
What you see above is a culture of the good stuff that make beer… I start it 2 or 3 days before the big day and that makes a big difference in the results!!!
Then, it’s time to weigh the right amount of grain… here, 8kg of UK maris otter malt, one classic English ingredient. this will be the main source of carbohydrates leading to the alcohol ultimate transformation…
I want a bit of body so we had special grains (kilned in high moisture atmosphere)… It’s called Crystal malt… 1kg should suffice and of course, let’s nor forget the guest ingredient…. roasted chicory (650g)
Mashing (or infusing) the grains and chicory at a precise temperature will start the transformation of starch into dextrose (fermentable sugar) and dextrines (not that fermentable!!!). This porridge like mix of water and grain will be kept at the right temperature for 60 minutes.
All we need to do now is to grab as much sweet liquid (wort) and gently “rince” the grain with hot water (called liquor in brewing lingo!!!)
the wort is then boiled and the hops added… they will bring bitterness to balance the beer…(hops are also used to bring certain aromas to the brew when added few moment before the end of the boil… in our recipe, aromas are brought by the chicory, therefore, no “late” hopping will be performed!). After the boil, we pump the boiling sweet wort through a cooling device and fill the fermenter…
Once at home, I will “pitch” the wort with my cultured yeast. and let the magic happen behind closed doors… the fermenter is left with an airlock to avoid contamination but let the carbon dioxide escape… 3 weeks and we should be ready to bottle!
I hope this little homebrewing induction was not too much of a drag… I promise… next time I shall be back to photography!!!