Saturday, March 31, 2007

Roasters and Rhizomes

Hi all,

Mmmm dark roasted maltYesterday evening I roasted some malt in a can on the gas stove. We are fortunate enough to have a "dirty kitchen" outside at the back of the house. The smoke was terrific. At least it was dark and no one could see the clouds billowing. The malt has a strong coffee flavor. It took quite a while to roast as I kept squirting water in the can. I understand that the malt can ingnite at these kinds of temperature, so I kept the water coming and played it safe.

My friends at Bodensatz were truly impressed with my malting effort. In a country where malt is rarely seen it non-liquid forms, I think I did good.

Today I was entertaining the idea of growing hops here in the Philippines. I Googled a bunch of queries and came up with some wonderful news. I would appear that YES! we can grow hops here. My friends at Oz Craftbrewer have been growing hops in northern Australia at 19 degrees south of the equator for years. I read another article about a guy in India that is successfully growing two American varieties Cascade and Nugget. How on earth to get the rhizomes here in good shape for planting is another issue. More research is required but at least it can be done. I understand the that the hop flowers are smaller, but more frequent flowering cycles in the tropics. Sweet hey? If you are interested here is the link:

Got to go to the city today. I may stop and buy some more barley on the way home.


Friday, March 30, 2007

Making Crystal Malt at Home

OK, What the heck is Crystal Malt?

Crystal malt is 'green' or undried malt that has been stewed in water at just the right temperature and time to get the amalyse enzymes to activate and convert some of the malt's starches into sugar. This stewing or mashing is exactly what happens in the mash tun when we are making a wort on brew day. By holding the temperature steady between 65 and 70ºC the enzymes come alive and start to work on the starch. After about 40 minutes, the malt is removed from the water (wort?) and dried to crystalize the sugars. After drying, the malt may be roasted to impart a variety of colors and flavors.

I was fortunate enough to stumble across Beeston Malting Company's description of Crystal Malt and gleaned the following procedure:
  • Air dry @50ºC for 5 minutes

  • Stew between 65 and 75ºC for 40 minutes

  • Air dry @80ºC for 40 minutes

  • Cure in oven @135ºC for 2 hours

  • Optionally, roast as desired

Mini-mashing the green maltHomestyle Crystal Malt
This is my homemade procedure with notes.

A quick air drying is pretty simple; just get it in the sun for 5 minutes. For the mini-mash I put the green malt in a pyrex mixing bowl and placed it in a pot of water. The water acts as a temperature regulator and has thermal inertia; so the temperature doesn't fluctuate so much.

I then brought the mini-mash temperature up to 70ºC and maintained it by adding boiling water from the kettle as the mash cooled. After 40 minutes I decanted the liquid and put the malt back in the sun to dry. The liquid tasted pretty starchy at this point, but has a slightly sweet taste when it cooled a bit.

I hope to have a roaster made for tomorrow.

Cheers and happy malting.


P.S. Today is HOT! 35ºC and strong breezes. It feels like a blast furnace in your face when you walk outside. Ahhh perfect for drying malt. :-)

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Houston, We have Malt

Sorry for the lateness of my updates. I wanted to show you the malting process in more detail and I have some photos from the camera loaded. After a day or two of soaking, your barley will look like the left photo. This may happen sooner, even after 1 day depending on the age and general viability of the seed. After a day or two of germnination, your barley will look like the photo on the middle.
Basic Phases of Malting

Stop the seeping/air rests when you get little bud roots (called chits) protruding from the kernel. Start germinating: spread them out and turn them every few hours. Keep them moist with a spray bottle of water w/a few drops of bleach.

When they look like photo 2 or the roots are slightly longer, start drying. Dry in the sun at up to 50ºC. Direct sunlight around noon is going to be warm enough.

After the rootlets have shriveled and fall off, crank up the heat. I used my solar oven to get temperatures around 80ºC to 90ºC. A few hours in the oven and your are the proud owner of your own malt.

Try to dark roast some small amounts of the malt. Experiment with roasting, wetting, stewing at 50ºC, charring whatever turns your crank. Just make sure to use about 70% or more of the pale malt in your mash as it has the enzymes in tact. These enzymes will break down the starches into fermentable sugars (mainly maltose). Diastatic power is a grain's ability to break down starches.

Gotta go, work to do.


Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Day the Group was Launched

Homebrew Group is a Go!Group is a Go!
In previous posts I mumbled about forming a group, a club or association of homebrewers in the Philippines. Yeah right Dan. Are you some kind of politician? OK, not a politician as I think people still like me. Well on Saturday PM I posted some ads in a few of the Philippines related groups on Yahoo promoting the Homebrewers in the Philippines group.

The results were fantastic! Within a few hours there were 20 members! The next day there were 40 and today we sit at 49 members. We had special endorsement from Don at Living In The Philippines and that is really cool. Thanks Don. Don's group is very popular. (The link is: here)

If you are interested in joining in the discussion on beer, homebrew, wine making, mead making, vinegar, yogurt, cheese, sauerkraut and anything else that ferments then click the link and join.

Join na po!

I have too much work to do today, but I want to say I have bought more grains. I bought 2kg of barley and 2kg of wheat. We'll have to wait for my first experiment to finish. I think it may have gone sour so I want to start trying some new things again.

Job Openings
Oh yeah, we have a few openings in the group for persons of high expertise. We need a yeast expert (I think that is some sort of microbiologist), a malting specialist (maltster), a chemist, a brewmeister, physicist and a professional jester or clown. Know anyone that wants to have fun? Free stay at my place if you join. I provide the beer. Cool? Another oh... there is no monetary, financial or otherwise reward. This is a volunteer "job".

Just in case my lawyer complains, I will say that all disbursements to volunteers shall be in liquid form, ad nauseum, ad perpetum, ad barlyuem and some lupulum.



Saturday, March 24, 2007

More on Modification

After 24 hours of germinatingG'day mates!

Today is Hot and Slow
Yestday was a slow day and a hot one. I rinsed and stirred barley on and off for the whole day. I did manage to get some work done on the computer, but barley was the thing on my mind. I listened to Oz Craft Brewer Radio's 2 podcasts on malting at home and picked up a few tips. I like listening while I work. Programming is fun, but beer is funner.

The grain is starting to spout in heavier numbers now. I keep them under a fan in two big tubs. The depth of the barley is about 4 inches (100mm) and it's kept moist with a squirt bottle with water and a little bleach. So far nothing overly exciting to report, just more sprouting. It's in the 30's here in the daytime, so I am wondering what the higher temperatures do to the germination process. I popped the thermometer into the grain yesterday and measured a lovely 31ºC. I know that the grain itself is generating heat too.

When I get this germination phase over with, I am going to stew some and try to make a crystal malt. As far as I can tell, a crystal malt is taken from the germination bed 'green' and stewed at 50ºC for an hour to cause the amylase to kick into action. The amylase converts the starch in the endosperm into maltose. This is why crystal malt is so sweet and sugary. Once stewed, the crystal malt is dried. Because we're not overly worried about preserving the enzymes or its diastatic power, we can crank up the heat and make a variety of coloured crystal malts.

For leisure last night I studied all the different kinds of malt. There are dozens of varieties and even more variation from malthouse to malthouse. I don't have a giant rotating drum roaster, but I can improvise.

Our friend is coming back from Cebu today and we're going to pick her up at the airport soon.

Stay tuned!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Modification of Barley

Steeping in bucket of water
I've been soaking the barley seeds and straining for an air rest, then soaking again to induce the seeds to germinate. This morning after about 40 hours of steeping, I noticed some little roots coming out of the barley. Success!

It's now time to start the germination phase and keep the grain moving and moist until it's ready to dry. I've been listening to the many podcasts on producing malted barley products and I am excited to try the drying and roasting of the barley.

I have no idea of how this going to work out, but I am going to keep everyone posted as to how it does.


Modification of barley

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Malting Barley at Home, Finally

Barley is GoodBarley Ahoy!
Yesterday was a big day here in the sticks. I found a place that sells barley! It struck me when I was looking for info on the net and found the wikipedia entry for barley. Most of the barley in the world is grown for animal feed. Wow, what a concept. I went to the feed place a few km down the road and sure enough, two-row BARLEY! There was also wheat (trigo), oats and much more.

The funny part was when the guy there asked me "How many cocks do you have, Sir?" I said, "Uh...what?" He thought I was going to use the barley to feed my fighting cocks. I explained that barley was the main ingredient in cerbeza. Ah, he understands now. After all, you can't have a cock fight without beer.

So I ended up with 6kg in bag. I expect this 6 kilos to yield about 5 kilos when malted. Five kilos of malted barley is worth about $15 plus shipping. The raw barley is about 10 cents a pound or about $1.30 all up.

I started the soaking last night and the barley is swollen to almost twice the size already. I am soaking for 8 hours and then air resting for 1 to 2 hours. Soaking will be done tomorrow and then we'll start the germination phase.

Also, if anyone is looking for a 0ºC to 100ºC thermometer, labratory grade, they have them at Mercury Drugs for P170.

Gotta work na.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Simple Yeast Washing

Urban Brew Gear and Whatevers
Yesterday, in the city I picked up a nice stainless steel strainer, a Pyrex 2 cup measuring cup, a small funnel and some isopropyl alcohol for cleaning lips and rims when propagating yeast. I also looked at Ace for some basic plumbing items for the home brewery. Don't get me wrong I love hardware stores, but today we're off to Chinatown!

I have been doing lots of reading and listening to podcasts on yeast and how yeast live. Yeast is such a magical ingredient in making beer and I now know so much more about our simple celled friends. I am happy that so much fabulous information is available in the net. Paper, books and libraries worked for 1000 years, but the Interent is becoming so multi-media.

It's 9AM...Where is your yeast?Washing Yeast
I learned originally from Oz Craft Brewer how to wash yeast. Washing yeast involves collecting the trub (pronounced troob) from the bottom of your fermenter. After the initial fermentation is complete there is a whole bunch of sediment in your brew vessel.
If you sanitize two 1 litre canning jars (or similar) and carefully scoop the sediment from your fermenter into the jars. Don't let your dirty fingers or even fingerprints touch the liquid. Cover the jar with a small square of cling wrap and refrigerate.

In the next day or two it will magically separate. There will be a layer of beer, then a small layer of yeast, then a layer of heavier sediment. See the diagram.

I have read about acid washing yeast which involves lowering the pH to kill bacteria. The pH is lowered to about 2.5 and then the yeast is washed off. Yeast likes a lower pH environment, but a pH less than 2 will kill the yeast. Adding a drop of acid at a time and checking with the pH meter is required. Acid washing is something I could not be bothered with; maybe if my precious strain was to be infected.

I've done some trub collecting/yeast recycling before with Saflager's S23 dried lager yeast and I enjoyed more than five sucessful batches from the same 11.5g package of yeast. Ok, yeast is cheap to buy, but it takes about 2 weeks to get here from the US via airmail and I can brew two batches in 10 days di ba? Having said that; I have enjoyed Munton's, Cooper's and a host of other ale yeasts but never thought to preserve them. Shame.

(As a side note I have some champagne... (18% Alc./Vol. tolerant yeasts and some white and red wine yeasts brought in too.) I have a nice libraray, but its a job looking after them.

Liquid yeast packs from the US are risky. Long shipping times (10 plus days air frieght) and high temperatures of the topics make not for a 'yeast friendly' combination. Some homebrew shops will suggest shipping liquid yeast with an ice pack. Ice packs are okay, but only for a day or two maximum. If a homebrew shop in the US says "Yes! We ship to the Philippines", please don't expect anything living to make it to the Philippines in its life-full state.

Yeast Library
What we should be doing is getting a nice library of yeasts and sharing them with associates in the Philippines. I'll give you mine if you give me yours sort of thing. In the future, I will deveolp a very clean system and make some strains available here.


Coffee time.

Working The Web on Sunday

Yesterday, I did lots of linking and link echange requests with some success. I made this little graphic to stick on the blogs...

Unfortunately, when I upload with Blogger they make the preview suck, but the image itself is clear.
Yeast Podcast
I did some listening to podcasts yesterday too and dropped an email to James at Basic Brewing Radio and asked him to plug the Homebrewing in the Philippines group. The podcast I enjoyed the most was James' three part interview with Wyeast's David Logston from November 2005. It's very informative and is well worth the over two hours of time they spend talking about all things to do with yeast; aeration, flocculation, attenuation, stuck fermentations and much more.

There is also a great two part interview with Gerard Lemmens all about hops. I didn't know that China is the third largest grower of hops in the world. Maybe someday those fresh hops can come south to us. I also want to research the possiblilities of growing any variety of hops here in the Philippines. I don't know much about the rhizomes and their ideal environment. I know the climate and country around Washington and Oregon states in the US having been there many times as I was born within a mile of the Columbia River. Yakima and Mt. Hood are words I remember since I could walk.

Today is Monday and it's grocery day again. I want to stop at the grain dealer and see what they have for raw grains. I know they have palay (unpolished rice), but maybe, just maybe they have some wheat or barley. That would rock. I have some Dry Malt Extract (DME) coming from the US right now and if I can malt some grain I can make a full bodied ale. I also have a variety of hops so depending on what I can come up with for malt, I may be able to make a beer with a "real" style. :-)
I tasted the ginger ale yesterday and gee it kicks. It's very dry now and has a noticable twang from the calamansi.
Got to go now. Busy day. I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Philippines Sized Batches

Blue Fermenters
Being a bit of a tightwad, I use those blue plastic water containers for brewing. These are everywhere in the Philippines as most of us use bottled water for cooking and drinking. I have two round or cylinder ones and two of the rectangular types. For the primary fermentation I always use a cylinder type as it's way easier to clean. Trying to clean the krauzen ring from a rectangular jug is not easy and not recommended.

The problem with being a tightwad is that it comes back to get me later. My brewing vessels are only 5 US gallons and most recipes call for 6 gallons. (6 US gallons is 5 Imperial gallons.) In metric terms, the blue water containers here are only about 20 litres and the standard recipes make 23 litres. So I make some adjustments to the recipes.

The difference between the two gallons is 83%.
5US gallons = 19 litres (5x3.8l)
5 Imperial gallons = 22.7 litres (5x4.54l)
19/22.7 = 0.837 or 83.7%

I round this down to 80% for simplicity and to increase the available headspace. This means that instead of producing 22.7 litres of beer, I make 18 litres a batch.
18 litres is a perfect sized batch for the blue water containers so abundant here. These smaller batches have a few benefits. For all-grainers this means small gear is needed to mash and boil. Smaller batches also means less ingredients and less bottling on bottling day. It also means (booo!) running out of beer sooner, but there is always more in the system.

Dave in Manila?
I heard on a podcast on Basic Brewing Radio archive from September 7, 2006 that Dave in Manila was having carbonation consistency problems. Wow! There is another homebrewer in the Philippines! I posted a message to James asking him to invite any homebrewers in the Philippines to get in touch with me. I hope to hear from you Dave.

Happy brewing!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Malting at Home

Last night I had some time to listen to a podcast from the crazy guys at Australian Craft Brewers. The show was about malting at home and the processes involved. I will encapsulate for anyone that is interested. Note the same techniques can be used for malting rice.

Steep and Air Rests
Steep - soak grains in water for 8 hours
Drain - drain and allow air around the grains for about 1 hour.
Steep - add water again and soak for overnight, say 8 hours.
Drain - repeat the drain and air rest.
Repeat this process for 2 days or about 48 hours.

Tap water usually ok. Chlorine is going to prevent molds from taking to your grains.

Drain and spread the grain out so that air can circulate around the grains. We need to keep the grain moist, so spray with water if they are getting dry. Not too much water at this phase.

In a few days the grain will sprout. If you are curious, take a razor blade and slice a few kernles open. You will see the shoot or acrospire starting to grow. When the acrospire pokes out of the husk you are half way there!

Let the rootlet reach a length of 2 times the size of the seed. This will have to be an approximation as not all of your grain will germinate at the same rate. When the majority of your modified grains are sprouted it is time to dry.

Spread the grain on a dark surface outside, say black plastic garbage bags and let the sun dry them. Spread them thinly. They will dry in one to two days in the sun. Watch out for the birds! Maybe a net is advisable if the sparrows are a problem there.

It's important to note that the grains should not dry out at a high temperature. We're looking at about 50ºC until it is dry. Two days in the sun should do the trick. Once the malted grain is dry, you can increase the temperatures and leave the valuable enzymes in tact.

The last step of the drying process involves more heat than the sun alone can produce. Spread the dried grains on a big baking sheet and pop them in your oven to finish them off. This will bring the moisture content below 10% which is ideal for storage. I don't have an oven, but I have a solar oven.

If you want to roast a few kilos of malt to create some different darker malts, put a half kilo in a big wok and stir them over the gas cooker. They will smoke so keep tossing them. When they are the desired darkness, dump them in a pot and add some more to the wok. This is smoky business, but roasting malt smells so yummy (especially if you like dark ales and stouts).

Later I'll talk about the water here.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Filters and Homebrew Group

Good day!

I looked at some water filters and systems yesterday. It was certainly worth looking into getting a filter. The amount of water that is needed for brewing will offset the cost of the filter quite easily. There are the cartridge types that go inline with the water supply or hose, but I think that our water pressure here would make that type a little weak. Filtered water on demand may not be possible as we have no pump, only gravity fed. Some days our 'gravity' is not as good as others. There is also the fact that the cartridges have to be replaced periodically. We have a lot of 'hardness' in our water and I think that the filters would plug up quickly.

The countertop models are quite slow, but they are adequet for our daily water consumption. There were about a dozen to choose from at Ace.

At this point I am going to go with the biggest pot I have and boil up on the mornings of brewing and bottling days.

Yesterday I got a message from another homebrewer in Luzon. So there is another homebrewer in the Philippines! Wow. I also started a homebrew group on Yahoo and did a little setup. The URL is If you found this page from Google or wherever and want to join us, please do. We aim to share as much as we can about the homebrewing hobby.

Today I am making some yogurt. I put the innoculated milk near the computer as the extra heat is just what the little guys need. I have a strain of yogurt that I pass on to the next batch. It's got some L. casei from Yakult in it too. It's super tangy.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Water and Order Pooling Idea

Today is shopping day and we're off to the big city. I'd like to look at water filters and purification systems and get a price on them. Potable water here comes in the form of 5 gallon jugs, delivered at P40 each. At a couple of jugs a week it ads up over a year.

I.e. 52 x P80 = P4,160.
OK, that's only about US$80 a year.

The supplied water (tap water) is very cheap, but not good for cooking or drinking. A filter could pay for itself every year if reasonable they are in price.

I am once more trying to gain some contacts to measure the interest in a homebrew association here in the Philippines. Last night I researched and posted some messages on some of the groups. Hopefully a few expats or pinoys with a homebrew hobby will contact me. So far we have 1!

I am also tossing the idea around in my head of a 'community purchasing' scheme where a number of members could pool their orders and take advantage of lower prices or shipping costs. Some homebrew shops have discounts after a certain dollar amount. I know Homebrew Heaven has 10% off if you buy over $250. Pwede.

Ginger ale I bottled yesterday is sitting nicely in bottles. It's a great tasting batch. I primed the bottles with ground ginger, sugar, calamansi juice and water. So far there are no abnormal pressures in any of the bottles. Yes, I used plastic bottles.

Got to go. Blog you later.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Sanitation on a Budget

Today I am going to bottle some of my ginger ale (or is ginger wine a better description?) and have the big bucket out and 'am soaking bottles. I have no "official" sanitizing products, only bleach and boiled water.

In the years I've been homebrewing, I have tried some different products, but always ran out of them and used bleach as a stand-by. Now bleach is my main sanitizer.

I hear the pros and cons of different products and some people swear by bleach and have never had a bad batch, while others cringe at the thought of chlorine. Maybe it's because it smells like a swimming pool or reminds people of doing laundry. As long as you rinse your bottles, gear etc. with boiled water you will be fine.

Here is my secret recipe. Use only unscented bleach and use about one teaspoon per litre or water. The water from the tap here is not much good for brewing, but it's ok for cleaning.

What kind of bottles?
I like PET bottles and have some 750ml brown ones. They are nice and light, won't break, are resealable and being brown they block the light from your beer. I have never experienced any "plastic" flavors with these bottles. I have had a few "leakers" and the caps need to be cranked on tight sometimes.

Whatever you can arrange for bottles is usually ok. Beer and light do not agree, so if you use clear bottles, keep them out of the light. In a closed cardboard box, in the back of the cupboard or wherever.

If you are using glass bottles please be very careful and know when your beer is fully attenuated (aka the yeast is done!) before priming and bottling.

For bottling day, sometimes a big bucket, several buckets or better yet a plastic garbage can will do for the soak. I have a garbage can that holds about 45l of water. I think it's 10 US gallons and does nicely for soaking everything for bottling a 23l (5US gallons) batch of brew. Depending on your bottles, you may be soaking and rinsing 70 small bottles or about 30 - 750ml or 24 - 1 litre bottles so it's what you have to work with. Here is a quick look at what you'll need to bottle a standard 23l batch or beer.

23 litres of beer needs:
70 - 330ml bottles or
30 - 750ml bottles or

Clean Bottles Only
It's a good idea to have a couple of extra bottles soaking just in case of accidental contamination. The bottles are of course CLEAN already as I am obsessed with rinsing bottles after pouring a glass of beer. If you have alien lifeforms growing in your bottles or their status is "unknown" then a bottle brush, dish soap, warm water and sterilized rinse is a very good idea prior to soaking.

After the bottles have soaked for an hour or two, then can be rinsed with boiled water. The best way to boil water is with a big pot and the gas stove. In a typical bottling day I may use several large pots of boiled water for rinsing. I boil for about 10 minutes to kill any nasties.

If you are using PET (plastic) bottles, DO NOT POUR BOILING WATER ON THEM! They will shrivel and deform from the heat. Let the rinse water cool first. This takes a little time, so get your water boiling early.

I have to go prime the bottles now. Teka lang ha?

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Podcasts and Hops

I got word from Homebrew Heaven that my order has been shipped! Yeah.

I've been working on some web pages and updating. While I do updates online, I am listening to a podcast from Basic Brewing (see the links on the right column) and it's all about the sense of smell and taste. Very interesting. Each podcast is about 40 to 50 minutes and there are dozens to listen to.

Hop to the Hops
I am happy to know that my hops are on their way. I have a nice selection of both bittering and finishing hops coming. I opted for pellets for ease of use and lower wort absorption, but that's a personal choice.

There are literally dozens of different strains of hops. You'll hear of terms like bittering, alpha acid and finishing hops. Maybe I can clear up a few of these terms for the new homebrewer.

Originally, there was ale. Hundreds of years ago, brewers fermented malted grains in water and the resulting drink was lacking that bitter tang and aroma that we associate with beers today. That tang comes from the addition of hops to the brew. Hops are flowers from the humulus lupulus vine. They have been used for centuries as the base of teas and tonics and for good reason. Hops contain a host of chemicals, anti-bacterial and preservative properties.

When the old ales were spiced with hops, the true beer (bier) was born.

The IPAs (India Pale Ale) of years ago were preserved with massive amounts of hops to survive the long journey from England to India. This storage of beer with hops produces bitter beer that was more satisfying to warm climate drinkers.

Hops contain alpha acids. Alpha acids produce the bitterness and are expressed as a percentage. For example 4% or 14%, where 4% is a low alpha acid and 14% is a high alpha acid level. Low alpha acid hops are generally used for aroma and flavoring. High alpha acid hops are boiled with the wort and the amount of alpha acids and the duration of the boil determine the bitterness of the beer. Normally a recipe will call for a finishing (low alpha acid) hop near the end of the boil to give that fresh, pine, spice or herbal aroma.

Hops come in several packaging formats but are commonly sold as whole dried hop flowers and hop pellets. I prefer pellets for convenience, but everyone has their ideas and ways of doing things.

I have ordered a nice blend of both bittering and finishing hops including: Cascade, Mt. Hood, Simcoe and Magnum.

Some recipes include a "hop schedule." A hop schedule is nothing more that a list of what hops, when and how much.

Hops can vary from year to year, place to place and of course variety to variety. In some years the alpha acid may be lower or higher than other years. Homebrewers have taken this bit of inconsistency into account and have a system of bitterness units, called HBUs. By calculating the HBU required, we can adjust the amount of hops used to create a consistent beer no matter what the hops this season are like. I'll go into HBUs and IBUs later in the blog.

Common Hops and Their Usage
Brewer's Gold - High alpha acid, coarse flavor and aroma. Used primarily in stouts.
Cascade - Low alpha acid, nice aroma but coarser in flavor than the true noble hops. Common for light lagers and dark beers.
Cluster - An old American variety, moderate alpha acid, low aromatic.
Cascade was bred as a replacement. Popular bittering hop for US breweries.
Eroica - High alpha acid, good aroma. Appropriate for dark ales and stouts.
Fuggle - A noble British hop. Good for all ales.
Galena - Very high alpha acid, coarse flavor. Good bittering hop.
Golding (Kent) - The other noble British strain.
Good finishing hop.
Hallertauer - A noble German hop. Excellent for all lagers.
Hersbrucker - Another German noble hop. Excellent for lagers as well.
Northern Brewer - Medium to high alpha acids, but with good flavor and aroma. Excellent choice for all dark ales. Is used in pale ales and dark lagers as well.
Saaz - The noble Bohemian hop. The Pilsener hop. Excellent finishing hop.
Tettnanger - Noble German hop. Excellent aroma, mild flavor. Appropriate for all lagers.
Willamette - American Fuggles clone. Good finishing hop.

There is one other thing that I want to touch on and that is dry hopping. Dry hopping is adding hops to the wort just before fermenting. This gives the freshest taste. I have floated whole hops on top of my wort for two weeks and wow what a wonderfully smelling and tasting beer it was.

Hops leave us many opportunities to experiment with flavor and aroma to create the style of beer we want.


Monday, March 12, 2007

The State of Homebrewing in the Philippines

It would be nice to hook up with some other homebrewers here in the Philippines so I can learn where to find stuff. I can't seem to find anything. The phone book is useless, the online directory is very poor and my limited local knowledge makes it hard to find things. I wanted to find a shop today that sells specialty restaurant supplies and after looking for a while we gave up and went grocery shopping. Like I said in an ealier post I have not been here for very long. I guess it's fair to say that you have to live somewhere for a while to get to know where everything is. Having a few brewing old-timer locals would be just the ticket.

The neighbors have been helpful in many ways, you know... go to such 'n' such street in the city. Unfortunately, the only map I have of the city has only the main streets named.

I have Googled just about every keyword combination to find a brew club here and the closest one that I can find is in Singapore! Hey I am not that good a swimmer mate!

Perhaps it's time to start the club now. What should we call it? I'll have a meeting with myself and hammer out a name, ok?

Done, it shall be known as HAP or the Homebrewers Association of the Philippines . I guess I am the President too. Please email me if you want to join. We have an opening for a secretary and treasurer. My first executive order as President is to set the membership fees to 500 pesos to cover postage and photocopying. All in favor say aye. I'll make a proper charter and set the date of the AGM when I get some time. For the record, today is Monday, March 12, 2007.

Please email me if you want to join the HAP.

I'd like to thank my brewing friends at Bodensatz for their advice and support.



The Night The Power Went Out and Rice Beer

Interuptimus Powericus
Last night the power went out for about 6 hours here. It was so nice and black here and the stars were fantastic. It's the first time I've seen the big dipper in over 5 years. The big dipper is prominent in Canada. So in the darkness we used candles and luckily it was not too hot to sleep. This morning the power is back on and fridge is working hard to make things cool again. I have some bottles of water to freeze for my experiment.

Today I will go into the city to buy groceries and look for supplies. My neighbour told me about a restaurant supply store that has many specialty items for chefs including thermometers, hard to find ingredients and spices. I hope to go there before getting some groceries. The trip to the city proper and back takes a few hours. If we stop and have some lunch and go to the mall it can easily turn into an all day event. LOL

Rice Beer from Malted Rice?
Yesterday, I found a research paper on the net from the Philippine Rice Research Institute that details making beer from rice. The paper provides some very interesting details for the home brewer. The link to the document in PDF format is here. The preamble explains the the economic reason for their experiments, but the meat of the process and the evaluation of the product is attractive to me. Instead of using hops, which are not grown here, the researchers used a blend of locally produced bark extracts called tangal and duhat. These are used to adjust the bitterness and colour of the beer. Tangal and duhat extracts have also been used as anti-bacterial agents in fruit wine production.

Rice in the brewing world is known as an adjunct and usually not a principal ingredient in beer. Normally only barley, hops, yeast and water are a real beer's ingredients. Sometimes brewers, (moreso in lighter American beers) use rice, Budweiser for example. In Indonesia there is a traditional drink called brem that is made from rice. Of course we all know of sake. I have used rice only once as an ingredient in a homebrew and it was only used a small amount of rice flakes. Rice adds to the alcohol content to your brew without adding much in terms of body.

I am curious to try malting some rice of my own to try it. The rice that we need is not the typical white, polished store-bought rice. We want to find the unmilled rice or palay as it's called here in Tagalog. The palay has the husk on it still and will need to be soaked and germinated. Once the rice is modified (sprouted) we are going to have to dry it. Drying is a good job for the sun here as it's hot enough to dry, but not so hot as to kill the amalayse enzymes. Drying is done a lower temperatures, like 50°C for until the moisture content is below 10%. I will be roasting some smaller amounts so I have darker malts to play with.

Speaking of roasting, a few Filipinos have told me of native coffee which is made from roasted rice. I have never tried it before but I have read of some commercial successes and even a rice coffee shop in Manila. Wow, lookout Starbucks?

Why go through all the trouble? Malted barley is an imported item here and in small amounts is expensive. If malted rice can cut my grain bill in half I am making a less expensive brew. It's worth the experiment. And hey, I like experimenting. I keep forgetting that rice is a grain like wheat, rye and barley.

Time to go into the city now. Best wishes.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Getting Homebrew Supplies from the USA

It's a scorching Sunday afternoon and I am happy today as I placed my order at Homebrew Heaven in Everett, Washington USA. I have been friends with Ralph and his team at Homebrew Heaven there for over four years. I asked him if they ship to the Philippines. Ralph says says they ship quite a few orders to the Philippines. The sad part is they ship only USPS Air Parcel to the Philippines and it's expensive; but... at least I know it will get here. By expensive I mean about the same in US dollars as my order. Example, I ordered $50 worth of supplies and the air freight was $48.40. Oh my! Well, most of my order is heavy on hops and yeast as they are difficult to find here. I also got a few pieces of hardware like a bottle filler, fermentation thermometer and a tiny (4 pounds) of dark Dry Malt Extract or DME as it's called in the trade.

We've had a few brown-outs (black outs in the rest of the world) but I have a laptop and I can keep blogging. Maybe I should walk to the sari-sari and get a Pale Pilsen or two to fight the heat.
Oh I want to take lots of pictures when the stuff arrives. I expect it in about 10 business days.

Wish me luck, it's like Pasko di ba?


Keeping the Wort Cool in Hot Climates

Son of a Fermenter Chiller - (SoaF)
In the last post I was looking at ways to keep the wort cool during fermentation and conditioning phases of brewing. Some homebrewers I chatted with told me about the "Son of a Fermenter Chiller" which is an insulated extruded polystyrene box which can be easily made from a 4x8' sheet of 2 inch polystyrene.

I found the plans online, in PDF format, by Googling "son of a fermenter chiller". After reviewing the design, I have come up with something similar, but my idea uses two cardboard boxes and that junky white polystrene that is found in electronics and appliance packaging.

By placing a cardboard box inside of another larger cardboard box we create a gap that can be filled with broken bits of beadboard (white styrofoam). The R value we want can be determined by the difference in the box sizes. The SoaF design uses dense 2 inch extruded polystyrene which has an R value of 5 per inch. [R Value Table] The table at the web site suggests that beadboard has an R value of 4 per inch. An effective and efficient R value would be above R10, so I will try for a gap to fill of better than 3 inches. Four inches of beadboard would give an R value of 16 which would be super for the warm temperatures here.

The chiller is "powered" by ice. More accurately, old PET bottles filled with water, capped, then frozen in the freezer. The SoaF designer recommends "gallon" bottles, which are very big for our Philippines sized freezer, so I will try for 1.5 to 2 litre sizes. These can hold about 70% of the water capacity to allow for the ice to expand.

With the cooled wort in the chiller, bottles of ice are added to keep the temperature cool for fermentation in the yeast's recommended temperature range.

A thermostat and small fan from a computer surplus shop, connected to a DC adaptor can be used to circulate the cool air inside the chiller. It's low voltage, safe and cheap to run.

This fat walled, two box design (at R16) should prove to be very efficient and will need less ice than the standard SoaF design, therefore saving on the electric bill too. I also like the idea of re-using that ugly white garbage that floats around the country and takes 300 years to breakdown in the landfill. We can all do a little bit more to keep the country beautiful di ba?

Working the Temperature Differential
The SoaF can be routinely used to create temperature differentials (from inside the chiller compared to the outside the chiller air temps.) of 17°C. This means on a warm day of 35ºC here, a relatively cool temperature of 18ºC can be maintained. This would be most effective for ale yeasts and should produce good results.

By selecting yeasts with higher maximum fermenting temperatures, we can take advantage of the energy savings too. A good ale yeast (saccharomyces cerivisae), from lets say Wyeast, DCL, or White Labs will typically have fermenting temperature ranges of 16 to 24ºC. The higher the temperature during fermentation the more fruity esthers and undesirable by-products are produced, so keeping to the low end of the temperature range will produce the results we want.

Lager yeasts (saccharomyces uvarum) operate a much lower temperature and will require much more energy going into making ice bottles. Perhaps, we can maintain temperatures (8 to 12ºC) for a week or two, but is it really worth the extra energy? In my experience, lagers don't usually ferment as quickly as ales in their respective temperature ranges.

When I get the basic design done on the chiller, I will do some temperature experiments and post the results.

Tomorrow I'll be working on locating equipment and reseaching some sources of ale yeasts online.

Cheers and happy brewing.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Ambient Temperatures in Brewing Ales

Today, I am researching the effects of higher than ideal fermentation temperatures and simple "homemade" solutions to overcome some of these problems.

I recently listened to a podcast from Basic Brewing Radio featuring homebrew author John Palmer. The host James Spencer and John talked about issues of high fermenting temperatures. The gist of it is: High temperatures during fermentation can produce off flavors, but the most important time to have a cooler wort is when pitching. Increases in temperatures after the yeast's growth phase are acceptable, but not too high. From what I have gleaned from research and that podcast is that 90° F (32.2° C) as the absolute maximum temperature, of course this will depend on the yeast used. When I say absolute maximum this is not what I consider an ideal fermentation temperature.

What is deemed most important for hot climate brewing is the pitching temperature. With an ice bucket pre-chiller and immersion wort chiller I will certainly be able to get the wort to 20° prior to pitching the yeast. If I wrap the primary fermenter with some insulation the wort temperature should remain low and fairly constant until the yeast growth phase is complete. After the growth phase is complete the brew temp can increase as long as it doesn't get too warm.

I would like to build an insulated box with a place for an ice tray. I'd need a week's worth of ice, but can make a few bags of ice a day to keep the system cool. This box would allow me to use lager yeast and brew at cooler (10° C) temperatures, but I'd be happy with 15 to 17° C and a nice ale.

So as I build my mini brewery, I will be on the lookout for ways to keep things cool with ice. My shopping list now includes some lengths of copper pipe, a few pieces of garden hose, fittings and a sheet of rigid polystyrene. I know I can get the plumbing parts, but the 'am not sure about the polystyrene. I have seen plans on the web for a brew box that's made of polystyrene. It's rigid and easy to work with. I could also buy or build a wooden box and line it with something. Perhaps something native or spray the inside with insulating foam spray. More things to keep my eyes peeled for.

My next research project is about malting. There is a grains dealer about 4km from the house here. (we're semi-rural) I saw a bag of barley the last time we went past on the jeepney. Hmmm, home malted barley? Pwede!

'till next time...cheers.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Welcome to my new blog on my experimentations with home brewing. I have lived in the Philippines for a while now and have not yet come across any homebrew stores, home brewing clubs or really anything related to home brewing and/or wine making at all.

I hope to one day start a homebrew club in the Philippines and maybe have an online forum where the members can exchange ideas, recipes, tips and advice.

I will be posting some of my research as I develop recipes with a distinct Pinoy flavor. I will be malting some rice while I gather my brewing gear. So far gingerbeer is the only thing I have started as barley and hops are tough to come by.

If you have any information on suppliers in the Philippines or want to drop me a message please do.

Best wishes and hope to see you soon.