Hob Knob Brewing Company

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Great Grain Experiment

The great grain experiment has officially BEGUN!  Donning my mad scientist gear, I've begun a long and arduous journey to discover the ideal brewing recipes.  It all begins with the grain.  We've got 19 different specialty grains - everything from aromatic to victory, and we plan on testing every single one of them.  The first round of experimentation will create a 'tea' of sorts from each brew.  After crushing the grains, I soaked them in 165 degree water for about 10 minutes.  Then filtered out the grain particles and husks.  Each 12oz bottle was then filled with my brewT to allow to cool.  Today's round of testing included victory, special roast, crystal-10, crystal-20, crystal-40, crystal-60, crystal-80, and crystal-120, producing a brewery rainbow of sorts that would make a munchkin thirsty!

The next step will be to finish out our teas by doing the same thing to our cara vienna, honey, caramalt, caramunich, caramel pils, biscuit, brown, chocloate, roasted barley, and black patent malts.  From there, we'll be producing 1.5L mini brew batches to see how these grains will flavor our brews.

To keep things simple, and to really get an idea of the flavors, mouthfeel, and aromas imparted by the grains, we'll be doing dozens of the micro batches.  Some will have just the grains, some will be hopped - each batch will have a single yeast strain, and single hop variety (otherwise called a SMaSH brew) to keep the experiment as controlled as possible.  Should be interesting, so let the great grain experiment begin!

Here's a great shot looking down the top of our erlenmeyer flask.  Billions of little happy yeasties are smiling back...you just can't see them.  This first starter contains a california ale yeast from wyeast labs.

With regards to our location, we continue to look.  We found the perfect location right around downtown concord, but the owners didn't agree with our intended use...even though we offered them their full lease rate.  Go figure.  The search in concord, the south end of charlotte, huntersville, davidson, cornelius, and mooresville will continue until we find our spot.  We are in this for the long haul, as I recently just quit my full time job to pursue our dream of getting a craft brewery off the ground!



-----Update 1/23/14-----

The experiment is progressing nicely, with one shortfall.  Hoser decided to raid my grain stores.  A storm of 'beer farts' ensued, as she no doubt found a specialty grain that was high in dextrins!

I was really surprised to see how well the grainT profiles turned out.  While you couldn't tell a huge difference, say between the crystal-10 and crystal-20 malts, you could taste a huge difference between the other varieties.  Some, like the cara malts would impart a clean, sweetness to the teas, while others would just have maltiness all up in your face.

Once the 19 malt teas were done, it was time to try something a bit different, so we did 9 mini brews!  The recipes were simple.  I used DME to get the bottled water's OG up to 1.040, and then added 10% of the grainT's to each sample.  From there, each batch was boiled for 30 minutes, and had 2g of amarillo hops added.  The airlocks were easy enough to make.  I melted the end of the hose, and mashed it into a plate - it's edges would flatten out, almost like a flange.  I then added a ring of food safe silicon to seal the hose, and pulled the hose through the cap which I had drilled out.  After 8 hours, many are happily bubbling away, though it looks like 2 of the 8 bottles may have leaks.  In 3 weeks, I'll bottle these bad boys and sugar prime them.  Then, we'll get some more flavoring notes, and complete the experiment.



-----Update 1/25/14-----

The fermentations are all happily bubbling away.  I'm happy to say that it looks like the seals all held except for one bottle containing the c-60 grain.  Whether or not it ends up getting infected, only time can tell.  As for the fermentations themselves...just look at that krausen :)

In about 3 weeks, we should have some ready to bottle brews!