Tuesday, July 5, 2011


For those of you in internetlandia with sensitive stomachs, avert your gaze from this post. Go read the next post, or the previous one. I'm sure they are both great, I wrote them after all.

The opportunity came for me to help a home brewer friend, Mike, with a beer brewing. He gave me the waste yeast when we bottled the beer over the weekend.

In keeping with the rules, yeast needs to be on its 3rd generation before it is considered to be 'challenge legal.' As I helped the brew that was the first generation. I needed to come up with a 2nd generation made of 'challenge legal' ingredients (also part of the yeast growing rules) in order to have a product ready for beer and bread making. Only problem is, none of the grains are ready yet. The oats, though not as abundant as I had hoped, are certainly hanging on their plants but they are far too green for cultivation right now. Mulberries are in abundance and I have straight sugar, but I'd like not to feed my yeast only simple sugars.

What I do have is a few tupperwares filled with corn left over from the end of the last challenge. As young plants begin to sprout they produce enzymes that convert their starches into sugars so that the seedling has nourishment. Barley has been bred over centuries to produce an excess of those enzymes so it is optimal to brew using sprouted barley. Corn does not have the genetics to produce these same enzymes. You know what does produce those enzymes? Your mouth.

I took better than a pound of dried corn and ground it into cornmeal. I then spent a fun afternoon chewing it up and expectorating it into a container. Brewers typically soak the grains they are brewing with in hot water to get the enzymes to activate. From our experience brewing a few weeks ago the grains were soaked for 90 minutes at 160 degrees.

I don't know how human enzymes convert starch in comparison to plant enzymes, but as I understand it you can generally leave them at a lower temperature for a longer time and the starches will still be converted. I took my chewed corn and put it into my crock-pot. I added enough water to cover the whole mass of corn. I let it steep there on the 'warm' setting for 2-1/2 hours. I then added an approximate equal measure of mulberries . I was originally going to add straight sugar. At the last moment decided to use up the abundance of fruit I have in my refrigerator. I mixed them up real good and added 8 pints of water. Into the boiling pot!

I had to boil it in 2 pots to start. My big pot was still filled with mulberry wine at the time so the largest pot I had was 6 quarts. Once both pots reached a boil I started a 45 minute timer. I was boiling the grain and berries in the water, I did not mash and sparge it like a brewer does. After half an hour or so passed I began scooping the berry/corn muck out of the water. the smaller pot was getting quite thick and I'd lost a good bit of volume so I combined them into a single pot. I feel I was lucky that all that goop did not burn to the bottom of the pot and ruin the flavor of my beverage. With 10 minutes left in the boil I added a handful of ground chicory root, my other giant project for the day.

I ended up with about 5 quarts of wort (boiled liquid) with a SG of 1.055. Once the temperature dropped enough I pitched it directly on top of the old yeast. I did not do anything else to process it. After pitching I realized that I should have aerated it to get some more oxygen into it for the yeast. I checked today and the brew is happily bubbling away. I guess the yeasties had enough of all that air breathing and was quite prepared to feast on more sugars. I plan to bottle it in about 3 weeks.

This brew will not be legal for the challenge, though I invite any and all brave challengers to imbibe it with me!


  1. Very technical! I'll try a sip or two!

  2. I bottled today - final SG was 1.012, giving a ABV of about 5-1/4%. I only ended up with 6 bottles, the rest of the fluid volume is combined with the yeast slurry at the bottom of the bucket. It is a cloudy deep purple color with a pleasant flavor. I plan to imbibe in about 3 weeks.