Saturday, February 23, 2013

Rocky Mountain Microbrew Symposium 2012

Yesterday I had the opportunity to attend for the 3rd year in a row the Rocky Mountain Microbrewing Symposium (RMMS). This is event gives brewers the opportunity to hear talks from experts in the brewing industry and share knowledge between scientists who are doing brewing research and the people who are actually making the beer.

This year talks were given on brewing weiss beer, yeast flavors, marketing, distribution, gluten free brewing grains, and creating Lager beers. I thought I would go ahead and share some of my notes with anyone that is curious.

The first talk was by Dr. Chris White (White Labs). For someone who already knows a lot about yeast it was a little dull. The big highlight was a focus on Acetyl-aldehyde. White showed a chart that outlined the amount of this nasty compound produced at different temperatures. I was pretty shocked to see that at 65 F only 8ppm are produced but that at 75 F 153 ppm are produced! Another good reason to control your fermentation temps.

The second talk was by Bill Eye of Prost Brewing. Bill knows a ton about brewing beer and in particular about making great wheat beer (he won a gold medal at GABF while at Dry Dock for this category). Bill outlined two separate directions to go when brewing a wheat beer, phenolic or banana. Here are his suggestions for creating a beer that is focused on one or the other.
  • Use well modified malt
  • Stick with 50% wheat malt
  • Do a ferulic acid rest at 111 to create more of the phenolic precursors
  • Boil the beer longer (120 min-150 min)
  • Use Eric's Rule (The knockout temp in Celsius + the fermentation temp should equal 30 C)
    • Bill suggested knockout at 12 C and fermentation at 18C
  • Pitch a healthy amount of yeast into a fully oxygenated wort
Ester (Banana)
Malted Buckwheat
  • Use undermodified malt
  • Use 60 % or more wheat malt
  • Mash with a single infusion to create a highly fermentable wort (150 F)
  • Do not fully oxygenate the wort, do about half the usual amount
  • Ferment at 68 F or higher
  • Underpitch (Bills uses 2 million cells/mL)!!!
  • Add zinc which helps boost the amount of isoamylacetate
The final talk I thought people might find interesting was one on Gluten Free Malts produced by Colorado Malting Company. The grains that they malt include buckwheat, millet, quinoa, Amaranth, Coix Seed, Sorghum, and Teff. All the malts are low in diastic power but can still be used to brew beer when amylase is added. I took some sample bags home to play around with and will be ordering some of the grain in bulk from them to play around with.