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  1. #1
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    Why no bourbon beer?

    Why hasn't anyone bothered to make a beer with the same mashbill as a bourbon? Closest thing I know of is Busch. :/

    Does undistilled bourbon mash taste so bad? Or is this just a case of not enough people have tried it yet?

  2. #2
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
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    Re: Why no bourbon beer?

    There have been ales that were conditioned in bourbon casks, but I've never heard of anyone trying to make a beer based on a bourbon mash bill. I don't know that much about brewing, but the limited use of malt in bourbon mash might be an obstacle, as would the use of hops. Would you hop such a beer and, if you didn't, would it taste like anything?

  3. #3
    Disciple
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    Re: Why no bourbon beer?

    I would like to give it a go someday. It might not be beer technically due to the very low barley content. I think you would have to leave the hops out, too. One other thing, Mash it pretty thick stuff since the grains are not filtered out which you would have to do to make a 'beer' drinkable. It would probably be more authentically bourbon mash beer if the filtering took place after fermentation. I would have to make a sweet mash, too, as I wouldn't have spent beer leftover from the previous run since I don't have a still...
    Ed

  4. #4
    Bourbonian of the Year 2011
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    Re: Why no bourbon beer?

    Corn-based beers, unhopped, were traditional to parts of Mexico and the Southern Americas. Probably many were spiced (if not hopped) to lend additional savor. But great beer has to be barley-malt based, so investigating the merits of such drinks would have academic and social-historical interest only (not to be disdained, but I'll take a Sam Adams instead, and if it backs a good bourbon, even better ).

    Gary

  5. #5
    Administrator in exile
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    Re: Why no bourbon beer?

    The homebrewer in me wants to say that there wouldn't be enough malt in a typical bourbon mashbill for efficient starch conversion, but I know that the distillers get good alcohol out of a mash prior to fermentation. Does anyone know if the distilleries add amylase enzyme to aid in conversion? Also, maybe since the distillers ferment the entire mash, instead of just the wort, that the extra contact time with the grains adds to the overall conversion and efficiency?

  6. #6
    Bourbonian of the Year 2011
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    Re: Why no bourbon beer?

    Jeff, my understanding is, no unmalted grains will conveniently convert to produce ethanol unless placed in contact with barley malt and cooked (hydrolised) to assist in that process. Enzyme can be added artifiically, yes, but barley malt is used I believe for all bourbon mashes, for the purpose of providing them naturally and it must be felt this adds something no artificial process can. The traditional corn beers would have been mashed and that would create (from enzyme in the grain) fermentable sugar but through a lengthy, unpredictable process. Barley malt is always added to better ensure the final result. Artificial enzyme can be used, I believe some is added to mashes in Canada, but even here no whiksy mash to my knowledge proceeds without the benefit of some barley malt.

    Gary


  7. #7
    Administrator in exile
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    Re: Why no bourbon beer?

    Agreed! I was just curious since, the grainbill for most beer (good beer) is 100% malted barley, and the mashbill for the typical bourbon is only around 10% or so. Seems like a lot of work for that small an amount of malt. But, I am not a chemist

  8. #8
    Apprentice
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    Re: Why no bourbon beer?

    For anyone that is also a beer connoisseur, I would highly recommend the ales aged in bourbon barrels. Most I have tried have been excellent.
    Goose Island in Chicago has a very good Bourbon County Stout that should be available in their Clybourn location any day now. I know of several Midwest brewpubs that use both Jack Daniels and Buffalo Trace barrels to age their beers.

  9. #9
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
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    Re: Why no bourbon beer?

    Some distilleries do add amylase enzyme but I don't believe the practice is universal. Cooking seems to be the secret to affecting the conversion using such a small amount of malt. The corn is cooked at a high temperature, which is lowered before the wheat or rye is added, then lowered again before the malt is added. Possibly the spent mash contains the enzyme and aids in the conversion as well. I'm not sure if this is a factor on not, but with bourbon the mash is fermented, solids and all, whereas with beer (as with scotch) the solids are separated out and only the wort is fermented. My assumption is that with a 100 percent malted grain, complete conversion is rapid and only warm water, not cooking, is necessary. With a lower malt content, the conversion takes both more heat and more time. Perhaps by fermenting the mash, conversion is able to continue and actually finish in the fermenters, but I'm guessing here.

  10. #10
    Bourbonian of the Year 2011
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    Re: Why no bourbon beer?

    Absolutely, the enzymes from the malt component, but also in the cooked raw grain, complete the conversion of the starch in that grain to sugar - it is all converted or most of it before fermentation. Heating (cooking) raw grain alone, i.e., without some malt, will cause a ferment when yeast is added because cooking and hydrolysis release enzyme from the raw grain but it takes longer and with less predictability and more energy is required. The heating is done too with malt, in kilning. In effect malting is a short-cut. The one thing you can't do (as far as I know) is ferment uncooked all raw grains unless amylaze is added artificially. You can add all the yeast you like but it won't convert of itself.

    Gary

 

 

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