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'Toast Ale' recipe, but primitive style – possible?

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lifeisafarm

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https://www.toastale.com/toast-ale-recipe

Just saw that this company made their recipe "open source", which is cool of them. I was disappointed to discover that bread is only a tiny proportion of the recipe.

Grain bill: Pale Malt 3.5kg, Dried crumbed bread 1.5Kg (equivalent to 2.5kg fresh bread), CaraMalt 150g, Munich Malt 150g, Oat Husks 500g
I have a few newbie questions coming from a "simple as possible" or "primitive beer" angle. Think ancient Egypt/Sumer or shaman in the woods or something.

  1. Could one make a homebrew using ONLY toasted bread and no added malt/husks?
  2. Must one toast the bread to bring out the sugars or can one use regular bread?
  3. How is the starch getting converted here: does it "borrow" enzymes from the malt/husks?
  4. Further to #3 then: can one do the bread/starch/sugar conversion without any added bits and use gruit herbs etc instead in total primitive fashion?
  5. Could one just boil or "eyeball" the temperature instead of setting a precise temperature using a machine/gauge?
Thanks!
 

RPh_Guy

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1,3. Malt is needed to convert starch to sugar.
2. No toasting required.
4. I'm not sure what you're asking.
5. Not a good idea; you need some way to hit an appropriate mash temp. Brewing began long before the use of thermometers. Since boiling point is fairly constant, people figured out how to use step mashes to control temp.
 
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lifeisafarm

lifeisafarm

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1,3. Malt is needed to convert starch to sugar.
I mean, are you getting malt from the bread alone? And if so, is it then converting starch to sugars properly? I am basically asking if you can use only bread and no added malt (or anything else) from a brew shop or something. If you had only a small kitchen (or fire place), with just bread except maybe some fruit or honey for sugar and gruit herbs, and a big pot of course, could you make beer?!

Surely it's possible if ancient cultures did it? They seem to add bread only as flavour and my quesiton is basically, could they make beer with ONLY the bread and no added grains/malts?
 

RPh_Guy

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Bread is not malt (not made from malted grain).
So no, you can't just use bread to make beer.
Bread is for eating.

From my understanding (I'm not a historian) beer is always and has always been made with malt. Perhaps every village had one family that did the malting.
Take your wheat to a miller if you want bread or to a maltster if you want beer.
 
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TasunkaWitko

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One could make kvass from toasted bread; but as RPh correctly points out, that's a whole different thing.
 
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lifeisafarm

lifeisafarm

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One could make kvass from toasted bread; but as RPh correctly points out, that's a whole different thing.
But from what I understand Kvass just uses the bread for flavour. The fermentation is done by added sugars. Correct me if I'm wrong.
 

TasunkaWitko

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Yes - to my knowledge, that's correct, which goes back to RPh's post.

It's pretty good stuff - I've had it, brewed by a Russian. It's different but very good, especially on a hot day.
 
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As far as #5 and not using thermometers or such, I tried something similar in a primative beer experiment while back. Not exactly what you're aiming for, I used barley that I malted, but definitely along the lines of the eyeballing it part.

I found that I was actually decent anlt guessing temps but terrible and weights and volumes.

Here's the thread if you're interested.

https://www.homebrewtalk.com/forum/threads/primitive-improvised-methods-beer.512528/
 
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lifeisafarm

lifeisafarm

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As far as #5 and not using thermometers or such, I tried something similar in a primative beer experiment while back. Not exactly what you're aiming for, I used barley that I malted, but definitely along the lines of the eyeballing it part.

I found that I was actually decent anlt guessing temps but terrible and weights and volumes.

Here's the thread if you're interested.

https://www.homebrewtalk.com/forum/threads/primitive-improvised-methods-beer.512528/
Oh this is fantastic, yes! If I lived in your hood I'd definitely be over for a primitive homebrew day to help out. I've done a lot of foraging too, so I'm big into the wild gruit herbs and such, and I've experimented with all kinds of spontaneous fermentation for "hedgerow" wine/cider etc. Some even came out pretty good! But beer is HARD.

I guess I have to accept that it's just not possible to do a DIY beer unless you allow for "importing" the malt (or doing the hard work like you of alting your own grain – but even then, unless you or your neighbour grow the grains...) :D

Brilliant thread anyway, anything else you can point me to would be much appreciated. Btw, I believe a lot of folks used straw and/or things like juniper branches mixed in laid on the bottom of a tub/"tun" with a hole on one side, to filter the slop and even impart flavour or wild yeasts.
 

Northern_Brewer

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You should have a look through Lars Garshol's blog, which has lots of examples of farmhouse brewing around the Baltics/Scandinavia where people have solved the various problems you mention. Some hit mash temperature by using ratios of boiling water and cold, others just use experience to know the right temperature. Some use hot rocks to raise the temperature, others bake pale malt in an oven after the mash to caramelise the sugars (keptinis) - but you have to release the sugar first, and that generally means malting, or at least "borrowing" enzymes from malt. Sometimes that's done at communal malthouses, sometimes it's done on the farm - there's a theory that building the infrastructure for malting was a driving force for humans settling down away from the hunter-gatherer lifestyle. See eg http://www.garshol.priv.no/blog/394.html

You might also want to check out https://growingbeer.co.uk/ where a guy tried to do everything to make beer from just one plot.
 
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lifeisafarm

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Hopalong

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#3. How is the starch getting converted here: does it "borrow" enzymes from the malt/husks? Well, here's the issue, you are confused about what conversion is. Starch does not convert to sugar. Starch is a poly-saccharide, the sugar is already there and starch is the container that holds the sugar. The correct term is mash conversion and it has nothing to do with starch. In the recipe Munich malt is the base malt, if it is Munich light it contains Alpha, Munich dark is dead in the enzyme department. Alpha contained in the base malt will liquefy the starch chain in the adjunct, releasing sugar. The sole purpose given to Alpha is to release simple sugar contained in simple starch, amylose. The simple sugar is glucose, one of the three building blocks of life. Alpha releases the sugar during germination/malting, and saliva is loaded with it. The enzyme is attached to everything that eats starch. It arrived on the day when barley and wheat were born. The enzymatic actions are called liquefaction and saccharification, not conversion.
#4. Further to #3 then: can one do the bread/starch/sugar conversion without any added bits and use gruit herbs etc instead in total primitive fashion? No. Beta amylase is responsible for conversion. A chemist sells Alpha/Beta amylase, it will need to be added, or brewers grade malt will need to be added. During the Beta rest glucose is converted into complex sugar. When conversion takes place second fermentation is required. Depending on the level of modification of the Munich base malt it is very possible that the malt lacks Beta amylase or the enzyme can be very weak and the mash will not convert, but don't worry, Alpha will still produce the sugar that yeast loves and the liquid will gain alcohol. Check on Munich light, I do not believe that it has enough Alpha power to cause saccharification of starch in adjuncts.
Here's an extremely primitive method that pygmy, head hunters use to make a type of beer. I watched it years ago on National Geographic or a similar station when the headhunters were discovered. The headhunter women gather up some kind of root, I cannot remember the name of the root, but anyway, it's loaded with starch. They chop the roots up and then they go away. Then, the head brewer headhunter, his pals and the village witch doctor came on deck and they began to boil up the starch for an hour or three while getting blistered on the beer they produced a few days before. Even primitive headhunters had a pipeline going. After the liquid cooled to blood warm (we're really primitive and blood warm is a decent base line to use) which in the intense heat took many hours, allowing the team to get pretty smashed. Then, the guys gathered up all the female headhunters who then spit into the mixture. It was hilarious watching the women spitting into the bucket. They had a contest to see who could generate the most saliva. Remember when I mentioned that saliva is loaded with amylase? The amylase in saliva causes saccharification. The liquid, loaded with simple sugar was allowed to ferment with whatever was floating around at the time. But, I think that because they made the stuff for centuries they probably learned to use some of the goop left from the previous batch to fire up fermentation, instead of relying on stuff floating around. If you want to go primitive try it out with bread. Purchase stuffing mix, or croutons with herbs and spices and you'll be covered. If the stuff doesn't have oil and crap like that in it, I'd dump in a pound or two into a bunch of high grade, home made, wheat bread with a 1/4 pound or so of wheat germ tossed in, boil it up, cool it down, call in the ladies and a fortune teller and have a home brew party. If someone from the outside catches sight of whats going on, expect a visit from the cops. We'd like to know a little bit about the ladies for our files, as well.
Here is an experiment to try out. Fill your mouth with a bunch of bread made from wheat flour and begin to chew it. After about 10 minutes or so the mass becomes jelly like and sweet. Amylase is busy releasing sugar from wheat that was not malted. An interesting feature about Alpha is that when it is liquefying amylose it releases two types of sugar, sweet tasting sugar that yeast does not care for, and glucose. When Alpha liquefies amylose at the 1-4 links located throughout the starch chain the reducing end pieces contains the sweet stuff and the non-reducing ends are glucose. Glucose is extremely bitter and the sweet stuff covers it up.
Check out the recipes on Weyermann Malt website and notice the various temperatures they recommend to use with their malt, which is very good malt especially their pils floor malt. Their floor malt is slightly under modified and low in protein. A spec sheet comes with each sack of grain and Kolbach and the acronym SNR listed on the sheet indicate level of modification. Skagit Valley and Pioneer Malting sell to home brewers and they produce very good malt. Check their websites. I brew using a mixture of Weyemann pils light and dark floor malt and Pioneer pils floor malt.
After mashing use iodine to determine if starch is present. If starch is present the sample will be blue/black. If the sample is blue/black Alpha denatured and she didn't finish the job. Starch carry over will occur. Decent malt requires no longer than 30 minutes for saccharification to take place. Saccharification is usually the last line on a malt spec sheet. Sometimes, conversion is indicated. If you are serious about brewing it is not a bad idea to obtain a spec sheet and learn about the bunch of numbers, chemicals and acronyms that are listed on the sheet. The sheet is used to determine the quality of malt because it may require adding enzymes if the malt is being used for producing ale and lager.
Beer is called liquid bread for a reason probably because wheat bread was used in the beginning. The ingredient listed on a pound bag of SAF bakers yeast is Saccharomyces Cerevisiae, ale yeast. Tying it all together.
 

RPh_Guy

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Yes, saturating the bread with saliva and bringing to mash temperature is an option instead of using malt (google chicha). That slipped my mind for some reason.
 
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