Wednesday, October 31, 2012

World's (Best) Wort Bread Recipe

Around Thanksgiving 2011, I was frustrated with the bread options available at Fred Meyer so I decided I'd try baking my bread until Jan 1, 2012. It didn't really seem like I was embarking on a new hobby at the time, I was just kind of fed up with what I could buy and wondered if I'd be able to do it better myself.

In the time since, I've bought a baguette here or there for a special occasion but in almost 12 months I haven't bought a loaf of sandwich bread and have gone through more than 60lbs of flour.

As has been previously noted, when I do a hobby I tend to do it all the way.

Fermentation is one of many common threads between brewing and baking and I've tried to come up with some creative ways to let my experience with one inform my experiments with the other. For example, having completed the PB&J beer, my next baking-inspired brewing experiment will be a wild yeast beer using a sourdough starter I made from scratch.

Typically, though, these experiments go in the opposite direction as I include brewing materials in baking recipes. In the past year, I've included beer, spent grain, dry malt extract, and wort in my bread recipes. Each additional ingredient gives the loaf of bread a unique taste or texture and over time I've developed a couple favorite recipes.

One of my bread recipes I keep coming back to is World's (Best) Wort Bread. Instead of using water and sugar, I simply substitute wort for both. I typically make this in my bread machine but it works equally well in an oven. The recipes for both are below:

  • 150g whole wheat flour (approximately 1cu)
  • 450g bread flour (approximately 3cu)
  • 1cu spent grain
  • 1.5cu wort (this is an approximate measurement; dough should be tacky but not sticky)
  • 3tsp yeast
  • 2tsp sea salt
  • 2tsp vegetable shortening

Bread Machine Settings:
  • French bread
  • Large loaf
  • Medium temperature

Oven Instructions:
  • Knead until smooth and elastic (about 10min)
  • Place in lightly oiled bowl; turn dough to coat all sides
  • Cover and allow to sit until dough doubles in size.
  • Punch down dough and divide in half
  • Place each loaf in appropriate sized bread pan
  • Bake at 375deg until golden brown (approximately 30min)


Sunday, September 30, 2012

Kenneth's Big Brew Day

I've known Kenneth Crockett for a couple years now. He's absolutely one of my favorite people to drink with. He knows politics, literature, and spirits and can argue any two (even three?) at the same time.

We kicked around the idea of making some beer for months before we finally got to work on a Jasmine IPA. I'll let Kenneth tell the rest of the story:

"As I drink the last bottle of my first batch of beer, I toast the end of summer and the whole process of brewing with Dan. Back in June, Dan and I began brainstorming options for a seasonal. Always a fan of Elysian’s Avatar Jasmine, I made a call that we would pursue something along similar lines: an IPA or like style, heavily floral. Dan got to the research and I worked to source our jasmine. The Avatar-imitations call for dried jasmine petals, but I noticed a few folks who used green tea with jasmine to a different effect. I ran the idea by my buddy Lloyd who works as a brewer, and his thoughts confirmed that the tea idea can be a workable substitute.
"Before long, Dan settled on a workable recipe, and we only had to find the time to start. June had pretty well fled, but we managed to meet up just before the end of the month. That fair evening, we met at the Homebrew Exchange to gather ingredients. The shop up in Kenton was a suitable training ground to begin our important work. Dan walked me through the process of selecting and processing our grain, hops, and yeast; I’d already brought along a good selection of jasmine green tea. Being midweek, the hours in the day were not in our favor, so we had little time to waste and made our way to Dan’s.

"The first steps of the process flew by. As much work as we put in – work’s a loose word when you’re fully engaged in what you’re doing – we also kept passing the time of this boil or that soak with fruitful diversions. A walk to the market to buy some items for grilling, enjoying the company of housemates, downing some wort and whiskey — Dan rolled out the hospitality for which he’s so well-renowned. The brewing elements of the night capped with setting the tea to steep in the warm brew, and we were met by an enticing aroma as we introduced our yeast.
"Though we checked in on our creation on the nation’s holiday, it wasn't until a bit into July when we made the call to bottle and keg. I invited Lloyd to join us in the process, and Dan kept us stocked with some of the ales he was pouring. We all enjoyed that sunny day in North Portland capturing the fruits of our labors. The tally told: Dan a fine keg and me a pair of cases.

"I waited probably three weeks before I tackled the beers in earnest, offering them to friends and taking them on trips camping. Folks of all strips took to the brew as a bright and interesting beer that packed a secret punch. We’d not dry hopped, so the bitter came through from the tea in a subtle hint. The jasmine, too, was just enough off the nose to producing some compelling undertones. She sparked in a glass with just enough carbonation to keep things light, not airy, and her silky caramel color matched the smooth, sweet finish of each draught. The only regret I have now is that I’m staring at the last bottle…and it’s empty."

This whole project was a great opportunity to think about adjuncts again before heading into fall recipes and getting back to adjuncts like whiskey, oak, pumpkin spice, etc.

Interested in brewing a batch of your own beer? Click here to find out how you too can become a home brewer.

Cheer, Kenneth!

Monday, August 13, 2012

JP & Sylvia's Big Brew Day

I've worked closely with JP for a while now at InsideTrack. A couple months back we started talking beers and some of the new flavors he was trying.

Pretty soon the conversation turned to the ins and outs of home brewing and what it would take to make a batch.

JP's a guy with a tendency to do things 100%. When I asked him what beer he was into, it came as no surprise he chose Hop Stoopid.

Coming up with a clone recipe proved to be a great challenge. The recipe would require healthy doses of malt and hops. In fact, since my mash tun only holds five gallons, it would require >13lbs of malt and then another 8lbs of LME for the eight gallon batch we had planned.

By the time he showed up with his lovely wife Sylvia to make a batch of his own he'd done his homework and was ready to go.

I'll let JP tell the rest of the story:
  1. What beer did you select, JP?
    • I decided to go for a strong and bitter IPA: Hop Stoopid Ale by Lagunitas. I like strong beer, and this baby is 8%. Knowing little about beer, I ended up picking a spendy one to brew! Go figure: if a beer is expensive to buy, it is expensive to make. I couldn't believe all the hop varieties we had to use. The table for timing the addition of hops during the process had at least 10 additions, including “dry-hopping” (which is the addition of hops once the fermentation process has begun) two weeks later. I expect the final product to pack a punch, and I can't wait. 
  2. How'd it go on brew day?
    • Brew day was great. Along with beautiful weather, we had Dan's friendly dog Reilly and his wonderful housemate Kaylan to keep us company. We barbecued pork and washed it down with Dan's home-brewed beers on tap. Awesome! Dan is a wonderful teacher - the whole experience was smooth and seamless, probably because Dan has brewed dozens of times. He clearly explained the history and science of beer, and I left thinking that I could brew on my own in the future. 
  3. Any recommendation for first-time brewers?
    • First-time brewers: take photos; pace your beer consumption (stirring various hop varieties into 7 gallons of boiling wort at crotch level requires steady feet); and bring something for the barbecue.
This really was a great brew day. Since then, the beer has been dry hopped and racked to secondary.

Now I just need to get some of those snifter glasses . . .

Cheers to JP and Sylvia!

Thursday, August 2, 2012


8/2/12 is IPA Day!

To be honest, I hadn't actually heard of IPA Day until I looked at Twitter this morning. Either way, in celebration of someone's clearly made-up but no less awesome nod to IPAs, I thought it would be fun to post a brief description and recipe for the IPAs I've developed and brewed in the past year:
VCB in its natural environment.
  • Kelley Point IPA- Kelley Point is VCB's award-winning IPA. It's a dark gold/copper color in the glass with six malt varieties and enough residual sugars to balance a half-dozen hop varieties. Aromas are floral and piney; hop flavor is piney all the way (64IBUs and 6.7% ABV ).
  • Confluence Imperial IPA- Kelley Point is where the Willamette and Columbia rivers flow together.  Confluence Imperial IPA is a 120min version of Kelley Point. Geographically and in the glass, Confluence is Kelley Point's vaguely ominous counterpoint. OG/FG are turned up to match nearly 100 IBUs (94IBUs and 8.8% ABV).
  • Ivanhoe Imperial IPA- With an OG of 1.080 and hop additions every 10min for an hour and a half, there's nothing subtle about Ivanhoe Imperial IPA. Gold/copper color in the glass with loads of grain and hops. There's just more IPA to love (85IBUs and 7.9% ABV).
  • St. Johns Spiced IPA- St. Johns Spiced IPA is the IPA you fall for when you fall for an IPA in the fall. The recipe is built on Kelley Point's grain bill with hops specifically chosen to balance spices like star anise, black peppercorn, cardamom, clove, ginger, and cinnamon (73IBUs and 6.0% ABV ).
  • James John Jasmine IPA- James John Jasmine IPA is dark in the glass and balances three malts with four hop varieties. There is just enough jasmine tea at flame-out to give the beer a nose perfectly suited to the first days of summer (50IBUs and 6.5% ABV). 
  • Swan Island IPA- Before white IPAs were a thing, a few brewpubs in Portland specialized in lighter IPAs (color usually in the 7-8 SRM range). Swan Island is a nod to this particular iteration of the IPA and flavors celebrate the hop characteristics of its IPA brethren (78IBUs and 6.0% ABV).

Cheers to!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Breaking Bad

There's only one way for a home brewer to celebrate the arrival of Breaking Bad, Season 5:

There was a memorable scene in Season 2 of Breaking Bad where Hank Schrader hears explosions in his garage at night. Things have been escalating around Hank and his assumption is that the sounds represent an imminent threat.

Rousing himself from bed in the middle of the night with gun in hand, Hank approaches the garage only to discover he needs to get back to basics with his Schraderbrau home brew (maybe the 101 class at Homebrew Exchange?).

Turns out there is no intrudor; Hank bottled too early or wasn't careful with sanitizing and now he's got a ping pong table covered with bottle bombs.

Cheers to Breaking Bad!