Monthly Archives: December 2012

500 Pounds of Barley

Nearly every beer that is made primarily consists of barley. Thus every brewery uses a large amount barley. At Mt. Lehman Brewery, we get most of our barley from Gambrinus Malting Corporation in the Okanagan Valley. Barley grown in British Columbia and Alberta is shipped to Gambrinus where they malt it, a process that converts the starch in barley into sugar. Gambrinus’ malted barley is distributed throughout BC, Alberta, Washington, Oregon, California, Colorado and further. If you are drinking a beer from a brewery in the Pacific Northwest, it is very possible that beer was made with Gambrinus malt. As the smallest malting company in North America, they are like Canada’s micro-malthouse. Perhaps because of their small size, they have great customer service and are willing to sell malt to homebrewers at very reasonable prices, given you pay in cash/cheque and pick it up in person.

okanagan valley

(The Okanagan Valley: an area more known for its wine than its beer)

AJ combined a visit to his brother, who lives near the malt-house, with a trip to pick up eight 25 kg (55 pounds) bags of barley from Gambrinus. The drive from Abbotsford (the home of Mt. Lehman Brewery) to Armstrong is roughly 4 hours, but is completely worth it. Plus AJ got to drink beer with his brother.

bags of barleyOur order consisted of:
Pale Malt: 4 bags (its our primary base malt)
ESB: 2 bags (a malty-er, more bread-like alternative to the Pale)
Munich Light: 1 bag (we go through enough of this to justify purchasing of bag of it. It adds a deep amber colour to our beers, plus a sweet, malty, nutty flavour)
Wheat Malt: 1 bag (we still have half a bag of wheat left, but we need more for summertime wheat beers)
We did not order more honey malt because we still have 40 pounds left from our last order in Janurary 2012.

The big advantage of buying directly from Gambrinus is selection. While you can get a bag of Gambrinus Pale malt from nearly any homebrew store, Gabrinus Malting Corporation can offer bags of ESB, Pilsen, Vienna, Munich light, Munich dark, honey malt, and wheat malt. They also have organic offerings of some of their malts. Gambrinus only sell their malt in 25 kg bags, so do not expect to be able to just purchase a couple pounds of a particular malt.

A word of caution: buying specialty malts in 25 kg bags is a rather onerous undertaking. You might easily go through a bag of Pale malt because you are using 10 pounds each batch. After 5 batches, you will have nearly finished the bag. However, buying a bag of honey malt is likely going to last you a very long time. Let’s assume you put 1 pound of honey malt (which is a lot, we normally don’t put more than 8 oz in a batch) in every batch of beer you make. It would take 55 batches to finish off that whole bag of honey malt, resulting in 1265 litres of beer. You might need to extend your circle of friends to dispose of that much beer. While we think honey malt is a fantastic malt, you are nearly guaranteed to be unable to finish the bag. Depending on your brewing habits, it may also be difficult for a homebrewer to finish bags of Munich Light, Munich Dark, and Vienna malt as well. If you want these malts in smaller quantities, you should go to your local homebrew store.

More information about the malts offered by Gambrinus Malting Corporation can be found here. It is not their official website, as they don’t appear to have one. It is the website of some malt broker. However, the website provides the necessary information on the colour, protein, moisture etc.

(The sign for Gambrinus Malting Corporation, between BWP Millwork and Steve’s Used Auto Farts.)


(The grain silos at Gambrinus Malting Corporation)


(Complexities of the malt-house.)

   barley field

(Fancy farm mural showing barley. Culture!)


199 White IPA

The Story

Generally, IPAs contain a certain amount of caramel malt to provide some sweetness to balance out the bitterness from the hops. Sometimes this is called providing a “malt backbone”.  But what if we didn’t add any other caramel malt to balance out sweetness? This is the idea behind out 199 White IPA.

The “white” aspect is a reference to the Belgian style of beer, a white ale or witbier (Hoegaarden is a classic example of a witbier). This type of beer is brewed with orange and coriander, as well as a special type of Belgian yeast. Traditionally, witbiers have very few hops and are very light in colour. A White IPA keeps the light colour, orange and coriander of a witbier, but adds more hops. Because of the lack of caramel malt in witbiers, it doesn’t require many hops to make the beer bitter enough to be considered an IPA.

The “199” refers to how many IBUs are in the beer. That comes from 12 ounces of hops in 23 litres of beer. Many beers only have 2-3 ounces of hops. Thus we went overboard on adding hops.

The Tasting

White IPA

Appearance: Very cloudy, yet very light in colour. Thick, bubbly head.
Aroma: Scent of orange and other citrus, with a hint coriander.
Taste: A very heavy body, likely as result of the wheat. It almost sticks to the tongue. A lemony taste that is very tart. A lot of different flavours from the hops: grapefruit, pine, orange, apricot, peach, mango, lemon. It’s like biting into a very flavourful grapefruit peel. The bitterness lingers for a very long time, where a little bit of the coriander taste can be noticed. The pine flavour also comes out more as the taste lingers.
Overall: Very bitter beer, but that was our plan for the beer, so let’s consider that a success. Since there is no sweeter malts to balance out the bitter and add different flavours, only the hops come through. It somewhat works in wheat beer, but you expect a bit more yeasty flavour in a wheat beer. The orange peel get lost in the hop flavour, though the coriander seems to compliment some of the hop flavour with a hint of spice.

The Process

Specifics: 23 litre batch, 55% extraction efficiency, ABV 4.9%, O.G. 1.047, IBU 199, single infusion mash at 68 Celsius for 40 minutes

Grain Bill
Normally you could never create such a mash without having a stuck sparge. Our mash tun is somehow magical and has never caused us a stuck sparge even when wheat makes up 87% of the grain bill. The high percentage of wheat was also a result of having very little Pale malt remaining in the homebrewery. Thus we made due with what we had.

Gambrinus Organic Wheat Malt: 12 lbs (to make a tangy, slightly acid and refreshing wheat beer)
Gambrinus Pale Malt: 2 lbs (to help prevent a stuck sparge)

wheat and hops

Hop Schedule
We upped the hopping rate, by a lot. Even if this beer had specialty malts and more alcohol to balance out the hoppiness, it would still be very hoppy. With a beer that has an O.G. of only 1.047, you are going to taste every one of those IBUs. All 199 of them.

75 min: 2 oz Chinook (Chinook is fairly piney, thus it adds more complexity to the beer)
60 min: 2 oz Columbus (Columbus is a rare bittering hop that actually keeps some of its flavour, thus we added it in addition to the Chinook to add a deep citrus flavour)
30 min: 1 oz Centennial, 0.5 oz Chinook
10 min: 1 oz Chinook, 0.5 oz Centennial
0 min: 1 oz Crystal, 0.5 oz Centennial (Crystal has a lovely fruity aroma that simply cannot be resisted)

Dry Hopping for 14 days: 1.5 oz Ultra (a hop similar to Crystal, less fruity though), 1.5 Cascade

Total hops added: 12 oz.

white ipa dryhop2
(199 White IPA after adding 1.5 oz Cascade and 1.5 oz Ultra for dry hopping)

Other Additions
To make a mildly proper white ale, we needed to add orange peel and coriander, thus we added 1 oz of each to the boil for the last 15 minutes. This is a long time to boil these additions (normally you would only add them for 5 minutes), but we wanted some of their flavour to come through all the hops.

Fermented on a Cooper’s Ale yeast cake from a Vienna ale. Not proper Belgium yeast for a white ale, but we don’t let beer style get in the way of our creativity.

7 days in primary
14 days in secondary

white ipa dryhop

(7 days into the dry hopping process)

Dry Hopping

Drying hopping is a brewing technique that some breweries brag about. But rarely are details provided describing the dry hopping process, and its affect on beer.

hops2Normally, hops are added when the wort (beer) is boiling. The heat from the boil extracts bitter oils from the hops, making the beer bitter. However, boiling causes the more aromatic qualities of the hops to evaporate. To add more hop aroma to the beer, hops are boiled for a shorter period of time (from 1 to 5 minutes). However, the heat from the boil still causes some of the hop aroma to evaporate.

To add the most possible aroma, hops are added to the beer after it is done fermenting. Since there is no heat, none of the aromatic qualities of the hops are lost. The hops sit in the beer for 3 to 14 days (or longer), and their aromas seep into the beer.  None of the bitterness of the hops is added to the beer because there is no heat to extract the bitter oils. Dry hopping does not increase bitterness, it only adds aroma.

Dry hopping is very common in beers that want to highlight the taste and aroma of hops, namely India Pale Ales and American Pale Ales. Drying hopping can add very strong smells of grapefruit, pine, flowers, spice, citrus or herbs depending on the type of hop being added to the beer.

How to Dry Hop Your Beer

1. Decide if you want to dry hop your beer: Not all beer styles should be dry hopped. While I completely encourage going crazy with experimentation, sometimes the aroma of the malt or yeast might clash with the aroma of the hops. Dry hopping an IPA is a good place to start, because you can’t really go wrong. Some might argue an IPA must be dry hopped to be considered a good IPA.

2. What hops are you going to use: This very must depends on what aroma you are going for. American hops like Cascade, Columbus and Centennial will add a strong citrus aroma to your beer. English hops like East Kent Golding or Fuggle will add an earthy herbal characteristic. Noble (German) hops like Saaz, Mt. Hood or Crystal will add floral and spicy aromas. Smell the hops to determine which aroma you prefer. You can always combine different types of hops to create a wide spectrum of aromas in your beer. I generally like a blend of a citrusy hop like Cascade with a more floral hops like Crystal to create a sweet and fruity aroma with a bit of spice.
Also, don’t mess with hop pellets for dry hopping. Only use whole hops. They are the most aromatic. If you’re going to dry hop, do it right. Kick those hop pellets to the curb.
Be aware that the AA% of the hops does not matter because dry hopping does not add bitterness.

3. Quantity of hops: More hops means more aroma. For a 23 litre/6 gallon batch of beer, 1-2 ounces of hops is generally enough to get a nice aroma. If you want a more subtle aroma to compliment other aspects of the beer, add an ounce or less. If you want to tear people’s nostrils a new one, go all the way up to 4 ounces. I normally add 1 ounce of Crystal and 1 ounce of Cascade to my IPAs.
Be aware, hops absorb some of the beer, so the more hops you add, the less beer you will have at the time of bottling.

dryhopping14. When to dry hop: Dry hopping should occur after primary fermentation. If you add the hops during the primary fermentation, the carbon dioxide from fermentation will carry away most of the aroma, resulting in an un-aromatic beer. Here’s a schedule I generally follow for dry hopping:

7 days in the primary fermentation tank
7 days in the secondary tank without hops
7 days in the secondary tank with hops
Total of 21 days fermenting, with 7 days dry hopping

I only dry hop for 7 days because hops can give off grassy flavours if they sit in the beer too long (though I have let hops sit in beer for 3 weeks and I generally haven’t noticed any bad flavours). Furthermore, I haven’t really noticed any benefits of letting hops sit in the beer for any longer than 7 days; most of the aroma seems to be extracted within 7 days of adding the hops. People who use kegs instead of bottles often add the hops directly to the keg instead of the secondary tank. This is very convenient. Jamming 3 ounces of hops through the narrow opening of carboy (secondary tank), however, is not very convenient. Perhaps I should invest the money into kegging.

dryhopping25. Bottling: When transferring the beer from the secondary tank into the bottles, the hops will still be sitting in the beer. This means it is possible to have hop seeds and hop leaves end up in your bottles. This adds a certain natural quality to the beer, but tends to freak out big wusses. You can use a hop bag to avoid having hops just floating around carefree in your beer. Hop bags can be used both during the boil and dry hopping.

Hop aroma does decrease with time, so don’t age your dry hopped beer too much.