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-   -   I grow sweet sorghum organically (http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f12/i-grow-sweet-sorghum-organically-369883/)

BobbiLynn 11-25-2012 12:25 PM

I grow sweet sorghum organically
 
Nothing to do with my brewing habit, but thought it might be related...I've got a huge box of seed heads I saved from the last harvest, going to plant about 10 acres this spring. I'll have 10 X that extra, enough to grow 100 acres but I don't have that much room. What can brewers do with sweet sorghum? If you grow the seed and chew on the stalks, it tastes like a cross between honey and sugar cane. The seed heads form on the top and you can pop them to make a "popcorn" like treat or grind them for a sweet meal. The stalks can be pressed to make syrup. When it comes to brewing beer, how can sweet sorghum be used?

TNGabe 11-25-2012 01:23 PM

Wow, 10 acres? Do you have a mill or do you just grow if to for seed? I've thought about using sorghum syrup in place of candy syrup in a dubbel, but haven't done it. I'd never thought of using ground sorghum meal as an adjunct. I'd think you could use the meal in place of corn. Can you extract the sugar by just boiling the cane in water if you don't have a mill.

BobbiLynn 11-25-2012 01:55 PM

I planted last year just for seed, about one acre and it grew like a mad cow. No, I don't have a mill, just selling my extra seed. Locally, people take it and use it for livestock feed. But, I'm thinking, couldn't it be used to brew beer instead?

Robbo2099 11-26-2012 07:15 AM

Sweet sorghum syrup can be used to make the best gluten-free beer you have ever tasted -- in fact, you'd never know it's gluten-free and is one of my favourite home-brews I've ever made. It's brewed as an ale from the syrup, not the grain, and has a sort of fresh "lemony" flavour with loads of aromas of traditional ales. My partner is Czech and also coeliac so can't have anything with gluten in it. When I made the first batch she just loved it -- and Czech beer-drinkers are not easy to please. I get the wetpack kits from these folks. http://www.countrybrewer.com.au/categories/Beer-Brewing/Concentrates/Gluten-Free/

The guys here in Oz get the sweet sorghum syrup from the USA, as we don't produce it locally here yet, though I have been working on a food and fuel project for a few years to change that! http://www.agrifuels.com.au.

I don't know what the formulation the brewer uses to produce the wetpack, but you may be able to get it out of him. Ask for Chris! Good luck. Give it a go. You won't be disappointed. Cheers, Rob in Sydney Australia.

Pappers_ 11-26-2012 02:13 PM

I've also had a sorghum syrup beer and it was tasty.

I wonder if you could mash the sorgham seeds/grains? Maybe try some with some two-row barley? Or maybe try to steep them and taste the tea, see what flavors it imparts?

Robbo2099 11-27-2012 12:15 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Pappers_ (Post 4621816)
I've also had a sorghum syrup beer and it was tasty.

I wonder if you could mash the sorgham seeds/grains? Maybe try some with some two-row barley? Or maybe try to steep them and taste the tea, see what flavors it imparts?

I've not seen any evidence of anyone malting sweet sorghum seeds to make a traditional beer out of it, but it would be great to see someone with some malting experience take this one on.

Roughly 1% of the total population of western society is coeliac so there is a potentially huge market for good gluten free beer -- the biggest problem to date has been that most commercially marketed gluten-free beer costs a fortune and tastes like crap.

It's probably important to use a white, low tannin grain, or at least a blend of white and red grains, otherwise I suspect the flavour would be less than wonderful.

shelly_belly 11-27-2012 02:12 PM

Do you know what cultivar you have? I am looking for some to malt with a diastatic power high enough for self conversion.

Robbo2099 11-28-2012 02:17 AM

2 Attachment(s)
Quote:

Originally Posted by shelly_belly (Post 4625244)
Do you know what cultivar you have? I am looking for some to malt with a diastatic power high enough for self conversion.

I think you may be breaking new ground here.

The variety we've been using is a proprietary variety developed in Thailand for use in Australia that produces large white grains. It's still undergoing crop and analysis tests and not yet commercially available. Queensland University of Technology has done a fairly extensive chemical analysis on the stalk content and the grains but I don't believe there was included in that analysis any enzymatic variables like alpha or beta amylase, etc.

As far as I am aware, no one has tried to malt the grain of this variety of sweet sorghum and written about it so it's pretty much uncharted territory. It's quite different from most any of the USA varieties that we compared it against such as M81E, Keller, Topper, Dale, Italian and a few others, most of which produce small grains with dark, high tannin content. I'm not aware of what flavour impact the amount of tannin will impart but I would think it would be significant.

Also, you may be aware that Anheuser Busch has marketed a relatively successful sorghum grain beer in the USA for a few years called "Redbridge". I've never tried it as we don't have it here in Oz.

http://www.redbridgebeer.com/homePage.aspx
http://www.redbridgebeer.com/about/ingredientsAndBrewing.aspx

I'm guessing that it's made from traditional sorghum grain (red) grain and not sweet sorghum grain.

my colleagues at the Sweet Sorghum Ethanol Association could probably point you to chemistry figures for various USA varieties. http://www.sseassociation.org/

As an interesting sidenote -- we approached one of the major brewers here in Oz about potential offtake agreements to use our sweet sorghum for an Australian gluten-free commercial beer and the thing they put them off most was that they wouldn't be able to market the product as "beer" in Australia because anything called "beer" must be made primarily from malted grain! So, if you can demonstrate the viability of a sweet sorghum grain-based beer, there is commercial potential in it.

Let's keep this thread going. Love to hear your thoughts.

Cheers,

Rob

BELOW:
Top: AgriFuels sweet sorghum grain head
Bottom: Traditional grain sorghum head

sudbuster 11-28-2012 02:35 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by BobbiLynn (Post 4619063)
Nothing to do with my brewing habit, but thought it might be related...I've got a huge box of seed heads I saved from the last harvest, going to plant about 10 acres this spring. I'll have 10 X that extra, enough to grow 100 acres but I don't have that much room. What can brewers do with sweet sorghum? If you grow the seed and chew on the stalks, it tastes like a cross between honey and sugar cane. The seed heads form on the top and you can pop them to make a "popcorn" like treat or grind them for a sweet meal. The stalks can be pressed to make syrup. When it comes to brewing beer, how can sweet sorghum be used?

Forget all that above. But, Sorghum cane syrup is a big winner with Biscuits and Butter in these parts. :) Have you ever made any syrup? Cutting the canes, deleaving, deheading, pushing the canes, boiling down the juice? Not to many men alive today have got those skills.

RobertRGeorge 11-28-2012 02:44 AM

I have malted sorghum, and used it to make traditional kaffir. Processed the grains just like barley, sprouting and mashing, and sparging and then boiled the wort with some dagga leaf. Then I incubated it at 80F for 20 hours with some lactobacillus culture from the health food store. Then I pitched some ale yeast, let it ferment two days, and it was ready to drink. Sort of a grapefruit flavor, and pretty inebriating.


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