Wednesday 16 March 2011

Barley beer

It's like wheat beer but made with barley.

My studies on fermentation have lead to to the suspicion that most of the characteristic taste of wheat beers come from the yeast not the wheat. So to investigate this I decided to make a beer with a wheat beer yeast but all barley malt. As I have no doubt that this is an entirely original idea I look forward to seeing my innovation included in next years beer style guides.

The wort for the barley beer was too hoppy really and the hop flavour came through strongly. Who'd have thought wheat beer yeast was one of the ones that are good for hop character? Underneath the hops the 'wheat beer' taste was very evident though. The beer also poured clear, confirming my suspicion that a lot of wheat beer haze is due to wheat proteins not the yeast.

I passed round a few bottles for the visiting CAMRA members on Saturday and it proved surprisingly popular. Could I be onto the next big thing in the world of beer nerdery? Black IPAs are so old hat, barley beer is where it's at!


  1. Perhaps. I've had beers made with a regular ale strain and a wheat beer grist before, so this would make an interesting comparison.

  2. I was advised recently to get on with brewing a black IPA before it looked like I was jumping on the band-wagon. My reply was that I thought I'd already missed it.

    So, I'd better be quick and start using this "barley" stuff before I miss that one.

    Seriously, I think it's an interesting idea to brew a set of beers with the only difference being the yeast.

  3. As I understand it wheat malt in a beer up to a certain proportion will probably cause it to be cloudy but, counter-intuitively, as the amount of wheat malt increases the beer tends to drop bright. At the normal 50% barley/wheat malt ration common in german wheat beers the latter conditions prevail. Certainly my 50/50 wheat beers tend to be as clear as a clear thing.

    It is common practice for German breweries to remove the primary yeast, add a non-flocculant bottling yeast, and transport wheat beer kegs upside-down in an effort to keep the yeast in suspension. And a German bar person will roll your wheat beer bottle on the counter top for most of the evening before pouring it in order to give you as much yeast as possible.

    Non-germans can use Biocloud or Tanal A. Yum yum.

  4. Mentaldental: If you use Copper finings even a very wheat-heavy beer will be crystal clear.

    Don't real Germans acidify the Mash or something bla bla to act a bit like Copper finings, seeing as copper finings would be illegal while wearing lederhosen.

  5. I've made a wheat beer with 'normal' yeast and it was very boring. In fact looking a recipes wheat beer and Belgian beers you can see they have pretty dull grists and low hop rates so without the exciting yeasts would all be quite dull.

    This could be a problem with doing a series of different yeast beers. Do you make and interesting beer that might mask the effects of the different yeasts or do you go with something dull which with some yeasts might remain dull.