Creating Syrup from First Runnings
This past weekend, I brewed my Christmas ale. I'm hoping for a rich dessert beer; ideally, I'll have big caramel flavors, some nice plum/dark fruit, with a little roastiness to help balance things out, accented off by a blend of traditional holiday spices. If all goes well, this beer will be special.
One of the techniques that I employed for this beer was the conversion of a little over a gallon of my first runnings into a little under a quart of syrup. The maillard reactions from this process really emphasize those caramel flavors, and can help to enhance a variety of beer styles. It's not a complicated process, but I do see questions about it fairly often, so I figured that I'd put together a step by step to help guide those who have never done it before.
First off, be sure to collect first runnings for this, as you absolutely want that sugar-rich goodness for the process. While you can certainly do this with second runnings, you get noticeably more water in that pass, and your syrup won't be nearly as rich or flavorful. In case you are unfamiliar with the terminology, note that "first runnings" refers to the sweet wort that you drain from your mash prior to any sparging (rinsing) of the grain.
I collect a gallon of the first runnings into a pitcher, which I then dump back into the mash tun. This process (known as vorlaufing) helps to set your grain bed, which then acts as a filter - which in turn means that you get virtually no solid bits of grain when you drain again. While I'm confident that a few grain bits wouldn't actually hurt your syrup, It's something that I personally want to avoid.
Once this is done, I then collect the very first gallon of my runnings into a pitcher. When this is full, I continue as normal with draining the rest into my boil...
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I can't imagine how it looks like..I'll try that this weekend..
posted by NatashaPoidevin04 on 5/12/2015 at 04:16:16 AM
Tags for this post: syrup, first runnings, caramel, boil, maillard reactions, Christmas ale, homebrewing