Wednesday, October 12, 2011
11:43 AM | Posted by Ryan
So, I've been meaning on writing up a post about fat washing for sometime now, but I just haven't had a batch of beer recently that needed to use the technique. While I was traveling last week for work though I had a bit of a brainstorming session on beers I hope to brew up in the next few months and one I really wanted to use sweet almonds in.
Ive never been one to use extracts, however I do from time to time like to make something myself that can be used in a beer. I feel that there is quite a bit of a difference in making it yourself versus buying something off the shelf. Too many of the extracts that Ive bought in the past have a very artificial taste to me, and adding that to a carefully crafted homebrew never really sat well with me. So using store bought bitter almond extract in this beer just didn't seem right.
Fat washing is a technique that allows you to extract the strong flavors and aromas from any type of fat that you wish. If you frequent any homebrew boards you'll most likely come across at least a few posts that want to be able to use nuts, oils, or even bacon in a brew! Very rarely though does someone suggest trying to fat wash the ingredient, and instead it is ground up and tossed in the mash or in the secondary. The problem is that with this approach you almost always have a very thin layer of oil to deal with post-fermentation, and as well all should know oil kills head retention and can make a beer go rancid fairly quickly.
Instead of dealing with the oil post-fermentation when it is a very thin layer and covers all your fermentation equipment, it is much easier to deal with before the ingredient is ever added to the beer/wine/mead. Fat washing is a very simple technique that can extract all of the flavor and none of the headaches from any of these flavorful oily ingredients.
To begin fat washing an ingredient it is necessary to have a strong neutral alcohol (I prefer Everclear), a mason jar - preferably one tall and narrow, and if the ingredient isn't an oil and is something like almonds or walnuts you should have a stack of coffee filters, and a way to grind the ingredient up as well.
- Your first step to extracting all the great flavors is to prepare the ingredient that you wish to use. So if you want to use bacon you should fry it up and drain the fat off to use, if your using nuts, roast them if you wish and grind them up. Oils are the most simple and require no additional processing.
- Take the oil (bacon fat, butter, sesame oil, etc) or nuts/etc and place them in the mason jar.
- Cover the oil, nuts, or whatever your using up with the everclear or vodka. I prefer everclear in that it is cleaner tasting than a cheap vodka , I will then dilute it with distilled water to make an extract with roughly the same alcohol content as vodka. Its best to use no less more than a 50:50 mix of alcohol to ingredient. So if your using something like bacon fat the more fat that is used versus the alcohol the stronger the flavor can be.
- Wait......How long is up to you. In general things like sesame oil or butter require much less time than nuts or other larger ingredients. Ive done butter and sesame oil in about 1-2days but nuts can take a few weeks. You should swirl the jar whenever you can to keep the ingredients mixed up, or better yet toss it on your stir plate!
- After you feel enough time has past, strain out any large ingredients like nuts and allow the ingredients to settle. Slowly a layer of oil will separate itself from the alcohol and float on top.
- Once you have a layer of oil on top place the jar into the freezer with a straw placed into the jar. This should freeze the oil layer and allow you to extract the alcohol underneath. Pull the straw out and a hole will remain in the oil, you can now pour the alcohol out through the hole. This process may need to be repeated 2-3times before there is no fat layer left. This step becomes much much easier with a tall narrow jar, as it helps to concentrate the fat into a thicker layer allowing for easier separation.
- I like to give one pass through a coffee filter for any extract before I use it. In my experience it has the tendency to catch any last little amounts of oil left in the extract and removes any small bits as well
- Use your Extract!
Ive used this on many different types of ingredients. I have included a list below that I will update as I try more ingredients. One thing that I have noticed about using these extracts is that some like bacon fade considerably with time, while others like sesame oil or butter never loose their punch.
- Sweet Almonds - TBD?
- Grapefruit peel - Tends to be very sharp and the extract actually makes my tongue numb
- Orange Peel - Sweeter and softer than grapefruit
- Lemon Peel - floral like lemon flavor
- Bacon Fat - Strong bacon flavor very little needed, but does fade with aging
- Butter - Strong buttery flavor, never fades. I used this in the Hot Wing beer
- Walnuts - Nutty flavor, great for adding to porters!
- Sesame Oil - Intense sesame flavor that does not fade
- Walnut Oil - Stronger than using just walnuts, but not quite as aromatic
- Soon! - Cocoa Butter - Hopefully will give me a great dark chocolate flavor!
Almond Extract/Liqueur Recipe
4oz Raw, unsalted Almonds
1.5C Vodka or equivalent Everclear + Water
Now I'm actually doing two versions of this extract for additional flavor. One will use the raw almonds as is, the other I am home-roasting the almonds. To roast the almonds I am layering them on a baking sheet and roasting three times at 400F for about 12min. After each roasting I remove the almonds from the oven and place on paper towels to cool and remove some of the oil (something Ive picked up from DIY nut liquer recipes)
After Both sets of almonds were ready (2 x 4oz) I ground them to a fine powder using a coffee grinder.
The almonds are then placed into separate jars (I'm making 2 separate extracts) and covered with the vodka or everclear mix.
I am planning on leaving the nuts in the alcohol for about 3-4wks at which time I will filter and extract the alcohol from the oil layer. When it is finished I will post updated pictures of the final extract along with a small review of the taste of each. After I use these extracts in an upcoming brew, whatever remains will get a small addition of simple syrup to make these into (hopefully) a delicious aperitif.
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