01Organic Beer Recipe
We believe the world deserves organic beer, so here's how you make it.
Pure Blonde were the pioneers of great tasting low-carb beer. We were able to create a beverage that was perfect for those of us who loved working out as much as we loved beer. Now we’ve become pioneers on another brewing front, great tasting, accessible, organic beer.
That’s right, we’ve taken the thing people love, beer, and we’ve made it Certified Organic.
Not only is every drop refreshing and delicious, it’s affordable too. Which is fantastic. Unless, of course, you like spending money.
With the development of such a beer, it’d be natural to think we’d want to keep our brewing process a closely-guarded secret. But as a matter of fact, we think it’s too good not to share. Which is why we’ve decided to provide our entire beer recipe to the world. Open source it, if you will.
Yes, our competitors might steal it. Sure, folks at home might use it to try and brew their own frosty ones. That’s exactly the point. Because we believe the whole world deserves organic beer and we’re on a mission to make it happen.
So, here it is. The Pure Blonde Organic Lager recipe and process. On a billboard. Available for all to see. And for birds to poo on. Which, depending on what they’ve been eating, is probably organic too.
Let’s start with ingredients. Before you can create Pure Blonde Organic Lager, it is important to understand the raw ingredients that make up the beer.
Pure Blonde Organic Lager is first and foremost a product consisting of five main ingredients: water, barley, hops, yeast and sugar.
Water is the lifeblood of our organic lager (not the actual life-blood, that’d be gross; it’s just a metaphor). Though a subtle ingredient when it comes to flavour, water still plays a significant role in Pure Blonde Organic Lager’s overall character.
Barley is another raw ingredient. The barley used in Pure Blonde Organic Lager comes from Germany and is a two-row barley. What can we say? Germans make more than just sausages, pretzels and other delicious beer snacks. The barley is grown in pesticide free soil with no genetically modified materials so there is no ionisation and no irradiation.
Next up is hops. Hops provide beer with bitterness that balances the sweetness of the malt. To make Pure Blonde Organic Lager, we use Certified Organic Pekko hops from the USA, also known as the United States of America. Hops’ flavours can vary depending on where they are grown, the type and how a brewer uses them. There are two roles for hops, namely bittering (when added early in the brew) and aroma (when added later in the brew).
Now let’s talk yeast. Never thought you’d read that did you? Or maybe you did. Which is also weird. Anyway, yeast is used to ferment the sugar from the malt to create alcohol and carbon dioxide. In the process the yeast will produce by-products that influence flavour and aroma. Depending on which yeast you use, you may notice different flavours and aromas. The yeast is used in Pure Blonde Organic Lager is technically known as Saccharomyces pastorianus. This particular yeast produces a crisp, clean and refreshing beer with subtle fruit hints of green apple.
The final raw ingredient is organic sugar. Pure Blonde Organic Lager’s sugar source comes from Brazil. We import this as a solid sugar and then turn it into a thick, concentrated liquid. When making your lager, you should use an organic liquid sugar because it enables you to create a low carb beer due to the fact the sugars are made of small chain carbohydrates which can be easily metabolised by the yeast.
Raw ingredients are great and all but unless you prepare them correctly, they’ll be useless. Meaning all the words you’ve read so far will be for nothing.
Which is why we’re now going to talk about how to prepare three important types of ingredients: malting the barley, pelletising the hops and adding brewing salts to the water.
Cryer Malt is the local business who procure our barley from abroad and then malt it. If you’re going to hit them up, ask for Tom, he’ll look after you. Shout out to Tom if you’re reading this, ya mad dog!
To start the malting process, soak the barley in water in order to germinate and stimulate the build-up of enzymes. Prior to the grain sprouting, halt the process and dry the grain. The drying process will deepen the colour and flavour profile of the grain. The output from this is malted barley. Malted barley has a rich, nut-like flavour and is high in the carbohydrate that serves as the sugar source for yeast to produce alcohol during fermentation.
We add malt because it contributes significantly to flavour, particularly the sweetness of the beer; it is a small grain that has big flavour. There’s probably a great moral in that, but we don’t have time for morals, we have beer to brew.
The flavour of the beer changes with the use of different malt types. Malt colours can vary from 4 units to greater than 100 units. The malt used in Pure Blonde Organic Lager is a unit 4 colour. The corresponding flavours range from mild flavours of bready, grainy and malty to dark roasted, coffee, burnt malt and bitter. Pure Blonde Organic Lager is made from Certified Organic Pilsner Malt which is both light in colour and flavour.
Hops themselves are made up of a hop flower and bine. The bine is for hops as a vine is for grapes. During the harvest season hop flowers are harvested. The part you want is the lupulin gland which is in the base of the flower and responsible for the resins, aromatic oils, and acids. The Certified Organic Pekko hops are pelletised, meaning you must chop the flowers up to a fine consistency and then compress them – so they kind of look like rabbit food. But they don’t taste like it. Not that we’ve ever tasted rabbit food… OK, maybe once at university.
The final bit of raw ingredient prep is adding brewing salts. Pure Blonde Organic Lager is brewed in Melbourne where the water is ironically too pure. It lacks a lot of minerals that are necessary to help create the best pH, optimise the brewing process, as well as provide mouthfeel (that’s totally a word – it means the, um, feel you have in your mouth). As such, you need to add inorganic salts in order to give the beer the right texture and to create an acceptable pH level. Now we realise we just used the words inorganic but ‘open source’ is all about being honest and transparent. Truth is, to obtain ACO organic certification you’re allowed to add 5% of ingredients that aren’t completely organic. There’s more on this later.
If you brew this recipe anywhere other than Melbourne, you may need to adjust your level of salts.
Now that you have a good understanding of the ingredients that are used to make Pure Blonde Organic Lager, we can take a deeper dive into the actual process.
The making of organic beer can be separated into two main areas: brewing and fermentation. The full process takes approximately three to four weeks, from start to finish.
We’ll take a closer look at these in turn, starting with brewing.
Phase 1: Brewing/Wort
The objective of phase 1 (brewing) is to produce wort.
It may sound like a rather unsavoury dermatological imperfection, but wort is also a liquid that brewers create from scratch. To make it, combine four key ingredients: water, malted barley, sugar and hops. A batch of wort should take six hours to create. At the end of the process, the wort will look like beer but will be sweeter and grainy and will not have alcohol. If you are making a 50 litre keg, ideally you will create 20 litres of wort. We recommend using the following portions: 2.72kg of Organic Pilsner Malt, 20 litres of Brewhouse Water, 11g of salts, 9g of hops and 1.65kg of dry sugar.
Step 1: Milling
Mill the malted barley to break it open and reveal the floury substance inside. This enables quicker starch conversion. Use a 6-roller dry mill, which is a piece of machinery which has three sets of two rolling pins. Insert the malt and adjust the gaps to make sure it’s milled to the right particle size. The size of the particles is important. We want to break open the grains, keeping the husks of the malt intact while crushing the starchy insides. If you don’t have a 6-roller dry mill, simply sprinkle the grain on your driveway and back your car over it repeatedly. Note: this is not a proven or recommended way to mill grain. We made it up in order to add flourish to this paragraph.
Step 2: Mashing
Mix the milled malt with warm water in the mash tun. The process takes about 90 minutes at 63 degrees Celsius, then ramps up to 80 degrees Celsius (one degree per minute) and finally holds for 5 minutes at this temperature. This enables the enzymes in the malt to break down the starch into smaller sugars. Later in the fermentation stage, yeast will convert this to alcohol.
At this stage we add some more enzymes (approximately 59.84g for a 50 litre keg) as a process aid in order to convert starch to sugar as the yeast cannot metabolise large molecules. Enzymes take liquid form and are clear like water. It’s possible to make Pure Blonde Organic Lager as a low carb option because these enzymes mean that you don’t leave the long chain carbohydrates behind.
The output from this is sweet mash. At this stage the wort will look like a thin porridge. Delicious, pre-beer porridge.
Step 3: Lautering
Pump the sweet mash from the mash tun into a lauter tun. What’s a lauter tun, you ask? Please don’t interrupt. A lauter tun is simply a vessel for separating the wort from the solids of the sweet mash.
Allow the mash to sit on a slotted base (like a colander). The barley husks aid filtering of the liquid from the mash by creating a filter bed which traps the solids. The sweet malty liquid, now called wort, must flow from the bottom of the lauter tun to the kettle. The output from this is sweet wort.
And that brings us to step 4: Boiling!
Boil the wort for one hour in the wort kettle to allow important biochemical and physical changes to take place. It’s at the start of the process that hops are added to create bitterness, aroma and flavour. Add the Certified Organic liquid sugar (called adjuncts in the brewing industry). As mentioned above, here you will be mixing 1.65kg of dry sugar with 20 litres of brewhouse water.
The boiling process achieves five key things: 1. Sterilise the wort by killing any micro organisms. 2. Enables the bitterness from the hops to come through. 3. Strips out some of the unwanted aroma compounds. 4. Denatures and removes unwanted protein solids. 5. Produces the perfect colour. 6. There is no 6, just checking to see if you’re paying attention. 7. Well done on point 6.
The output from this is boiled wort will contain some plant material from the hops.
Step 5: Wort Separation
Allow the clear, hot wort to leave the kettle and pump into a whirlpool. Make sure the liquid enters the whirlpool on an angle to create an effect like stirring tea in a cup. This will cause any solid material (called trub – made up of the plant material from the hops and the denatured proteins) to settle in the middle of the whirlpool. An outlet on the side will collect the liquid.
Remove the clear hot wort from the vessel, leaving the trub behind. If you’re feeling like a good person, which we know you are, send the trub off to be reused as feed. The output from this step is clear hot wort.
Phase 2: Cold Block Fermentation and Finishing
Congratulations! You’ve made it to the second half of the Pure Blonde Organic Lager process. But don’t go downing a glass just yet, there’s still plenty of work to be done. Also, it’s boiling hot and could hurt you. Ha ha ha! Isn’t brewing fun?
Step 1: Wort Cooling
Cool your hot wort before putting it into the fermenter. This ensures the yeast can survive. Use a wort cooler heat exchanger to do this. Cool the wort from approximately 98 degrees Celsius to 11 degrees Celsius. The output from this is cooled wort. Oxygenate the wort after it is cooled by using a pure oxygen gas stream that gets pushed into the liquid.
Step 2: Fermentation
This is where the magic happens. And by magic, we mean advanced chemistry.
To start the fermentation, add yeast during the filling of the vessel. Yeast converts the wort’s sugars into alcohol and carbon dioxide gas. Fermentation also introduces complex aromas and taste to the beer.
To make Pure Blonde Organic Lager, use a bottom fermenting lager yeast. That is, a colder, slower ferment, which provides a crisp finish and lighter flavours.
There are two mini steps in Pure Blonde Organic Lager fermentation:
1. Aerobic – this means there is oxygen or air present. It’s like beer aerobics. Beer aerobics? That’s a great idea for a new business start-up. Can you just wait while we find some paper to write this down…OK, our legal team has said we’re not allowed to promote beer and aerobics-based activities, so looks like that pipe dream is over. Guess we’ll have to finish writing this recipe.
Combine yeast, wort and oxygen with the aim to increase the biomass of the yeast 2-3 times. This ensures you’ll have healthy and active yeast to complete the fermentation.
- Anaerobic – this means there is no oxygen present. Don’t worry legal team, we won’t be suggesting any beer anaerobics. To do this, set and hold the temperature at 18.5 degrees Celsius.
At the end of fermentation, the yeast will modify some of the flavour compounds it has made, this is known as the diacetyl rest. Diacetyl is a flavour compound (that tastes like butter scotch or popcorn). The yeast produces this compound it then re-absorbs it. Typically, beers ferment for about five to seven days, depending on the style. Pure Blonde Organic Lager takes seven days. To be clear, that’s one week or about a quarter of a month.
Once the sugar is all used up, the yeast goes into hibernation and sugar stores build up in the cell. It will start to stick together with other yeast cells and form thick clumps in the beer. Wait for it to settle at the bottom.
When the yeast has finished fermenting, chill the tank down to 4 degrees Celsius. Most yeast will settle to the bottom of the fermenter, meaning it can be separated from the beer easily. The output from this is yeasty, unfiltered beer.
Collect the created carbon dioxide to use later in the process. This will give the beer its bubbly goodness.
Step 3: Storage/Maturation
Once the yeast has settled to the bottom, remove this portion. Remember, yeast in Pure Blonde Organic Lager is never re-used because the yeast is very stressed from fermentation. And stress has absolutely no place near our beer.
Moving on, it’s time to put the beer through a centrifuge to remove any remaining yeast that hasn’t settled at the bottom of the tank. Store the unfiltered beer at cold temperatures (minus 1.5 degrees Celsius) to let any solids separate out before filtration. Store for a minimum three days, but no longer than 28 days, to ensure it’s always kept fresh. Storage and maturation allow for the full development of flavours and will provide the beer with a perfectly smooth finish. The output from this is matured yeasty, unfiltered beer.
Step 4: Filtration
Considering Pure Blonde Organic Lager is low carb, the liquid you have now can feel quite watery and light. Add malt extract so the liquid feels fuller. Malt extract is like a concentrated wort that adds colour and mouthfeel. The malt extract is sourced from Pure Malt in the UK. There are two forms of malt extract, the first is a concentrated hot water extract of roasted barley and the other is a dealcoholised concentrated malt beer. For a 50 litre keg, we add 35g of malt extract with 30 litres of water. At this stage we also add in light-stabilised hops to ensure the beer's head and bitterness are perfect. Add in 2.5g for a 50 litre keg.
Once the beer has had sufficient storage time, use candle filtration (the most romantic of all filtration techniques) to remove any unwanted proteins and yeast. After filtering, dilute the beer to 4% ABV using de-aerated water. De-aerated water is water with no oxygen – we recommend sparging the water with carbon dioxide and then using a vacuum to strip the oxygen out.
The oxygen accelerates the staling process in beer so we want to add as little oxygen as possible.
Put the beer into a ‘bright’ beer tank ready for packaging. The output from this will be bright beer. Bright beer is beer that no longer has yeast in suspension. Clear, lively and fresh, it is beer as the brewers drink it – straight from the proverbial udders.
Step 5: Pasteurisation and Packaging
Transfer the beer into a bottle and seal tightly. Be sure to handle the glass carefully to avoid breaking.
In order to achieve microbiological stability (i.e. shelf life), you must kill any remaining yeast and other micro-organisms by pasteurising the beer, we use a method called tunnel pasteurisation.
Chill the bottle down to your favourite serving temperature. Don’t pretend you don’t have one.
OK, you’re almost done but there’s one more very important thing we need to talk about before your Pure Blonde Organic Lager is ready; gaining organic certification to be able to make organic claims.
Pure Blonde Organic Lager is certified by Australian Certified Organic (ACO).
Gaining organic certification with ACO requires five key areas to be met:
- Significance and regulatory compliance. Your standard of labelling must meet ACO regulations. The ACO certification number must be verified and clearly demonstrated. No alterations may occur without consultation with and approval from the ACO body.
- Supplier assurance and compliance. Specific sourcing requirements for organic certified ingredients must be approved by ACO.
- Separation and segregation. The ingredients used in the brewing process of organic beer must be kept in separate storage areas, approved by ACO. Organic materials must be clearly labelled ‘ORGANIC’. The tools used to handle these materials must also be clearly labelled and only used for handling organic materials.
- Scheduling and planning. In our brewery, organic products are brewed on the first Monday of every month to avoid any chance of contaminating organic with non-organic materials.
- Sanitation and cleaning. All vessels and lines must be flushed before using organic ingredients. The brewing facility cleaning plans must be validated and approved by ACO in order for the produce to meet organic standards.
To be certified organic with ACO, 95% of the weight of your product (not including water) needs to be from organic sources.
Now you might say “well, at least the remaining 5% of my ingredients can come from anywhere else,” but you’d be saying something wrong, and quite frankly, not really in line with the vibe of what we’re trying to do here.
For the remaining 5%, you still need to ensure that five key conditions are being met including: 1) no commercial organic alternative available; 2) no ingredients are genetically modified; 3) ingredients come from natural sources; 4) ingredients have not been fumigated or irradiated; and 5) no synthetic fertilisers have been used.
And we’re done! Now it’s time to pour the delicious Pure Blonde Organic Lager into your mouth. You don’t need instructions for that too, do you?
That completes the Pure Blonde Organic Lager process. All 3,536 words of it. We’ve tried to be completely open and honest, giving you as much information and advice as possible. We may have even crossed the line into ‘too much information’. But who’s counting? If you’d like to read this at your own leisure or have any other questions, visit opensourceorganic.com.au
We now entrust Pure Blonde Organic Lager to you. Use this recipe well, dear friend. Add to it, tinker with it, invite our competitors to have a crack. It’s all about spreading the organic beer love. Because the world deserves organic beer. Together, we can make it happen.
And that’s how you make Pure Blonde Organic Lager. But if you’re thirsty right now, grab one from your local bottle shop.