“Thus, it is known that the preparation of some native beers that used cereals as a source of extract involved a step where the grains were masticated by the brewer. In so doing, the addition of saliva, which contains the amylase, ptyalin, would partially degrade the starch content of the grain and thereby increase the fermentability of the wort. It is interesting to conjecture as to the train of empiricism that culminated in this process!”
Boulton & Quain, Brewing Yeast and Fermentation
It’s absolutely true, but you know, I never thought about all the misfires and shuffling steps (spits?) that had to’ve led to that discovery.
I like Dave Miller. His Homebrewing Guide was the technical manual in the mid-90s and the book that ushered me into all-grain and kegging. He had previously written a number of other books, some of them for what would eventually become Brewers Publications. Then, like many others, became a homebrewer who went pro.
That was more or less the last we heard from Dave in print for a while, until last year’s Brew Like a Pro. Mr. Miller has retired as a pro brewmaster and once again taken up the small spoon; this book is, in his words, “a field report of my reentry into homebrewing.” Continue reading
In which we take a break during today’s Doppelbock mash to answer a reader question about some next-level reading material.
What are your favorite, most indispensable, desert island beer/brewing books?
One of the great things about a fiber-rich diet is that it affords daddy some quality reading time in his special office, and this morning some muesli induced me to finally start digging in to Mitch Steele’s IPA (that’s an acronym for something, but I’m not far enough along in the book) and came across this nugget regarding (probable) brewing practices for the nascent style in the 18th century:
Hops were added during the boil and were often only allowed to boil for 30 minutes before being pulled out and replaced with another charge. It is cited in many brewing texts of the period that brewers believed that boiling hops for more than 30 minutes extracted rough and harsh flavors and bitterness.
Kind of a philosophical antecedent to the whole late-addition and hopbursting approach – not directly analogous and probably with not quite the same results in the kettle, but still predating the 21st century craft brewing “hoppy not bitter” mantra by a good 250 years. Nothing new under the sun.
Occasionally hair sieves were used to strain the hops from the wort.
Maybe there’s a market for follicle-based hop-separation technology in modern home- and craft brewing? Somebody try that out, let me know how it goes.