A little Umami/Beer story for ya'
Well into the boil for my last batch of Willamette SMaSH, I realized that I was out of Irish Moss! Of course I was already brewing when I realized the shortage... What does one do? Improvise of course.
Twenty minutes of Google-time and a whole lot of useless information later, I learned that Irish Moss is actually Chondrus crispus (aka red algae).
Now, thinking to myself, "Self, do I have any other red algae laying around the house?" Strangely enough the answer was YES! I have a little stash of dried seaweed flakes I used for making soups and whatnot. The package said 'Porphyra perforata'. WTF? It came from the health food store, not my usual Nori.
More of my life wasted on Google: I found out that Porphyra perforata does contain carrageenan and would make a fine substitute for Irish Moss. So I brewed with it! [~3 grams dried weight]
Move along 6 weeks later: Friends ask me, "What did you do differently? Is this a new yeast?" This SMaSH is so much tastier than the last batch, same mash temp, same yeast, same ferm temp.. even the same bag of M.O.
Hmmm. That's when I remembered the substitution... It appears that Porphyra species contains some of the highest levels of glutamate compounds (umami-ness) amongst various common seaweeds and Chondrus c. contains the lowest amounts.
What do you think?
ps. I've tried a little experiement to illustrate this: Take a sip of a mild ale of something not-too-hoppy. Eat a little Nori and then take another sip of the same beer. Tastes better now, no? Food pairing?