I recently had the opportunity to help organize the annual home-brew competition held by the Hong Kong Homebrewers' Association (HKHA) at the beginning of June. It wasn't really my intention to fill that role, as I'd much rather just brew and enter beers, but sometimes things just turn out that way. On the bright side, there's always something to be learned from a new challenge so in this post I'd like to point out a few things that I have gleaned from this experience.
Gluten is a troublesome protein found in cereal grains such as barley, wheat, and rye. Approximately 1% of the world population is affected by celiac disease which is an autoimmune disorder that damages the small intestine and affects nutrient absorption. Gluten sensitivity is a recognised condition affecting about 6% of the US population, and involves other, less serious reactions from ingested gluten. Since the primary source of sugar in brewing comes from cereal grains, most people with celiac disease and gluten intolerances avoid beer altogether, but craft brewers have gotten creative over the years in trying to offer gluten-free options that still taste great. This post will introduce you to the basics of gluten-free brewing.
The American Homebrewers Association (AHA) started Learn to Homebrew Day back in 1999 as a way for homebrewers to share their hobby with non-brewing friends and family. This Saturday at hundreds of sites worldwide the tradition will be continued. Last year there were 360 registered sites in 47 states and 10 different countries that claimed to brew 6,284 gallons (23,787 liters) with nearly 6,000 participants.
All-grain brewing opens up a huge realm of possibilities for the malt profile of your beer. Of course it comes with the cost of an extra step of complexity with the "mash". Mashing is a process that is described by John Palmer in "How to Brew" as "the hot water steeping process that hydrates the malt, gelatinizes its starches, releases its natural enzymes, and converts the starches into fermentable sugars" (p.141). More simply put, it's like making barley-sugar-water through steeping - just like tea. In this post I will discuss the choice of the mash temperature and how it will affect the wort that you produce.
In this age of West Coast IPAs and East Coast Juicy IPAs, when developing recipes it's easy for home brewers to focus their attention on selecting new and interesting aroma/flavor hop varieties. However, the malt profile is equally important to provide the supporting base underneath those hop flavors. In this post I will share a basic approach to calculating the grain bill for your target beer style.
International Bitterness Units (IBUs) often show up on packaged craft beer and just as often in conversations involving IPAs. In this post I will share how home brewers can easily calculate the amount of IBUs in their recipes.. As a home brewer you must know how to calculate these if you hope to make consistent recipes.