100% Popcorn Malt Ale – Tasting

100% Popcorn AleMy excitement about this beer, which was probably very evident from my original post on it, was tamed a bit when I went to bottle and measured the FG. After correction, it was about 1.001. What was supposed to be a 4% ABV beer turned into about 5.3%, and with such a low FG I feared it would be very thin and/or a little boozy.

I would imagine this low FG is due to the extended mash, specifically the ill-advised extra 1 hour rest with fresh amylase at 63C/145F as was recommended in the instructions for the amylase formula. This particular amylase formula has beta-amylase, but being of fungal or bacterial origin I wasn’t (and still am not) sure it has the same temperature range as grain amylase. So, I went with the optimal temperature given, which in retrospect probably meant the optimal temperature for converting all starch and dextrins into fermentable sugar.

Fortunately, it looks like it wasn’t that big of a problem. Notes follow.

Bottled 8/3/13, exactly two weeks after brewing. FG was 1.001 from OG 1.042. Primed with corn sugar to about 2 vols. Yielded only 7 bottles from about 1 gallon due to excessive hop material in the fermenter.

  • Appearance: Reddish-gold, a bit darker than the picture suggests. Poured with a smooth one-finger head. After five minutes there was a thin head still present that lasted until the end. I had feared starch haze due to the iodine-positive mash, but ended up with chill haze instead. This has always been the case for me so I believe I just need to improve my chilling situation. I have since gotten a pond pump so I can circulate ice water through the chiller.
  • Aroma: Very fruity, with apple/pear and slight banana esters and acetaldehyde. My last attempt with S-04 had almost exactly the same character, which I find unpleasant without malt and/or hop notes to back it up. I definitely got more esters than I wanted with the temperature at 18C/65F. The acetaldehyde died down a bit during bottle conditioning, thankfully, but it is still distracting. Perhaps the S-04’s high flocculation and/or the fact that I used a two-gallon bucket fermenter that doesn’t seal airtight had something to do with it.
  • Taste: The aroma definitely matches the flavor. It could use much more bitterness and hop flavor but is pleasant as-is. The candy notes from the malt are not as prominent as I feared, perhaps due to the fruity notes from the yeast. It tastes quite a bit thin thanks to the overattenuation, but fortunately not boozy or hot. It tastes surprisingly like a 100% wheat beer. I honestly notice zero obvious corn character.
  • Mouthfeel: Although the flavor is thinner than I’d wanted, the body is surprisingly OK. Perhaps there is enough protein to contribute to a nice mouthfeel even without the malty backbone I’d hoped for. The moderate level of carbonation is spot on what I wanted.
  • Overall: Not a bad beer, all things considered. With the slightly haphazard home malting and long brewing process I am very pleased I ended up with something drinkable. I am definitely disappointed by the overattenuation but it wasn’t a disaster. The biggest flaw by far is the excessive fruitiness and acetaldehyde, not strange flavors from the malt or anything like that. It is definitely reminiscent of a 100% wheat beer. Actually, some of the flavor notes are similar of more ordinary wheat beers, yeast character excluded. I have since noticed that same mild candy flavor in some wheat beers. Perhaps it is the lack of “graininess” from the barley husk that makes it apparent? In that case, I wonder if using something like rice hulls in the mash (versus only the lauter, which I didn’t do here either) could contribute something positive.

I will definitely be malting and brewing with popcorn again. Its easy availability, good sprouting rate and low price make it very attractive as an alternative grain. I think it’s a good, though laborious, way to go for celiacs or anyone with an interest in brewing with things other than barley. As others have found before me, the hardest beers to emulate with other grains are pale ales. As such, I will definitely have to try other styles. Saison and Berliner Weisse stand out in my head as good styles to try in the future. I will definitely have to step up to malting 5 lbs. or more at once so I can make bigger batches, too. Next time I will also brew without any added amylase, but definitely keeping the complex mash.

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3 thoughts on “100% Popcorn Malt Ale – Tasting

  1. Pingback: 100% Malted Popcorn Ale | DC Yeast Lab

  2. Pingback: Popcorn Malt Hefe-Maisbier | DC Yeast Lab

  3. Pingback: Tasting: Popcorn Malt Hefe-Maizen | DC Yeast Lab

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