Thursday, July 17, 2014

Must You

I've been brewing again recently, laying up a melomel.  That's a type of mead made with honey and fruit.  If I reserve some for aging, the aged mead is a great or long mead as opposed to the short mead consumed immediately after brewing.  That aging could be years.
Knowing some of the terminology lets you follow conversations and recipes a lot easier.  I've seen many recipes where they just assume you know all their jargon and use that to weed out the people who aren't "serious" about joining them.  I worked in IT so I've seen that garbage my entire career.  Here's some definitions to get you on top of the curve.
Malt is the roasted and boiled grains used to make beer.  Extract kits turn the malt into a syrup to make things easy for beginners.  I use extract kits and may never start brewing with all-grain recipes.
Hops are flowers that add spice and flavor to beer.  They also preserve beer which is why so many craft recipes and IPA style beers are so hoppy.  IPA was a style brewed in England and shipped to their colonies in India, hence the name India Pale Ale.
Wort is unfermented beer.  It's the malt, hops, water, and maybe spices but no alcohol because yeast hadn't worked on it yet.  Must is unfermented wine or mead.  Water, fruit and or honey but again no alcohol.
Yeast normally comes in packets of emulsified live yeast bacteria.  It looks like granules.  The granules are broken down and release the yeast by soaking in warm water.  This is called proofing and gets the yeast ready to turn wort or must into beer or wine.
Brewers need to ensure that only the yeast they've bought get to participate in fermentation.  They use special chemicals to wash and sterilize their equipment.  The washing process may be abbreviated as CIP, or clean in place.  Alternatively, the brewer could let wild bacteria ferment the wort or must and call the resulting product lambic but using unknown varieties of bacteria like that makes it hard to be consistent from batch to batch.
Lees are the tired and dead yeast plus fruit, hops, grain, or whatever left in the bottom of the carboy after fermentation.  The carboy is the glass or plastic jug that the fermentation happens in.  Racking moves the fermented product into another carboy and leaves the lees behind to be washed away or composted.
That's most of the jargon which slowed me down when I didn't know the definitions.  I'll bring you more definitions as I learn them.  Good luck!

Please drink responsibly.