Saturday, July 23, 2016

Pic(k) of the Week: Pigtail pour.

Pigtail pour

Using a 'pigtail' coil, a brewer pulls a sample of fruit beer from a 'bright' tank.
A bright tank is a dish-bottomed pressure-rated temperature-controlled tank used to hold beer in preparation for packaging. The term "bright" refers to "bright beer," beer that has been rendered bright (clear) by filtration, centrifugation, fining, and/or maturation. [...] As many craft beers are not filtered or clarified, the beer sent into the bright tank may not be bright at all.
The Oxford Companion to Beer

But beyond artistic drama, why that 'pigtail' coil?

The beer in the bright tank was fully carbonated, under pressure. A pigtail's long length of narrow-gauge stainless-steel created resistance to the beer flow along its length, at a rate almost equal to the pressure in the tank.

If the brewer had simply opened the sample valve without this restriction tubing attached: good luck! With no resistance to keep the carbonation dissolved, the beer would have spewed out as foam. But with it: voila! The sample was poured with a minimum of foam, most of the CO2 dissolved in the beer as the brewer had intended. (By the way, it's the length which accomplished this, not so much the 'pigtail.' The coil was there to keep the distance from the valve to spout within the brewer's arm's length.)

As seen at Jailbreak Brewing Company in Laurel, Maryland, on 26 July 2014.

Pro tip: the 'actual' name for this is a proof coil sampling valve. But saying pigtail is more fun.


Thursday, July 21, 2016

The hot hops of the U.S., 2016 edition.

Yesterday, I published a (brief and incomplete) synopsis of the just released hop reports from the Hop Growers of America and the Baarth-Haas Group. The former, the HGA report, listed the acreage devoted to each hop variety in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho— comprising the Pacific northwest, the region which accounts for 96% of all hops grown in the U.S.

Wanting a better picture of the individual hop variety winners and losers in the U.S., I 'spreadsheeted' together the results from the three states, with percentage gain or loss. Overall, aroma hops are up, way up. Bittering, or high-alpha-hops, are down.

Here you go:

U.S. hop-variety acreage (2016)

Note that:
  • Whereas Cascades, Centennial, and Citra (the new 3-Cs?) are the most grown, Azacca, Comet, and Sterling are the three hop varieties increasing fastest in acreage, by percentage.
  • Even though the report reports on the vast majority of hops grown in the U.S., it does not account for those hops grown in the twenty-six states outside of the Pacific northwest. Based on anecdotal evidence, however, I believe that Cascades would make up the lion's share. Maybe next year, state hop-grower guilds could report their data?
  • Where a hop is listed as "NEW," it might not be new, but simply not listed in previous years or be planted in trivial acreage. In fact, the HGA report does include acreage for "Other" and "Experimental" which I did not include here.
  • Where a hop variety has an asterisk in the "% =/- 2015" column, HGA reports that there is some sort of proprietary BS involved (my words, not theirs), so the figures are probably off. "Limited data" means just that.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The state of the American hops industry is strong.

The Hop Growers of America has released its hop acreage report for 2016, and the state of the American hops industry is strong.

Hops in America 2016 In 2014, U.S. hops acreage grew 10.2%; in 2015, 15.4%. And this year, hop acreage was up by 18.5%, with 53,213 total acres planted, the most since 1915.

The Pacific northwest — Washington state, Oregon, and Idaho, in that order— which accounts for over 96% of all hops in the nation, planted 7,482 more hop-acres this year, an increase of 17% over 2015. Its 51,115 total acres represent a new record for the region.

The international hop broker, Barth-Haas Group also has just released its Hop Market and Crop Development Report for 2016. The data show that the United States is now the largest hop producer in the world. (Barth-Haas' acreage numbers are a bit smaller than HGA's. They show 48,933 acres for the U.S., up 16.7% over 2015.) Total high alpha hop plantings decreased 6.6% in the U.S., while aroma hop plantings acreage increased 26.1%, according to Barth-Haas.

The tense supply situation in the flavour/aroma segment should ease thanks to the considerable new acreage that has been planted for 2016 along with the maturing yields of prior years’ expansions. While the craft beer growth seems to slow down[emphasis mine] from double digits to single digits in the US in 2016 we continue to see lots of interest and growth in craft markets outside of the US. The supply of the high alpha segment has, on the other hand, become noticeably tighter over the course of the last 12 to 18 months as acreage reductions in the US have been and are being felt in the market.

Other statistics of note from the Hop Growers of America report:
  • Washington’s Yakima Valley leads U.S. production with 37,475 acres, representing over 70% of the country’s acreage.
  • Oregon and Idaho follow with 7,669 (15% of total U.S. acreage) and 5,971 acres (12%), respectively.
  • 70% of the new acreage in the Pacific northwest is of high demand proprietary varieties.
  • Cascade continues to be the most-planted hop, at 7,371 acres; Centennial, at 5,009 acres, has surpassed CTZ for second place with 5,009 acres. (Mosaic hops increased by the highest percentage, at 51.1%, to 2,717 acres planted, according to Barth-Haas.)
  • A list of hop-variety acreage in the U.S. 2016 (excluding that grown outside of the Pacific northwest): here.
Outside of the Pacific northwest, hop production increased in acreage by 64% this year, with 26 states planting 2,098 acres, nearly 4% of the total U.S. plantings, an intriguing, up from nil, trend. Specific hop variety information was not supplied. Of those states:
  • 1. Michigan planted the most hops outside of the Pacific northwest, at 650 acres, an increase of more than 103%.
  • 2. Then New York, at 300 acres, a 200% increase over 2015.
  • 3. Wisconsin, next, with a virtual tie, at 297 acres, up nearly 75%.
  • 4. Colorado has 200 acres under hop cultivation, an increase this year of 60%.
  • 5. Next up is California, with 130 acres, up nearly 60% over last year.
  • 6. Minnesota has 73 acres planted, over 180% more than in 2015.
  • 7. Ohio is just behind, at 70 acres, representing a 40% increase.
  • 8. Indiana farmers have planted 50 acres of hops this year, also 40% more than last year.
  • 9. Iowa is at 40 acres, up 33.33% over 2015.
  • 10. Tied at 10th for most hops planted (other than in the Pacific northwest) are Illinois, North Carolina, and Virginia, all at 30 acres.
YFGF's past long-time home, the mid-Atlantic, has planted 45 acres of hops this year: Virginia, as mentioned above, is at 30 acres; Maryland, 15 acres; both states showing no increase over 2015. * (Hey, Washington, D.C.: how about an urban harvest?)

The neighboring states of North Carolina and Pennsylvania also have 45 acres under cultivation: the former at 30 acres (but down from 40 acres in 2015); the latter at 15 acres, up from 5.5.

YFGF's new home of the Deep South reported no hops. South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama: zero. Also little asparagus.

  • Read the entire report at the Hop Growers of America: here.
  • Read the Barth-Haas Group report: here.
  • Compiled from the HGA report, a list of hop-variety acreage in the U.S. 2016 (excluding that grown outside of the Pacific northwest): The hot hops of the U.S., 2016 edition.
  • * I'd expect the Virginia hops harvest to increase in 2017 with yield from Black Hops Farms' new 15 acre farm and modern hops processing plant.

  • For more from YFGF:

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Pic(k) of the Week: Summertime refreshment

Summertime refreshment

Swam a leisurely lap there and back; then, poolside, hydrated straight outta the can. No glass allowed. A hometown Sweetwater Brewing IPA redolent of fresh tangerines and old-school London-gin juniper, chased by a spicy-dry finish.

These days in the U.S., an IPA (India Pale Ale) can be about just anything, just not much about India or pale, a definition modified beyond much standard meaning. Traditionally, however, an IPA has been an ale ...
characterized by high levels of alcohol and hops. It gained its name thanks to its huge popularity in British India and other outposts of the British Empire throughout the 19th century, as a result of its keeping abilities on long sea voyage and its refreshing character when it finally reached its destination.
The Oxford Companion to Beer: Oxford University Press, 2012.

On 25 June 2016, in Atlanta, Georgia, it was an IPA, new world style. I didn't mind. Summertime and the living tasted easier.


Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Clamps & Gaskets: News Roundup for Weeks 25/26, 2016.

Clamps and Gaskets: weekly roundup
A bi-weekly, non-comprehensive roundup
of news of beer and other things.

Weeks 25/26
19 June - 2 July 2016

  • 2 July 2016
    In 1776, John Adams —Constitutional Convention delegate from Massachusetts and future American President— believed that the 2nd of July should and would be celebrated as American Independence Day, not the 4th as it has become.
    —Via YFGF.

  • 2 July 2016
    Nobel Peace prize winner, author Elie Wiesel ...
    the Auschwitz survivor who became an eloquent witness for the six million Jews slaughtered in World War II and who, more than anyone else, seared the memory of the Holocaust on the world’s conscience, died on Saturday at his home in Manhattan. He was 87.
    —Via New York Times.

  • 1 July 2016
    Economic stimulus. Quantitative drinking. Americans are projected to purchase $1 billion worth of beer over the Independence Day holiday weekend.
    —Via USA Today.

  • 1 July 2016
    The 141-day Battle of Somme, of World War I, began 100 years ago. On 1 July 1916, the British Fourth Army took 57,470 casualties, of which 19,240 men were killed, the French Sixth Army had 1,590 casualties and the German 2nd Army had 10,000–12,000 losses. By the end of the campaign, 18 November 1916, more than one million men had been wounded or killed, making it one of the bloodiest battles in human history.
    —Via Wikipedia.

  • 29 June 2016
    California's Lagunitas Brewing —in 2015, the nation's 6th largest 'craft' brewery— buys stake in three smaller 'craft' breweries: Independence Brewing, in Austin, Texas; Moonlight Brewing, in in Santa Rosa, California; Southend Brewery and Smokehouse, in Charleston, South Carolina, which will be renamed as Lagunitas brewpub.
    —Via Chicago Tribune.

  • 27 June 2016
    United States Supreme Court overturns abortion clinic restrictions in Texas —requiring clinics that provide abortions to have surgical facilities and doctors to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital— as unconstitutional.
    —Via National Public Radio.

  • 27 June 2016
    West Virginia flood was ‘one in a thousand year event,’ Weather Service says; at least 23 people are confirmed dead from the floodwaters.
    —Via Washington Post.

  • 24 June 2016
    Yuengling —the nation's largest 'craft'brewery— fined $2.8 million for Clean Water Act violations at its two plants near Pottsville, Pennsylvania. The company will spend $7 million on required improvements at the plants.
    —Via Beer Pulse.

  • 23 June 2016
    Ralph Stanley, bluegrass master and banjoist, National Medal of Arts recipient, has died at 89.
    —Via Washington Post.

  • Brewers Publications "Lambic" (front cover)
  • 24 June 2016
    Originally published in 1990 and long out-of-print, "Lambic" —number 3 in the Brewers Publications' Classic Beer Style Series— has been re-released as an ebook.
    —Via Brewers Publications (a subsidiary of the [U.S.] Brewers Association).

  • 23 June 2016
    As of June 2016, there were 700 breweries operating in California, a record number there, doubling in only the last four years, and far greater than in any other state. Eleven of its breweries are among the nation’s fifty largest 'craft' breweries.
    —Via Jay Brooks at Brookston Beer Bulletin.

  • Britain leaves the EU: 23 June 2016.
  • 23 June 2016
    British voters vote for "Brexit," to leave the European Union, by 52 to 48%. Britain had joined the EU in 1973.
    —Via New York Times.

  • 23 June 2016
    U.S. judge Gonzalo Curiel dismisses the lawsuit against MillerCoors that had accused it of deceptive marketing as to the 'craft' beer nature of Blue Moon. (Curiel is the same judge that is presiding over the lawsuit against presidential candidate Donald Trump over Trump University.)
    —Via New York Times.

  • 20 June 2016
    The full moon of 20 June 2016 is the first full moon to fall on the summer solstice since 1948.
    —Via Chicago Tribune.

  • 20 June 2016
    Guinness is a mighty global brand but there are signs that it is struggling to maintain its position as The Stout. In Britain, in particular, its popularity has been sliding for almost a decade: between 2008 and 2014 sales dropped by approximately 50 million liters per year, from more than 250 million to around 200 million.
    Guinness responded to alleged changes to its recipe:
    There’s a number of elements we don’t talk about.
    —Via Jessica Boak and Ray Bailey at All About Beer.

  • 20 June 2016
    The scarlet letter of ‘craft’ is a moving target, an object of opprobrium seemingly chosen annually. Much scorned, corn and rice are as much evil adjuncts as sugar and fruit and pumpkin and breakfast cereal are. If anything, among those, corn might be the uber-traditional of American brewing ingredients. "Rethinking corn’s demonized role in beer."
    —Via Stan Hieronymus at DRAFT Magazine.

  • 19 June 2016
    It's a 'craft' beer cage-match in Colorado, as several breweries split from the Colorado Brewers Guild over a schism concerning the inclusion of Anheuser-Busch InBev and Breckinridge (purchased in 2015 by AB InBev); form new group called Craft Beer Colorado.
    —Via Denver West Word.

  • 19 June 2016
    Juneteenth celebrates the eradication of American slavery, 19 June in 1865.
    —Via Smithsonian Magazine.