Monday, October 29, 2007

Specialty Malt as a Beer Stabilizer?

I was doing some research last week and I came across one published paper from last year that was quite interesting, and I thought I'd share with you all. ("Influence of malt browing degree on lipoxygenase activity" Sovrano, S. Buiatti, S. Anese, M. 2006. Food Chemistry 99 711-717).

To start, there are a few science-y things I should mention. Lipids that naturally occur in malted barley can be broken down by several conditions during the mash and brewing process to form 2-trans-nonenal, a compound that creates a very cardboardy flavour in beer. One of the major pathways for this lipid breakdown is provided by the enzyme lipoxygenase (also naturally found in malt). Lipoxygenase oxidizes (attacks) the lipids to form the precursors that eventually create the dreaded 2-trans-nonenal.

The paper found, however, that specialty malts (crystal, carapils, roasted/black malt, etc) which are heated/kilned to cook the insides of the barley lack lipoxygenase activity. In addition, they found that mashes created with specialty malts also had a lower lipoxygenase activity than would be expected. Indeed, the specialty malts were actually inhibiting the action of lipoxygenase! Why? Well its rather complicated, so I'll let you nerdy types read the article yourselves and save the rest of you the boredom.

What does this mean to you? Well, possibly not much, as many all-grain homebrewers already use a bit of specialty malt in the grist, so there probably isn't much new for you. But if you're brewing a light-coloured beer (lager), consider the addition of a small amount of carapils or light crystal malt to the grist, it shouldn't alter the colour much and may help your homebrew shelf life.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Lokey rocks it again...

Technically this isn't about beer, but senior mixologist lo.key has created another work of fine art... you can download his most recent set (7 parts) at his website, That is all...

Friday, October 19, 2007

Beer Reviews

So I suppose its time to write a bit about some beers I've had here. Now I haven't been that great on keeping notes on this but this is the few I've written:

Edinburgh "3" Scotch Ale (Cask, 4.3%)
Very malty, sweet but balanced with a dry finish. Appropriate "scotch ale" style for sure. Very drinkable, no offensive flavours. Very dark amber-red with moderate head.

Clipper IPA (Cask, 4.2%)
Not much on aroma or flavour from hops. Medium hop bitterness, pleasant finish. Not very malty. Dry finish. Quite nice, but also not "interesting". Very drinkable though.

Stewart 80 (Cask, abv?)
"Exactly what I think of when I think of a Scottish beer". Malty but not too sweet. Slightly fruity start, very nice dry finish, some roast notes. Quite excellent!

Timothy Taylor Landlord (Cask)
Very fruity/estery character, likely from yeast strain used. Again, a dry finish... "proper english pint". Honestly, I found it not that easy to drink, but it was "interesting".

"Moo Coo Brew" (Cask)...
unfortunately I remember little about this beer ;)

Where do I like to drink? So far I've found no place better than "The Blue Blazer" down on Bread st. I've been to the Guildford Arms too... but I found it a little pricey. "The Golden Rule" is also a pretty good place with lots of cask pumps.

Thats all for now..

Sunday, October 07, 2007

A post about beer finally

Dorm Room Stitch - Version 2
First, here is a stiched up wide angle photo of my dorm room. You can see I've started a small bottle collection up top there. So far I've had some bad and some good; really, a lot of the stuff seems to have a bit of an off flavour just from being stored in the bottle warm at the local Asda under fluorescent lights... but I at least can get an idea of the flavor. Some of my 'favorites' (of the bottle stuff) is the Well's John Bull Bitter, Greene King IPA, and Deuchars IPA. Now I know the first two come from big-ass breweries in England, but too bad, they were pretty good.

Now Deuchars IPA is a good story, as its rather local (from the Caledonian Brewery here in Edinburgh) and widely available as a real cask ale. Quite a good standard beer to have, its nice and hoppy but balanced... not over hopped like the American version of the style. I also love that the beer over here is lower in alcohol. Beer over 4.5% or so is considered "strong". Most beers I've had the pleasure of trying are on average 4% abv. Now I know most people are going to throw their hands up and say "well thats stupid, you have to spend more to get drunk!"... but the point of drinking good beer is to be able to enjoy it. Honestly, if I can find a good beer at 3.2-3.8% that has lots of flavour I'll get it, as I can drink lots of good stuff without getting as drunk.

Anyway, Friday was a good day. At around 1:30 in the afternoon we arrived at an excellent cask ale pub called the Blue Blazer where several fine cask beers were tried. Then back to the university for the Scotch Whisky Society's first tasting of the school year, which involved about 30 people drinking 6 bottles of scotch. There was Glenkinchie 12, Glenmorangie 10, as well as my favorite for the night Carol Ila 12. Then back to another good cask ale pub downtown for more of the same...

Luckily in my advancing years I decided at about quarter to midnight to take an escape route home with another fellow rather than going to the next pub. I'm sure by doing so I saved myself quite a bit of hangover... I was also trying to beat having to take the night bus home, which costs £2.50 rather than the regular £1! I've also become cheap now that I don't have a job.

Anyway, I feel bad for not writing down any reviews of the beers... next time. I know I enjoyed the "Three Sisters" which was a nice Scottish style beer, perhaps a 70 or 80 shilling beer but with more hop character than one would expect. Quite sweet, well balanced, and interesting enough to make a mark in my mind.