The thoughts that were thunk and the goings on of my life.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Malting Gluten-free Grains - Part 2

From left to right:

  1. Light-Roasted White Quinoa
    Malting Time: 2 days soak, 2 days malt*
    Roasting: 6 hours in dehydrator at 155 F
    Color: 3 SRM
    Smell: Sour, buttery, sweet (like kettle corn)
    Taste: Light, fresh, like horchata without cinnamon

  2. Caramel Toasted White Quinoa
    Malting Time: 2 days soak, 2 days malt*
    Roasting: 1 hour in oven at 350 F
    Color: 15 SRM
    Smell: Sour, wort-like
    Taste: Light/Medium toasted, sour, no caramel notes

  3. Light-Roasted Buckwheat
    Malting Time: 2 days soak, 2 days malt
    Roasting: 6 hours in dehydrator at 155 F
    Color: 1 SRM
    Smell: Earthy, nutty
    Taste: Nutty, dirt, smooth

  4. Caramel Toasted Buckwheat
    Malting Time: 2 days soak, 2 days malt
    Roasting: 1.5 hours in oven at 350 F
    Color: 12 SRM
    Smell: Sweet (sweeter than Quinoa), nutty
    Taste: Roasted Nuts, lingering nuttiness,

  5. Caramel Toasted Amaranth
    Malting Time: 2 days soak, 2 days malt
    Roasting: 1 hour in oven at 350 F
    Color: 10 SRM
    Smell: strong nuttiness, wort-like
    Taste: Smooth, light nuttiness,
Buckwheat doesn't really seem like that great of a grain for beer unless you're making something strong and want a nutty flavor.
Quinoa has a lot of cold break, but the flavors are somewhat resembling wort.
Amaranth is second only to millet in wort-likeness, should make a good base, but the grain is a bit expensive and rare, so likely will just be a fun addition for awhile. One problem that may arise is that since since the grain is so small the grains may slip right out of the grain bag.

*Quinoa soured slightly in the malt, likely explains a large chunk of the sour flavors. Recommend 1 day soak and then remove water and rinse 2x daily for 2-3 days.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

SAT & Politics


Both can work well on their own, but mixing the two bastardizes both to where they can no longer perform the function they were made to do.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Japanese T-Shirt Folding

The internet is a cool place.  It helped me find this:
Japanese T-Shirt Folding

I was then able to take this:

And turn it into this:

Thanks internet!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

What I Love About Austin

Last night I had to bring my work laptop home to do some work on a presentation. When I pulled up my wireless connection I was greeted for the first time by the names of all the networks set up by my neighbors and local businesses.

I sat down, smiled, screencapped and realized that I live in an awesome place for a number of reasons:
  1. Notice there's not a single unsecured router names linksys.  This means I don't live amongst a bunch of morons.
  2. MaxiPad - Most likely they use a signal booster for their router (hence the highest intensity of the local networks).  Some of those boosters look like, well....
  3. One of them is somebody's name.  Most likely owned by an engineer describing the setup and the fact that they use 802.11n, which tells you about their max transfer rate.  This router is most likely covered by some ridiculously secure 1337 password.
  4. TinFoilHat - Most likely somebody that is still campaigning for Ron Paul...they realize they're a conspiracy theorist and at least embrace their ideology instead of pretending to know more about the truth than you do.
  5. makethescaryrepublicangoaway - No explanation needed.
I love where I live and am proud to have the condition known as Austism...where I think Austin is the best place in the whole state of Texas and would straight up refuse to live anywhere else.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Malting Gluten-free Grains

My wife (along with about 1/150 people) has Celiac, and as such, she can't have any gluten protein which you will find in such staples as Barley, Rye, (some) oats or Wheat (BRoW).  One little problem for her though is that she's a fan of good beers.  Since all normal beers have at least Barley or Wheat, then you can quickly see that beer is one of the many items that she can't have.

Well...almost.  Essentially there is only 1 beer that is even slightly affordable in our area that is GF (Redbridge), and it sucks at best.  There is one other brand (Green's), but they are about $5.50 for a bottle and can only be found at Whole Paycheck and Central Markup.  There's actually one good and affordable GF beer (New Grist), but you can't find it in our area.

The problem is that there hasn't been all that much work done on GF beers since they are much harder to make and the ingredients are more difficult to come by than normal beer ingredients.  Also add to it that a lot of the beers try only 1or 2 ingredients and don't quite seem to find a balance of taste and body.  Therefore, I have set out on a bit of a quest to take the time to malt and toast my own gluten-free grains and see what combination works best to create something that approximates what a beer should taste like.

Originally I created a beer for her that was a fantastic and flavorful version of a Belgian White (like Blue Moon).  The results were fantastic, far beyond what I expected.  Unfortunately though, I malted Quinoa, Millet & Soghum all together and wasn't really able to tell what flavors came from which grain.  So, for my next batch I decided to be a bit more deliberate about the whole process and hope to do more experiments in the future which will help the gluten-free-beer-brewing public (yes, I know this is a fairly small sub-set of the world...but that sub-set has few resources).

So as the first part of this story, I will share the results of malting Red Quinoa, White Quinoa, and Millet.  The results actually surprised me...

Below you will see the 4 glasses of liquid made by soaking malted and cracked grains in boiling hot water in my french press and then left to soak for about 20 minutes.  This method works really well because you can easily strain out the grains and see what the resultant wort (baby beer) looks like.

From left to right:
  1. Unmalted Red Quinoa - Soaked in water for 2 hours, then toasted
    Roasting: 1.5 hours in oven at 350 F
    Color: 3-4 SRM
    Smell: Light, nutty
    Taste: Mild, nutty, watered-down

  2. Malted* Red Quinoa
    Malting Time: 2 days
    Roasting: 1.25 hours in oven at 350 F
    Color: 15 SRM
    Smell: Medium to full-bodied nutty smell, smells like non-GF wort with nuttiness
    Taste: Slightly bitter, toasted-nutty, sour notes

  3. Malted White Quinoa
    Malting Time: 2 days
    Roasting: 1.25 hours in oven at 350 F
    Color: 18-19 SRM
    Smell: Roasted coffee, hints of roasted pumpkin seeds
    Taste: Strong flavor, nice coffee

  4. Malted Millet
    Malting Time: 3 days
    Roasting: 1.25 hours in oven at 350 F
    Color: 10 SRM
    Smell: Sweet and nutty, caramel tones
    Taste: full-bodied, even tone, hints of lightly-burned popcorn (in a good way)
*Grains were malted by allowing them to soak in water for 3-4 days until sprouts were about 2x longer than the grain itself.  Grains were rinsed 2x daily so as to avoid bacteria growth.

Lessons Learned:
  • Despite what some books say, you simply cannot soak & toast a gluten-free grain. If you want ANYTHING to come out of your grain, then you will absolutely have to malt it.
  • I thought red quinoa would have more color and flavor than white quinoa.  Turns out, the exact opposite is true.  White quinoa was darker, had more body and more flavor than either batch of red quinoa.
  • The line between delicious caramel malt and a charred malt is only about 15 minutes.  Next time I will pull the grains out earlier to try and get a more caramel-style malt.
  • The white quinoa and millet taste much closer to a real wort than wort made with White Sorghum Extract by Briess.  Sorghum tends to have strong sour notes, hence Redbridge tasting so bad.
  • I still have much to learn.
I ended up using the white quinoa and millet for my next batch of gluten-free beer.  They mashed really well (104-140-160 with 30 minute cycles) and the resultant wort was quite good.  Not only that, but when I discarded the grains they smelled delicious...almost like a cup of hot chocolate...or a bowl of coco krispies.  One thing to note is that there was a pretty high cold-break content compared to most normal beers that I've brewed. Overall I was pleasantly surprised by the initial product, but I will have to wait another month until I see if the resultant beer is any good. This batch will take a little longer since I'm going for a gluten-free trapist ale and it will have such a high alcohol content.

I think that's it for now.  I'm currently playing with some Amaranth, Buckwheat and White Quinoa.  Once I know more about the results, I'll post them here for reference.