I wanted to share some brewing raw ale tips, as I actually made one today with the team so, the experience is fresh. To begin though, let’s look at what raw ale actually is.
Taking our cue from old faithful Milk the Funk (MTF); raw ale a.k.a “no-boil” beer, is a brew where the wort produced doesn’t reach boiling point or is only at a boiling temperature for a short time.
When you boil wort, it changes the flavor profile of the finished beer. You can learn more about how boiling wort impacts flavor in our dedicated article “Brewing Boiling Tips”.
However, let’s take a quick look at how boiling the wort effects beer here:
1. Boil off – When boiling wort the water evaporates with the malt sugars being condensed.
2. Maillard reaction – During the boil Maillard reaction takes place and the wort darkens.
3. Hot break – Allows proteins to coagulate and settle to the bottom of the kettle. These proteins are then left behind when the wort is collected to the fermentation vessel (FV).
4. Pasteurization – Boiling the wort helps to sterilize it.
5. Hops – During the boil isomerization of alpha acid in the hops take place, making them more soluble to contribute their bittering component more easily.
6. Driving off volatiles – Boiling wort allows volatiles like SMM the precursor to DMS to be driven off.
There are many positive to boiling wort, making it standard practice in modern brewing. So, why would someone choose to brew raw ale?
Reason to Try Brewing This Style
As we mention above, boiling beer allows many of the proteins in the wort to coagulate and fall to the bottom of the kettle. If the wort doesn’t boil then there will be more protein in the carried to the FV.
The belief is; wort with more proteins creates a fuller mouthfeel and visible haze. These two points are why many people think NEIPA, is a great style to brew as raw ale.
Furthermore, some brewers claim the malt flavors from raw ales are richer and more complex than from non-boiled wort. However, experiments by the likes of Brulosophy with their NEIPA raw ale trials would counter this argument.
Why did we try it? Well, we thought it would be fun.
Brewing A Raw Ale Tips – Why Did We Brew One?
We (the brewing team, Daniel, Mike and myself) had some beer in barrels and also had a free pilot (150 liter) FV. We decided to move the beer from the wooden barrel to FV. So, we could gas it up (add CO2). Therefore, we had an empty barrel which it gave me an idea…
It was getting too late to do a full pilot brew after the barrel was empty. But we had enough time to mash, sparge and collect some wort to the kettle. Why not make a raw ale and put it back in the freshly empty barrel?
The Grain Bill – Brewing A Raw Ale Tips
I pitched the idea to the brew team and they all thought it was a good one. So, we quickly put a recipe together. We used 1 bag of marris otter extra pale malt (54.2% of the grain bill) plus…
- 16.3% Rye malt
- 10.8% Gladfield Gladiator
- 4.1% Wheat
- 10.8% Crisp Cara
- 1.5% Gladfield Sour Grapes
So, the overall color was 16.7 EBC, which came from the Cara malt. We used these malts mostly because we had open bags of these. We didn’t want to open new bags of malt just for this brew.
Now as I say a good beer style to make a raw ale, is a NEIPA. The reason is you’ll get added haze, as more proteins are carried in the wort to the fermentation vessel. Plus, more mouthfeel, if you believe what other brewers say.
However, our malt bill wasn’t for a NEIPA, we decided on this brew as we wanted to go a bit darker and have some residual malt body to counteract the use of the rye and sourness. You can brew any beer style you like as a raw ale so, go wild…
So, this brew was on the pilot system and we aimed to make 150L. Our mash tun doesn’t have a heating jacket. So, we can only do a single step infusion mash. We aimed to mash in at 68°C (154.4°F), and we hit our target.
We went with 68°C (154.4°F), as we wanted some residual sugars. But chances are the LAB (lactobacillus) with which the barrel was inoculated with will eat through most of the sugars anyway. We’ll end up with something pretty dry with a sour/funky edge.
It was a fairly standard mash except…
Mash Hopping – Brewing A Raw Ale Tips
We decided to put our hops into the mash for two reasons:
1. We weren’t boiling the wort (it’s a raw ale remember). So, we put the hops in the mash and calculated the IBU’s from hopped mash instead. We knew the temperature of the mash and length of mash stand so, it was easy to calculate IBUs’.
2. There’s a thought, adding hops to the mash can boost aroma and flavor, it came up in a discussion I saw on Facebook in a brewer’s group. Please see the picture below:
This discussion brought up this link to Introduction to Thiols in Hop Oils on the Charles Faram website. So, we decided to use up some open Cascade (as suggested in the Charles Faram article) hops plus, 150g of Cryo mosaic we also had available.
As I say this beer was not a planned and we were brewing it on the fly. When it comes to raw ale, you could use hops later in the process such as in the kettle.
However, we wanted to trial mash hopping as we’d only recently read about it. Plus, as we said earlier were knew the parameters for the mash so, could more easily calculate IBU’s as a result.
Collection to the Kettle and Spice Additions – Brewing A Raw Ale Tips
Once the mash stand was finished, it was normal collection to the kettle. We decided to hold the collected wort at 88C (190.4°F). As “8” is a lucky number in China, also holding above 85C (185°F) would lead to a partial sterilization of the wort too.
Edit: It seems you need to hold your wort under 80C (176F) otherwise more DMS can be formed. Looks like we made an error with this brew so we will need to see how it turns out. Thanks Michael Hartmann for the advice.
When the wort was being collected, we added 300g of crushed juniper berries and 500g of bitter orange peel to the wort. We put these additions inside a muslin bag and weighed it down with some stainless-steel fitting so, it didn’t float.
It’s up to the brewer(s), as to which additions to put in a raw ale (if any). I just think in regions like Scandinavia traditionally, people foraged herbs, berries, flowers and ferns to put into their raw brews. It felt like we were keeping with tradition to use some natural additions.
Brewing A Raw Ale Tips – Filling the Barrel
Once we had collected our target volume of wort (150 liters). We held the wort at 88C after for 20 minutes (for partial sterilization). Then began collection to the barrel. As we were using Kveik hornidal, the wort was collected at 32C.
This was a simple process as we went via the heat exchanger to cool the liquid straight to the barrel. We could have collected hot (with no colling) at >88C (190.4°F), as the hot wort would have helped to sterilize the barrel.
However, as we were filling a freshly emptied barrel although some was beer still inside, going in at pitch temperature seemed the right decision.
We decided to leave some of the old beer in the barrel. It was a Red Flanders ale made by the previous brewer. It tasted nice. Early in this raw ale brew, we decided this barrel would become our “raw ale” barrel.
As soon as it was empty, we would fill it again with another raw ale but leave some of the old brew inside. Why? It just seemed like a cool idea, as over time there would be traces of many brews still in the fresh wort.
We added the yeast as soon as we knew the wort temperature had stabilized. Adding the yeast as the barrel is filling allows the yeast to mix thoroughly with the wort. As I say we decided to keep the process simple.
Note: We Added Some Batfoam (SB1)
OK, so this might not be completely true to origins of raw ale, but we added some Batfoam SB1 from AEB to the wort in the kettle. Our thinking was as the beer being put in a barrel; we didn’t want too much krausen.
With the foam to coming out of the barrel. The use of SB1 will keep the krausen lower so, hopefully not leaking out.
The Yeast Used – Brewing A Raw Ale Tips
As I said we decided to use a hornidal yeast. This is a kveik strain. To learn more about Kveik, please click the link (opens in a new tab). Kveik is known for fermenting at high temperatures and still producing clean beer.
This makes it ideal for our barrel fermentation, as we cannot regulate the temperature. Hornidal they say should not go over not go over 32°C (89.6°F), which our beer might. So, there are other stains better suited, like Kveik Voss which is good at 38C or even higher.
We used the Hornidal because it came from a Gose which had been soured with yogurt. This gose was recently brewed and yeast collected was still pretty fresh (less than two-week-old).
Plus, we liked the idea of carrying over some of the elements from the gose to the raw ale. It wasn’t a big pitch and chances are, the fact it been harvested from a gose will have little flavor impact. But it fitted in with our “having fun” ethos, which this brew is all about.
In theory you can use any yeast if the ambient temperature suits…
However, for raw ale, ale yeasts are recommended as they ferment with less off-flavors and esters at higher temps. Kveik strains are preferred, as they can ferment at much higher temperatures and still produce very clean beers
Brewing A Raw Ale Tips – Conclusions
So, there you have it, this is how we put some raw ale in a barrel. We will try to keep you updated with how the brew progresses. Thanks to Mike and Daniel for a fun brew day. I hope you picked up some brewing raw ale tips along the way.
The main takeaways are:
- NEIPA’s are a good style for raw ale brewing
- As you’re not going to boil the wort, the pre-boil gravity is your original gravity
- Kveik yeast are ideal, as they are happy fermenting at higher temperatures but still making clean beer
- As you’re not boiling the wort hop utilization for bitterness is low
- Keep the wort under 80C (176F) to keep DMS formation in check
So, thanks for reading; if you’ve made a raw ale before or have any follow-up questions, please feel free to leave a comment below, or send me a message. My email is:
Or you can scan the QR code below of your preferred network and message me there directly. For now, thanks again and happy brewing.