Old McBrayer mash bill

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Re: Old McBrayer mash bill

Unread postby Husker » Mon Jul 28, 2008 8:24 pm

You guys sure that low yield = more flavor? The low yield would be the result of the starches from the grains not being converted to sugar and then not being converted to alcohol. Aren't congeners the result of fermentation? If there is less fermentation, wouldn't there be less congeners? If a guy wants more flavor, wouldn't they run the still past the middle cut deeper into tails and/or add more grain to the mash?

I'd better see of Old Grand Dad can help me think this one through ....
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Re: Old McBrayer mash bill

Unread postby cowdery » Mon Jul 28, 2008 9:10 pm

I'm not sure what original point Husker was trying to make. Adding enzymes is the equivalent of adding that much more malt. It doesn't really matter where the enzymes come from. As for the use of enzymes, some American distillers do, some don't. I don't have a comprehensive list but I know Maker's doesn't use them and Barton does.

Their use is prohibited in Scotland.

I think Veach's original point was about incomplete fermentation, not incomplete distillation. Obviously, low distillation proof retains more flavor. But as Husker rightly observes in his most recent post, starches that aren't converted aren't fermented, but that doesn't mean they don't contribute any flavor. As the liquor industry uses the word, those flavors would not be congeners, but they could come over in distillation and affect the flavor of the distillate.

As for where the flavor comes from, Greg Davis at Barton makes the point that all of the flavor is created during fermentation. All you do in distillation is keep some flavors and discard others but you can't "make" flavor in the still. It has to already be there in the fermented mash.

From what distillers tell us, you can't get complete conversion with so little malt, but I'm not so sure. You can't get it from the enzymatic action, but cooking aids conversion too, doesn't it? Or is cooking strictly about liquifying the starch so it's available for the enzymes?

I'll admit that these mash bills that call for very little malt do have me scratching my head.
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Re: Old McBrayer mash bill

Unread postby Husker » Mon Jul 28, 2008 11:10 pm

From what I understand, the starches are long chain sugars that are not easily "eaten" by the yeast - they are too long. The long chains have to be chopped into short chains, and then the short into individual sugar molecules. In order to chop the chains, the starches need to be liquified to break the bonds that hold them together. This is done via alpha amylase enzymes. After the chains have been shortened, beta amylase enzymes come in and split the sugar molecules from each other. Heat helps speed up the process - to a point. Not enough heat and you don't have much enzymatic activity, too much heat and you'll kill them. Long story short, I think distillers like to hold the temp. around 145 for a certain time period - 90 minutes or so.

What I was thinking was that since the malt is used for the enzymatic purposes in the first place, maybe they could simply replace some of the malt with the enzymes and they could get the same conversion with less malt. Instead of a 10% malt bill, run a 5% with added enzymes and not sacrifice yield. Of course, my theory relies on the flavors coming from fermenting the grains, not from unfermented or partially fermented grain, and I don't know that to be true - I'm just guessing.

Maybe Mr. Dickels can help my logic process..... now where is he....
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Re: Old McBrayer mash bill

Unread postby cowdery » Wed Jul 30, 2008 9:24 pm

No, your theory is exactly right, that's exactly what they do today, so it's no mystery today when someone uses less than 10%, because that's exactly what they're doing.

What has me scratching my head is the McBrayer mash bill, because I don't think they had those enzymes in 1870, so adding them wouldn't have been an option.

Yes, the corn is cooked for about 90 minutes at 145, then the heat is lowered to avoid scorching the rye and malt. Since no enzymes are present until the final stage of the mash cooking process, I guess that's all about liquification, not saccarification. I know that's one of the things that makes bourbon production different, because you have to seriously cook the mash to get the corn starch to liquify, which just takes a little warm water with barley.

It also explains why there is a long resting stage after cooking. That's when the saccarification takes place.
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Re: Old McBrayer mash bill

Unread postby gillmang » Thu Jul 31, 2008 7:59 am

In Samuel M'Harry's Practical Distiller published in 1809, he gives his (artisan, by definition) recipe as follows for a whiskey mashing of 2/3 rds corn, 1/3 rd rye. He puts one bushel of corn meal in a hogshead, adds hot water, and later adds the rye meal and barley malt together. The barley malt quantity is "one gallon good chopped malt". He stirs continually and the corn stage involves numerous additions of water and something I haven't noticed before, addition of a "one pint of salt and a shovelful of red hot coals" (once again carbon appears in a different yet alcohol-related context! Not sure what the salt would do, though, perhaps sodium chloride reduces in some way the congeneric content upon fermentation).

I am not sure how much a bushel and a half is and how to measure a gallon of malt in relation to that. Is it more than 5%?

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Re: Old McBrayer mash bill

Unread postby gillmang » Thu Jul 31, 2008 7:02 pm

I should have said that in M'Harry's recipe, the rye was a half-bushel. So, one bushel corn, a half bushel rye, one gallon of malt. He's using a liquid measure for a solid and I'm not sure how to convert that to pounds and ounces. Who would know that? And how many pounds in a bushell? From there one can see what the percentage of malt used was.

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Re: Old McBrayer mash bill

Unread postby bunghole » Thu Jul 31, 2008 7:26 pm

gillmang wrote:I should have said that in M'Harry's recipe, the rye was a half-bushel. So, one bushel corn, a half bushel rye, one gallon of malt. He's using a liquid measure for a solid and I'm not sure how to convert that to pounds and ounces. Who would know that? And how many pounds in a bushell? From there one can see what the percentage of malt used was.

Gary


My guess is that it is liquid! The malt is cooked separately and a wort is drawn just as with Scottish whisky. Then jug yeast is added. Think of this as distiller's spooge. It must be ejaculated into the mash before it can ferment and become distiller's beer. Spooge, beer, whiskey - it's all just common sense!

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Re: Old McBrayer mash bill

Unread postby gillmang » Thu Jul 31, 2008 10:11 pm

Don't think so Linn because he writes to add "one gallon good chopped malt" and refers to the need to stir the mash immediately to remove all lumps. I think it's a a gallon jug holding ground malt.

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Re: Old McBrayer mash bill

Unread postby bunghole » Thu Jul 31, 2008 10:33 pm

gillmang wrote:Don't think so Linn because he writes to add "one gallon good chopped malt" and refers to the need to stir the mash immediately to remove all lumps. I think it's a a gallon jug holding ground malt.

Gary


Hmmmm....good chopped malt....sitr mash....remove lumps...

it's

it's

Whiskey Masturbation!

You just can't make good whiskey without Distiller's Spooge!

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Re: Old McBrayer mash bill

Unread postby Husker » Thu Jul 31, 2008 10:52 pm

gillmang wrote:I should have said that in M'Harry's recipe, the rye was a half-bushel. So, one bushel corn, a half bushel rye, one gallon of malt. He's using a liquid measure for a solid and I'm not sure how to convert that to pounds and ounces. Who would know that? And how many pounds in a bushell? From there one can see what the percentage of malt used was.

Gary


I don't know about rye, but a bushel of corn weighs 56 lbs, depending on the moisture level. I would assume rye would be about the same because a 50 lb bag of rye is the same size as 50 lbs of corn.

I've heard of moonshiners adding salt right before they distill as the salinity increases the boiling point of the water in the mash and makes for a better seperation of the alcohol from the water.
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Re: Old McBrayer mash bill

Unread postby cowdery » Fri Aug 01, 2008 3:31 am

Vulgarity aside, Linn's idea makes some sense, although on the other hand, because sometimes you do have to switch hands, especially when you get older, when you are using so little malt, why go to the trouble of separating the solid residue from the dissolved starch?

Since modern distilleries cook admittedly very large quantities of corn for 30 minutes at about 212° (I looked it up), I've always wondered how pre-industrial distillers managed to liquify their corn without the ability to do that, especially since the practice seems to have been to cook it in wooden tubs, periodically adding boiling water. I'm sure the hot coals were part of that effort to cook the corn. Why didn't they simply boil it in a pot over a fire? Corn has to be constantly agitated or it will congeal. Maybe that was just too hard to do over an open fire, although that's exactly how maple syrup, sorghum syrup and salt are made.

This may explain the thin mashes of earlier times. You had to use a lot of water to fully dissolve the corn. That water could be taken out in the still, of course, but today with our technology, we can make a thicker mash, which takes less energy to distill.
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Re: Old McBrayer mash bill

Unread postby gillmang » Fri Aug 01, 2008 6:28 am

Well, 112 pounds as compared to the weight of malt in a gallon jug. I would think the malt couldn't weigh more than a few pounds, maybe 6 or 7, which is about 5%. This is just a guess. About hydrolysis, it will occur from the warmth of the water but as noted not all the starch may be prepared for conversion, it was probably not that efficient. M'Harry speaks of first soaking the corn meal in "half boiling" water. Once the corn is all wet or soaked (these are the terms he uses), he puts in boiling water, stirs and waits, then a further addition of boiling water is made, and then, "put into each hogshead one half bushel rye meal, and one gallon good chopped malt, stirring it until the lumps are all broken". After that there is further resting and stirring until the cooling off as he calls it.
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Re: Old McBrayer mash bill

Unread postby gillmang » Fri Aug 01, 2008 6:41 am

Just an inference but the soaking in warm and boiling water (which would not, clearly, maintain a temperature of 212 F. even with the hot coals added) might have been a way to use less fuel than using a boil over a wood or coal fire. In his section on "scalding", he states that the grain is scalded enough if it is stirred and "if you perceive the batter or musky [?] part fall off and there remains the heart of the grain on your mashing stick, like grains of timothy seed". He advises not to go past this stage ("be assured it is sufficiently scalded, if not too much") and the next directions are to cool the mash and add yeast. The word musky probably was meant to be mushy (and now that one thinks of it, the common expression mushy is related surely to that of mash and mashy). The word is spelled "mufky", the f of course is the long s in common use then. Maybe the k was a misprint in the original edition of the book (I'm using a reprint put out a few years ago). The mushy or batter part is probably the husk of the grains and much of the starch liquefied. I don't know what his concern was about over-scalding, perhaps he meant that the longer the grain is in contact with the heated water the more the risk of it sticking as you said Chuck to the vessel with loss therefore of some of the grain to fermentation. Or perhaps if the whole kernel was completely liquefied this would affect the taste somehow, I don't know.

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Re: Old McBrayer mash bill

Unread postby gillmang » Fri Aug 01, 2008 8:47 am

Another thing is that some distillers added more barley malt than is necessary because they thought the bourbon tasted better that way. Charlie Thomasson's 1960's article on traditional bourbon manufacture, which I have often mentioned, makes this point. He states that big producers were cutting barley malt to the minimum and this affected the traditional palate in his view. M'Harry would have used not more than the minimum amount necessary. In his book, questions of yield and economy are everything. Rarely does he address palate except indirectly, e.g., when advising never to use bad yeast or soured fermentation vessels.

He states that his suggested 2/3rds corn 1/3rd rye is superior to any other mixture of rye and and corn or either on its own. This is solely because of factors connected to cost: corn was cheaper than rye and the cattle liked slops from corn mash better than one using some rye. He does state though that whiskey made from corn is as good as whiskey made from rye, so he did not disregard completely issues of quality. Still, palate, given certain minimums, came a long way down the line for what he was concerned with.

The historically derived bourbon mash is approximately, 2/3rds corn and 1/3rd rye. I am speaking generally since as we know rye in the mash is almost always rather less than 33% today. Still, overall we can see that M'Harry's favored recipe, no doubt practiced by many in his time, has become the standard recipe. And this is so, really, due to historical factors. Had rye been much cheaper than corn and cattle liked it, most whiskey today would be of the Old Overholt type.

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Re: Old McBrayer mash bill

Unread postby gillmang » Fri Aug 01, 2008 10:25 am

Timothy seed is a perennial, bunch-type grass.

Can anyone suggest what M'Harry meant by this reference?

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