Sunday, March 2, 2014

Rocky Mountain Microbrewing Sympossium 2014

It is that time of year again!

For the past 4 years I have been lucky enough to attend the Rocky Mountain Microbrewing Sympossium. It is a get together for any brewers in the Rocky Mountain region and the day is spent listening to presentations from leaders in the industry, drinking beer, and net working.

This year presentations were given about malting, setting up a sensory analysis program, marketing, Crafting A Nation, brewing lager beer, and hop utilization. I thought I would share a couple of the tips I picked up this year from two of the presentations.

1) Brewing Lager Beer: The Slow and Expensive Way -Ashleigh Carter

  • Ashleigh is an experienced brewer who has worked at both Dry Dock and Prost. She travels regularly to Germany and knows more about German beer than almost anyone I know. Her talk focused on brewing Lager beer in a traditional fashion. She recommended a few things...
    • All Lager beer can be made with 5 malts and 2 hops, but for any one beer in the style you should only be using 3 malts and 1 hop at most.
    • pH is very, very important, and here are her recommendations. Mash (5.2-5.5), Begin Boil (5.2-5.5), End Boil (5.0-5.2), End Fermentation (4.2-4.4)
    • A thinner mash is better (in particular for decocting), she recommended 4:1 to 5:1 liters:kilograms
    • Mash long and low (temp 145-148)
    • Boil no less than 90 minutes (Colorado Altitude)
    • Knockout cold
    • If you need to make a water adjustment add CaCl2 at 50-100 ppm
2) A Look at Hop Utilization - Jeff Nickel, Jason Mehberg, Jason zumBrunnen

  • I have gotten to hear several talks from the folks at AC Golden in the past. They always do a great job of presenting data to back up what they are saying. They also have all the cool toys to analyze their beer and the opportunity to play around with recipes and ingredients. The topic this year was hop utilization and how perceived bitterness relates to measured IBUs.
    • The rule that we have all been taught is that you have to boil hops in order to isomerize the Alpha Acids and add any bitterness to your beer. The guys from AC Golden blew that out of the water with their presentation. They tested different conditions and how they effected IBUs measured by HPLC or Spectophotometery. According to their results IBUs were increased in the whirl pool, mash hopping, and first wort hopping. All times when hops should not have been able to isomerize. This shakes the very foundation of hopping!
    • The second half of the presentation looks at increasing IBUs in homebrews that were dry hopped. They tested three sets of homebrewed beer before and after dry hopping. Each time the IAA (Isomerized Alpha Acids) increased, some by 25%, just through dry hopping. The data is still preliminary but I am going to follow up with Jason when he has all the results in.
Yet another great year at RMMS drinking beer with the people who brewed it and learning about new developments in the state of craft beer!

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