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Sunday, June 03, 2007

Bad Beer

When I attended the Siebel Institute in the early 1990s, one of my instructors was Walter Swistowitz, now deceased. Swiss, as he was affectionately known, had been hired by the US Army, as World War II was coming to a close, to rebuild German breweries ... in order to resupply the Allied troops with that invaluable resource - beer!

I thought of Swiss recently.

For the past few weeks, some beer store owners in the area have been privately complaining to me that a certain locally-produced hoppy beer has not been available. They tell me that they were told by brewery representatives that there was an infection in the process. (I'm using a a lot of caveats here.)

Contamination. That's bad. But remember, this is not a contamination that is ANY MANNER dangerous to health; at worst, it's one that produces an unpleasant taste. It's simply a matter of yeasts or bacteria (other than the yeast that the brewery deliberately utilizes to produce its beers) that have discovered a brewery's wonderful sugar source - malted barley - and, like unwanted guests, taken up residence.

Back at Siebel, in a lecture on brewery maintenance, Swiss once admonished us students:

There are two types of breweries in the world.

We leaned forward, expecting 'ale vs. lager', or 'big boys vs. upstart craft brewers'. Instead, Swiss continued:

There are breweries that have had an infection. And there are those that will.

So, I say - if indeed an infection occured - commendations to this local brewery for taking the proper ethical route and, in the bigger picture, the smarter - proactive - business route by dumping a bad batch, and by inference, noticing that there was a problem (which is, ironically, good quality control).

PS. It wasn't Clipper City Brewing Company. There's plenty of Loose Cannon Hop3 Ale to go around!

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