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Ask the Experts: Randy Mosher

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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.

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.

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...

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.

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.

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.


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