We all need Young Masters

June 3rd, 2014 | Posted by greg in Daily life...

In a not so far past, beer was called “liquid bread”, the reason being that beer was a simple fermented cereal beverage, and it was never filtered, thus there was solid residue of the cereal left in the liquid, where the name liquid bread. And when I visited Young Masters Ales, a new start-up where Rohit and Ulrich are brewing some of the finest beers in Hong Kong, I had that exact same feeling of “liquid bread”. With the smell of the malted cereals, of the fermentation and especially the real taste of what beer is supposed to be. Unfiltered, aromatic and authentic…

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A very professional and beautiful setup

The brewery’s setup is impressive and very professional; when you walk in their premises, you know you’re dealing with top level artisan.

The first time I came across Young Masters Ales was at Beef & Liberty (a gourmet burger place definitely worth visiting if you are passing by Star Street in Wan Chai) – the beer was listed as their prime choice on the menu and I decided to have a try. Wow! It was striking compared to commercial mass produced beers – finally, a real taste of fermentation, slightly blurred and with distinct flavour. From that day, I had that beer in the back of my mind… then I had the luck to meet Rohit at the 2014 Harvest Feast, held at Zen Organic Farm. Rohit was serving two of his ales and I was in awe. Needless to say that the connection between Rohit’s philosophy and mine had a lot of common points, we had the same speech on producing quality, small scale, artisan produce, made according to the tradition with a hint of creativity.

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The fermenting tanks

Cereals are our common ground. At Young Masters Ales, Rohit and Ulrich introduced me to several kind of malted cereals used in the making their beers, including a very dark type, roasted the same way as coffee bean. As soon as I tried them, I could picture it in one of my bread. It was so obvious that I couldn’t wait to try baking it! Also, after each new batches of beer the mashed and fermented leftover grains, known as spent grains, are usually given to farms to feed animals. It is still full of protein and of course fibres, as the part used to ferment beer are the sugars. It is commonly given to cattle as it will make them produce milk with a higher fat content for example; however, cows aren’t a very common breed in Hong Kong. When I took a breath over the spent grain, I could picture it instantly in a rye bread…

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Beer aged in old whiskey oak barrels – can’t wait to try this one as well!

I wanted to have all the essence I came across at Young Masters Ale in bread. So, I selected the malted rye, malted wheat and dark roast malted barley, I had them soaked and ferment in water at a fairly warm temperature for 24 hours. The next day, I used the liquid that became beautifully dark, just like dark ales, together with the softened grains and kneaded it in a rye sourdough with a bit more malt. The hydration of the dough was more than 100% and I allowed the dough to bulk ferment for over 24 hours at 5 degrees Celsius. With such a hydration level, shaping was a challenge, but possible of course as the bread gained a good body with the overnight bulk fermentation.

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The malted grain bread!

We baked it up-side-down so it opened on the closing point. It came out as a wonderful loaf; the fumes alone were already promising.

The texture was soft; with softened grains adding a little texture throughout the crumb, a beautiful thin and crunchy crust, superbly caramelized from the natural sugar. The flavours from the spent grains as well as the malted grains blended very well with the sourdough and rye flour earthy tones. Even better toasted, the bread is an incredible way to recycle the spent grains and on top of that it was an instant hit with cold cut and sausage, the usual suspects caught with great ale!

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Sliced, you can see the several grains – just delicious!

The above post was featured on WOM guide under the title Liquid Bread!

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