This Month's Question: How can I modify my wort to get more thatn one type of beer?

Answer:

This question was motivated by the Tustin Brewing's First Annual Monster Brew on May 30th, 2009, hosted by our very own Jon Porter. We brewed up a batch of medium-gravity amber wort. Where it goes from there is up to you! We had 13 different variations at the Summer Party.

The recipe for the wort can be found here. This gave a starting gravity of 1.053, 24 IBUs of bitterness and a color of about 7 SRM. A lot of different beers can be made out of this. With a bit of tweaking, you can make just about anything. Here are some ideas on what to do.

1) Pick a yeast. This is probably the easiest. If you pitch with the White Labs Antwerp yeast, you'll have a Belgian pale much like the one Greg and I made on New Years Eve. Greg used a blend including the Saison yeast in his carboy and got some noticeably different results. But don't stop there. Between White Labs, Wyeast and some of the dry yeast suppliers, there are over 100 different types. Once you have selected your yeast, make sure you can ferment the wort at the right temperature for the yeast. Also, for best results, make up a starter the day before brew day.

2) Make it stronger. Adding malt extract or Belgian candi sugar is fairly easy. Just boil up a small amount of water and extract and boil for about 10 to 15 minutes, to make sure it is sterile. Cool, and add to your fermenter.

3) Make it darker. Pick a dark grain like roast barley, Special B, chocolate malt or Carafa. Steep in hot water, then strain out the grains and boil the liquid. Voila, instant dark beer! Another variant is to add some melanoidin malt to make some of the malty German lagers.

4) Dry hop it. No effort up front. But, then you can select a wide variety of hops to put into secondary.

5) Boost the bitterness or hop flavor. Boil up a small amount of water and add hops to make a hop tea. Boil for at least half an hour with high alpha hops to raise the IBU level. Boil for 10 to 15 minutes with your favorite hop variety to boost the flavor. Note that this will boost the IBU level by a smaller amount.

6) Do combinations of the above. Suppose you want to make an American Barleywine out of the wort. Boil up some malt extract, add some hops to boost the bitterness and flavor during the boil. Cool and add to the fermentor. Then, dry hop in secondary.

The attached table has a list of some of the interesting combinations you can do. I came up with 20 variations without even breaking a sweat. You can probably come up with even more.

You'll want to pitch your yeast as soon as you get your wort home. For most of the variations, you should plan of adjusting the wort at the same time, though you could wait a day or so. Make sure you get it going before primary fermentation is done, since the yeast will need to work on the additional materials.


Beer Style

Yeast

Grains/Sugars

Hops

Fermentation

Belgian Pale Ale

Antwerp

   

Warm

Belgian Dubbel

Abbey

Dark Candi

 

Warm

Belgian Strong Dark

Trappist

Dark Candi

 

Warm

Tripel

Golden

Light Candi

 

Warm

Saison

Saison

   

Warm

Altbier

German Ale

 

Hellertauer

Cool

American Amber

Amer Ale

Crystal

Cascade

Med

California Common

CA Lager

 

Northern Brewer

Cool

Oktoberfest

Oktoberfest

Melanoidin

 

Cold

Munich Dunkel

Munich Lager

Melanoidin

 

Cold

Schwarzbier

Munich Lager

Carafa

 

Cold

ESB

English

 

Kent Golding

Med

Scottish Export

Edingurgh

   

Cool

Porter

English

Chocolate

 

Med

Export Stout

Irish

Roast Barley

 

Med

Sweet Stout

Irish

Roast Barley, Lactose

 

Med

IPA

AM Ale or Eng

 

Tea/Dry Amarillo

Med

Old Ale

English

LME

Tea/Fuggles

Med

Barleywine

AM Ale or Eng

LME

Tea/Centenniela

Med

Imperial Stout

Irish

LME, Roast barley

Tea/Goldings

Med