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Here's to The End of the World

I decided to throw a party over the labor day holiday, which gave us a chance to celebrate and judge the first annual Awesome Brewers End of the World Zombie Apocalypse competition brew. My beautiful young fiancé was out of town preparing for our wedding, so instead of actually throwing the party, I suggested that I would throw the party and  someone else would host, cook, and buy all the beer.  After the Great Billiards and Rock Band Social Fiasco, Rosene was happy to oblige.

All of the real members of the Awesome Brewers prepared a beer for this event. I also prepared 4 Saisons that we all decided to judge prior to the event.  It helped prepare (numb) our taste buds for the competition brew. C-4 also broke out his barrel aged Peach Pale Ale that was just wonderful.

Anyway, back to the point, I had a lot of trouble preparing this beer, because I wanted it to be something that I considered beer.  In other words, a fermented beverage consisting largely of mashed grains.  The most readily available that I could think if was oats in the form of oatmeal.

A quick technical sidebar here; malted barley contains enzymes that, when heated to the correct temperature, break down complex carbohydrates into more simple sugars that yeast can further break down into alcohol. Other grains, such as oats, wheat, and rye, don't contain these enzymes, and thus can't be broken for use as a fermentable beverage. When using these grains, malted barley must also be used to break down these starches. So me using oats as my fermentables was a bad idea.  It wasn't the last bad idea I had...

In checking out the organic section of my local grocery I found some pearled barley and another grain called Quinoa. Quinoa is a South American grain that is comprised of tiny little shpereical seeds.

I mashed the oatmeal, quinoa, and pearled barley roughly all day. I also added my secret weapon to help break down the starches: Gas-X. Gas-X,  Beano and similar medications contain enzymes that help break down starches in your gut that you body can't naturally break down on it's own.  This may have also detrimentally affected the flavor. There is no real way of knowing....  I put the mash on in the morning, ran some errands, and continued in the afternoon. It was a small brew, so I used my old 5 gallon setup. It made my garage smell like ass. When I went to lauter, the oatmeal basically turned into... Well oatmeal. It was awful. I thought that if I just kept adding hot water, it would be thin enough that it would eventually drain. I was wrong. After about an hour I was able to collect roughly 2 gallons of this garbage.

 By this time, it was late and I was tired, so I decided to boil the next day. Pre-boil, right? Anything goes.

The next night I boiled this disgusting mess in my kitchen.  I added two bottles of maple syrup. I really wish I hadn't done that, because it was the real stuff.  I also added whole cloves, cinnamon sticks and allspice to try and lessen the rank smell.  It didn't work.  I boiled down to about 1.5 gallons and put it in a plastic bucket to ferment because all my ferementers were being used for much better things. I took a gravity reading and the thick soupy concoction was at about 1.070, which was retarded high. I don't think this was an accurate measure of the sugar content, because I doubt the starches in the grains broke down at all. It was more like oatmeal.

For the yeast I recultured yeast from a six pack of Hoegarrden and 2 big bottles of Hennipen. Those are both bottle conditioned ales, which means they are naturally carbonated in the bottle.  At bottling, sugar and sometimes more yeast is added to the beer.  The sugar ferments creating CO2 which carbonates the beer. When the yeast is done it falls to the bottom of the bottle waiting for me to pour into a growler full of sugar water and boiled bread yeast. The bread yeast provides nutrients to the yeast I was reculturing.  It was boiled, which killed the bread yeast and shouldn't contribute to the flavor.  Boiling that the weekend before, also stank up my house.  There was no yeast activity for about 3 days, but when it took of, it went like crazy. I was very sad that I used this culture for this poo-in-a-bottle.

I pitched the yeast and let it ferment in my kitchen over night. It started just fine, but it still smelled awful. I decided to add a half gallon of apple juice to try to dilute what I knew was going to be ridiculously terrible.

I fermented for 2 weeks and bottled like normal.  I'm sure you guested it, it stank. There was a thick goo that settled to the bottom of the fermenter that I'm sure was oatmeal remnants. Disgusting.

The tasting at my labor day bash was more awful than anyone could possibly imagine.  The beer/shit in a glass was an odd lemonade mixed with pee color. It had a very unique aroma that smelled like decomposing oats. It smelled kind of like a dumpster in the sun. The flavor was surprisingly not that terrible. I could taste the spices and the cider I added, which was quite nice. If you held your nose (literally) you could drink it. It had a very thin mouthfeel, also similar to hard cider.  There was no carbonation at all, but it had only been a week in the bottle.

The other beers at the competition varied in their vomit inducing flavors and aromas. One of Matty's beer I could have dranken, if I needed to get drunk.  I had to drink a lot after to get the taste out of my brain. I ended up with 15 bottles of this vile mess, 2 of which were opened at the tasting and the rest are in my trash can awaiting pickup by the city.

I think, in retrospect, I should have done several things differently.  I'm sure at this point, that is abundantly clear. I think the biggest mistake I made was that I missed the point of the competition. This was not about making something as clever as possible, but making something ferment, thus dulling our pain of living.  I shouldn't have tried to make "beer" in the traditional sense, but gone for cider or syrup and sugar dissolved in water.  I will say there were no real winners in this competition, just terrible beer.


Batch size: ~2 gallons
OG:  unknown
FG:  unknown

Grain bill:
Quaker Oatmeal:  2 packages
Pearled Barley:  1 package (1 lb)
Quinoa:  1 package (.5lbs)

Pure Maple Syrup:  2 bottles (~24 fl oz)

Hop bill:

Cinnamon sticks: a lot
Whole Allspice:  a lot
Whole Clove:  a lot

Gas-x: half a package
Apple juice:  .5 gallon

Yeast: re cultured Hoegarrden and Hennipen

Mash: step infusion
145 F dropping to about 120 F.
Mash out at 170F.

Notes:  I didn't measure the spices, I just dumped them in. Do NOT try this at home. It stinks.

Tags: End of the World, Smell

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