So this past weekend I started making a stein beer based off information I got both from medieval brewing texts and a recent article in “Brew your Own” Magazine.
I’ve also been fortunate enough to find some videos both professional and homemade on the subject.
The concept is to get the rocks hot enough so that when you drop them into the wort it produces a rolling boil. This causes the wort to heat for the hop additions but also causes the sugars to carmelize on the rock and when the yeast is pitched it tends to give the beer a caramel flavoring. As I’m not a big fan of caramel (but still wanting to experience the process) I came up with a simple beer recipe based on what was available to me:
Kythe’s Stein Beer:
- 6 lbs Pale Malt
- 4 lbs Munich Malt
- 6 oz Tettnanger Cones (Fresh Frozen) @ 60 min
- 6 oz Tettnanger Cones (Fresh Frozen @ 15 min
I had a 5 lb piece of (what I believe to be) Basalt obtained from the ocean many years ago. My wife has used the stone on cold evenings by putting it on the woodstove and taking the rock to bed with her. It’s slightly smaller than a Curling Stone and we had a barbecue grill going so I popped it onto the grill and watched as the thermometer edged upwards of 500 degrees. With enough time, the rock would create the desired heat flash we were expecting.
We struck the grain at 180F so that we’d get a comfortable 155-160F mash temp. 2 Quarts were run through ensuring the temp was even and removing as much fo the protiens from the wort as possible. After 1 hr we drew off the first runnings and then sparged the remaining sugars out until we matched up to 5 gallons.
The thermometer on the barbecue grill was solid buried above 650 degrees (which was the last temp showing on the dial). We put the wort into a stainless steel pot and I worked the rock off the grill and we dropped the rock into the wort.
We all jumped back about 4 ft expecting a rolling boil but were very disapointed to find the rock made a solid thump at the bottom and a few bubbles came to the top rather lazily.
We stood there for a while hoping perhaps there would be a delayed effect but no dice. The wort exhuded a little steam but that was it. We removed the rock and discovered it had starte to build up a thin film of dark crust. Not the whole rock but a good bit of it was stained with black from the heat and then the carmelization process almost starting. Attempts to reheat the rock only repeated the previous response.
After a bit of contemplation I’m suspecting we just weren’t seeing high enough temps. The Youtube videos showed rocks the size of apples being used and a rolling boil but those were being pulled directly from the heart of a woodfire. The grill apparently just didn’t get it up high enough in temp.
Plans are being made to get the wort back into the stainless steel pot and hopefully with a woodfire, get the rock hot enough to boil.
until then, we remain “to be continued”…………