Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Teff Beer Attempt - Step 3

The story so far... In Step 1, we decided on an idea for a beer and in Step 2, we looked for a recipe.
Now that we have a recipe of sorts, it is time to go shopping. The question for me was what ingredients and equipment did I need.


The ingredients were the easier of the two to contemplate. I needed yeast, hops, malt, and water.

Yeast was easy to find and the only real choice was between dry or liquid. I chose liquid yeast as I trusted the brand name after hearing great things about it. Hops, I had already figured that I would use English hops and a number of different shops had them. No biggie.

Then I thought, let's get the liquid malt and save some time. I don't need to go all alpha beer nerd and make my own malt. A quick search through the beer suppliers of Toronto yielded no teff malt. Okay, let's see about the states. Oh, Colorado Malting will do it custom. With the customs and excise tax and the waiting and everything, I decided to ask a few brewing supply stores in Toronto with little luck. I'm sure someone does it out there but I wasn't able to find it easy by a search or a tweet.

Now comes the pseudo confession time. I'm writing this breezily and as if I am doing everything off the cuff. This is largely because I'm feeling ducky. I want this to look easy like a duck swimming but underneath the water, I'm paddling like hell. To put it another way, I've been talking about trying to home brew for two years. I have read two years of subscription to Brew Your Own, own more than six books on fermentation and brewing, read forums, follow twitter folk, ask questions of beer guys and strengthened my google fu in this glorious quest. While I AM talking out of my arse, I have a fair idea of what is going on. Most home brewers do NOT malt their own grain. Here I was with only a handful of articles, some tutorials on YouTube with no information of teff malting. So, of course, I decided rather than wait that I would malt my own. I bought teff at a local grocery store. It was easy to find as it is a common grain for celiacs and people who want to go gluten free. More on the malting process and outcome in the next step. I still have to finish buying everything.

This realization made me curse my choice of grain for a few seconds until it dawned that I was going to one up all those home brewers who look down on those that used liquid malt rather than brewing for grain, I was malting my own. Just as a background for those uber new into brewing, one of the first questions you get asked when saying you are home brewing is whether you have ever brewed from grain. Brewing from grain is just about whether or not you make the porridge and then add the yeast.
Quick review of the standard home brewing process - make the porridge and add hops, cool it down and add yeast, let the yeast do its job and bottle. Some brewers don't make their own porridge but rely on buying ready made malt. No shame. Not too many people make their own ketchup either. 
Okay, that only leaves water. I've got water in my tap and that should be okay. There are huge discussions on forums about whether treated water affects yeast and how differences in water accentuates bitterness and so much more. Water is very important but its not worth the amateur worrying about. Leave some water from your tap overnight if it is treated with chlorine. Other than that, whatever you use as drinking water will be fine for most beer purposes.


Yeast, hops, water, and grain. All taken care of in a trip to Toronto Brewing. What about the equipment? My original thought was to just use stuff from my kitchen. I had given the question of volume some thought. Standard recipes are 1 gallon, 5 gallon or 10 gallon. I've decided that given my space, I would do 1 gallon test batches and 5 gallon batches for now. The reasons are that I can only drink one kind of beer for so long. One gallon yields about 3.8 l, that's about 11x33cl glasses, the standard metric 'pint'. More of one beer than I normally drink. Also, if a batch has gone wrong then I don't want to throw out more than a gallon. Five gallons is probably the limit of what can be done in our second kitchen due to the size. This batch from unmalted grain would be a one gallon batch.

I had most of the standard equipment - something to make the porridge in and something to ferment in and even some bottles from the U-Brew-It. Yes, a lot of books make a huge deal about the equipment but the disagreement is so wide. I ended up buying a one gallon kit.

I was swayed by a book that had the same issues I had with the uber recipe nature of most brewing books and he explained something in simple scientific terms that reminded me of the time I spent with the guys at Fermentations. I had asked them when they knew the beer was done. I had some experience with a balloon over a one gallon old timey jug used for fermenting mead and wondered how they did. A hydrometer. This handy dandy thing lets you know when all the sugar is fermented. I had to have one because Beer Making For All said so. I've also bottled and it is nice to have tubes and stuff to make it easy. Oh, and I didn't want to have to worry what was last cooked in my stock pot. Maybe there would be a need to make stock and beer at the same time.  If I brew more often, I can't take my stock pot out of circulation. Anyways, I bought a kit for some of the reasons listed above.

The trip to the brewing supplies store was fun. I proudly stated my first time status, as if they hadn't heard it before, and got all the help I needed. It was fun. I also walked away with ingredients for a backup batch for my second beer but that is another story. Did I say that it was fun?

With all the ingredients together and shopping done, it was time to start brewing. But first, I guess I had to malt the teff. That is where we will leave off today, kids. The next part will be on the malting. Sounds like a horror movie, doesn't it. The Malting.
Other posts in this series: See up top for the earlier posts and Part 4: Malting and now Part 5: Mash and Boil.

1 comment:

  1. Really interesting for me because First time I heard about Teff