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Old 08-22-2009, 09:15 AM   #1
TheChemist
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Default Peat Water and Scottish Brewing

So, I've been traveling around the UK and living in hostels, which is why I've been on-again-off-again (not that anyone would notice ). However, I've now been hired on as a pastry chef for several months in a scottish hotel in the middle of no-where. The head chef has expressed an interest in brewing, and I've agreed to help set up a mini-AG system just for kicks (probably picnic cooler and cheesecloth with batch sparging, unless anyone has a better suggestion?).

My main concern here though, is that the water is brown. I kid you not, there is a peat tinge to the water that varies from day to day. The peat is a challenge in and of itself, but since it changes constantly I can't even really use specific analysis because it will be slightly different by the time I go to brew. Now, since this is just for fun and we're not going to worry too much about adjusting for water chemistry (that's too much work for what these guys want to do anyway), I'm having to figure out a style/malt type that will keep a reasonably stable mash and not result in a gross end product.

I'm leaning towards a brown ale, or a classic porter, at least to start off and convince the kitchen to play a bit more with brewing. Any specific suggestions, based off knowledge and/or experience? I'm also looking at historic Scottish recipes, because those would obviously have developed with this kind of water being used. Any help would be much appreciated!

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Old 08-22-2009, 04:01 PM   #2
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I think you are on the right track with scottish recipes. Try a scotch ale, one thing I read is that one of the best ingreadents in a true scotish ale is the water. Now i'm only new to homebrewing (i've only done 2 extracts, but just got all the equipment for AG), but from what i've read about Scotch ales is most of the flavour is from the malt and water.

Good luck and let us know what you decide on and how it turns out.

P.S. my first AG bacth is going to be a Scotish Ale 70-/

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Old 08-23-2009, 05:18 AM   #3
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Can you obtain a water filter?

Or you can boil the crap out of the water drive off any gasses and hopfuly odd flavors

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Old 08-23-2009, 07:48 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Killercal View Post
I think you are on the right track with scottish recipes. Try a scotch ale, one thing I read is that one of the best ingreadents in a true scotish ale is the water. Now i'm only new to homebrewing (i've only done 2 extracts, but just got all the equipment for AG), but from what i've read about Scotch ales is most of the flavour is from the malt and water.

Good luck and let us know what you decide on and how it turns out.

P.S. my first AG bacth is going to be a Scotish Ale 70-/
yeah the water is important to accentuate the malt, but what is also important about brewing a true Scottish beer is to have peat absent from it.

I would look into filtering or something to remove that as well.
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Old 08-23-2009, 10:53 AM   #5
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If the water is peat-tinged, I suspect it is quite acidic and may interfere with mash enzymes. How does this water taste?

The offensive flavors of peated malt shouldn't be present in the water, as it is the smoking that makes it so overpowering and unbalanced.

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Old 08-25-2009, 12:01 PM   #6
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yeah the water is important to accentuate the malt, but what is also important about brewing a true Scottish beer is to have peat absent from it.

I would look into filtering or something to remove that as well.
Sorry, just new to brewing and learning everything. That is good to know, but in a book (Designing Great Beers) it talks about some ale that "possessed the peat smoke flavour, or reek as it is called".

Now he might not want this flavour in his beer, so that would be the need for some kind of filtering.

By the way, how would you get that flavour out of the water? (remember, I'm new so it might be a dumb question)

Cheers
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Old 08-25-2009, 12:29 PM   #7
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If it were me, I would strongly suggest getting some type of extensive filtering system. Maybe even an RO system.

How do the guests at the hotel like drinking brown water? I can't imagine that is good for cooking (pastries especially).

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Old 08-25-2009, 02:47 PM   #8
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Sorry, just new to brewing and learning everything. That is good to know, but in a book (Designing Great Beers) it talks about some ale that "possessed the peat smoke flavour, or reek as it is called".

Now he might not want this flavour in his beer, so that would be the need for some kind of filtering.

By the way, how would you get that flavour out of the water? (remember, I'm new so it might be a dumb question)

Cheers
Well in a Traditional Scottish ale as in from Scotland, there would be no peat at all. Over here in America where we associate Scottish ale with scotch somehow and people got it in their heads that the beer should have peat smoked malt in it as well. So an American Interpretation of the style may have that flavor present, but if you want to go for the true style then leave it out.

It is something that wont die (and personally I hate); peat in scotch beers. I like scotch but leave it out of the beer. (Jamil agrees with me anyways, for whatever that's worth)

But as always brew what tastes good to you.

As for in the water, I would think you would need some kind of filtering system. I have no idea if just a 20micron or less house filter would work, or if you would need to go RO as said above.
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Old 08-25-2009, 04:10 PM   #9
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If you can drink the water, I say try it, it'll probably the best scottish style ale you've had. By all means though do not add any peat smoked malt, that is for whiskey or other ale styles.

Although I'll wager in the oldest of times, both were brewed/distilled with peat smoked malt or some other malt dried with wood or anything else they got their hands on that would burn. I can't imagine some old scotty saying nah we can't use that malt for our ale it's been peat smoked.

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