University of Richmond School of Professional & Continuing Studies - Beer Brewer Professional Certificate – Week 4
In week 4, we continued our introduction to brewing terminology, however, we did it while brewing beer. This have been my favorite week to date. In this cohort, there are brewers of all levels. I myself, have only done extract brewing before. It’s an easier process that doesn’t take as much equipment, but this week we did an all-grain beer.
We really didn’t go over anything in unbelievable detail, but we did go through the entire brewing process. I don’t know about you, but I learn by doing. I can have somebody explain a process to me several times, and I’ll get it eventually, but not as quickly as having me go through the process on my own. Brewing an all-grain beer has given me a base point to refer back to during the rest of the course.
We were told that we were the first cohort that they brewed a beer in the classroom (previously, all of the brewing had taken place in breweries toward the end of the program). As such, there were some kinks to work out, and, if you’ve ever brewed an all-grain beer before, you know that the entire process takes more than the three hours we have allotted for class each week. We made it as far as the boil, but the sparging process took so long (we were brewing an imperial milk stout) that we didn’t get as far as our instructor would have liked. In the future, I think it might be something that they do on a Saturday to allow enough time to get through everything.
I loved being able to see, taste, and smell the grains that we were using to brew the beer. Getting to experience each of them individually and then smelling them when they were all combined in the mash was incomparable. Having consumed a fair amount of imperial milk stouts in my day, it was fantastic being able to pick out some of the flavors I was used to expecting in a milk stout and see where they came from.
We were also taught some of the tips and tricks of the brewing process, like adding rice hulls to the mash to keep the grains from balling up and becoming too thick for the sparging process. Having never brewed an all-grain beer before, I didn’t even know rice hulls were used during the brewing process.
There are a lot of times during the brewing process where you just have to wait (like the mashing process or the sparging process). During those periods, we went over 130+ commonly used brewing terminology.
Some of the ones I found most interesting were:
Decoction: Exhaustive system of mashing in which portions of the wort are removed, heated, then returned to the original vessel.
Kräusening: The addition of a small proportion of partly fermented wort to a brew during lagering. Stimulates secondary fermentation and imparts a crisp, spritzy character.
I’m really looking forward to seeing how my understanding of the brewing process evolves between our first beer in class, and toward the end when we start brewing with breweries and have even more of a knowledge base.
Next week we start with an introduction to essential ingredients.