Thursday, March 6, 2008

So here's what I'm up to now on my project. A lot of my great sources for lambic methods are, variously, on their way from faraway libraries, or in Flemish, or academically illegitimate. Nonetheless, I've gotten started on brewing using what I've learned so far. For one thing, I'm letting my hops go bad. Lambic beer is traditionally made with les houblons surannés, usually aged 2-3 years in open air until they've lost their flavour and bitterness, and are stale and cheesy. I don't have that long, so I've toasted mine a little to lose some of the hop volatiles, and I'm aging them in a cake pan resting on my radiator (on the basis that stuff stales faster when it's warm). Pictures coming.

I've also tracked down some unmalted, hard red winter wheat. This is an adjunct grain used for ~35% of the grist in a lambic beer. I still have no clue how I'm going to prepare it. If you look at the picture, these are tiny wheat berries, and they're rock hard. I doubt I can mash them as is; do I grind them? Pre-cook them? I just don't know. I'll have to wait until some of my books arrive/I learn Flemish.

Speaking of the mashing, I'm really excited. They've got this great method, turbid mashing, which is a lot harder than all the regular mashing techniques, and results in a starchy, poorly-converted, proteiny, turbid, low-efficiency, puckeringly tannin-ridden wort. All that and it takes twice as long. How awesome is that? I love this project.

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