Friday 4th September Weird Beard Sign of the Southern Cross, BIPA and what goes on in the mash.
I have chosen this particular beer for a couple of reasons, firstly, here at TMM we love Weird Beard, their beers always stand out, they are able to add something a little different, secondly we have supplied them with various ingredients and equipment since right back in the early days of our, and their companies. Thirdly, it is a black IPA, and I thought today I would touch on what goes on in the mash and how as a brewer, you can make adjustments to influence the final result. Armed with just a little knowledge you can tailor the beer to your individual taste. This is important and we are increasingly seeing brewers buying recipe kits, and this is a really good way to make a proven beer but we are also seeing some feedback where brewers are suggesting that the final result has been perhaps a little thin, lacking mouth feel or the other end of the scale with a really full body, not so crushable. You may think that as you have purchased a recipe kit that there is not so much you are able to do to adapt the beer to your taste, this is not the case. Understanding what is going on in the mash will give you the tools that are required to adapt a recipe.
In the mash the objective is to turn the starch within the grist into sugar which is then transformed into both alcohol and co2. That is just about the most simplistic way of looking at it. Now, without going into the science behind it however, there is a link below if you would like to, the temperature of your mash will make a difference to what type of sugar, or indeed how fermentable this sugar is by your chosen yeast.
Lets look at the black IPA style, and in particular the Shadow of the Beast recipe kit that we have available. Once purchased you are able to follow the instructions and if carried out correctly you will get a beer bang on the style guidelines, it’s medium bodied, without the roast malt astringency you would associate with a dark beer, it has a dry finish making it very drinkable. However, your personal taste may differ, maybe you prefer a thicker body. In this case it would be a good idea to adjust your mash temperature, the recipe suggests 65c. Now, a higher mash temperature means that the sugars converted from grist are actually harder for the yeast to ferement, or another way to look at it, by fermenting at a higher temperature, say 68c you making the wort less fermentable. It will leave the finishing gravity of the beer higher, this has the effect of increasing body, it will have a thicker mouth feel.
Conversely if your prefer a lighter in texture, a thinner beer then decrease the mash temperature, look at 63c, this will make the wort more fermentable, with a lower finishing gravity. It will have a stronger alcohol content but be less chewy.
The enzymes in the mash will convert as long as you are somewhere between 63 to 69c, changing the mash temperature is a great tool to be aware of. Do be aware that conversion takes a little longer if you are mashing low, maybe look at a 90 minute mash.
Another trick with black ipa is just how roasty you like it. For the Shadow of the Beast, following the instructions will see the the dark malts only used at the very end of the mash, sprinkled on the top of the mash just when sparging. This produces colour but little roasty flavour. However, you, as the brewer may like more roast so perhaps include it with the grist from the start, it will be a different beer, but the important thing is that it is your beer and your are learning how to brew to meet your own individual taste. This is the important part to take away from this video, buying an all grain recipe kit is just a starting point, arm yourself with just a little information and you will be making beer that matches your individual pallet.