Fall is here. It’s here with passion. I took a trip to our favorite hiking and camping spot with my family last week. The colors where in full swing.
On our way, I saw some farmers sorting grain on the road. They had a stretch of road covered with grain. I’d observed this a couple weeks before but failed to stop and ask about the it.
This time I did stop. I saw the grain was wheat. I knew the perfect use for this was to put it in my next lambic-inspired brew. I used unmalted wheat grain in the last one. The romance of using grain grown in the area was too much to resist. My inner localvore took over.
It took a while to negotiate a price. The best part of bargaining was that we had no way to weigh the wheat and the price was based on a jin (斤). One jin is 500 grams which is dang close to a pound. After some haggling I walked away with a grocery sack full of grain.
Art, Science, and Mystery
I love the art of brewing. Art is essential. The creative process of taking a beer from my imagination and it ending up in my glass is priceless. This is a big reason I brew.
Science is cool too. It ensures that my beer and brewing practices get better. Science is how I know I can take reproduce my craft time after time. It’s the foundation for me.
Enter mystery. Using unmalted wheat adds to this. Apart from knowing where the wheat came from I know nothing about it. It could be terrible. I think its a safe bet as wheat (at the least the malted pale variety) doesn’t add too much flavor to beer and a general rule.
The feeling I get when I think about using this grain is hard to explain. It’s the same as growing my own hops. There is something inexplicably bad-ass about using something local. The connection to the end product is deepened. When I get to drink a beer made with Qinghai wheat, I will think of the incredible fall colors and hiking in Qun Jia valley. This will no doubt make my drinking experience richer.
Brewing is the fusion of art and science. It is a medium where we blend the two and the result is often something beautiful. Brewing is creating and creating is one of the best things I get to do.
Next time you’re brewing don’t be afraid to throw some magic in the kettle. Last brewday I made a Hefeweizen and a Traditional Bock. I played a bit of Rammstein just to make give it that extra dose of something German.
Comments are welcome!