SEASON 2, EPISODE 25: TOP 10 OF 2021
TOBY TUCKER – DIRECTOR OF SALES, COUNTRY MALT GROUP
GRANT LAWRENCE – TERRITORY MANAGER, COUNTRY MALT GROUP
Memorable Moments and Highlights from Season 2:
10. Smoothie Sour Hour (Episode 11) – How do you get your inspiration from flavors? “You’re just looking for something very clean and sour as the base beer.”
9. Millet – Business in the Front, Party in the Back (Episode 14) – What do millet, buckwheat, sunflower seeds, and hemp have in common? These are all non-cereal grains grown on a family farm in Colorado. “We started working on these alternative grains…when we first started seeing a bit of a demand for malting alternative grains.”
8. Fresh Hops of Yakima (Episode 15) – Why do you prefer fresh hops on the cold side? “I felt like the character of the cold side applications was a lot cleaner…we call it our hop shattering.”
7. Bulking Up: Going from Bags to Silo (Episode 8) – What are the specifics of grain sourcing into a silo and considerations about installation design for silos? “There’s a seismic code, and that seismic code lends us to understand what wind, snow, and earthquake can do to that vessel when it’s challenged.”
6. Spring Cleaning (Episode 7) – How do you properly pass stainless tanks and to take care of equipment as preventative maintenance? “The thing to remember about passivation is it’s not a one and done. So, passivation needs to be reapplied on a scheduled maintenance program.”
5. Spill the Pils (Episode 9) – Maltsters share their perspectives on attributes to look for in a pilsner malt, and why? “Consumers are looking for something different than an IP or Pale Ale. I think that lots of consumers are conscious about alcohol content and they’re looking for something a little lighter…everybody wants to taste the hops.”
4. Breeding Hops and Growing Crops (Episode 5) – Why do heavy hitters in the hop industry not celebrate terroir in consumer brewing? “In the wine industry, where it’s kind of celebrated, we’re trying to minimize it.”
3. Munich Mania (Episode 13) – Why are Munich malts used in recipes, and what is a dry house malt? “The kilning is super important in the flavor. I almost really feel like that’s where the flavor is made in the malthouse, in the kilning process. We’ve made desiccated malts or a dried malt where you dry it down with just air, really no heat. It’s kind of flavorless.”
2. Hot Take on Cold IPAs (Episode 10) – What are basic pointers for people who want to brew a Cold IPA? “We start pretty cold. It’s kind of hard. We have a big cold liquor tank and a huge heat exchanger for all of our stuff.”
1. Dextrin Malt, what’s up with that Chit? (Episode 6) – What specific styles of beers benefit from the silent partner? “When we are talking about beer styles that use Dextrin Malt…like a crystal malt with no color, a Gelatinized Barley.”
Transcript - Top 10 of 2021
EPISODE S.2, E.25
[TOP 10 OF 2021]
[00:00:00] TT: What’s up, Grant?
[00:00:01] GL: Hey, Toby.
[00:00:02] TT: How goes it today?
[00:00:03] GL: Doing well. I’m getting ready for the holidays.
[00:00:06] TT: I was thinking about this coming into our recording today on how we intro this particular episode. I got something for you. Need your feedback, ready?
[00:00:15] GL: I’m ready.
[00:00:16] TT: On the first day of Christmas, Country Malt Group gave to me. An episode with the top 10 season two recordings. No?
[00:00:24] GL: That’s great. A lot of syllables in that bar, but solid.
[00:00:28] TT: I had to show it all in there. Do you think Michael Buble should be concerned?
[00:00:33] GL: He goes into hiding for most of the year, and this is when he comes out of hibernation. So, no. Totally […].
[00:00:38] TT: What about Mariah Carey? She should be concerned because I got to be honest with you, I like Christmas songs, but there’s one that I just like. It’s the All I Want For Christmas Is You. For some reason, it drives me crazy.
[00:00:52] GL: It’s overplayed.
[00:00:53] TT: My intro could replace that song on the radio.
[00:00:57] GL: Totally.
[00:00:58] TT: I’m completely off topic here, but I was thinking about it last night. There’s a lot of things I enjoy about the holidays, but man, I love watching SNL and the Christmas episodes.
[00:01:8] GL: They’re so good.
[00:01:09] TT: Yeah, right. I started digging into some of the cool historics that I remember. It’s so funny. I don’t know about it yet. I’m going to ping you here, and I might catch you off guard, but there’s a lot of favorites there. I’d say my favorite SNL Christmas episode skit was Best Christmas Ever with Matt Damon. If you got kids, Grant, you have a child, so it just made me die laughing. Have you seen it?
[00:01:31] GL: Yeah. That was a few years ago when he hosted. I remember that one pretty well.
[00:01:36] TT: Yeah, it’s so funny. They’re sitting over a fire after the kids are in bed, having a glass of wine, and I just remember Cecily Strong asked Matt Damon if he stayed up late putting together his daughter’s playhouse. He has flashbacks of him just yelling and kicking it and all kinds of stuff. It’s so funny. I know Tom is not listening to this, but I had one of those episodes putting together a bicycle a couple years ago for him. What’s your favorite?
[00:02:03] GL: A couple years ago, there were so many. There are so many classics that were even before my time. I think that’s one of the great things about SNL. They playback the older ones. There’s the Eddie Murphy: Where’s the Mr. Roberson guy? There’s the Jon Lovitz: I think It’s Hanukkah Harry. That one’s pretty hilarious.
Five years ago, there’s one where it’s just Casey Affleck as host, and they go to Dunkin Donuts. He’s just like Mr. Boston in it. He’s got the accent. He’s sitting there in Dunkin like ordering as usual. They’ve got the sliding glass entry to walk into the store. He can’t smoke in the store, so he’s holding his arm out with the thing shot on his arm with the cigarette burn in. Then he brings it inside, takes a drag, and puts it.
[00:02:57] TT: I can name off several of them, and some of them are inappropriate for anything we’re recording here. Greatness. Definitely, off-topic, we should wait. If you got any other good ones, listeners, just email us. I’d love to hear what your favorites were at [email protected]
Anyway, back on topic. Welcome, listeners. We have a cool episode today. We’ve been talking about it. Actually, our team behind the scenes have spent the last several weeks going through all of our season two episodes. I can’t believe it’s been two seasons already.
So 24 episodes, they took some time to listen to all of them. All the info is great in there, but we had the opportunity to pull out the top 10 most popular episodes of the year. Each of us were assigned to go through, and take a listen, and pull out what we thought were some really cool highlights snippets.
This episode is the countdown of the most popular episodes of season two. We’re proud to have this year wrapping up and excited about season three, but we’re going to spend a bit of time opening up the history box and reviewing the top 10. Are you ready, Grant?
[00:04:05] GL: I’m ready. I think it’s a good time to review everything we did this year and hit some highlights here.
[00:04:11] TT: Nice. Are you going to do the drumroll in between each one?
[00:04:15] GL: We’ll put that in the edit.
[00:04:17] TT: There we go. All right, let’s do it, man. Starting off at number 10 of the most popular BrewDeck episodes of the year. It was the episode on the smoothie sour. While many brewers may be quick to criticize a smoothie sour style, Dan Russo, in this clip from Oakshire Brewing, and John Galante from Alvarado Street Brewery, shared with us how this malt beverage has opened up a new market and business from non-beer drinkers and their taprooms. Let’s take a listen.
[00:04:43] TT: How do you guys get your inspiration from flavors? Is it, hey, I’m listening to the customer base, distributors, or is it just sitting in bed at night thinking about these odd concoctions I can brew up?
[00:04:54] JG: There are so many ways. Go ahead, Dan.
[00:04:57] DR: There is. When it started, when it was just the beginning of fruits and stuff like that, I think it all just came. We started with what the good fruit combinations are, and when you talk about a smoothie, all you need to do is go on the Odwalla website or the Jamba Juice website and be like, oh, cool. These are the popular flavors right now. Then you move on, and then you start.
When you get into these other things, we have what we call our Dreamsicle series. We do a tangerine base with another fruit. Like I said, we have the cheesecake once we do. Sometimes you get into these pastry ones, or what goes well when you get more of these pastries smoothies sours.
I think it’s just going online and being like, what fruit pastries? I want to do a blackberry pastry and figure out what comes up. You say cobbler, it’s like, oh you can make a cobbler beer. Like I said, looking at ways of a culinary aspect and it was some of these beers. All it takes is just finding a cooking website or a desert website, and you’re good to go.
[00:05:56] JG: That’s one of the hardest parts. Just to find what combination can you do that’s going to be fully drinkable. Something that people are going to really want but also be exciting and new. Over the years, we’ve taken inspiration, especially a lot of Tiki drinks. We have a whole Daiquiri Island series that we call it. We’ve done a banana daiquiri, strawberry banana, a sunset edition, which was like a Caribbean passion style a la Jamba Juice like what Dan was saying.
It’s fun to try to find the different combinations. Similarly to dry hopping where you want to find, hey, what new combination of hops have I not done yet that I think they’re going to pair well together and they’re really going to work out? It’s similar to fruit.
[00:06:37] DR: I think that a lot of it goes back to whether the cooking, barista, or whatever it is until you learn the fruits, really get to know them all and learn the ingredients right, you have to play it semi cautiously. Because you picked the two wrong fruits, or you do something wrong like you make an undrinkable batch of incredibly expensive beer. You eventually get good at it. You can realize, oh, this is what we need to do.
You want to make sure you’re making something that the customers actually want to drink. I had someone ask me, would you just take a key lime pie smoothie. I’m like, we could do it as a sour beer, why not a smoothie? I’m like, because you know how much key lime puree would have to go into that and how undrinkable it would be because that stuff is so sour? They’re like, I never thought of it that way. You’re like, well, that’s why you are not the one making the beer.
On the other side, I take inspiration because as a person that makes them, you got to try other people’s ones. It’s seeing interesting flavor combinations that other people are doing. I have a thing when you see someone try it, and you can kind of tell there are brewers using artificial flavorings. Not concentrated, but actual artificial flavoring and stuff. It’s like, I think I could do that all naturally. Let me give that a go, delve into that, and try to make this as real as possible. I think that’s a big inspiration, too, when it comes to my side.
[00:07:47] TT: You kind of think like, I’m trying to get this to taste just like juice or just like a specific beverage. I guess what I’m getting at is, at what point do you say or do you even look at, hey, I got to balance the flavor of the fruits or whatever with some similarity of beer? If I have my eyes closed or a customer had their eyes closed and tasted it, do you want them to have some sense that it is a type of beer? As far as the characteristics most of us would think is a beer, as opposed to, just say, this tastes like a smoothie.
[00:08:15] JG: I think the reason that people are trending towards these and you’re seeing these drinkers that you’ve never seen before. That’s something that a lot of people talk about. We’re getting whole new customer groups that never graced our pubs before until we started making these beers. It’s because they weren’t beer drinkers.
I would say the day I die, you can even call them malt beverages, whatever it is. It has malt; it has beer. We brew it like it’s any of our base beers. We just put a ton of fruit there. I’ll stand on my grave and say that this is a beer, whatever.
But it’s because it doesn’t taste like beer, and it’s getting people that are like, I don’t like beer. Then all of a sudden, you see the lady that only drinks wine or the guy that only drinks cider, and then they’re coming in, and it’s like, oh. Then you see this thing on their table when you’ve never seen them have that before, and it’s kind of an eye-opening experience.
[00:09:02] DR: I think you hit the nail on that. That’s exactly what it is. Especially being a brewer, you want a little bit of that sour ale characteristic. But at the same time, we’ve got 29 or 30 other taps that we can fill with regular beer for those beer drinkers. It opens up a market for people that maybe don’t want something that tastes like a traditional beer. It’s non-traditional for sure, but it’s a fun thing. Just like we want to have a stout, a pilsner, and a couple of IPAs on tap, we want to have something different for those people as well.
[00:09:35] JG: I think what shows off these beers for good brewers—brewers that are doing them well—is that you can get to that base sour beer. But you’re able to actually create a drinking experience where there are characteristics of the beer, but not necessarily because they’re masked by your ability to make fruit because the base beer is so good.
I’ve had some of these where people have attempted them, and the base beer is bad. Throwing a bunch of fruit at it, maybe, for the first two sips will help. But after that, you know when there’s a bad beer under that. I think it’s the masterfulness of the actual brewers themselves making the base beer that you’re able to balance all those things out where the flavors of the fruit come forward, and you’re not ruining it by having an underlying bad base beer.
[00:10:19] GL: It kind of sounds, Dan, like the base beer, you want it to be kind of a clean and fruity sour. Would you say that’s right? You don’t want those other flavors that can be in a sour beer. They can actually be enjoyable, but with the horse blanket or more of those Belgian flavors, you’re just looking for something very clean and sour as the base beer.
[00:10:37] DR: Correct.
[00:10:38] GL: Awesome. Next up is our episode number 9 here in our countdown. Millet, business in the front, party in the back. What do millet, buckwheat, sunflower seeds, and hemp have in common? Josh and Jason Cody from Colorado Malting Company explained that these are all non-cereal grains. They malt in Alamosa, Colorado.
These two brothers take farm-to-tap to a new level as the only brewery in the world where every ingredient in the beers comes from their family farm. Talk about vertical integration. Jason takes us back here with this clip to when they started playing around with alternative grains is what we decided to call them. What drove demand, and how did it transpire? Take a listen.
[00:11:14] Jason Cody: Basically, we started working on these alternative grains in 2008–2009, when we first started seeing a bit of a demand for malting alternative grains. When I say that, I’m basically talking about gluten-free grains like millet, buckwheat, quinoa, and things like that. This is really harkening back to the beginning of the craft beer movement, too, with New Belgium. New Belgium was working on those gluten-free beers long before anybody else even had the idea.
They reached out to us as a small craft maltster, realizing that we could do some different things. The timing was right because simultaneously, the Colorado Department of Agriculture had reached out to us, too. They were trying to drive the millet market. Colorado’s the number one millet-producing state in the country; a little-known fact there. The CDA was trying to help millet farmers up in Northeastern Colorado do something like all farmers are having to do, which is add some value to their commodity.
They reached out to us and said, hey, if we could get you a grant for modifying some equipment, do you guys think you could malt millet? As I said, the timing was right with the demand from New Belgium. We said sure, and we modified one of our tanks. Mostly the modification came from some CFM stuff on the fan side in germination, but then also in the screen size in the malt tanks. We took the grant. It was a small grant, but we took it in and modified the malting tanks so that we could put much smaller grains through the steep, germ, and kiln process. That’s really what got us started.
Eventually, we ended up malting something called coix seed that they sourced out somewhere in the Orient. Then we malted some hemp. We’ve malted teff, the smallest grain on Earth. We had to come up with different ways to do that. They made some really nice beer in Fort Collins from those grains.
Those grains are super unique, too. When you’re thinking about small grains or different types of non-cereal grains, there’s a lot of things to consider. Number one, any of those non-cereal grains are completely lacking an alpha-amylase or beta-amylase. Your diastatic power on malted millet is somewhere around 16, which is almost laughable compared to barley.
Those grains require not only yeast nutrients for proper fermentation but also usually some liquid or fungal enzyme to make the conversion. They definitely require a bit of background studying before you can just jump right into making a gluten-free beer from these non-traditional grains.
Of course, these grains also, we’ve taken through every step in the process. Imagine white proso millet or red proso millet being a Crystal 60. We have a really popular product right now that’s a red proso millet that’s basically taken through the malting process, gelatinization, kilning, and then roasting to 60 […]. That’s a really popular product for us right now.
Sometimes, I think when people think about non-traditional grains, they think about gluten-free grains, and then they think, oh, those are only for making gluten-free beer. Not true. These things will add tons of different flavor profiles to a traditional beer as adjuncts and things like that. That’s how the story goes for us.
We’ve been able to work with a number of different breweries. Some distilleries even, believe it or not, saw some German millet really bring a lot of harshness down, and some first spirit runs on some White Dog one time up in Cedar Ridge, Colorado with Colorado Gold Distillery. They were pretty pleased with that. A lot has happened there on the non-traditional grain side. There are lots available.
We obviously have malts that we distribute with Country Malt Group, but then we also have a lot of dropship products that brewers can access or distillers can access through there. Right now, I think the total number we’re working with all those different grains that we’re providing right now is about 93 different malts from a host of different grains.
[00:15:18] TT: All right. Next up, our 8th most popular episode of The BrewDeck podcast for season 2, Fresh Hops of Yakima, episode 15. Ben Edmunds here from Breakside Brewery in Portland, Oregon talked about his preference for using fresh hops on a cold side and why that is.
[00:15:34] BE: I think early on, one thing I was impressed with was I felt like the character of the cold side applications was a lot cleaner. I think that you got more hop aromatics. There was this stewed or vegetal quality to these fresh hop beers, and they smell more, frankly, hoppy. They also had a lot of these chlorophyll plant characteristics that I didn’t hate initially, but I think over time, I just felt a little too textured, a little too green, a challenge.
You’re trying to get this green quality, those field-like qualities into the beer. But at the same time, I felt like some of these beers, even the best ones, when we were making them, the best versions are the ones we are tasting in the marketplace; it’s usually generic-tasting. You really can’t taste the varietal specificity.
The character was also kind of fleeting. Even though you have these wonderful hops, I think a lot of the hop characteristics in these beers are presented as vegetal, compost, chlorophyll, a lot of negative things that were coming out of these beers. Over time, we found that we liked doing the cold side editions more, but they’re still not as clean as we wanted and really not having the varietals specific characteristics that we wanted.
I think we first did this in 2014 was the year we decided to make this change was to bring the hops back to the brewery and use liquid nitrogen to flash freeze them and then crush them open. Kind of like a very crude way of making cryo hops. That was the idea being that we would still because it was liquid nitrogen, it would freeze them very quickly and then allow them to thaw. They’d still have that fresh wet character to them, but also, we will be accessing gluten glands and be able to extract more of the aroma components that we wanted to make the beer smell more like a particular hop that we were advertising as being in there.
That was kind of the initial idea. Despite all the fact that it’s kind of a silly idea, it worked pretty well. Since then, we have continued to use and refine that idea. I think that by way of kind of processing the fresh hops a little bit more, we’re able to extract and get a lot of quality from them that I think you wouldn’t be able to get if you didn’t do that.
[00:17:56] GL: Sure, I mean it’s just more surface area once you, I don’t know if you have a name for this, but it’s like a cryo shatter almost.
[00:37:59] BE: We call it our hop shattering.
[00:18:06] TT: Number seven, we called it Bulking Up: Going from Bags to Silo. Here is Jack Paulson from Newleaf Equipment Solution talks about the specifics of grain sourcing into a silo and considerations about installation design for silos. Let’s take a listen.
[00:18:19] TT: One thing to mention too is the trucking side of the delivery from some of like Great Wester Malting, Canada Malting, the cost for a pneumatic truck is the same whether they bring out 7 tons, or they’re bringing out 21, or 22, or 23 metric tons. The trucks don’t charge you by how much they got in the truck, so keep that in mind. If you install a smaller silo or you’re piggybacking with somebody else, the cost of that malt is definitely going to be higher than if you can take a full load.
Jack, when you’re recommending silos, is there a difference between the product that’s in that silo? You mentioned 30-ton. Is that on barley malt? Is it different for wheat? Is it different for rye-based on the weight of the product in the silo?
[00:19:08] JJ: Absolutely. Great question. In our work with breweries, we always talk about the cubic capacity of the bin. Just to back up slightly, the magic number is 1850 cubic feet for whole malted barley. That is based on 34-pounds per cubic foot. If the customer tells me he’s going to store rye, it’s more dense, so that weight actually goes up to 37 or 38 pounds per cubic foot. If it’s wheat, it goes to 40-pounds per cubic foot.
We always want to discuss what the commodities are that the customer wants to store. We do have customers that put multiple silos in for multiple commodities. At that point, it’s got to be really clear what they’re going to use and how much of it they’re going to buy. In that respect, yeah.
One of the things that we do is we commonly use a 12-foot diameter bin that is 26-feet tall. Our cones are 55 degrees, and that’s a magic number because that cone holds 6 US tons. If we have a silo that holds 30 US tons, and our cone is 6 tons, we know that we can take a 24-ton delivery on top of that cone when it’s full. I put sidewall view glasses right at the eve of the bin so the brewer can look at it and go, hey! We’re down to that window. Pick up the phone and order.
[00:20:39] TT: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense.
[00:20:40] JP: It’s kind of a visual tool, and it’s very, very inexpensive.
[00:20:45] TT: Yeah, it’s a great idea. Can you walk us through the different types of silos you commonly see at craft breweries? We see some cheaper corrugated types. I’ve seen people using stuff out of dairy farms. What are some pros and cons of each that you can provide to our listeners?
[00:21:00] JP: The most important thing is everybody has a budget in mind. It doesn’t always follow what I call a good practice. Corrugated bins, there are some pros. The cost is the lowest. The ability to ship it is low. It’s often liked for its farm-style appearance. It gets rusted up; it gets kind of beat up, and people kind of like that retro look. It’s not always the best for malt.
One of the other considerations when you do buy a corrugated bin, or what we call a farm-style bin or also known as a bolt-up type corrugated bin, the pneumatic filling systems are very substandard. Most of the time, there’s not a lot of thought or consideration into the design. They lack long radius bins, so that malt is actually getting damaged as it’s entering the top of the bin. Then second, the filtration system or the venting systems on them are weak, and probably the most important thing is the cost of assembly. It often gets overlooked.
Now you get 1800 and 1850 cubic foot bin delivered to your brewery. Someone has to put this thing together, and it has to be done right. If it’s not done right, you’re going to have leaks; you’re going to have water ingress; snow is going to sit down there.
Probably the other most important thing is when you’re in a municipality, or a city, or whatever jurisdiction you’re in, it might not meet the building code. It may work for farmers out in the middle of a field or at a chicken coop, but it won’t meet the building code. Commercial businesses need to understand that there’s a seismic code and that seismic code leads us to understand what wind, snow, and earthquake can do to that vessel when it’s challenged.
[00:22:53] GL: In sixth place is Spring Cleaning. This episode featured Dana Johnson and George Allen from Birko Chemicals. In this Super Clean episode, I chat with Dana and George on how to properly pass the stainless tanks using Birko’s conversion coding method and why it’s extremely important to take care of this step with the equipment and as provided maintenance.
With so much mysteries surrounding this topic, especially for new brewers, the discussion will arm brewers with the knowledge to tackle this important step with their equipment and do it right the first time. Let’s have a listen.
[00:23:22] TT: Really awesome to have you guys on. We are talking spring cleaning. I guess that’s what we title this podcast episode, the spring cleaning, and very fitting to have you guys on. We, at Country Malt Group, actually supply your products in almost all of our DCs [Distribution Centers].
But something that people overlook in the industry, and especially consumers, they don’t really invest a lot of time or really think about what goes into cleanliness and the production of that beer as far as start to finish. They just think, “This is fantastic to drink,” but they don’t think about the importance of cleanliness, even to the point of when the brewery gets a new tank or services some new equipment, the intricacies, importance of that in producing beer for consumption later on down the road.
I’m super excited to talk about it today and especially try to hopefully educate our listeners and give those seasoned brewers a little bit of insight of what you guys do and some of the products that they can use.
Let’s start on passivation. We get this question a lot, especially at Country Malt Group. We got people looking and opening in brewing, or brewing and planning, or commissioning some new equipment. First question is, how do I passivate, and why is passivating in my stainless steel so important? Talk about that a little bit.
[00:24:38] DJ: Yeah, I’d like to take that one. In fact, I wrote an article for the New Brewer on passivation and kind of the different methods. And to really kind of answer your question on why is it so important, it’s really (in my mind) twofold, the reasons.
The first one is when you’re passivating, you’re laying down some kind of layer of something. Chromium oxide is the common one that was used for many, many years. That’s using something like nitric and then allowing it air dry for 24 hours. That’s what I call traditional passivation.
The other one that I’ve written about for many, many years, going back to the mid-90s, is the acid first followed by oxygenated non-caustic, alkaline cleaner. In that method, it lays down what’s known to metallurgists as a phosphate silicate conversion coating. If you think about it, you’re glass lining your tank with that method. It’s very shiny, and you can actually tell the way the light bounces off of it that it’s very refractive.
That leads me to my second point on this, and it creates cleaner-tasting beer; there are no metallic off-flavors. What people don’t really realize is, you cannot sanitize a dirty surface. The same is true for passivation; you cannot passivate a dirty surface. Before you do any kind of passivation step, whatever, regardless of what it is, you have to make sure that all the iron is out of there and the surface is clean. That’s very important, because then, when that passivation layer is put on there, it will be flavor-neutral for the beer. So it has a huge impact on sensory.
[00:26:24] TT: Dana, a lot of what you said is kind of over my head. You guys are some very smart guys and dealing with this every day. I like to smoke meat. I like to cook. I recently got a new barrel smoker. It’s literally like a 55-gallon drum, and some call it a drum smoker. Before you cook on that, obviously, I go in there and clean it, and then I layer the interior of it with vegetable oil. On a very simple level, is that what passivating is as far as tanks?
[00:26:54] DJ: Yeah. In cooking, though, what you’re doing in that particular case that you just described, that’s seasoning. You’re seasoning the metal. A good example of that is cast iron. You’re just cooking on that and the food over time just lays down a layer that protects it from the metal.
With oil, you’re covering that metal surface. So it’s going to be kind of protected. In the case of the heat too, when you take an oil like that and subject it to heat, it polymerizes it. It can be very tough to get off if you ever tried to clean it. But yeah, that’s what you’re doing. In that case, you’re protecting the metal.
[00:27:38] TT: Before passivating, you talked about cleaning. What should brewers use to remove rust prior to passivation, and why?
[00:27:46] DJ: Great question. On that one, if it’s just a little bit of surface rust, it’s not too bad. Some of the stuff coming over from China can be kind of challenging on this. Citric acid, which we call diacilate at Birko, goes back decades ago when there was a lot of smoke and mirrors. With SDSs and everything these days, we’re very open about what is in our products and have to be. But the citric acid is really good at chelating iron. And that works on pretty good quality stainless steel.
What I’m seeing a lot these days is with 304 stainless coming over from China, there’s a lot of iron in it, and it leeches out through the welds. We’re actually having to use our Ag Tech 100, which is hydrochloric acid-base, especially in hot liquor tank cleaning, once they get going with that. That’s pretty extreme, and hopefully, the folks out there are buying equipment that’s in pretty good shape. And 316 is not as bad on that.
Normally it’s going to be citric and sometimes even got that pretty strong phosphoric nitric like a beer stone remover. We’ll get some of that too. But yeah, worst-case scenario, you got to use hydrochloric.
[00:29:14] TT: What’s your approach or the best method for overall tank passivation? I know this is kind of an open-ended question. We can probably talk all day about it, but we talked a little bit about it already, Dana. Any specific approach to the best method for passivation?
[00:29:17] DJ: Yeah. As I mentioned before, and getting back to what I just said about 304 stainless, I no longer recommend, and I wrote in the article about this is that the inferior grades of stainless steel coming over from overseas these days, especially from China, metal is not as good as it used to be back in the 90s. George and I had this conversation last night about some of that really good metal that was being produced in the mid-90s.
That stuff was bulletproof. It was really good quality stainless. But nowadays, I don’t recommend the acid followed by an air dry that everybody has always used for years and works, because it will flash rust, and then they’ve got their work cut out for them, and the citric acid won’t pull it.
When they go to the nitric, phosphoric, something like our alternator followed by draining it, but not rinsing it, and then going proceeding to the oxygenated, non-caustic alkaline cleaner something like breweries or cellarmaster, either one works, and then you’re laying down that conversion coating that is going to seal the metal. I’ve been able to turn around some pretty suspect metal with that approach, and people that have been using that since the 90s, their equipment still looks as good as when they put it in use. It’s got decades of track record out there.
[00:30:41] TT: That’s good stuff.
[00:30:42] GA: One quick add to that, because to Dana’s point, it’s like, yeah, years of these tanks looking good, and still in great service. The thing to remember about passivation is it’s not a one-and-done. Passivation needs to be reapplied on a scheduled maintenance program and things like that. Depending on your water and stuff like that, it could be twice a year or just once a year, but like I said, it’s just not one and done.
[00:31:10] TT: Yeah, that was a good one, Grant, for sure. Let’s move on to number five, an episode we called Spill the Pils. It was episode nine of the season. It’s an episode from a maltster’s perspective on the pilsner malt and technical details on malting the style of malt.
This one, Grant fills in for me as a host and dives into all things pilsner malt alongside Tyler Schoales from Great Western Malting. They discussed current trends with this base malt and the technical ins and outs of the pilsner malt in the malthouse. Whether you’re a seasoned brewer, well-versed in pilsner malt use or just curious to learn more about one of our favorite malts, this snippet is jam-packed with some serious knowledge gems that you’re definitely going to love.
Following this, a handful of brewers pop by to share their perspective on pilsner malts, including Kevin Ely from Wooly Pig Farm Brewery, Cody Gagnon from Westbrew,
T.L. Adkisson from Foothills Brewing Company, and Kevin Davey from Wayfinder Beer.
[00:31:59] GL: Would you say that American craft brewers are using pilsner malt more as a base malt over the past few years in the past?
[00:32:05] TS: I think the answer is absolutely yes. Lagers, in general, have become more and more popular following a very long dominance of IPAs over the past decade. I feel like the shift is linked to a couple of things here. Consumers are looking for something different than an IPA or pale ale. I think that lots of consumers are conscious of alcohol content, and they’re looking for something a little bit lighter. Pilsners and lagers tend to carry that along with it.
The consumer is also looking for beer that is up shining. This is showcasing the opportunity even if pilsner malt is used in an IPA or pale ale. It’s becoming more popular because everybody wants to taste the hops. Speak to any brewer, they’ll tell you that the consumer is way behind the trend of themselves. At the end of a shift, what does a brewer typically grab? Light, refreshing lager.
Pretty insane. It’s taken a while for consumers to get there. But shift beer is lagers and pilsners and something light and refreshing. You could say that consumers are behind a little, wee bit. You can also say that hops are the dominant characteristic that consumers are after nowadays, and less malt over character in your traditional pale ale or IPA.
[00:33:24] GL: That’s definitely what we’re seeing here on the sales-end, as well. It’s a bit tragic in a way. People are moving away from using a pale ale malt as a base and to grow even for that matter. People are really going towards pils malts from a maltsters perspective from your side, and then it would follow right from my and the sales-end. We would see the same thing, but it sounds like it’s not just regional is what I’m getting at. Here in Texas, I see it a lot, and I thought it was mostly due to our hot climate, but that’s not even the case. It’s happening all over the US at this point.
[00:33:58] TS: I live in Portland, Oregon. Every single time that I go to a brewery, I’ll see at least one or two lagers, or pilsners, or lighter color pale ales, or IPAs that are on their menu, and that’s what I gravitate towards. It’s happening all over the place. I feel like hotter climates led the charge in general, but everyone’s catching up now.
[00:34:20] GL: As a maltster, can you go through and tell us in the malt house, what differentiates a pilsner malt from a two-row malt? Can you walk us through that, all the way from raw barley to actually some of the specs and things you look for when you’re malting it?
[00:34:35] TS: Absolutely. It is substantially a different process. It does start with procurement; those near malts target a premium barley crop. That’s the first point they have to make. It’s typically lower in protein and typically has higher plumps, which is your 764 since 664 sizings on a pan, and it’s oftentimes more consistent, kernel to kernel.
Maltsters are looking for that premium barley to go into pilsners before they even begin the malting process. Once started, the molting process begins in steeping. Maltsters tend to put on their kid gloves when it comes to coaster malts because they want to treat it with the utmost care and ensure that they control the modification throughout the entire process.
That starts the steeping, typically targeting anywhere from 42%–44% moisture at cast out versus your typical two-row or pale high color at 45 plus moisture content. We’re starting with less moisture to reduce modification. We then drop it into a germination bed, and we control temperatures, control airflows, apply maybe a little bit less water, all the while controlling modification again, keeping things low and slow, as they call it in the malting world. We want to modify it nice, low, and slow. Make sure it makes it all the way to final modification but at the same time control some of the specifications that a brewer is after.
[00:35:56] GL: It sounds like all of these things can ultimately influence the color. As we all know, as a brewer, once you go past a certain color with pilsner malt, it’s no longer a pilsner malt, no matter what the other specs are. You really have to worry about that. That comes at the end of the process, right?
[00:36:13] TT: Yeah. Kilning controls a fair chunk of that color generation, temperatures, and duration of kilning. However, you got to set the baseline with modification, because that Maillard reaction occurs based on how much the kernel is modified before it hits that kilning vessel. It’s not just about color, either.
You mentioned color, and that’s what lots of people tend to focus on with pilsner malts. It’s also about the rest of the analysis. Fans are typically lower. Modification, in general, has the […] or lower DP and alpha. Diastatic enzymes are oftentimes higher, and beta-glucan tends to ride a little higher, viscosity tends to ride a little higher.
All of those things, they point to one thing: it’s less modification of the grain, less breakdown of the cell wall, less breakdown of the protein, proteins that are present in the kernel itself at procurement, and gentler processing and kilning, and keeping enzymes intact.
[00:37:08] GL: Just more of walking a tightrope, you could say, of balancing those things out and not going too much. It sounds like it’s on the knife’s edge of some of the specs. Much more challenging to malt, I guess you could say.
[00:37:21] TS: Yeah, it is. Maltsters tend to steer away as much as they can from under-modifying grains because under-modified malts carry a lot more problematic specifications for brewers than over-modified malts. If a maltster had to lean on a specific modification profile for a standard malt, it would lean on the higher side of modification because brewers are most significantly impacted in the mashing lautering process by beta-glucan and viscosity.
Riding the knife’s edge on the bottom end of the spec, ensuring that beta-glucans are broken down enough and viscosities are low enough, all the while trying to produce that lower color is quite difficult to do, and hence why pilsner malts carry a premium to them.
[00:38:07] GL: You mentioned under-modified malts. I can’t speak from a professional brewer standpoint, but there’s a lot of, I would call it, rose-colored glasses or this romantic look at under-modified malts, the required step mash and brewing beers the 1800s way. Can you tell me from a maltsters perspective how you see under-modified malts?
[00:38:29] TS: You talk about under-modified malts and pilsner malts in general. You can classify pilsner malts in two categories. A fairly well-modified pilsner malt typically present in North America and slightly under-modified or lower modification malt out of greater Europe, European-style pilsner malts. That’s the way I classify them, in those two buckets,
There is a movement happening within North America to drive maltsters to produce a slightly lower-modified pilsner malt within North America. But you got to remember, you’re relying pretty heavily on the barley and the quality of the barley going into the process in order to do that. If you don’t choose the right barley when producing an unmodified malt, you are going to run into problems and throw beta-glucans and higher viscosity.
You look at it. You say everybody’s really excited when someone’s doing a decoction mash or a step mash. This is, like you said, the rose-colored glasses. Everybody’s really stoked about old school practices. But in actual fact, maltsters back in the day didn’t have the technology to do what we do today. Because of that, brewers have to do decoction mashes.
Think about it this way. The decoction mash was to actually fix the mishaps, lack of technology, and lack of modification that a malster could achieve back in the day. In a maltsters malthouse or maltings years and years and years ago, steeping was done in a vat or a tub of water with no aeration, no temperature, no airflow, no overflows. They didn’t baby the malt like we do nowadays. Not to mention, the barley varieties were probably high in protein.
Farmers didn’t have proper practices to get the protein content down. They were probably applying some additional nitrogen-based fertilizers to get them to grow and yield. It’s a combo effect of maltsters not having technology and barley varieties being very, very sluggish and almost dormant coming out of the ground. That really caused under-modified malts to become prevalent.
How did the brewer react to that? It was with decoction mashing. It’s actually fixing a mistake of a maltster back in the day. Whereas nowadays, decoction mashing is the golden child. Eyes light up when you see a decoction mashed lager, pilsner, dunkel, or alt beer that’s sitting on the menu.
[00:40:45] GL: It’s definitely cool to think about, but like you’re saying, it wasn’t really by choice that they were doing those things back in the day; it was more work for them. Once you describe it that way, it almost sounds like if they had had the choice back in the day, they would have wanted a more modern, fully-modified pilsner to work with instead.
[00:41:01] TS: Yeah, it would have been easier to work with. Keep in mind, there are some very, very cool things that come from under-modified or lower-modified pilsner malts. They do carry a slightly more grassy-grainy character. They do have a little bit more mouthfeel because the viscosity of beta-glucans are a little higher. The specifications drive some really cool nuanced flavors in lagers.
You can call them traditional flavors because that’s the way lagers tasted back in the day. Don’t get me wrong. Lower-modified malts are excellent, excellent malts for creating pilsners and lagers. All I’m saying is maltsters had no control back in the day, and that’s why they produced it. It wasn’t by choice.
[00:41:44] GL: I guess that’s really the differentiation here. When somebody says under-modified, what do they mean? You have to double-check with it. Are they just talking about a European, or a Czech, or a continental Europe style pils that is slightly under-modified and brings more of that flavor but doesn’t necessarily require a step mash?
[00:42:04] TS: That’s a balancing act. That’s that nice edge that maltsters have to skirt if they’re producing an under-modified or lower modification pilsner malt. You’re absolutely right.
[00:42:13] GL: In fourth place of our countdown is breeding hops and growing crops. It was episode five in this new season. The episode was a handful of heavy hitters in the hop industry. Jason Perrault, who is a renowned hot breeder and farmer, Joe Catron of Yakima Chief Ranches, and Kevin Smith and Kevin Quinn, the two Kevins as I’m calling them, who are responsible for crafting the insanely delicious beers at Bale Breaker Brewing in Yakima, Washington.
During the episode, an interesting discussion pops up about hop terroir and whether or not to celebrate it in commercial brewing. Let’s give it a listen.
[00:42:43] TT: I sat in on a presentation that Drew Gaskell was doing, and specifically talking about kind of that relationship and the selectiveness in who you bring into the fold as far as Allied growers or growers into the family of Yakima Chief Ranches. I know you took a lot of pride in what you guys do.
When you come across a new varietal, is it something you would say, hey, this varietal would be awesome on Jason’s Ranch or the Smiths? Or is there a decision made? What would go best on a particular plot of land versus another?
[00:43:19] JP: In breeding circles, we call it specific adaptability versus general adaptability. Specific adaptability would be adaptable. It’s adaptable to a very specific site or region, or general adaptability would be a variety that’s more generally adapted to a larger area.
Our goal, really, in a perfect world, you have something that has really excellent general adaptability that can be grown really just about anywhere, at least anywhere where hops are traditionally grown. By saying we’re going to target a specific farm or a specific small area, it really limits the amount of success, potential success, of that variety. So we’re really looking for something that we can grow across, if not the Pacific Northwest, at least across the major regions within the Pacific Northwest. That’s about as specific as you know if we dial it in.
[00:44:46] TT: In the brewing world, sometimes there’s not a whole lot of understanding about terroir. I think it is important. I’ve had the privilege of coming up and being a part of selection and actually doing a rub and smell of a Simcoe. Washington State might be completely different than Idaho, for instance. Talk a little bit about terroir and what you guys see as far as characteristics and final product.
[00:44:31] JP: The thing about hops is how incredibly complicated aromatics are, for example. The concept of terroir, that’s a little different in hops than it is in something like grapes. Take the styles and the sulfur-bound compounds, for example. You’re talking about compounds that are in the parts per trillion and just minute levels.
Every little thing you do from an environmental standpoint, whether you’re growing it under a certain fertility regime, or in a different area, or if you’re even harvesting at a different timing can impact the level of all these minor compounds, whether it be those styles, or whether it’s the soluble oils or anything like that. It’s incredibly complex, and it’s driven so much by environment in just the way they’re handled, that really, to say we’re going to dial it into terroir and be able to define what makes up an Oregon, or a Moxie, or lower Valley Simcoe. We’re working on it, but it’s incredibly complex.
[00:45:29] JC: I would agree, Jason, and it’s tough. Terroir is that word that we all know that is very applicable to wine. It’s tough to make that just apples to apples comparison, obviously, over to the hop industry. Ultimately, the grapes in those different regions are the fruit that’s going right into the finished product. You’re basically using that fruit, pitching yeast, and that’s the finished product.
With the brewing process, obviously, there’s a lot more factors. But I guess I would echo what Jason was saying is that a little bit of variability is going to be expected. It really lends itself well to our selection program. Toby, you discussed coming up and participating in selection. There are brewers that come from all over the world, literally. Everyone has different preferences, even within each of those brands. So as long as we’re within acceptable parameters, and we’re proud to put that hop on the table for brewers to evaluate, a little variability is obviously going to be expected. The crops coming out of the soil every year and a lot of different factors are at play.
[00:46:34] GL: Right after that, Kevin talks about the challenges as a brewer, knowing about the differences of hop terroir and brewing around it. He makes the interesting point that as your brewery grows, you start to look for not just great flavors, but consistency in your brand, such as Bale Breaker’s famous Topcutter IPA. Let’s have a listen to his response.
[00:46:52] KS: From the brewer’s side over here at Bale Breaker, whether you want to call it. Some of it is terroir, some of it is environmental, but we select hops only off our two farms. If we have 12 lots of Simcoe, all 12 smell different, whether it’s just what’s in the soil. We have a unique (I guess) advantage to see the hops that we end up selecting from the time they shoot up out of the ground here shortly to the time they’re harvested.
I know that we find characteristics. In Simcoe hops, we tend to select fields that don’t have as many leaves, so the columns get more sunlight. Does the trellis run north to south, or does it run east to west?
There are all sorts of different environmental factors too, but I think that’s one of the things that is celebrated in wine. So maybe some wine people will get mad from hearing this, but if you talk to all the brewing professors or anything of any class that we’ve ever taken, the real skill and artistry of making beer is we take barley and hops that change every year, and we’re expected to make a Topcutter that tastes like a Topcutter from 2013 to 2021. People expect it to taste the same, even though now we’ve used products that we know have changed over time.
Going back to talking about Joe in the selection part is what we’re really trying to do—it’s kind of hard; we got to go and check ourselves a few times—is we’re really trying to select Simcoe that smelled like the Simcoe before and the Simcoe before and the Simcoe before, not this is a super unique Simcoe that has some really interesting characteristics that we’d really like to brew with. That’s our main hop in Field 41 Pale Ale, and so how is that going to affect the final product of Field 41, and then are people going to think it’s not Field 41?
There’s definitely terroir, and there’s definitely environmental stuff. But instead of in the wine industry where it’s kind of celebrated, we’re trying to minimize it, which is kind of an interesting difference between terroir and probably why it’s not as celebrated and stuff in brewing because we’re trying to eliminate it.
[00:49:04] TT: Number three on The BrewDeck into countdown top 10, Munich Mania, episode 13. This is where myself and Grant were joined by Terry Fahrendorf or Great Western Malting, Betsy Roberts of Briess Malting, and Jessica Gorick of Bestmalz, talking all things Munich malt from malting technique to Munich malt range to the philosophy of its usage and recipes.
The episode was packed with some great information from the guests. Betsy from Briess gives us the rundown on what a high dry malt is in malthouse lingo.
[00:49:35] BR: Munich-type malts, in general, can be thought of as a group that has also been referred to as high-dried malts, which is a category where we’re looking at heat treatments that are applied to those malts that give them lower levels of active enzymes. When we make them, we’re more focused on making sure we get the color target as well as the complex flavor development that happens during that kilning process, accessing all those familiar pathways that create all the colors and flavors that we love in our Munich malts.
Here at Briess, our main goal is the production of any of the Munich-style malts that we make. It starts with steeping, as you said. Any maltster is always trying to make sure we get homogenous moisture uptake during that steeping process to get good activation of the embryo in that grain and get those enzymes active. Targeting a little bit higher steep up moisture just to make sure we have enough vigor of that barley so that we can get enough growth by the end of our fourth day of germination to give us those precursors that are absolutely necessary to create the colors and flavors that a Munich-style malt is best known for.
After we put it through the germination process—again promoting the breakdown of those proteins and starches to get those amino acids and sugars available, all those precursor compounds—we get into that kilning step to set the stage where the real magic happens when we’re making our Munich malts.
Our main goal is to modify our time-temperature combinations, whether we’re making our latest Munich-style malt which would be our Ashburne Mild malt, which is around 5 or 6 SRM up, to our Dark Munich 30 malt, which is a 30 SRM.
We pull those levers and change those criteria in different ways to both preserve enough moisture—we have a double-deck kiln throughout all of our facilities—when we get to that lower deck of the kiln so that when we hit it with some of those high temperatures, we have enough moisture and precursor available to get an exponential color development curve.
I guess maybe contrary to what some people might think that color development on a kiln isn’t completely linear. Usually, it’s (like I said) more exponential. Once we get to a certain moisture content on that lower deck, you might think you have nothing left, but then all of a sudden, your color development will take off and take an exponential path. Those are the kinds of things that we are really looking at during the kilning process.
[00:51:56] TT: Later on in the interview, while speaking with Jessica from Bestmalz, we talked about the old school Lausmann Street malthouse design that Best uses to craft their Munich malt to give them their character.
[00:52:07] GL: You made some key differentiations there versus our American counterparts. The malting system, you have the Lausmann Street. On top of that, there was one other thing that eluded me, but for people listening out there, can you walk us through?
I think a lot of American brewers that are listening, unless they’ve done the malting program with the IBD, probably don’t know what Lausmann Street is. Can you walk us through that continuous process?
[00:52:33] JG: The Lausmann process is actually pretty easy. In a Saladin system, you just have a box, you’re filling it with your crop, you’re turning it with your […], and you’re watering it, and then everything goes into the kiln.
In the Lausmann system, you have small boxes. You have small batches, and they are wandering. They are moving on the ground and forward to the kiln. The first part of the Lausmann system is fresh from the steeping system coming-crop. Then after some days, it’s going forward and forward. So you can be pretty fast in reacting to what the malt is needing at the moment.
[00:53:21] GL: That’s very neat. It’s just something that you don’t see over here, so I’m kind of geeking out about it. But in brewing terms that most people listening would probably understand, the Saladin box is kind of like a batch sparging, and then the Lausmann Street would be more like fly sparging. It’s a continuous process.
[00:53:38] JG: Yes. Yes, but also in Germany, it’s a pretty old-school system. Nearly nobody has it anymore because it’s eating a lot of money, forms of electricity, heat, and stuff.
[00:53:50] GL: Got you. Just a neat traditional process.
[00:53:54] TT: Finally, towards the end of the episode, we dove a bit into the general German brewing philosophy, where we contrast American craft brewing recipes containing many different malts versus traditional German recipes containing only one or two different malts. Let’s take a listen.
[00:54:08] TT: Can you walk us through the German or continental European philosophy? Speak of using Munich malt and beers. We mentioned that Munich is considered a base over there, but for example, many American craft brewers use Munich malts in just about any style—Pale Ales, IPAs, et cetera. It just doesn’t matter. American brewers don’t really follow any rules for the use of Munich malts. It’s different in Germany, I’m assuming. How do you typically see German or European brewers using the Munich malt?
[00:54:36] JG: This is an interesting topic because, in Germany, we still have a lot of brewpubs, bars, and restaurants that only have two beers on tap. In North America, I’ve seen 20 or more beers on tap. German beer drinkers like to stick to their local habits and want to drink beer out of their homes. Therefore, the market is not requesting as much variety in any given outlet.
Typically, in the German pub in Bavaria, for instance, we’ll have a Helles and a Douglas. Both beers are brewed with either 100% Pilsner malt or 100% Munich malt. Oftentimes, these standard beers are completed by a third special brew for a certain season, like bock beer, Märzen, or Oktoberfest beer. It’s not unusual for some of the established brewpubs to use the same old recipes for 100 years or more. These are kept as a secret and handed down from generation to generation.
The correct mixture of our best malt, for example, is, of course, the integral part of the secret. German culture and food habits are closely linked to beer. We piddle around at a lot of things, but not with our German beer. We have strict rules on how our beer needs to look and how to taste. We don’t mix everything together.
[00:55:58] TT: In America, we do piddle around a lot. We mess things up.
[00:56:00] GL: We do. We overcomplicate things.
[00:56:04] TT: That’s right. We tweak everything.
[00:56:06] GL: We use six different malts and a grist or something. In Germany, from my understanding, it’s one, maybe two.
[00:56:15] JG: Yeah, that’s true. But I really love that you guys in the US are more experimental when it comes to beer. We have our strict rules. We can’t get out of those closets because we’ll lose our customers because they don’t understand what we are doing when we try to mix something and invent something new. This is pretty cool in your country.
[00:56:39] GL: I always like to compare and contrast the two. I think it’s neat. Of all the beers that I’ve brewed, the simpler ones tend to be what I keep going back to. Over the years, I’ve definitely moved to using a lot less different ones in one recipe. That way, you can really hone in on the flavor of a particular malt. That’s the way I feel about it.
Coming in at number two, our second most popular episode is episode 10, Hot Take on Cold IPAs. We were joined by the Godfather of this style, the cold IPA style, Kevin Davey of Wayfinder Beer in Portland, Oregon. I was looking forward to this episode and an opportunity to geek out with Kevin on his techniques on brewing the style of beer.
Let’s take a listen as I body slammed the IPL and then politely and somewhat successfully, by the way, attempt to get Kevin to spill the beans on some of his brewing secrets, hops, and grist composition with his cold IPAs. Let’s take a listen.
[00:57:30] GL: I see what you’re saying about the IPL, that style, just that term IPL, it kind of feels like old hat. I feel like that was one of those things I did ten years ago when IPAs are really blowing up. Everybody was trying to do little spins on it like wide IPA, IPL, things like that. I guess from that marketing standpoint, IPL just feels old, whereas we can kind of change that and try to establish a new style of Cold IPA. I love that.
[00:57:31] KD: Some people are like, it’s not an IPA if it’s made with lager yeast. Here’s where I want to say that we’re fermenting it with yeast warm, and we’ve also tried this with cold yeast. Really what we’re trying to do with the yeast profile of this is get the ferment done quickly and make a lower ester product. If you all that use Chico out there, if you can figure out how to make Chico very, very, very clean, then maybe this is also the way you should do it and call it Cold IPA.
Personally, this is probably listened to by a lot of brewers. There’s a lot of ways to get to the finish line, do figure out how to do it yourself. The way that we do it is our house drain is 34, 70 lager yeast, and we do ferment all of our lagers. We cold condition, we lager them all. With this beer, we ferment at 65, and we dry hop at 65, and then it gets about three days of cold conditioning, and then it’s filtered. So process-wise, it’s very much different than a lager.
[00:58:54] GL: Starting 34, 70. At 65, are you starting cooler than that and free rising?
[00:59:00] KD: We start all our beers cooler and free rise regardless of ales or lagers.
[00:59:03] GL: Can you tell us about what you started at?
[00:59:05] KD: You want all the secrets? I think we start at 55. We start pretty cold. It’s kind of hard. We have a big cold liquor tank and a huge heat exchanger for all of our stuff. Our staff has a really hard time actually from an air cooling and not much warmer than that because it’s actually a good condition.
[00:59:23] GL: Sure, I think that goes for a lot of brewers out there. It’s really hard to knock out colder than that.
[00:59:29] KD: I think it works. A couple of other techniques that we do is we use sterile air instead of pure oxygen. We found that when we over oxygenate 34, they can ferment a little bit too quickly, and they’re having some yeast problems. This is also a beer that we don’t collect the yeast off of. We have plenty of 34 around because we’re making other beers. This is a beer that we can dry hop on yeast to not have to worry about having to harvest from it.
[00:59:53] GL: Very nice.
[00:59:54] KD: It’s handy for us.
[00:59:55] TT: Is there something unique about the hop inclusion of this style of beer?
[01:00:00] KD: We hop this thing. What I’m thinking of, for me, what West Coast IPA is, is California IPA. It’s like West Side from San Diego. I think more of the Firestone, the Russian River, the Bear Republics, the central coast of North. These super clean, super clear, super hoppy beers that I fell in love with 10, 15 years ago, and I’ve always tried to emulate that. There’re also a certain amount of alcohol involved with those beers.
When they work well, they’re actually pretty strong. I think that’s true of West Coast IPA, in general. I think when you’re making West Coast in the low sixes, there’s just not enough alcohol body to stand up to that bitterness. If you don’t have the bitterness there, then you’re losing something too. So then that ends up being more of a strong pale ale, in my opinion.
With these beers, I think with Cold IPA, it’s 20 BUs of Magnum and 35 BUs of Flax at the very beginning, and then there’s also a 10-minute edition and a whirlpool edition. I think when it comes back from the lab, the last time we checked it, it was in the mid-60s. But we’re shooting for the 70s, if we can get it.
[01:01:09] GL: Right there in the IPA range for BUs, okay. Could you tell us about grist composition? I’m trying to do my homework here. This style, unfortunately, hasn’t made it out to Texas yet. But I think it’s heading east out of the Pacific Northwest. For our listeners out there, can you tell us a little bit about grist composition? I know, typically, in a Cold IPA, there are some adjuncts.
[01:01:31] KD: That’s indicative of the style more than IPL. I feel IPL was always–the malt was similar to a West Coast or even Midwest IPA where it’s pale malt, maybe some cara pills, maybe some weed, maybe a little bit of caramel malt. That’s not what we’re doing.
We’re doing 70% pilsner malt and the pilsner malt being North American pilsner malt, and then 30% adjunct. We’ve gone back and forth between rice and corn. Right now, rice is just so expensive. I’d prefer the rice, but I think I would be paying 40 cents a pound more for rice.
[01:02:07] TT: Now, the moment we’ve all been waiting for: our most popular episode of season two of The BrewDeck. I’m sure you’ve already heard it. But if not, episode six, Dextrin Malt: What’s up with That Chit?
In this clip, our own Mike Heinrich talks Great Western dextrin pils and what specific styles of beers may benefit what he coins the silent partner. We also learn a bit about the Welshman drinking preferences and what Grant refers to as the Texas sports bar pour. Let’s take a listen.
[01:02:34] GL: When we’re talking about beer styles that use Dextrin malt, there’s this overwhelming trend that I’ve seen since I’ve been in the industry. Maybe it’s a holdover from older homebrew recipes. But I’ll see a lot of brewers sprinkle in a little bit of Dextrin malt across their whole lineup of beers. But I wanted to ask you, Mike, is there any particular styles that you feel really get the most benefit from incorporating a Dextrin pils or Dexter malt into the grist?
[01:03:04] MH: That’s a really good question. I can see where that all comes about, because a Dextrin malt like a Dextrin pils can really be a positive addition to just about any grist belt that really strikes back to the lack of a meaningful color or flavor contribution. Another way of putting that would be that it’s not readily changing the most perceivable aspects of your beer. Your customer might not even realize that you’re using this. That’s why I like to call it the silent partner.
It really just builds up the rest of what you’re doing. Unless you’re using a relatively under-modified base malt, this can really give you the positive aspects of that under modification, while you can realize all the benefits of a fully-modified base malt, which is far and beyond the most common type of base malt to use for a number of reasons. I think that kind of first and foremost, it sets its own stage very well.
If your goal for your beer is a relatively dry finish where you want something very thin, almost watery, if those are your goals, then perhaps it’s not the best addition. But typically, most beers can benefit from a small addition of this style of malts.
A style that would benefit from this more than others would be anything you’re using adjuncts in if you’re making lagers with those. That’s because those adjuncts do not contribute the beta-glucans and the insoluble protein that an unmodified barley kernel like a Dextrin malt would be able to contribute. So it’s going to be able to backstop some of the thinner waterier kind of mouth feels that tend to come out of a thinner, high adjunct beer.
But really, any beer can benefit from this. Who doesn’t like lacing on their glass? So unless you’re looking for something very thin and you’re drinking a pint in London and foam is a negative thing, which when you learn brewing from an old Welshman, you know these things.
[01:04:58] GL: Is that true? Negative, really.
[01:05:01] MH: It is, yeah. People will send their pint back because they feel like they’re getting short-changed. They want it full pour. Our foam is perceived as not a full pour in that case. It depends on your market, I guess. But within North America and within the consumer base that we all live our day to day, and I think that everybody wants a nice, stable foamy head on their…
[01:05:23] GL: I got to say, I’ve seen that down here in Texas before. When I was brewing, we used to joke about it, and we call it a sports bar pour, because if you’re ever at your local sports bar, there’s always that kind of person that wants 31-degree American light lager with absolutely no foam, so they get the maximum of the glass. So maybe there’s some overlap there with Welshman thinking.
[01:05:50] MH: The stadium experience.
[01:05:51] GL: The stadium experience. Yes. Good old sports bar pours.
[01:05:55] MH: For $13 a plastic cup, I don’t want. I guess, maybe, in that instance, I could have […].
[01:06:00] GL: Yeah, for sure. Stadium prices are outrageous. Would you be able to give us any kind of rule of thumb for the brewers out there listening? If your inclusion rate of your Dextrin pills or Dextrin malt is something like 5%, would you be able to give us any kind of idea of what it would do to the finishing gravity of the beer? How many points it would raise it or anything like that?
[01:06:23] MH: It’s going to have a similar degree of extra contribution and fermentability as a crystal malt. I guess I would lean on what would you expect out of your 5% contribution of a crystal malt and look at it that way or use a brewing calculator that way, because really, the extract that it’s contributing isn’t going to impact your final gravity the same way a base malt extract contribution would, because this is large Dextrin chains.
That will also depend somewhat on how you control your mash. Are you adding enzymes to it and potentially different things? What your final gravity impact may be? But I think a rule of thumb would be, if you’re familiar with how a crystal behaves within your beer and with your yeast throughout fermentation, I would look at this as a similar type of a fact.
[01:07:09] GL: Like a crystal malt with no color.
[01:07:11] MH: Gelatinized barley.
[01:07:13] TT: Good stuff, Grant. It was definitely good.
[01:07:16] GL : Always, yeah. Loads of info here. We’re proud to put this out and hit the high notes to cap off the end of our second season and get ready for the third.
Speaking of new seasons, Country Malt comes out with quite a few new products every year. There was, surprisingly, quite a bit. Even though it was a relatively challenging year in the brewing world, we continue to pump them out. Let’s talk about a couple of those. Are there any that are exciting to you, or you’re looking forward to brewers picking up and trying out more in the new year?
[01:07:46] TT: Absolutely. What we call fairly new, and I think it’s going to be obviously just picking up some more steam in 2022 that we’ve already got out on the market as the Canada Malting red wheat and some organic two-row from our friends north of the border. So I’m excited about that.
YCH obviously is very innovative in what they do, always coming up with new stuff to the market, and some of those to highlight the HBC-630 Talus. Cryopop obviously has already hit the market, but always curious and excited about what they have in store for us in 2022. What about you, Grant?
[01:08:19] GL: I’m glad you brought up the YCH hops. It’s one of the first ones I thought about. The hop industry always is putting out new stuff and radical flavor differences. HBC-630 is one I’m especially excited about. It’s coming out and actually being available for contract. It’s got this awesome cherry candy flavor to it. It’s just fantastic.
Then the other two ones you mentioned, they came out this year, but I feel like the majority of the brewers out there haven’t even got to try them yet, and that’s Talus. To me, Talus just has this amazing grapefruit zest, grapefruit quality to it. It just really works awesome in an IPA. It’s kind of like what some of the older YCR bread hops were in the past. When they first came out, they really took people’s breath away with the aromas they put out. I think they’re not missing a beat here with Talus. I think it’s just awesome. So I want to see more IPAs with Talus here in this new year, for sure.
[01:09:13] TT: Great point. The other thing that I just want to mention again, Grant, I’m sure you can chime in here, but certainly they continue to talk about the challenged barley market now and the importance of going into 2022, understanding and taking a deeper look at your malt COAs.
[01:09:30] GL: I’m glad you brought that up, Toby, yeah. To my understanding, as we record this, the newest crop hasn’t quite come in to 100% of the bag malt, but it’s just now coming into 100% of bulk malts just as we’re recording this. Kind of cutting-edge info here, but I think the important point is that this year, brewers really need to understand their COA more so than the past couple of years. They need to check out their COA, look at their beta-glucans, look at their total protein, and probably most importantly of all, measure and adjust their middle gaps, and do some SIV testing. In these times, not just for CMG malts but all North American malts in general, you’re just going to have lower plumps.
It doesn’t mean that you can’t get the most extract out of the barley, necessarily, but with your processes, what you need to do is make sure that your crush is good. Smaller plumps, the gaps need to be tighter in order to fully break all the kernels. It’s just something that I’ve been telling brewers to watch out for lately.
[01:10:29] TT: I think at the end of the day, just an open line of communication from the vendor you purchased your malt from is the key as well.
[01:10:35] GL: For sure.
[01:10:36] TT: Awesome, man. I really enjoyed that episode, Grant. From all of us at Country Malt Group, thank you all for your support and continuing to listen to The BrewDeck podcast. We’re especially thankful for those guests that have joined us and taken out portions of their day to spend with us and talk all things, malt, hops, brewing, et cetera.
I really appreciate the time they’ve spent. If you haven’t already, be sure to like and follow The BrewDeck podcast wherever you subscribe. Really looking forward to season three, Grant. I know the first one that we’re working on now is pretty cool, Brew Year Resolutions.
We’re going to send out a note. Look for it in your inbox, folks. We’re going to ask for some participation from the listeners to provide what their brew year resolutions are for 2022 and chat about some of those on the first episode of season one. So I’m looking forward to it.
[01:11:29] GL: Absolutely, yeah. Happy holidays and happy brew year from all of us here at The BrewDeck podcast and Country Malt. Looking forward to seeing you all for next season. Sure, we’ll have a lot to talk about.
[01:11:40] TT: Absolutely. Cheers, everyone. Thanks, Grant. Talk to you.