If every one of my brewing experiments was a success, I would be dissapointed. This may shock you, or you may understand that success doesn’t always produce learning. Sometimes the failures you come across can be just as educational. Thomas Edison was once asked why he continued to test substances for the filament in the lightbulb. At this point he had 500 failed tests. A scientist of the time asked him “You have 500 failures, doesn’t that discourage you?” To which he replied “No, I’ve learned of 500 substances that can’t be used for my needs.”
For example: Chickpea Beer. I found a source (sort of) that spoke of a Medieval Beer made of Chickpeas. It talked about how to sprout the chickpeas, roasting and grinding them, and then boiling them with hops and fermenting with ale yeast. The beverage was being brought back by an Israeli Brewery and based on the information given, it seemed to be fairly straight forward.
Hops (1 oz of Tetnanger)
Mortar and Pestle
So oddly enough, the reference I used the first time that had the original recipe is now unavailable. The webpage doesn’t exist anymore. This was after I followed the instructions but before I could copy the original recipe and post it here. This probably should have been a key off there was something fishy. The original Israeli Brewery page no longer claims it’s a medieval beverage.
So to start we got a large quantity of Chickpeas and soaked them in water for 3 days until they started to sprout:
As you can see, two days of soaking and the chickpeas were sprouting just like you’d malt grain. I rotated the peas several times so that none of the peas were sitting directly in the water too long. Also the water started developing a funky smell, not unlike warm cheese so I drained the water and replaced with fresh a couple times over 2 days until the sprouting was complete.
The Chickpeas were then layed across 2 sheetpans and at 160 degrees I dried them out over the span of 12 hrs (overnite) so that the chickpeas became dry and brittle (it was malted). The drying and malting process was pretty unpleasant as it continued to smell like hot cheese (and not the good kind, more like the artificial mac n cheese variety).
The chickpeas were then ground using a Mortar & Pestle until it was mostly powder with a few lumps. Sparge water was put over the mix at 170*F and let sit for 2 hrs. Did I mention that the cheese smell wasn’t getting better?
The mixture was then drained off into a pot and boiled with 1 oz of Tetnanger hops. Strangely the hops didn’t improve the smell. It was then covered and yeast was pitched. It was allowed to ferment for 2 days before I became concerned that a rabid racoon had gotten in a fight with a skunk and they both died under the counter somewhere in my kitchen. Removing the top was a mistake and I didn’t dare taste it for fear of Ptomaine poisoning.
At this point the entire batch was dumped in the woods. Over the next couple of days I noticed the coyotes weren’t howling each night anymore. This may not be related but it seemed rather coincidental. Regardless, the beer is now being touted as a Gluten Free alternative and for all my efforts it probably wasn’t a period recipe to begin with but a nice marketing gimmick. Live and learn.
Some of my other favorite failures are the “Pictish Heather Ale” I tried to impress my wife with. It needed the heather to be heated above 1408F before brewing with it. Ended up being very sour. My first attempt at Sake (never did get the deposit back from the apt) and a chili beer I once made that would eat the glass mug it was served in. Don’t let failures get you down. They can be expensive but they make you aware of common problems that can occur. Like my father says “Betcha won’t do that again”.
Ok so here’s where all the research and work from 2 years comes to it’s fruition. All these pieces I’ve been doing seperately come together in one Major project:
So first we’re going to draw from our Decoction Mash recipe because this is the technique we’re going to use. The same recipe applies but we’re going older school. We’re going to start by using our Hot rock beer and Stein Beer technique we did at the Inn and at Pennsic a couple years ago. So let’s start:
First, we’re using the same recipe we used in the Decoction Mash recipe:
Original Recipe and Translation:
Johannes Colerum Berlinensem 1596
The German –
Wiewol ich droben gesagt/dz die weise zu brewen in einem jedern Lande und ort von den Einwonern mus gelernet werden/So wil ich doch hier anzeigen/was wir allhier zu Berlin für eine art zu brewen haben. 1. Schütt man die Gerste in eine Butte/und lefft sie drey Tage und Nacht drinnen weychen/im Winter auch wol viere. 2. Schütt mans auff einen Söller oder Pühne uber einen hauffen/biß es beginnet zu keimen oder zu schiessen. 3. Rüret mans immer ein wenig und aber ein wenig von einander/biß es an den spitzen fein lödicht wird. 4. Wenns genug geschossen oder gewaschen/so bringet mans fein weit von einander/und treugets/entweder in einer Stuben/oder in der Sonnen/oder in einem Dörrofen.
The translation –
As I said above/the wise must learn to brew in any one country and place from the residents/so I want to show here/what kind of brew we have here in Berlin. 1. Put the barley into a butt/and leave it for three days and nights/in Winter four is as well. 2. Put it in a pile or a heap/until it begins to germinate or shoot. 3. One always stirs it a little, but separates a little from another/until it has at the point a made a fine sprout. 4. When it is sufficiently shot or washed/so one brushes the fine parts far from it/and dries it/either in a stove-room/or in the sun/or in a drying-oven.
Mehlet mans auff der Mühlen ein wenig grob/dz sich das Mehl darinnen fein außschelet. 6. Lesset man Wasser in der Pfanne darzu sieden/und schüttet das gemahlene Maltz in die Butten/und geust das heisse Wasser drauff/und rürets umb. 7. Schöpffet mans miteinander aus der Butthen in die Pfanne oder Kessel/und rührets in der Pfanne oder Kessel wol umb/daß das Maltz nicht anbrennet/denn wenns anbrennete/so würde das Bier brandenthend. 8. Legt man Höltzer wie Lattenstück eines neben das ander in die Butthen/und Stroh umbher fein dichte drauff/daß das Maltz nicht durch das Stroh kan lauffen/die Butthe aber mus ein loch/und einen langen Zapffen vorgestackt haben.
Mill the meal a little coarse/so that the meal is finely separated. 6. Let water boil in the pan/ and put the ground malt into the butt/and pour the hot water on it/and stir it. 7. Scoop together from the butt into the pan or kettle/and stir it in the pan or kettle well/that the malt does not burn/because if it is burned/so would the beer be burnt. 8. Put one wooden lath next to another in the butt/and straw around it tightly/that the malt cannot run through the straw/the butt needs a hole/and to have a large tap in front.
Geust man das gekochte Maltz in die Butthen/auff das stroh/und zapffts abe/unn schöpfts oder samlets wider in eine andere Butte darneben/Ist des Maltz es viel/so macht man noch eine Pfanne oder Kessel voll heiß Wasser/unnd geusts auch darauff so viel als man Bier haben wil: Wil man gut Bier haben/so geust man wenig/wil man viel/aber nicht allzu köstlich Bier haben/so geust man viel.
Darnach/wenn das Bier also gesamlet ist von den Maltz/so geust man ein wenig daruon in die Pfanne oder Kessel/das die Pfanne etwan das dritte theil voll bier wird/schütt den Hopffen auch hinein in die Pfanne.
Sol das Bier lange ligen/so nimpt man ein wenig desto mehr Hopffe/sols aber nicht lang ligen/so nimpt man seiner etwan einen Scheffel weniger:und rührt ihn zu erst/und lests darnach miteinander sieden/so lange einen düncket/das es gnug ist/welches durch stetiges kosten mus erfahren werden/unnd da mus man fleissig zusehen/das es ja nicht rohhöpffet bleibet.
Wenn der Hopffe gnug mit dem Biere gesotten hat/so folget man nach mit den andern Bier auff der Böden/unnd geust die Pfanne vollend voll/und lefts damit auffsteden (du darffts als denn nicht mehr umbrüren.)
Pour the cooked malt into the butt/on the straw/and tap it/and draw or collect it again in another butt next to it./If there is a lot of malt/so make a pan or kettle full of hot water/and also pour onto it as much as one wants to have beer. If one wants good beer/then little is poured/if you want a lot/but not too delicious beer to have/so you pour a lot.
Afterwards/when the beer is collected from the malt/then pour a little into the pan or kettle/so the pan is about a third full of beer/put the hops into the pan.
If the beer should lie long/then add a little more hops/but if it should not lie long/one takes a little less from his bushel: and stir it first/and let it boil together/as long as one thinks/that it is enough/which must be experienced by constant tastes/and then you should be diligent/that raw hops do not remain.
When the hops have been boiled enough with the beer/so you follow with the other beer in the cask/and pour the pan full/and leave it to stand with (you must not boil it more.)
So now we’ve got our translation and our decoction. Now this may lose me a few points because I didn’t do an original recipe. I’ve done this one before and i’ll gladly admit it. But beyond that, this is going to be almost a new recipe as you will soon see.
10 Lb 6-Row Pale malt
10 Gal Hard Water (Well Water)
2oz Tettanger Hops
2 Large Stones
10-12 small stones
Water Heating barrel (food grade plastic in this case)
Malting Tun (in this case my thermos)
3 Containers (Using my steel pots but not for heating, just holding)
Now in this case we used the metal pots and plastic barrels I had. I could have bought a real barrel that would be used once made no sense when I have perfectly good containers that serve the same purpose. So that’s what we went with.
To start, we had to get the water hot. Which required heating the rocks.
I started by taking the first big rock and surrounding it with other rocks we intended to heat. A large fire was built around it and the secondary rock was put up against the fire. I let the stone heat for 2 hrs and continued to move the wood to keep it around the stones. Meanwhile the Barley I had malted was mixed with the other 9lbs of 6 row malt and prepped
After the two hours of rock heating we took the first big rock and dropped it into the water bucket. As seen HERE
The Process of moving the stone from the fire to the hot water bucket didn’t go exactly as planned
I was very impressed with the affects of the rock. The 10 gallons of water was roughly 50*F when we started. After dropping the rock in, we heard much rumbling in the barrel and after 20 min the water had already been raised to the level needed for the first wort temps (40C/ Protien Rest). The wort was kept at that level for 30 min and then we drew off the liquid from the malt and heated it with a bunch of the smaller stones
So after the protein rest, I was really nervous because the first sign things are going well is that you get the undigested proteins showing on every surface the malts have touched. Looking at the empty malt tun, we got our results:
So now the grains have gone into the second phase: Saccharification / Enzyme Rest(50*C). Unfortunately there’s no visible signs of anything happening except that the amino acids we pulled out during the protien rest are now having the sugars seperated. Again the liquid is pulled away from the grain bed and I’ve noticed during this process that the grain continues to act as a filter keeping any dirt or ash (from the rocks in the water) out of the liquid each time it’s drawn through the grain bed. It also gives the sugars left behind a chance to get caught up in the mix
So the liquid has been heated to 50*C and held there for another 30 min while I enjoyed a quick beverage. Again the liquid was seperated from the grain bed and there were just enough small rocks left to do the final mashout at 60*C for another at 30 min until the entire mash had been completed. At this point the hot water in the big barrel was moved. I was quite surprised to discover how even after 2 hrs, the temp was still too hot to put my hand in.
Now the wort was brought to a boil by the rocks in the bottom of the barrel. Once it was fully boiling, we added the tettnanger hops that I grew . The rock allowed the wort to boil for a full hour and probably would have continued for 2 more hours if allowed but we seperated the wort from the stones.
Now we’ve gotten the wort into the final vessel we’re using to cool the mix. During the cool down process, we’re going to add our adjunct beet sugar we made in lieu of cane sugar to up the sugar content.
So now the wort has been cooled and it goes into the carboy, it’s then introduced to the ale yeast that I harvested from a previous batch of beer. It took off and the beer brewed for 2 weeks at which point the beer was moved into an oak barrel for storage and serving at the Birka Paneling.
We will let you know the results
**Update. This beverage was paneled at Birka XXX/ Jan 26,2019. Final score was 95 out of 100. Strangely, the beetsugar use was frowned upon being used as an adjunct sugar. I’m thinking if I had left the beets out, I might have seen a perfect score because in some of the categories I got 14/15 and it was mentioned the beet sugar use wasn’t well documented. Who knew? Well it’s a grandmaster score so I can’t complain. Can’t ask for much more than that.