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CCHBS News for April 2004

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  1. April Recipe Specials
  2. All-Grain Class/Daylight Savings Time Reminder
  3. Store Improvements! Come See Our New Cooler
  4. Price Reduction on Imported Malts
  5. Recycle Your Malt Extract Jars
  6. Hop Rhizomes Expected Soon
  7. Spotlight on Technique - Brewing Low-Carbohydrate Beers

April Recipe Specials

June's Pacific Gravity style of the month is Stout and we've got no less than three recipes on sale for the month of April.

Culver City Stout is a recipe that's been a favorite for a long time because it's a very good example of an Irish Dry Stout. Many people choose it as their first recipe. If you haven't made it yet, isn't it time to try one? Ordinarily selling for $26, it's on sale for only $22.00.

Cool Runnings Caribbean Stout is one of our newest recipes. Caribbean stouts are stronger and less bitter than Irish Stout and this one is no exception. Try Cool Runnings Caribbean Stout for $30 for the month of March.

Finally, we're featuring Siberian Crude Imperial Stout. This recipe is an example of a Russian Imperial Stout, big beers with plenty of hops and roasted malts to go with a hefty alchohol content. These beers are often described as "meaty" and this recipe is true to forrm. Sink your teeth into it for only $30.

All-Grain Class/Daylight Savings Time Reminder

Daylight Savings Time starts Sunday, April 4th, just in time for the second of our all-grain classes. This time, Kevin Koenig will show how to use the club system to brew 10 gallon batches using the traditional sparging technique. The class will start at 11AM sharp, so don't forget to set your clocks forward the night before. Plan to stay until the end of the day because knowing how to properly clean the system before putting it away is essential.

Store Improvements! Come See Our New Cooler

We've realized for a long time that our ugly old display coolers needed to be replaced. After shopping around for rebuilt coolers, we decided to bite the bullet and buy a brand spanking new 3 door cooler. We think it will give us plenty of room to display our yeast and hop selections to good advantage. Come by and see what you think.

Price Reduction on Imported Malts

While we reported that the prices from our suppliers will be going up soon, this increase didn't affect our last grain order. As a result, we felt that it would only be fair to give our customers a break and reduce the price of imported grains to $1.35/lb. Best of all, this price will remain in effect for as long as it's feasible for us to do it.

Recycle Your Malt Extract Jars

Remember to bring your malt extract jars in with you and have them refilled. If you do, we'll give you a $ .50 price break . It's good for the environment, it saves you money and it saves us money. What could be better?

Hop Rhizomes Expected Soon

Our hop rhizome order should be arriving any day now. Among the varieties we ordered are Nugget, Cascade, Chinook, Liberty, Willamette and a new variety we're becoming very fond of - Sterling. Isn't it time for you to have a hop garden at home?

Spotlight on Technique - Brewing Low-Carbohydrate Beers

With so much attention on low-carbohydrate diets lately, it's no surprise that the big breweries have come out with low-carb beers. The only problem is that these beers are as flat, watery and lifeless as their regular beers. Wouldn't it be nice if you could make your own low-carb versions of your favorite recipes? Well, you can and it's not as hard as you think. While the approach outlined in this article is oriented towards the all-grain brewer, there are still a few concepts that extract brewers can employ.

The first thing you need to know is that alcohol itself contains no carbohydrates, so there's no need for a low-carb beer to be weak. In fact, if anything, a low-carb beer will have a little more alcohol than a "regular" beer of the same original gravity. Carbohydrates in beer take the form of unconverted starches and residual (ie. unfermentable) sugars. What this means to brewers is that a low-carbohydrate beer will be a product of technique as much as ingredients. But since making beer always starts with a recipe, let's look at ingredients first.

Your recipe should contain a minimum of grains which contribute unfermentable sugars and starches. This means that crystal malts should be used sparingly. Small amounts will probably be necessary, but keep in mind that the more you use, the more carbohydrates will end up in your finished beer. Other than that, your choice of grains is pretty much unlimited. Hops, of course, contribute no carbohydrates so there's no reason to be afraid to use them (unlike the big breweries).

The mash is the next, and most important, area where we can influence the percentage of unfermentable sugars in our final product. Conversion of starches to sugars is accomplished by the activation of two different: enzymes: alpha-amylase and beta-amylase. Of the two, we want to concentrate on beta-amylase because alpha-amylase produces a more dextrinous wort and dextrines are just another word for unfermentable sugars. Luckily, the two forms of amylase enzymes are activated at different temperatures. Beta-amylase is activated at temperatures between 140 and 155 degrees F so our mash needs to be conducted below 150 F for maximum fermentability. We also want to make sure that conversion is as complete as possible, so plan on a long mash of 90 - 120 minutes. Once conversion is complete, it's also important to conduct a mash-out at a temperature of 165-170 degrees, making sure to move the mash through the beta-amylase temperature range of 155-162 as quickly as possible. If you've ever brewed a no-sparge batch, you should realize that the technique is almost tailor-made for these requirements.

Finally, you should choose a yeast with a high attenuation rate, to ensure the maximum possible conversion of sugars to alcohol and give it enough time to do its work. Adding some yeast nutrient at the end of the boil proably wouldn't hurt, either.

By following all these suggestions, it should be easy to make a beer that's not only low in carbohydrates, but satisfying and enjoyabe to drink. Isn't that what making your own beer is all about?

(Thanks are due to Seth Schneider of Crosby & Baker, Ltd. for much of the information contained in this article.)

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