Lift the fog of deception
This is quite a controversial title, but I don’t expect to get sued. I’ve just seen an advert on Instagram for an IPA (PA = pale ale), which was clearly a brown beer. I’ve seen a stout with an OG of 1040, and bought a porter, so sweet one couldn’t taste the hops. So that’s my defence and they are just the brewery sins that come to mind, sitting over a PC. But as we all recognise marketing hype, we probably were not deceived.
There is nothing wrong with brewing beers to fill a consumer demand, but I don’t approve of abusing historical fact, to gain a dodgy marketing edge.
Pale Ale should use white malt, finished at a low temperature. The only commercial malt pale enough is lager malt and that is still too dark.
Stout should need only a few grams of hops, because the malt is so dark it yields its own bittering. And then there are the con-artists marketing beer in clear glass bottles, because it looks pretty. You might have observed that it sometimes doesn’t keep and soon tastes medicinal. It’s called skunking. A complex reaction between hop bittering and yeast in the presence of supermarket lighting, can produce sulphur compounds, called mercaptans, renowned for their evil ways. Our taste buds can detect them in ppm.
As craft brewers, we can get round these problems, but if you want a genuine pale ale, you might need to start malting. Soak the barley, allow to germinate, halt growth by drying and finally, finish off at a temperature chosen for the malt you need for your target beer.
Read my blog – Malt Like and Egyptian and you will understand the delight of going back to where our hobby began. Furthermore, malting grain is good fun and if you can control the finishing temperatures in your oven, then a spot-on historical malt will allow a genuine Munich Bock Bier for example, to come out your brewhouse.
The above pictures were taken with a hand-held Sony Cyber Shot. The images are of pages on a 7 year old iPad, showing the Kindle version of the Historical Companion to House-Brewing. Nothing too high-tech for a craft brewer.
Time to have a shake at my video, ‘No more soggy pages’.