Saturday, May 27, 2017

Pic(k) of the Week: ASBC Hot Steep Malt Sensory Method

ASBC Hot Steep Malt Sensory Method (demonstrated by Craft Maltsters Guild)

The Craft Maltsters Guild was there at the recent Craft Brewers Conference in Washington, D.C., demonstrating the new Hot Steep Malt Sensory Method of the American Society of Brewing Chemists (ASBC).

At the Guild's booth, Jessica Johnstone of Grouse Malting (of Colorado) was kind enough to explain the process to me.
This is a demo of the ASBC Hot Steep Malt Sensory Method. It was published about a year ago. A lot of our malthouses have found it very beneficial for a multitude of purposes including brand development or quality control. Essentially, it's a hot steeped malt tea, filtered. Maltsters use it to identify aromas, tastes, flavors, and mouthfeel. Brewers can as well. We're looking for each batch of malt to taste the same, so we can market it as the same product. If there's an outlier, it's something we have to address.

A valuable test —developed by scientists Cassie Liscomb of Briess Malt & Ingredients and Lindsay Barr of New Belgium Brewing, it's a surprisingly uncomplicated procedure, using a coffee grinder and Thermos bottle, filter paper and jars. No expensive equipment needed, 'craft' brewers and maltsters.

"May I taste the samples," I asked Johnstone. "They're grainy and malty," she forewarned me.

"I've known only one brewer only who didn't like the taste of wort," I replied. "These samples are delicious."


Thursday, May 25, 2017

"Ice cold beer lacks the exhilarating effect."

The Wahl-Henius Institute was a brewing research laboratory and school in Chicago that operated between 1886 and 1921. Founded in 1886 by Dr Robert Wahl and Dr Max Henius as the Wahl & Henius, the name was changed to the Scientific Station for Brewing of Chicago and then to the Institute of Fermentology before becoming the Wahl-Henius Institute. Its educational division, the American Brewing Academy, was created in 1891. The school and laboratory operated successfully until Prohibition, when the near dissolution of the brewing trade forced its closure and sale to the American Institute of Baking, which retains the nucleus of the Wahl-Henius library.

The Wahl-Henius Handy Book of Brewing, Malting and the Auxillary Trades, coauthored by Wahl and Henius [in 1901], is a comprehensive and wide-ranging view into American brewing [of the time]. It also contains basic chemical analyses of many contemporary American and European beers, providing an unusually valuable window into the brewing past.
—Randy Mosher ( Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine).

After the repeal of Prohibition in 1933, Wahl and his son, Arnold Spencer Wahl, re-opened the school, but without Max Henius. In 1937, they published Beer From the Expert's Viewpoint, "the first book of what was intended to be a four-volume set designed to educate a new generation of American brewmasters." The elder Wahl died later that year and the school would close soon thereafter.

In 2014, BeerBooks (of Cleveland, Ohio) reprinted Beer From the Expert's Viewpoint. The copyright remains in the family, held now by Roger Wahl.

Beer From the Expert's Viewpoint


Ice cold beer has no flavor or taste.

Among much that is fascinating (and much still valid) in the Wahls' book, here is some "exhilarating" wisdom it imparted. Eighty years on, this advice is often disdained.
Ice cold beer has no flavor or taste. The intense cold does not permit the natural flavor of the beer to become volatile and only what is volatile can be discerned as a flavor. The intense cold benumbs the taste nerves and consequently, the taste of such beer is insipid.

When a stein of beer is taken in one gulp, as is often done, it lies in the stomach like ice, chilling the nerves of the stomach that control digestion. The beer remains ice cold in the stomach until it is gradually warmed up sufficiently so that the digestive processes can begin.

The brewer, in order to have his beer effervesce properly even though ice cold, charges the beer too heavily with carbonic gas, so that, when the beer finally warms up in the stomach, it gives off this surplus gas rapidly, causing bloating or belching. Of course, this beer lacks the exhilarating effect.

Heed that advice. Protect yourself and your beer. Prevent bloating and belching. Don't drink beer ice-cold. Don't be insipid. Be exhilarated.


Saturday, May 20, 2017

Pic(k) of the week: Brewers Walt Dickinson & Nathan Zeender (and ...)

Brewers Walt Dickinson & Nathan Zeender

Mixed fermentation of wild and sour beers was the topic of a discussion "between two [three] powerhouses of funk": * Brewpub Right Proper hosted the seminar on 11 April 2017, during the week that the [U.S.] Brewers Association had travelled to Washington, D.C, to host its Craft Brewers Conference in Washington, D.C.

Almost one month later, to the day, Wicked Weed was purchased by Anheuser-Busch InBev. And many 'craft' drinkers (and brewers) cried foul. Did they believe that all that had been discussed that evening now had been transmuted into "alternative facts"?

A more thoughtful reaction was this from a brewer, said recently to me over beers: "It makes me sad."


Monday, May 15, 2017

Clamps & Gaskets: News Roundup for Weeks 17/18, 2017.

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

Weeks 17/18
23 April- 6 May 2017

  • 5 May 2017
    Anheuser-Busch InBev is buying 'craft' breweries in order to reduce Budweiser's "impairment charge," that is, reduce the price-on-shelf difference between its Budweiser brands and 'craft' beers.
    —Via Good Beer Hunting.

  • 5 May 2017
    Once again, U.S. 'craft' brewers toss a b*tt-load of hops into a European beer style, and claim kinship. No! It's not a pilsner; it IS a hoppy lager.
    —Via Washington Post.

  • 3 May 2017
    The story of how Georgia's oldest extant brewpub, Max Lager (1998), is reviving the state's first 'craft' beer, brewed by Helenbock Brewery (1990-1997).
    —Via Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

  • 4 May 2017
    In 2015, Heineken N.V. purchased 50% of California 'craft' brewery Lagunitas Brewing Company. On 4 May 2017, Heineken completed the aquisition, buying all of the remaining shares. Tony Magee, the founder of Lagunitas, will remain as Executive Chairman of the brewery, which will continue to operate as an independent entity within the Heineken Americas Region.
    —Via Heineken.

  • 3 May 2017
    MegaBrew still hungry. Anheuser-Busch InBev purchases Asheville, North Carolina-based 'craft' brewery Wicked Weed Brewing. The brewery joins the other formerly independent 'craft' brewery members of ABIB's "The High End" division: Goose Island Brewery (purchased 2011), Blue Point (2014), 10 Barrel (2014), Elysian (2015), Golden Road (2015)g, Four Peaks (2015), Breckenridge (2015), Devils Backbone (2016), and Karbach Brewing Company (2016).
    —Via BeerPulse.

  • Craft brewing produced 128,768 jobs in 2016
  • 1 May 2017
    Happy May Day to all those Americans —all 128,768 of them— who work daily to make 'craft' beer.
    —Via Brewers Association (minus the May Day message).

  • 1 May 2017
    Throughout the United States, throughout the month of May, it's the third annual American Mild Month.
    —Via American Mild Month.

  • 1 May 2017
    President Trump and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue remove healthy nutritional standards for 31 million school children's lunches, breakfasts.
    —Via Washington Post.

  • 26 April 2017
    Rather than complaining about A-B and other big brewers buying up their craft brethren, more consolidation actually needs to occur. The industry -- and Boston Beer -- is a victim of its own success. The growth and proliferation has attracted even more brewers to the space, and that's diluting everyone's results, big or small. Instead of having a shakeout occur where large numbers of small brewers fail, allowing them to be purchased by bigger ones would be better. Boston Beer might do better for itself and the industry if it began acquiring small craft brewers instead of saying the government ought to make it harder for Anheuser-Busch to do so.
    —Via Motley Fool.

  • 29 April 2017
    President Trump and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt scrub mention of climate change from EPA website.
    —Via Washington Post.

  • 27 April 2017
    The American Malting Barley Association (AMBA) has concerns regarding an article appearing in Politico about a possible US withdrawal from NAFTA. Of the $285 million (2012-2016 average) in exports of barley, malt, and other processed products, approximately 63% goes to Mexico and with another 21% to Canada. This is in addition to all the beer and distilled beverages that are traded between the countries. There are also imports of malting barley and malt from Canada that could be impacted. Whether or not this is a bluff, such rhetoric in itself can be damaging to our supply chain.
    —Via YFGF (Facebook)
    As posted to the Brewers Association Brewers Forum (but not necessarily the view of the Brewers Association).

  • 25 April 2017
    For the first quarter of 2017, tax-paid shipments from all U.S. breweries were down 3.4% over the same period in 2016: 1,393,534 fewer barrels shipped this year than in the first quarter of 2016. To illustrate further: If U.S. breweries had shipped all of that only as cases of twenty-four 12-ounce bottles or cans, they would have shipped NINETEEN MILLION, ninety-one thousand, four hundred and sixteen FEWER cases out of their loading docks than during January through March of last year.

    In defense of 2017, there was one fewer day in the first quarter of this year than last year, a leap year. Thus, this February was comprised of 28 days rather than the 29 of 2016. Doing the math, that means that 1.1% (-15,329 barrels) of 2017's first-quarter shortfall could be blamed on the shorter month. Adjusting for that, the shortfall between the first quarter of 2017 and 2016 would be 1,378,205 barrels. Still, a not insubstantial shortfall.
    —Commentary via YFGF, at Facebook.
    —Data via Beer Institute.

  • 25 April 2017
    Is sour beer too…sour?
    A lot of people bring us samples of sour beer, and it’s tough to drink some of them. I think we’re at the point with sour beers like we were 10 years ago with IPAs, where people were just trying to make the most bitter beer.

    For me, too sour is this: If I can’t comfortably drink a full 13-ounce pour of a beer, and the acidity is at a level where I’m not enjoying it by the end, that’s too much.
    —Via DRAFT Magazine.

  • 24 April 2017
    An Oregon hops grower/supplier finds that U.S. craft breweries are gravitating away from the American craft mainstay hop, Cascade.
    —Via Craft Brewing Business.


Pay it forward during American Craft Beer Week

Beer It Forward: American Craft Beer Week 2017

"Beer it forward," the [U.S.] Brewers Association is encouraging 'craft' beer drinkers this week.

Today through Sunday, from 15-21 May 2017, it's American Craft Beer Week, and the BA —the organization which represents "small and independent" American breweries— is urging Americans to double-support those breweries this week. That is, buy a 'craft' beer for oneself and another for someone else.

For the twelfth consecutive year, small and independent brewers across all 50 states will be participating in American Craft Beer Week (ACBW), May 15-21. In the spirit of America’s craft beer culture, camaraderie, and collaboration, beer lovers everywhere are encouraged to #beeritforward and share a craft beer.

Presented by—the beer lover site published by the [U.S.] Brewers Association—American Craft Beer Week celebrates America’s 5,300 small and independent brewers through a host of events encouraging beer enthusiasts everywhere to engage in simple acts of craft beer kindness.

“Small, independent brewers are known for their commitment to their communities. They beer it forward year-round through grassroots initiatives and charity work that in turn have a significant impact on our local economies,” said Julia Herz, publisher of and craft beer program director at the Brewers Association. “This American Craft Beer Week, we invite the beer-loving public to embrace the theme, and find ways to ‘beer it forward’ as part of the fun.”

American Craft Beer Week 2017

To help beer lovers make the right sharing choices, put together a handy chart to guide them through the expansive selection process. has you covered, simplifying the decision making into a few easy to follow steps.

New this year, will team up with Geeks Who Drink, a pub trivia organization, to incorporate ACBW into trivia at more than 800 locations across the country. Do not be intimidated to play, Geeks Who Drink is for all levels of beer knowledge and enjoyment. From Monday to Thursday, there will be one round of Pub Trivia dedicated to ACBW. Participating locations can be found on the Quiz Schedule.

Find a brewery to celebrate near you with’s Brewery Finder, join the conversation on Twitter with #beeritforward and #ACBW and look for updates on the Facebook page and find ways to celebrate on the official ACBW calendar.

The cynic in me could see a ploy to double the sales of member breweries this week, however well-intentioned. So, to 'beer it forward,' I suggest that a 'craft' beer drinker go ahead and purchase the beer(s) of a local brewery (or breweries) this week (and maybe even for the stranger sitting at the next barstool) but then, instead, 'pay it forward.' Donate a dollar or more to charity for every beer she does buy.

I choose option B.