The Purity Matrix


My friend Bill and I have been constantly trying to find ways to educate ourselves in home brewing and recognize different flavor profiles within hops, yeast and malt. We’ve been tossing around the idea of starting to brew our own single hop beers to test this out ourselves. After further discussion and drinking a number of Mikkeller Single Hop series beers (Williamette, Amarillo, Citra, Nugget, Super Galena, Sorachi Ace) we decided to take this educational series that Mikkeller started and take it a step further.

Enter The Purity Matrix: Mikkeller did an incredible job with showcasing the different hop profiles, but he doesn’t state what type of yeast or malt was used in the production of the 18 beers in the series. Bill and I thought that to further this we would play and experiment in a controlled environment – not only the hops – but the malt and yeast as well. We would pick a select number of yeasts, malt and hops, and then make every combination of them, only using a single type of each variable in the brew. The idea being that we would use a consistent amount of grain in each of the mashes, add the same amount of hops for each batch at same boiling point and timing them all consistently, and pitch the same amount of each type of yeast consistently. We are aware that the performance of the yeast will be directly affected depending on what temperature is used. This is why we’ll go with recommended temperature for these styles and use that temperature consistently throughout.

After calculating what we would think a manageable brewing schedule would be, we decided to go with the number three. Three x Three x Three = 27 batches of different beer. We will make these batches in 1 gallon batches and bottle them for a future tasting (because let’s just face it, to have 27 gallons of beer in the house would consume a lot of space – even if splitting it between two people).

So how is this going to work? Well, that’s where the purity matrix comes into play. We’ve sat down and carefully selected three difference types of hops, yeast and malt. We’ve decided to go with styles that are very different from each other for this first batch. We have assumed that for the first process, we would keep it simple and use commonly used base malt, hops and yeasts. To go wild and add specialty malts or yeast could skew the purpose of this matrix –purity – and prevent consistency in this first batch.

What is the point of all of this? Well, the first is to sharpen our control skills while brewing. There’s nothing worse than making something that tastes great and not being able recreate it because of inconsistencies in the process or being sure how much you’ve put into a batch. The most important point would be to recognize how all of these elements work together. Essentially, the ending result will be a beer tasting where we can take extensive tasting notes on which combinations work well together.

More on the purity matrix as it comes together. Get dark.


About Erik

I started this blog in 2011 to share my experiences traveling across the country visiting different bars, breweries and other beer related places. Check out the blog if you would like to read about some awesome places visited and beers I've tried.
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