Friday, March 26, 2010

Drinking weed - Environmental problem proposed as beer ingredient


Cheatgrass is proposed as an ingredient for beer
in U.S.D.A Ag Report.  Graphic & Photo courtesy
of Wikipedia
Barley growers aren’t going to like this report. It’s a nasty, invasive and non native grass that’s called cheatgrass.  It crowds out native grasses, tangles dog hair and ruins your socks and running shoes and grows all too well everywhere you don’t want it.  But it may be good for beer.

A U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service report titled, An Economic Solution for an Environmental Problem: Cheatgrass  indicates that cheatgrass seed (barley is grass seed too) could be a suitable beer ingredient.

The author claims to have decoction mashed cheatgrass seeds successfully to full conversion of starches to sugars.  The test brew measured a specific gravity of 1.040 (10 degree P) and fermented to a 4.5% alcohol beer.  A “panel of taste testing” determined the beer as a “flavorful, consumable product, similar to amber ales.”

The authors figured that 3,112 pounds of seed can be produced per hectare (2.5 acres). If one pound is used per gallon of beer then 31 pounds could produce one barrel (U.S) of beer.  They conclude that 100 barrels of beer could be made from a one hectare plot.

The idea has merit, but the authors may have been drinking a bit too much of their weed when finally concluding that cheatgrass beer could be a windfall crop: “ … beer can be sold for $200.00 per barrel, estimating $20,000.00 net profit per hectare.

Unfortunately if you grew your own weed and brewed beer yourself, there’s a lot more expense to making beer than indicated  in the report.

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