Author Topic: Caramelizing First Runnings  (Read 582 times)

Offline fredthecat

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Re: Caramelizing First Runnings
« Reply #15 on: February 22, 2021, 03:47:41 AM »
Totally disagree.  This is an accepted way of brewing a wee heavy, whether it is historically accurate or not.  It represents a way of brewing that many have adopted.  This is not about history. It is about a recent approach to brewing. Different things.

i dont think theres anything to disagree about. the facts are there in history. there were basically strong ales and pale ales brewed in scotland historically.

of course contemporary BJCP guidelines are the issue in question. "strong scotch ales" aka wee heavies are a recent development. traquair house began its contemporary brewing in 1965 apparently. fascinating and great the stuff they came up with. it is scottish, but i wonder how they developed their recipes. mcewans strong ale comes to mind, though i havent tracked down exactly when it came about as the brown it is.

heres a mcewans advert and you can see a yellow/goldy liquid being drained https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/2/2f/McEwan%27s_Beer_advert_1906.JPG/1024px-McEwan%27s_Beer_advert_1906.JPG

the scottish shilling ales are probably mostly accurate except when they have roasted barley especially (never used for certain) though dark malts are still questionable. pattinson did remark that there were lower gravities fermented into beer than anywhere else in england ie. the really low number shilling ales that are ~2.5% or so.

peat is right out, as the scottish lowlands where beer was being brewed, between edinburgh and glasgow is one massive coal deposit. so there would be no need or desire to burn stinky peat while kilning malt.

just like the fact that irish red ale was historically non-existent.

Offline beerphilmcd

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Re: Caramelizing First Runnings
« Reply #16 on: February 22, 2021, 11:16:04 AM »
There are so many myths and outright falsehoods about Scottish brewing. This is one of them. Brew logs show that when compared to their London counterparts Scottish breweries boil times were just the same and very often utilized shorter boil times... even for stouts and strong ales. If you like the process that is fine. I'm not criticizing the process. Just don't call it, or believe that it is somehow, "Scottish".
What myth?
I nor anyone else in the thread has said this was traditionally performed by Scottish brewers or that Scottish type ales should be brewed this way. I said it’s a good fit to wee heavy etc., and that’s wholly debatable. There are no myths being perpetrated here. It is absolute fact that caramelizing a small amount of wort and adding it back to the boil will add longer chained sugars affecting the character of the beer. It’s also fact that many award winners have been produced thusly, including my recipe for 1314 Wee Heavy. If my post or others were arguing this is traditional you’d have a very valid point but we’re simply sharing a process. I get how you make your comment, a noble cause to preserve truth.

Heck I wouldn’t even argue people should do this or that it’s in any way a superior process. Especially since it creates more work and another step to consume time/resources. But... I enjoy doing it and folks like the beer it produces. So imma RDWHAHB. Charlie reminded us in his final keynote address the hobby should be fun and this is fun to me as I make this beer with bagpipes blaring out flower of Scotland and pickup my harp to play along! Cheers!


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Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Caramelizing First Runnings
« Reply #17 on: February 22, 2021, 03:03:51 PM »
Ron Pattinson did a presentation at HBC Providence that could be summed up "everything you know about Scottish ale is Crap".

It covered the boiling down pest, and hop rates IIRC.

Some time ago I read a post somewhere by a homebrewer that had visited Taquir house and talked to the owner of brewer about boiling down the first runnings. That person said that was interesting, they didn't do that. What they did do was to fire the brew kettle immediately before first runnings, getting a little caramelization that way. Scorat got the results he desired by another technique.

I've boiled down for a week heavy, liked the beer I brewed.
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Offline erockrph

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Re: Caramelizing First Runnings
« Reply #18 on: February 22, 2021, 04:35:39 PM »
I've boiled down for a week heavy, liked the beer I brewed.

That must have been pretty thick!

Regardless of whether commercial breweries have done it or not, there's more than one way to skin a cat. If you like the results in your beer, that's really all that matters. The whole "firing the kettle before first runnings" thing has me wondering if you can get similar results by adding a smaller amount of wort to a hot pan, reduce it pretty far down, then deglaze with more wort and add it back to the kettle. You'd net a smaller overall volume of reduced liquid than the Skotrat recipe, but it should be significantly more intense in flavoring. It would also take a heck of a lot less time.
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Offline denny

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Re: Caramelizing First Runnings
« Reply #19 on: February 22, 2021, 04:59:02 PM »
I've boiled down for a week heavy, liked the beer I brewed.

That must have been pretty thick!

Regardless of whether commercial breweries have done it or not, there's more than one way to skin a cat. If you like the results in your beer, that's really all that matters. The whole "firing the kettle before first runnings" thing has me wondering if you can get similar results by adding a smaller amount of wort to a hot pan, reduce it pretty far down, then deglaze with more wort and add it back to the kettle. You'd net a smaller overall volume of reduced liquid than the Skotrat recipe, but it should be significantly more intense in flavoring. It would also take a heck of a lot less time.

No reason you can't do that if it gets you the results you want.
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Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Caramelizing First Runnings
« Reply #20 on: February 22, 2021, 08:41:26 PM »
I've boiled down for a week heavy, liked the beer I brewed.

That must have been pretty thick!

Regardless of whether commercial breweries have done it or not, there's more than one way to skin a cat. If you like the results in your beer, that's really all that matters. The whole "firing the kettle before first runnings" thing has me wondering if you can get similar results by adding a smaller amount of wort to a hot pan, reduce it pretty far down, then deglaze with more wort and add it back to the kettle. You'd net a smaller overall volume of reduced liquid than the Skotrat recipe, but it should be significantly more intense in flavoring. It would also take a heck of a lot less time.

Man, you would think I would proofread my crap typing by now.

Something in the back of my mind says the boil kettle at Taquir is iron. Many old breweries had iron kettles. Cantillon still does. You could see the old one at Fillers on the tour.


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Offline fredthecat

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Re: Caramelizing First Runnings
« Reply #21 on: February 22, 2021, 09:18:45 PM »
I've boiled down for a week heavy, liked the beer I brewed.

That must have been pretty thick!

Regardless of whether commercial breweries have done it or not, there's more than one way to skin a cat. If you like the results in your beer, that's really all that matters. The whole "firing the kettle before first runnings" thing has me wondering if you can get similar results by adding a smaller amount of wort to a hot pan, reduce it pretty far down, then deglaze with more wort and add it back to the kettle. You'd net a smaller overall volume of reduced liquid than the Skotrat recipe, but it should be significantly more intense in flavoring. It would also take a heck of a lot less time.

Man, you would think I would proofread my crap typing by now.

Something in the back of my mind says the boil kettle at Taquir is iron. Many old breweries had iron kettles. Cantillon still does. You could see the old one at Fillers on the tour.


any anecdotes about traquair are awesome, but should be put in context.

-it likely played a role in maintaining existing small but important breweries in england and the slow but steady growth of craft breweries in the 20th century.
-it is apparently very much an oddball that is not similar to any other scottish breweries.
-if i wanted to think of pot caramelization, the ideal examples in my mind would be #1 traquair #2 superheated stone dropped in pot brewing (never had the latter before), so highly relevant to this thread on the topic of caramelization.



Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Caramelizing First Runnings
« Reply #22 on: February 22, 2021, 11:12:29 PM »
I've boiled down for a week heavy, liked the beer I brewed.

That must have been pretty thick!

Regardless of whether commercial breweries have done it or not, there's more than one way to skin a cat. If you like the results in your beer, that's really all that matters. The whole "firing the kettle before first runnings" thing has me wondering if you can get similar results by adding a smaller amount of wort to a hot pan, reduce it pretty far down, then deglaze with more wort and add it back to the kettle. You'd net a smaller overall volume of reduced liquid than the Skotrat recipe, but it should be significantly more intense in flavoring. It would also take a heck of a lot less time.

Man, you would think I would proofread my crap typing by now.

Something in the back of my mind says the boil kettle at Taquir is iron. Many old breweries had iron kettles. Cantillon still does. You could see the old one at Fillers on the tour.


any anecdotes about traquair are awesome, but should be put in context.

-it likely played a role in maintaining existing small but important breweries in england and the slow but steady growth of craft breweries in the 20th century.
-it is apparently very much an oddball that is not similar to any other scottish breweries.
-if i wanted to think of pot caramelization, the ideal examples in my mind would be #1 traquair #2 superheated stone dropped in pot brewing (never had the latter before), so highly relevant to this thread on the topic of caramelization.

Annie Johnson did a really fun presentation on Stein Beer in Portland I think. There were samples.
Jeff Rankert
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BJCP National
Ann Arbor Brewers Guild
Home-brewing, not just a hobby, it is a lifestyle!