So...finally have these things going...hopefully I'm using them correctly
Homebrew 101: Your pint needs to wash its face...
September 11, 2015
After a rigorous week of meetings, homework, and nerd code, I’ve decided to distract myself from the day to day obligations and start planning my weekend. Although I have completed a few activities that warrant a weekend of Netflix binging and general sloth (you just pictured a Sloth watching Netflix didn’t you….don’t deny it) I’ve decided that I should be at least minimally active and execute my plan for brewing something new. As I mentioned a few posts ago, my next creation will be a Maple Walnut Brown Ale inspired in part by some awesome Ice cream my friends Steve and Rena made that was pretty fantastic. Admittedly brewing with something like walnuts is something isn’t the most common of practices, particularly in the realm of home brewing, and can easily lead to a catastrophic failure if not done correctly. That isn’t to say that brewing with nuts and other oily ingredients can’t be a success just look at the Pistachio Cream Ale from Former Future or the Pecan Harvest Ale from Abita for proof of that. So let’s all have a pint and take a look at how to give your beer the best kind of oily complexion.
What’s the Big Deal?
Oil and beer generally don’t play nice with each other. While it can be useful for those solo cups half full of foam from a near empty keg (those of you who went to school in Laramie/lived in Wyoming will know the whole rubbing the nose trick….) but when you want to drink beer of quality oils can cause all kinds of problems. As the aforementioned trick eluded, one such issue can be a loss of head retention and carbonation leaving the kind of sheen you would expect one a cup of coffee instead. Another more concerning issue is the problem of contamination and rancidity, both of which are far more likely to occur when your batch is high in oils.
These issues are often the result of either a lack of knowledge or diligence when adding the sources of the oils either during mashing or as an extraction bed during secondary. Many recipes will advise you to either float the ingredients in their raw state or to mill them with your mash depending on what said ingredient happens to be. These may work for items in which the oil volume or weight is relatively low such as citrus rinds, but for more heavily oiled products like nuts or bacon (of course you can make beer with bacon, Murka!) this course of action will lead to the nasty outcomes we’ve already reviewed. Fortunately there is a way to get all of the flavors you want from these sorts of ingredients without the oil spilling after effects. This technique is also a personal favorite, because it has one of the most derogatory sounding names in brewing or anything else which always makes something better.
The Art of Fat Washing:
Fat washing (yes that is the technical term for this) is the act of creating an extract from a base ingredient. The overall process is very simple and can result in a product that can be used for a multitude of culinary endeavors in addition to brewing. If you have ever canned or pickled something before, much if this will be familiar and involves some of the same tools:
To start, you will need to either grind or chop your oily addition, and if it is meat based like bacon make sure it is cooked thoroughly and drained of any additional fat that is cooked off the product. Add the granulated item to a mason jar. After, fill the jar with a neutral grain alcohol base (i.e. everclear, vodka or good gin). After that, toss a lid on your jar and let the extraction begin! Generally speaking, you are working with nuts or legumes a 5 day period should be long enough to make a suitable extraction, for highly oiled items like bacon 2-3 days is sufficient. A good indicator will be a visible layer of oil resting on the top of the alcohol medium, much as you would see with good peanut butter.
Once the oil layer is present, strain the particulate out of the oil/alcohol mixture, allowing the liquid contents to go into another jar. Allow the liquids to separate once more, then insert 1 foot of racking tube into the jar and place it the freezer (yes, it sounds weird, but stick with me). Once the fat layer is frozen solid, use the racking tube to pour your extract into a new container and poof! You now have an extract!
You can now add the extract to during secondary (the amount will be dependent on how strong you want the flavor to be) and you now have a beer with an amazing taste and none of the nasty side effects. I hope that this was useful to all of you, even if you aren’t a brewer, and you find fun and interesting ways to use the fat washing technique for all of your creations. Cheers Everyone!