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Feeling wild? Let's formulate a Sweet Potato Ale!

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Cap'n Jewbeard

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Hey gang...

Okay, so here's where we stand. I was reading the "Thanksgiving Ale" thread, where the initial poster made an off-hand, joke-y reference to a sweet potato ale.

So I thought (and here I quote): "Wha-wha? Well... why not?"

So I've done a little research on a partial mash recipe. My hope is that it will come out tasting a little like the pumpkin ale, but maybe somewhat sweeter. The biggest challenge, and what I need the most help with, is figuring out what the sweet potatos will add as far as fermentable sugars/starches, and how to extract them.

Apparently one already exists in Japan, called Imo, I think.

This is a recipe I found for a regular potato brew, using (I think) all-grain plus extract... (I know that's a contradiction, bear with me).

Meister Potato Brau (for 5 gallons)


5 pounds 6-row domestic barley malt, crushed
2.5 pound grade A Idaho potatoes (washed and grated)
3 pounds M&F pale unhopped malt extract
1/3 oz Burton salts
1 tsp. Irish Moss
1.25 oz Hallertauer leaf hops
1 oz Cascade leaf hops
ale yeast
sugar (or whatever) for priming

Her notes (some of them, anyway): "The grains I prepare by submitting them to a protein rest at about 122 F for 45 minutes. During this time I boil the shredded potatoes in a second pot. This boiling serves to gelatinize the starches in the potatoes, maaking them easily converted to sugars by the active enzymes in the barley grains. As I noted above, potato starch is easily gelatinized; it is not necessary to boil the potatoes prior to adding them to the mash. However, by adding the boiling potato soup (this is what your kitchen will smell like at first) to the mash, you can conviently raise the temperature of your mash up to 155 F, an ideal temperature for converting the starches to sugars."
"Maintain the temperature of the mash using whatever methods you currently use until all of the starches have been converted to sugars. Lately this has taken me between 30 and 45 minutes. Use an iodine test to determine when this conversion is complete. Sparge as you would do with any other all grain beer, discarding the spent potatoes, no matter how strong an urge for cooked, shredded potato you develop during the mashing procedure."

Again, my goal is to alter the recipe to make it more hearty, more sweet-potato friendly, and make it doable on an electric stove top. (I'm not ready for an AG setup yet). I might also add in some specialty grains, to give it some more character.

I am seeking advice and consent- maybe this could be the Big New Thing for HBT.
 
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Cap'n Jewbeard

Cap'n Jewbeard

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Dunno yet, but as you are a Legendary Alchemist... might I pick your brain? Any thoughts on how to do this?
 

Pumbaa

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The biggest challenge, and what I need the most help with, is figuring out what the sweet potatos will add as far as fermentable sugars/starches, and how to extract them.
I have no clue on how much fermentables you'll get from them but I would guess it would be a lot. Figure Vodka is made from taters so I would assume there is a whole lot of sugar in them bad boys. It wouldnt make sense to try to make vodka from something that would take forever to concentrate.

As for extracting the sugars I would guess mashing in the way discribed in her notes would be fine. You might want to add some rice hulls or something, since the sweet taters are going to be a big gooey mess, to help prevent a stuck sparge
 
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Cap'n Jewbeard

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I'm thinking I might just dump the potato pieces in a grain bag (with the other grains- or maybe use two) and do kind of a half-sparge, where I suspend the bag over the pot and pour 150-F water through it. This seems to have worked on previous brews.

Here are some notes on a sweet potato ale made by a microbrew-pub in Connecticut:

"With the Sweet Potato Ale, the spices dazzle your noze before your lips reach the glass. The molasses and vanilla captivated my palate, as they emphasized--then hid--the sweet potato flavor from one sip to the next. I believe that if there's any justice in the craft brew world, sweet potato varieties will supplant pumpkin as the selected holiday brew for Thanksgiving from New Haven to Newport Beach."

So- molasses...vanilla... are those flavor notes that will be produced by malts, or do I need to formulate the recipe with molasses and vanilla in it? This may require a call to that brewery...
 

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I say the Sweet Potatoes should be baked for about an hour at 425, maybe even an hour and a half. This will get the sugars nice and carmelized with a bit of roasted/burnt sugar tones as well. Then rice the works and toss it in the mash. In the case of a partial, well I am not sure. I would like to have it in the mash with all that grain. Maybe a mini-mash. I also would let it constitute about 1/4 of the fermentables from an all-grain vantage point. So if I was using 10 pounds of fermentables I would use something like 7 pounds of 2-row, 2.5 pounds of riced sweet potatoe and .5 pound of Crystal malt. Maybe something like 30 IBUs? Probably one of the C varieties.
 

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P funky said:
I'm thinking I might just dump the potato pieces in a grain bag (with the other grains- or maybe use two) and do kind of a half-sparge, where I suspend the bag over the pot and pour 150-F water through it. This seems to have worked on previous brews.

Here are some notes on a sweet potato ale made by a microbrew-pub in Connecticut:

"With the Sweet Potato Ale, the spices dazzle your noze before your lips reach the glass. The molasses and vanilla captivated my palate, as they emphasized--then hid--the sweet potato flavor from one sip to the next. I believe that if there's any justice in the craft brew world, sweet potato varieties will supplant pumpkin as the selected holiday brew for Thanksgiving from New Haven to Newport Beach."

So- molasses...vanilla... are those flavor notes that will be produced by malts, or do I need to formulate the recipe with molasses and vanilla in it? This may require a call to that brewery...
My opinion would be to forget the vanilla and IF you used molasses use only a bit to offer some hint, but my sense is the sweet potatoe will offer the tones you would be wanting from the molasses and so I wouldn't use it.

Maybe this needs to be a beer on the sweeter side, maybe in the 1.070 range, with a mash temperature around 154-156.
 

Wheat King

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Brewpastor said:
I say the Sweet Potatoes should be baked for about an hour at 425, maybe even an hour and a half. This will get the sugars nice and carmelized with a bit of roasted/burnt sugar tones as well.
i dont know much, but i like the sounds of that.
 
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Cap'n Jewbeard

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That sounds very good, and I will most likely follow your suggestion (with only a tiny, tiny bit of vanilla, in case it disappears during mashing- I will definitely caramelize/roast the potatoes first).

What do mean by "ricing" it? Should I buy a Honda Civic and put a needlessly loud exhaust system on it?

Just kidding... but really, what does "ricing" mean?
 

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P funky said:
That sounds very good, and I will most likely follow your suggestion (with only a tiny, tiny bit of vanilla, in case it disappears during mashing- I will definitely caramelize/roast the potatoes first).

What do mean by "ricing" it? Should I buy a Honda Civic and put a needlessly loud exhaust system on it?

Just kidding... but really, what does "ricing" mean?
A ricer is a kitchen tool that is a cross between a colander and a lemon squeezer. Basically it is a way to mash the potatoes, but it does it in long, thin strands, like spaghetti. They sell them at Target and are a useful tool and a great way to prepare Sweet potatoes.
 

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P funky said:
with only a tiny, tiny bit of vanilla, in case it disappears during mashing

Leave the vanilla out all together untill your ready to bottle/keg. At that time take a sample and add increasing, measured amounts of vanilla until you get the falvor you want. Then based on that, figure out how much (if any) you want to add to give the entire batch the same flavor. Or, if you want to use whole beans, rack onto a couple of them and sample every couple days until it tastes good and then keg it.
 
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I would definitely avoid adding other flavoring components until after this thing ferments. Roasting the potatoes sounds awesome. Adding a touch nutmeg/cinnamon at the end might be nice. Let us know how it works out!
 
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Cap'n Jewbeard

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Oh neat! So... (and here my noobish-ness is overwhelming) ... how do I use that in formulating my recipe?
 

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It basically means you won't get a lot of fermentables out of the sweet potato (which is no reason not to try it!). If you look up 'pumpkin' you'll find it has even less fermentables than a sweet potato, but we know pumpkin can make a good beer!

Also, any sweet potato from Idaho would be far inferior to an NC one...;)

Edit: You can also buy sweet potato canned just like pumpkin, which no self-respecting Southerner would ever do, but in this case I think it wouldn't make any difference...
 
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Cap'n Jewbeard

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I might buy whole, so I can slice or rice it and put it in a grain bag. I learned from the pumpkin what happens when 10 pounds of canned goop end up in your primary fermenter... you end up with 3 gallons of beer.

I hope the 'taters here in MD come from NC, then!
 
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Cap'n Jewbeard

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OK guys- here's my first attempt at the recipe. I've never come up with a recipe on my own before, so please offer advice as you will. I'm shooting for a malty, somewhat-sweet, winter-time ale. As some people like a pumpkin beer that tastes like pumpkin pie, this should be somewhat reminiscent of Sweet Potato pie.

Please critique:

"As Yet Untitled S.P. Ale"

Grains/Starches:

2 lbs 6-row American barley malt, crushed
6-8 lbs Sweet potato (fresh, “riced”: roasted at 425 F for 90 minutes)
1 lb Munich malt
1 lb Vienna malt
½ lb crystal malt 60 L
¼ lb biscuit malt

Malt:

6.6 lbs Light LME

Hops:

1.5 oz 5% Cascade (60 mins)

½ oz Spalt (5 mins)

½ oz Saaz (3 mins)

Spices:

(Optional) 1-ish stick of cinnamon, in secondary. Or, create a “spice tea” and add in limited amounts at bottling.

Procedure:

Minimash the grains/starches (in 3 separate grain bags; the barley in one, potatoes in another, specialty malts in a third) at 155 F for 35-40 minutes.

Proceed with boil as normal.

I have NO IDEA what OG should be…
 

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My only concern is that 2 lbs. of six row may not have the enzyme load needed to convert itself, help with the munich and vienna (even though they should self-convert) and 6 lbs. of taters. Those 6 lbs. of taters might need a lot of enzyme to convert depending on the ammount of starch.

Here's a thought: Add some amylase enzyme, if it's a concern (I'm only speculating here, someone else on the board probably has a better idea than me) so you won't have to increase the grain bill
 
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Cap'n Jewbeard

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Yes, it is a concern- I'm wondering whether or not it will convert.

Will they sell me amylase enzyme on its own? Or is there another way to facilitate the conversion? I do not yet have the space/equipment for the full grain load.
 

clayof2day

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Most HBS will carry amylase enzyme. It should be over by the water treatment salts/yeast nutrient/etc. Usually you can get amylase and enzymes to break down bectins for your fruit beers and such.
 
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glibbidy said:
What will they ferment next?
Sweet potato's, idaho potato's, yams, red potato's. What else...

Then you can expand on the pumpkin ale within the squash family with acorn squash, zucchini, spaghetti squash, yellow squash. All perfectly disgusting in my opinion. (I hate pumpkin pie and squash all together :))

Don't get me started with what we could do with Shrimp Forrest.
 
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Cap'n Jewbeard

Cap'n Jewbeard

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Oh, ya come into a man's thread just to hate on 'im?

Na, I know no harm is meant. But I think this will be a bit sweeter, richer, maltier, and stronger than a pumpkin ale. Not for the faint of heart.
 

Chairman Cheyco

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P funky said:
"As Yet Untitled S.P. Ale"

Grains/Starches:

2 lbs 6-row American barley malt, crushed
6-8 lbs Sweet potato (fresh, “riced”: roasted at 425 F for 90 minutes)
1 lb Munich malt
1 lb Vienna malt
½ lb crystal malt 60 L
¼ lb biscuit malt

Malt:

6.6 lbs Light LME

Hops:

1.5 oz 5% Cascade (60 mins)

½ oz Spalt (5 mins)

½ oz Saaz (3 mins)

Spices:

(Optional) 1-ish stick of cinnamon, in secondary. Or, create a “spice tea” and add in limited amounts at bottling.

Procedure:

Minimash the grains/starches (in 3 separate grain bags; the barley in one, potatoes in another, specialty malts in a third) at 155 F for 35-40 minutes.

Proceed with boil as normal.

I have NO IDEA what OG should be…
First, I'd increase the 6-row to as much grain as you can possibly handle. You're going to need all the diastatic power you can get.
One thing to think about when designing a beer like this is ask yourself; If there was no sweet potato in this beer, would I still drink it? You need to start with a good beer.
Another thing I would do is mix the potato right in with the 6-row, there needs to be lots of close-quarter combat between the starches and enzymes. This is going to be a huge mess, but if you want conversion, you'll have to do it.
Now go listen to the latest Jamil Show on the brewing network, and brew this beer!
 
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Cap'n Jewbeard

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Sweet- here's one final question, I think- I can generally boil about 2, 2.5 gallons at once on my stove. Given the amounts of other grains/potato, etc, how much barley can I cram in there?
 

Chairman Cheyco

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Uh if I understand the question, you'll need to figure that out for yourself, given I don't really know how big your mash tun is. Use an infusion ratio of 1.25 qts/lb of grain and potatoes. With a three gallon kettle, I would think you could handle about 7ish pounds of grain, but that's a SWAG.
What is your experience level with partial mash?
 
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P funky said:
Oh, ya come into a man's thread just to hate on 'im?
Blame it on corporate america. It's budget time and I feel the need to vent and squash beer was my target ;). Your recipe however sir, is Brilliant!

I probably need to be banned so I get some work done...
 
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Cap'n Jewbeard

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I've done mini-mashes on my last two (the Baltic Porter and the Pumpkin), although it wasn't strictly necessary to do it. So I can probably do it here- the overall capacity of the kettle is like 8 gallons (maybe 7).

So actually, the only restriction is on how much I can bring to a boil- because the electric just doesn't generate that much heat.

Gah... am I going to have to get a turkey fryer? Crap...
 

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How about doing - I think Beer Snob does this, too - a boil using two pots? After the mash, separate out into two pots and boil them separately. I ended up having to do that with my last mash, as my electric fryer proved to be worthless (if it can't get five gallons of water to boil, how the hell is it supposed to get oil up to 400 degrees?).

But yeah - a propane burner and outdoor brewing is in BOTH of our futures... :D
 
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Cap'n Jewbeard

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Brilliant! Yeah- I imagine I can get 2-3 gallons of water to 155 F; then I can split it up for the boil, not a bad idea at all.
 

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Do you use an ice bath, or do you have a chiller? Think through the logistics of doing two ice baths at once. I have a butt-ugly dual-coil immersion chiller, so I combined the two batches (carefully to avoid the DREADED hot-side-aeration) right near the end, then the chiller worked brilliantly (GOD, is it fun to watch cold break forming!)
 
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Cap'n Jewbeard

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I've been doing ice bath... I may have to get a chiller... though I might just combine them at the end and hit the ice bath, plus maybe topping it up with near-frozen gallon or two of water.
 

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If you're going to end up with four or five gallons of wort, you probably need to think about a chiller. I was cooling four gallons, which meant that I could cool a LITTLE bit with some top-off water, but an ice bath would have taken too long. Plus, the fast cool means a much better cold break, I can already tell this beer's going to be a lot clearer than my previous efforts (and I was always pretty effective at getting the wort chilled with an ice bath, just not as dramatically as I could do it with the chiller).

The chiller will start paying for itself, as you'll then be able to DO this bigger boils, get more fermentables from 2-row and have to buy a lot less extract. My batch this weekend ("Mutiny on the Barley") is mostly grain with only two pounds of DME added. Money I save by doing that instead of seven or eight pounds of DME is, in one sense, paying me back for my investment in copper tubing.

EDIT: I should say, I'm kinda stealing your pirate theme. But I'm using monkeys instead of Jews.
 
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Cap'n Jewbeard

Cap'n Jewbeard

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the_bird said:
But I'm using monkeys instead of Jews.
Like I've never heard THAT before...

(Okay. I really have NO idea what that means).

Anyway- I will basically go to the LHBS today, show them the recipe, tell them I want to increase the 6-row as much as possible, tell them I'm wanting an immersion chiller, and see where to go from there.

I'll let everybody know how it goes from there.
 
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Cap'n Jewbeard

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That was my understanding- I assumed (and I may be wrong) that if I use a higher-enzymatic malt, I could get by with a little less poundage of grain
 
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