Author Topic: Ask the Experts: Randy Mosher  (Read 3339 times)

Offline duncan

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Ask the Experts: Randy Mosher
« on: March 15, 2013, 09:25:10 AM »
Randy Mosher is an author, lecturer and consultant on beer styles and brewing. He is an instructor for the Siebel Institute in Chicago and the author of three books on beer and brewing:The Brewers Companion (Alephenalia, 1991), Radical Brewing (Brewers Publications, 2004) and Tasting Beer, (Storey Publications, 2009).

Additionally, Mosher is a branding packaging and new product consultant for an international range of clients in the brewing and beverage business.Randy Mosher is an author, lecturer and consultant on beer styles and brewing. He is an instructor for the Siebel Institute in Chicago and the author of three books on beer and brewing: The Brewers Companion (Alephenalia, 1991), Radical Brewing (Brewers Publications, 2004) and Tasting Beer, (Storey Publications, 2009).

Additionally, Mosher is a branding packaging and new product consultant for an international range of clients in the brewing and beverage business.
« Last Edit: March 15, 2013, 09:57:42 AM by duncan »

Offline duncan

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Re: Ask the Experts: Randy Mosher
« Reply #1 on: March 15, 2013, 09:26:18 AM »
Jared from Wyoming asks:
I have a particular affinity for brewing Belgian beers, yet am continually vexed by my inability get the terminal gravities lower. I consistently get attenuation rates of 75-80% (well within the manufacturer's description for the yeast), yet would like to get my gravities even lower (say, to 1.010 or so with a HG beer). I always use sugar in my Belgian beers (at a rate of up to 10%), yet I'm still yearning for that incredible dryness that commercial examples have. There must be some secret that some of us at home are missing out on. HOW DO THE TRAPPIST BEERS FROM BELGIUM THAT SO MANY OF US ADORE ACHIEVE SUCH A DRY, CRISP FINISH? So many homebrewed versions taste overly sweet and underattenuated. My understanding is that mashing at lower temperatures will result in a slight loss of body in the finished beer -- can this be made up for with some dextrin malt? What percentage of the grist would you recommend dedicating to crystal malts? Other than pitching a ton of yeast, properly aerating your wort and using yeast nutrients, how can homebrewers achieve that dry finish that characterizes Trappist beers?

Many thanks, Randy. I'm a big fan...


Mosher answers:
Well, you don't have a lot of detail for me, so I'll just discuss generalities. Good yeast practice is indeed important, especially as the strength increases. Yes, that light-on-their-feet quality is one thing that makes Belgian-style beer so lovable. First, most stronger beers (7%+) are brewed with sugar added. This ferments completely and creates a dry palate. You could go to 20% in stronger beers. That's where Duvel is at, I believe. For paler beers, just regular old sugar/sucrose or corn sugar are really neutral, although things like Thai palm sugar might add another layer of flavor. Darker beers can use Belgian brewers' caramel (notice I'm avoiding the confusing term "candi sugar") or dark, partially-refined cane sugar like piloncillo, rapadura, or others. They have wonderful flavors and a long tradition in brewing. Don't bother with the big rocks. They're just stupid expensive for what little character (if any) you get out of them. For a dry beer, mash on the low side--145-147°F (63-64°C). A lower mash should just make beer more attenuated. Body is all about protein--think thin jell-O. A protein rest usually will reduce the body. I wouldn't add dextrin malt if you're going for a dry beer. I wouldn't use any crystal in any Belgian-style beer unless you have a specific purpose for it. Look at melanoidin, aromatic, dark Munich, that sort of thing, Crystal makes a beer heavy and sweet, among other things. If you're using extract, check around and see if you can determine how fermentable it is. Some of them, I believe, will finish higher than others.

Offline duncan

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Re: Ask the Experts: Randy Mosher
« Reply #2 on: March 15, 2013, 09:26:58 AM »
Jason from Colorado asks:
I thoroughly enjoyed Radical Brewing, particularly "Forward into the Past." I guess in general I appreciated your perspective on the World of Beer - past, present and future. You mention my all-time favorite base malt, Mild Malt, several times and seem to be equally surprised at its lack of popularity. Per most brewing texts you mention that it has low diastatic power and is poorly suited to the handling of adjuncts. I'd like to hear your thoughts on this statement found on Munton's website, "Mild Ale Malt -Made using slightly higher nitrogen than pale malt, mild has good diastatic activity allowing the use of a high percentage of adjuncts in the grist formulation." Is this just wishful thinking on their part? I've tried to get a comment from them multiple times with no response. Any thoughts? Have you come across a degrees Lintner rating for this grain? What would you say is the max percentage of adjuncts this grain can handle?

Mosher answers:
Your question just points out the fact that every malt is different, and each maltster does somewhat different things, so you really need to be able to read the malt analysis and adjust your brewing accordingly.

I would say that if they claim high diastatic power, then it's very likely to be true--otherwise they'd have a very dissatisfied bunch of customers. In that context, I would guess that "high" probably means up to perhaps 30% adjuncts. Do remember if you use rice or corn that they need to be boiled/cooked first before mashing.

Offline duncan

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Re: Ask the Experts: Randy Mosher
« Reply #3 on: March 15, 2013, 09:27:49 AM »
Jeff from California asks:
What is the best way to raise mash temperature in a converted cooler type mash tun?

Many of my beers have little head formation and poor head retention. Can my mashing technique affect the stability and size of the head in my finished beer?


Mosher answers:
You are pretty much limited to a decoction or additions of near-boiling water. The second is a good way to do a mash-out, since you're going to need to add water anyway as part of the sparge--this just moves it up a bit. More exotic methods include adding hot rocks, heated stirring paddles and live steam injection, a method I've never had the courage to attempt. Of course, that's what RIMS and HERMS systems are designed to do, so if you're a step-mad brewer, one of those types of systems might be the ticket. But in all-malt beers, it generally isn't necessary to do a step. I'd say if you don't have some very specific reason for doing a mash step, leave it out.

Most modern malt is designed to be used in a single-infusion type of mash. Don't know what you're doing, but your other question deals with step mashes, so I'll assume for the point of this question that you sometimes do them. With all-malt beers, this is a good (and by good I mean bad) way to break down the "good" mid-length proteins that are the main component of bubbles and of beer body. Malt beers with a protein rest may appear somewhat thin in body and lack the proper head. Sometimes the simplest way is the best.

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Re: Ask the Experts: Randy Mosher
« Reply #4 on: March 15, 2013, 09:29:14 AM »
Drew from California asks:
Randy, as someone with a pedigree in playing around with beer, I want to know two things: What new twists with your beer have you been playing with recently and what's your favorite "standard" beer to brew?

Mosher answers:
I've been too busy with travel this fall to do much brewing of my own, but I've collaborated in several. In Argentina, they greeted me with a 6.5% amber ale brewed with yerba mate, the ubiquitous tea that everybody sips nonstop down there. Has a fruity, pleasant and definitely tea-like herbal character. Quite nice.

As I walked into a beer festival there, my hosts pulled me towards two half-barrel (hectoliter?) brew systems and said "You're the brewmaster. What do we add?" Both brews, a porter and an American brown ale, were about to come to a boil. I tripled the hops in the brown--that's what an AB is, right?--and also added a bit of black pepper and nutmeg. For the porter, I thought about it for a minute, and then said "Dulce de leche, una Kilo." This is a caramel goo that Argentines just about eat with shovels. It was everywhere, especially for breakfast and in giant desserts. And yes, it's delicious--just milk and sugar boiled down into a thick, spreadable caramel. We ended up skimming off a cup or so of fat from the top as the wort boiled.
The wort tasted delicious, and the little old ladies in the hall were quite interested.

Along with the Chicago Beer Society, I brewed a batch at the Goose Island brewpub with brewer Jared Rouben. He's a chef by background and has been doing collaborative brews with many of the high-profile chefs in Chicago, with great results. For our beer, we brewed a black white beer we called "Partial Eclipse," seasoned with bitter orange peel, Chinese coriander (very sharp, almost eucalyptus aroma) and just tiny amounts of star anise and Chinese/Szechuan red flower pepper (prickly ash), which has the unique property of making your mouth go numb when you chew on it. The beer ended up being pretty tasty if I do say so myself, and the spices were subtle enough that none of them could be picked out.

I didn't have time to brew in Australia, but I did manage to make it home with several different interesting honeys, including one called "sugar bag" that is made by the native stingless Australian bee, plus a bunch of spices:

Tasmanian Pepperberry: fruity, peppery, sweet (like licorice root) and in the end, a kind of a mustardy or grains-of-paradise hot.

Strawberry Gum: leaves of a type of eucalyptus tree with a striking fruitlike aroma.

Lemon Myrtle: leaves with a super-clean lemon-drop aroma.

Anise Myrtle: Ditto, but anise-like.

Roasted Wattleseed: A type of acacia seeds that have a sort of peanut butter-like aroma.

I'm also involved in a commercial project here in Chicago to create some Mexican-American craft beers, so we've been working with the flavors of that fantastic cuisine.

So plenty to work with there. I'm working on a new homebrewing book, and definitely want to include a global perspective in there. Should be a lot of fun.

My "standard" beer is a classic wit, and I love my own above all other versions (it's the only one I feel this way about). Wit is great because, well it just is, and also because it's a great vehicle for adding other flavors. Last batch I split and did some plain, some with an Asian citrus called a calamansi, which has an intense butter tangerine flavor, and another portion got a can of muscat winemakers concentrate added, inspired by a beer I tasted in Italy earlier this year.

Offline duncan

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Re: Ask the Experts: Randy Mosher
« Reply #5 on: March 15, 2013, 09:30:30 AM »
Richie from Delaware asks:
1) When using unmalted Wheat is it best to do a step mash schedule or will a single infusion mash still work?

We ended up mashing at 150 for 75 minutes. The recipe I brewed was as follows:

20 Gal batch with OG 1.090 (Expected Grain portion only).

2-Row Pale Malt 27 lbs
Pilsner Malt 7 lbs
Malted Wheat (White Wheat) 16.5 lbs
Raw Wheat (Sofe Red) 15.5 lbs
CaraWheat 1.5 lbs
Golden Naked Oats 1.5 lbs
Amber Malt 1.5 lbs

1 Gal of Honey - End of boil
1 Gal of Muscat Grape Juice Concentrate (64 Brix) - End of boil
2 oz of Dried Camomile Flowers

90 min boil

3.6 oz Sorachi Ace Whole Hops 14.9% AA - 60 min
2.0 oz Sorachi Ace Whole Hops 14.9% AA - 20 min
4.0 oz Sorachi Ace Whole Hops 14.9% AA - 5 min

Took only the first runnings of the grain bill. OG ended up around 1.094

Yeast used as we did not have time to make a big starter: Three tubes of WLP 500 and one tube WLP 530 plus 4 packets of Saf T-58.

2) Perhaps too much yeast?? This beer fermented like hell for two days and now shows hardly any signs of activity. We are fermenting this in 2 separate 12.5 gal fermenters. Ambient temp is at around 68 degrees F. Still in the fermenter. Plan on aging half of this on some oak then blending at packaging.

3) Milling unmalted wheat turned out to be harder than expected. Is there a better way? I think next time I will mill this separately. It kept jamming my Monster Mill. It took a long time to mill this.

4) I will be aging 15 gallons of Flanders Red in an Oak Barrel using the Wyeast Roselare Blend (don't recall the number).

My question: I plan on fermenting this beer with WLP 001 and about 1/2 to 3/4 of the way I plan on transferring to the Oak Barrel and then pitching the Roselare Blend and age for a year. I have 2 smack packs of this strain, is it enough for 15 gallons or should I make a starter? Is two packs enough since I plan on leaving it in there for a year? Will it eventually still do the job?

I have made this before using a 5 gallon barrel and I use one smack pack and after a year it worked out great. I was hoping two packs would be enough.

Another side question...

Say after a year I only bottle 10 gallons and leave 5 gallons in there, will I be able to brew 10 gallons of Flanders and top up the barrel and let age for a year without any ill effects? I was wondering if the barrel needs to be emptied and cleaned out after a long aging period or can it perpetually be used year after year as I just described?

5) Will you be making an appearance in Delaware anytime soon? Would love to meet you as I am a big fan and have read all your books. Thanks for writing them!!


Mosher answers:
1) I'm mad for white beers, and have brewed them with several techniques. In my experience, I get better results with a modified American adjunct mashing procedure, where the wheat is mixed with a small fraction of the malt, ramped up through glucanase, proteolysis and saccharification rests and up to a short boil, or even a near-boil at, say 190°F (88°C). This gelatinizes the starch and I find I get better extract and the kind of creamy wheaty mouthfeel I'm after. I skip the protein rest on the main malt mash and when I'm just about done with the wheat boiling/mash, I strike the malt mash and stir it in about protein rest temperature, then when the boiling wheat hits it, the whole mess comes up to saccharification temperature. I get good results from this.

By the way, I would add the honey and muscat after the primary. You're losing a lot of those expensive aromatics during fermentation when the CO2 carries them out of the beer. I've got a beer with muscat in it in the fridge right now.

2) I'm not a big yeast expert, but probably not. Have you checked your gravity? Sometimes those freight train fermentations really do barrel through a beer in just a couple of days. In that case, on to conditioning!

3) Malt mills are not the right tool for milling unmalted grain. Because I do a lot of these, I bought an old grocery store coffee mill at a flea market, and set the grind to the finest. No point in leaving big pieces, since there's no husk. I use a plastic 5-gallon carboy with the bottom cut out as a hopper.

4) I'll preface this by saying I am not a yeast expert.

Sounds like a solid enough plan. I would let the 001 go more or less to completion, so you can rack off and leave the sludge from the primary behind--it can't help the flavor of your beer, especially with long contact time.

That blend includes a lot of Brett, I think, and that's a slow-working critter, and I would think not all that sensitive to the pitch rate. I'd guess that quantity is fine.

People do those perpetual barrels as you describe. The technical term is a Solera, used in Sherry and other fortified wine production. Don't know if there is a time limit for those. I never heard of one.

5) No plans to come to Delaware. Not sure there's room for me there now that my friend Sam C. has been on TV. I do get around, doing Siebel training and other beer travel, so it's not out of the question. I do have a couple of days in Harrisburg, PA for some training. If there is a club in the area that wants to host me for a midweek talk, I'd be open to that.

Offline duncan

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Re: Ask the Experts: Randy Mosher
« Reply #6 on: March 15, 2013, 09:31:35 AM »
Dennis from Arizona asks:
Is there a way to fix or hide a burnt flavor in your beer? I brewed the Oktoberfest from Brewing Classic Styles and toasted some of the grains the night before, but didn't realize that you should toast before crushing (I buy my grain already milled). It is a great beer, but has a burnt/rubber taste. As if that wasn't enough, I brewed the Hogate Nut Brown clone from Can You Brew It, and think I over-toasted the macadamia nuts! (Sounds like I need to check the oven.) Will burnt flavors mellow over time? Can I add honey or some other spice to counteract the burnt taste?

Mosher answers:
Vanilla is famous for being able to smooth over rough flavors. I'd get a shot glass and a pipette or a syringe and try some different doses to see if you get the harshness mellowed a bit without making it taste like vanilla.

A note on malt toasting. Maltsters let the malt mellow for a few weeks after kilning. Some of the flavors can be pretty harsh even if you don't over-toast it.

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Re: Ask the Experts: Randy Mosher
« Reply #7 on: March 15, 2013, 09:32:23 AM »
Jason from Arizona asks:
Do you have experience brewing with amaranth?  I just figured out how to sprout amaranth and came up with my own recipe, but I wanted to share and see what others have created.  How would you use the ingredient?

The info is in the link...

http://www.ehow.com/how_7586438_brew-beer-amaranth.html


Mosher answers:
I have no personal experience with Amaranth. The malting directions you linked to sounds about right for a 100% amaranth beer, but you should be able to do up to 10-15% with a straight infusion mash, or 50% with an adjunct type (partial decoction) mash.

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Re: Ask the Experts: Randy Mosher
« Reply #8 on: March 15, 2013, 09:33:10 AM »
Cindy asks:
I poured out what was left of about 3 different kegs of beer today, mainly because I thought the beer quality had diminished. Have you noticed the quality of the beer can diminish over several months in the keg?
Maybe I'm not drinking these beers fast enough, my kegs are sealed good and kept on CO2.

A good example of this was my Scotch ale, when I first made it it was excellent, a beautiful color and brilliantly clear, I'm sure it would have won a medal in a competition. I had a glass the other day and I poured it out because it had become dark and murky, a good analogy would be like a beautiful young blond that had turned into an old hag.

I wonder if these beers would last longer if they were bottled rather than kegged.


Mosher answers:
Beer can definitely change in the keg, although the transformation you describe isn't what one would expect.

First, could that bad glass simply be because whatever yeast (and possibly protein haze as well) had settled to the bottom of your keg, so when you drew off a glass after it sitting for a while all you got was sludge? Did you try a second or third glass?

It is unusual for a beer to become cloudy over time unless there is some kind of contamination. Did you notice any off-flavors or aromas?

Kegged beer should last just as long as bottled beer as long as the seals are good--which I assume they are in this case.

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Re: Ask the Experts: Randy Mosher
« Reply #9 on: March 15, 2013, 09:33:52 AM »
Stephen from Tennessee asks:
I am doing an iced-barleywine and want to find out the final ABV. How do I calculate it? Can I use a refractometer or hydrometer? Is it a simple one to one relationship? For example, I have 4 gals of 12.5% beer. If I freeze off half of it and collect 2 gallons does the ABV double?

Mosher answers:
Oh, wow, man, you're asking me to do math? And a story problem at that.

First of all, a hydrometer won't work because the ratio of water to everything else has changed, and what is left is more alcohol, which is less dense than water, and dissolved solids, which are more dense.

Similar problems with a refractometer, but alcohol and sugar are both more refractive than water. So, meaningless readings.

With that 12.5% beer with half the water removed, the alcohol should double.