Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Is your AMERICAN pub a Cask-Ale hero?

Since 1997, Cask Marque has been ensuring that the cask ale you drink in pubs in the U.K. has been in perfect condition. Qualified assessors make over 20,000 visits to pubs each year in England, Scotland, Wales, and Europe to check the temperature, appearance, aroma, and taste of Britain’s favourite drink.
Cask Marque

Does your American pub (or brewery taproom or brewpub) serve a "great pint" of cask-ale? If so, you should know that Cask Marque accreditation IS now available for pubs and breweries in the United States.

In fact, Cask Marque has been assessing American pubs for several years, initially led by Paul Pendyck, a purveyor of cask-ale equipment in the U.S. and assisted by Alex Hall, a cask-ale partisan in New York. Both, by the way, are British expats.

Now, Steve Hamburg, one of the premier cellarmen in the U.S., has taken the reins as Cask Marque's USA Director and Chief Assessor.



What does it take for a pub (or brewery taproom or brewpub) to gain accreditation in the U.S.?

First and foremost, as self-evident as this may sound, your pub must serve cask-ale every day, or close to it. Simply tossing a cask up on the bar once a week for Firkin Friday doesn't cut it.

After that, it's the big five criteria: temperature, aroma, taste, appearance, and cleanliness.
  • Temperature of beer.
    Real ale 1 should be served, in the customer's glass, at between 11 and 13 °C. That's 51-55 °F. (And here in the U.S., we could lower that to 10 °C / 50 °F.) That's not warm, it's cellar cool: neither too cold to mask a beer's flavor nor too warm to rob a beer of refreshment. (Unfiltered beer that is served too cold can could also develop a 'chill haze' as proteins come out of solution, which speaks to 'clarity,' discussed below.)
  • Aroma of beer.
    No evidence of staling, contamination, or otherwise off-aromas that don't belong in the beer as brewed.
  • Clarity of beer.
    This one gets tricky. As classically presented in the U.K., cask-ales should be bright as a filtered beer without filtration. But American brewers often eschew clarity (and some UK brewers do as well). So, as with aroma, the clarity should be as the beer was brewed. No extraneous yeast or proteinaceous sludge.
  • Flavor (& conditioning) of beer.
    Not gassy or foamy; not flat. No evidence of staling or age. The flavor should be representative of the beer as brewed; conditioning (carbonation) should be as the brewery intended.
  • Cleanliness.
    A clean beer-cellar, clean beer-lines, clean beer-engine and/or tap, and beer-clean glassware. Of course.
  • NO extraneous gas pressure
    NO gas pressure can be used to dispense from the cask, whether CO2, nitrogen, or whatever. That being stipulated, a cask breather 2 does not add pressure to a cask and, thus, a pub may employ one if it wishes. Using a cask breather is not a demerit: only badly served cask-ale is.
When your pub passes its inspection, it receives a Cask Marque metal plaque, with an attached expiration date tag. This works as does a car license plate. A pub must renew each year (and pass its subsequent assessments) to get a new valid sticker.

Cask Marque & UK Brewing Supplies
l-r: Paul Nunny —Director, Cask Marque (UK);
Steve Hamburg —USA Director, Chief US Assessor Cask Marque (US);
Paul Pendyck —Owner, UK Brewing Supplies (US).
At Craft Brewers Conference in Washington, D.C., 2017.


Value to pub

Most pub owners are very money conscious, as, of course, they should be. And, yes, there is a nominal annual fee for Cask Marque accreditation, which helps defray the cost of the U.S. licensing fee and materials. Thus pub owners should view Cask Marque as a valuable value-added business-augmenter.

It's a consultation: how to do things right so that customers return for repeat pours. It's an advertisement of achievement, just as a victory at the Great American Beer Festival would show brewing skill or a Cicerone accreditation highlight serving acumen. It's a public acknowledgment of a pub's (or brewery's or brewpub's) cask excellence and, thus, of the value to a customer. And it's not (yet) a common thing in the U.S.: again a mark of distinction for your pub or taproom.

For further details, and to arrange an assessment, contact Mr. Hamburg directly, via email:

Serving a great pint of cask-ale is not rocket science. But it does require care and attention to detail.

So, do it. Be that cask-ale hero. Get your pub its Cask Marque accreditation. That Cask Marque plaque is a damned nice thing to display.


Saturday, November 25, 2017

Pic(k) of the Week: Beagle & the carrot

Beagle & the carrot

"That's one big carrot," thought Ethel Mae, before prepping for Thanksgiving dinner, 22 November 2017.

(She posed with the carrot for the scale of the latter ... not vice versa!)


Thursday, November 23, 2017

#VeggieDag Thursday: The Last Thanksgiving.

The Last Thanksgiving

For the day today, here's a cartoon by illustrator Roz Chast, that orginally appeared in The New Yorker, published in November 2010.

Have a happy and safe day of giving thanks.

Yours for good fermentables,
Thomas Cizauskas


Monday, November 20, 2017

Clamps & Gaskets: News Roundup for Weeks 43/44, 2017.

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

Weeks 43/44
22 October - 4 November 2017

  • 4 November 2017
    This date marked the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, a sixty-seven-word proclamation from Britain’s then-foreign secretary expressing his government's support for a Jewish homeland in Palestine.
    The Balfour Declaration is held up as a seminal event, the first formal utterance of the modern Israeli state’s right to exist (though some historians quibble that a “national home” is not the same thing as a state). For that reason, it is also bitterly regarded by many Palestinians as the first instrument of their dispossession. In 1917, Jews made up less than 10 percent of Palestine’s population — a century later, they are now the majority, while millions of Palestinians live in exile or in refugee camps.
    —Via Washington Post.

  • 3 November 2017
    As craft dies its death, so too goes its side kick style. In its place we are seeing hundreds and thousands of local expressions, each defying any concept of canon.
    —Via Alan McLeod, at A Good Beer Blog.

  • 2 November 2017
    The 'craft' brewing industry contributed $67.8 billion to the U.S. economy in 2016, and more than 456,000 jobs.
    • 2016 craft brewing industry contributions to the U.S. economy, broken down by state and per capita.
      —Via [U.S.] Brewers Association.
    • Craft beer economic ranking of all 50 states plus District of Columbia
      —Via YFGF (from Brewers Association data).

  • Hops: Martin Luther's 96th Thesis?
  • 31 October 2017
    The other Reformation: how Martin Luther, five hundred years ago, helped to change our beer.
    In the 16th century, the Catholic Church had a stranglehold on beer production, since it held the monopoly on gruit — the mixture of herbs and botanicals (sweet gale, mugwort, yarrow, ground ivy, heather, rosemary, juniper berries, ginger, cinnamon) used to flavor and preserve beer. Hops, however, were not taxed, considered undesirable weeds. [...] Even before the Reformation, German princes had been moving toward hops [...] But Luther's revolt gave the weed a significant boost. The fact that hops were tax-free constituted only part of the draw. Hops had other qualities that appealed to the new movement; chiefly, their excellent preservative qualities. [...] If the Catholic Church lost control over the printed word with the invention of the printing press — the technological weapon that ensured Luther's success — it lost control over beer with the rise of hops.
    —Via NPR Food.

  • 30 October 2017
    While the value of the U.S. hop crop in 2017 is two-and-one-half times that of the crop in 1977, public investment in hop effort has diminished by ninety percent. To partially "reverse this misalignment," the [U.S.] Brewers Association has announced an agreement with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) to fund a public hop breeding program within the USDA system. The program will fund the hiring of one full-time USDA breeder and include a
    hop sensory assessment program in 2018, utilizing new sensory methods that will include hundreds of brewers to probe brewer acceptance and to guide rational acreage increase decisions. This assessment program is essential to bridge a persistent gap between variety development and commercialization.
    —Via U.S. Brewers Association.

  • 30 October 2017
    The monks of Mount St Bernard Abbey, in Leicestershire, U.K., plan to open a brewery on the monastary grounds. Pending accreditation by the International Trappist Association, the brewery will become the world's twelfth Trappist brewery (and the first in the U.K.).
    —Via Leicester Mercury.

  • At present, the eleven existing Trappist breweries are:
    • Brasserie de Rochefort / Rochefort (Belgium, 1595)
    • Brouwerij der Trappisten van Westmalle / Westmalle (Belgium, 1836)
    • Brouwerij Westvleteren / St Sixtus (Belgium, 1838)
    • Abbaye Scourmont / Bières de Chimay (Belgium, 1863)
    • Abbaye Notre-Dame d'Orval / Orval (Belgium, 1931)
    • Brouwerij der Sint-Benedictusabdij de Achelse Kluis / Achel (Belgium, 1998)
    • Brouwerij de Koningshoeven / La Trappe (Netherlands, 1884)
    • Stift Engelszell (Austria, 2012)
    • St. Joseph’s Abbey / Spencer (Massachusetts, USA, 2013)
    • Brouwerij Abdij Maria Toevlucht / Zundert (Netherlands, 2013)
    • Abbey of Saints Vincent and Anastasius / Tre Fontane (Italy, 2014)

  • Muhal Richard Abrams (1930-2017)
  • 29 October 2017
    Great Black Music: Ancient to the Future.” Muhal Richard Abrams —composer, pianist, musical visionary, co-founder, in 1965, of Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians— has died at 87.
    —Via New York Times.

  • 27 October 2017
    Georgia Department of Transportation employees conducting roadwork on Interstate-75 outside of Macon, Georgia, uncovered a cave that had been dug out nearly two centuries earlier by the state's oldest brewery —the Jacob Russell & Julius Peter Brewery (established in 1837)— to lager its beers. The brewery 'vault' was located below an African-American cemetery built after the brewery closed in 1878. The department said that it would work to avoid impacting the cave with the highway expansion project.
    —Via [U.S.] Macon Telegraph.

  • 26 October 2017
    On October 19, the Pan-STARRS 1 telescope in Hawaii spotted the first observed object from outside our solar system. The long and rocky cigar-shaped object spins on its own axis every 7.3 hours It has a burnt dark-reddish hue due to millions of years of radiation from cosmic rays and most likely has a high metal content. Its orbit and shape firmly place it in the category of interstellar origin.

  • 26 October 2017
    With the introduction of the U.S. Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), the federal government now treats alcoholic beverages as food products, falling under the purview of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
    —Via [U.S.] Brewers Association.

  • 25 October 2017
    Another 'craft' brewery has been sold...but this time to another 'craft' brewery. Harpoon Brewery, of Boston, Massachusetts, has acquired Clown Shoes Brewing. To be precise, it was Mass Bay Brewing Company which did the buying, the parent company of Harpoon and UFO that was created after Harpoon's founder Rich Doyle left in 2014 (to set up his own 'craft brewery holding company called Enjoy Beer LLC). Clown Shoes Beer was founded by Gregg Berman, in Ipswich, Massachusetts, in 2009.
    —Via The Full Pint.

  • 25 October 2017
    Fats Domino, rock 'n' roll pioneer of New Orleans, has died at 89. A contemporary of Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, and Jerry Lee Lewis, Domino was among the first acts inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and was reportedly only second to Presley in record sales thanks to a titanic string of 11 top 10 hits between 1955 and 1960, including "Blueberry Hill" and "Ain’t That a Shame."
    Thanks to his New Orleans upbringing, Domino's signature songs fused Dixieland rhythms, his charming, Creole-flecked voice, and his rolling-river piano style.
    —Via Rolling Stone.

  • Base Malt Flavor Map 2017
  • 23 October 2017
    In 2014, after a survey of its members, the [U.S.] Brewers Association pointed out that, “No common (tool or) terminology or lexicon exists to describe the diverse range of flavors found in malts from different sources.” Partially in response, the Sensory Technical Subcommittee of the American Society of Brewing Chemists (ASBC) recognized "the opportunity to develop a pragmatic approach to malt sensory evaluation. Selected brewery panels throughout the U.S. then created more than 4,000 unique aroma terms —pleasant and unpleasant. Paring the results to 20 primary aroma descriptors encompassing 83 specific terms, the ASBC Sensory Committee created a Base Malt Flavor Map.
    —Via CraftBeer.

  • 23 October 2017
    Vice President Pence cast the tie-breaking vote as the U.S. Senate blocked new regulations allowing U.S. consumers to sue banks for financial malfeasance concerning accounts and credit cards.
    —Via Washington Post.

  • 23 October 2017
    Amazon has halted online wine sales due to conflict-of-interest arising from its purchase of Whole Foods, which sells wine in its stores. The decision to shut down seems to be due to so-called “tied-house laws,” which prohibit an alcohol merchant from receiving payments from other suppliers to advertise their goods.
    —Via Wine Spectator.

  • 23 October 2017
    'Craft' brewery sustainability is not simply tree-hugging morality but profit-making, good business. Toward that end, the [U.S.] Brewers Association has released its second Sustainability Benchmarking Update, basing it on data from 2016.
    This document is an update to the inaugural report, and it highlights certain data from 2015. Electricity, natural gas, water, and purchased CO2 were evaluated based on a normalized scale per barrel (bbl) of beer packaged. [...] Best-in-class performance from the first two years of submitted data includes:
    • 6.7 kWh electricity/bbl (ranged from 6.7-709)
    • 0.84 therm natural gas/bbl (ranged from 0.84-37.6)
    • 3.31 bbl water/bbl (ranged from 3.31-81.7)
    • 0.0 lb CO2 purchased/bbl (ranged from 0-78)
    [At least one responding 'craft' brewery was apparently able to capture enough CO2 during fermentation to scrub it 'clean' for all needed use at points of operation. That's an expensive proposition beyond the means of all but larger breweries.]
    —Via [U.S.] Brewers Association.

  • The Management of the Beer Cask (1850)
  • 23 October 2017
    Cask ale cellarmanship advice, published in 1850, often ignored in 2017.
    The Management Of The Beer Cask
    • Place it in that part of the house which is coolest and most free from damp.
    • Tap it when it first comes in, and never shake or disturb it again.
    • Let it stand two or three days before you draw any of it for use.
    • Never leave the peg out.
    • Do not draw it until just before it is to be consumed.
    • Do not have a supply which will last longer than (on the average) three weeks: —a little longer in winter— and shorter in summer.
    The Proprietors of the Swan Brewery, Walham Green, Fulham - (Established 1765) - Beg to Present These Pages on Beer and Brewing; and Will Feel Honoured by Their Acceptence and Perusal.
    —Via Gary Gillman, at Beer et seq.

  • 23 October 2017
    Something's rotten in the state of Stone Brewing. Chief Operating Officer, Pat Tiernan, fired/resigned; the latest in a recent exodus.
    Tiernan’s resignation, however, comes on the heels of a number of high profile personnel shakeups at the nation’s ninth largest craft brewery by volume. Most significantly, in August of last year, the company named a new CEO in Dominic Engels. Leaving his former post as president of POM Wonderful, Engels supplanted Stone founder and then-CEO Greg Koch, who in turn assumed the post of executive chairman. Stone proceeded to cut “approximately 5%” of its workforce about a month later, eliminating more than 50 jobs in the process. These two events were preceded by the June 2016 departure of longtime brewmaster Mitch Steele, who left to open a new brewery of his own in Georgia. Former Stone brewmaster Peter Wiens, meanwhile, was named the first brewmaster of Guinness' new Stateside brewery this past June.
    —Via Good Beer Hunting.


Sunday, November 19, 2017

Craft Beer Quick Books

U.S. brewery count, 1990-2017

Fun facts: a snapshot of the brewing and craft brewing business in the U.S. and globally.

    U.S. beer production & sales

  • In 2016, the U.S. beer market totaled $107.6 billion dollars, 0.5% of the entire U.S. gross domestic product ($18.6 trillion).

  • By volume in 2015, the U.S. beer industry sold 206.7 million barrels of beer – equivalent to more than 2.8 billion cases of 24-12 ounce servings.

  • However, the overall U.S. beer market volume is expected to decline 1.5% this year.

  • **************

    Craft beer production & sales

  • In 2016, 'craft' beer accounted for $23.5 billion, 0.1% of U.S. GDP.

  • But, if all related industries are included (retail, wholesalers, suppliers, etc.), the 'craft' brewing industry contributed $67.8 billion to the U.S. economy in 2016.

  • 'Craft' beer sales growth is projected to be 8 or 9 percent this year, but that's below the 10 percent pace of 2016.

  • 'Craft' beer's volume growth is forecast to be 5 to 6 percent, also below recent double-digit growth.

  • This year, that translates to 1.5 million barrels more than in 2016.

  • The peak year for 'craft' beer was 2014, when it added 3.3 million barrels.

  • Most of the new volume growth for 'craft' this year will come from smaller breweries, not big-name 'craft' brands such as Boston Beer or Sierra Nevada. Larger brands are suffering from a perception of not being authentic 'craft.'

  • Grocery chains are not adding total space this year for 'craft' brands.

  • 'Craft' beer is forecast to represent about 12 percent of total beer volume this year, up slightly from 2016 levels.

  • In 2017, homebrewers will have produced approximately 1.4 million barrels of beer, 1% of all beer produced in the U.S.

  • **************

    Brewery & beer employment

  • Directly and indirectly, the beer industry employs nearly 2.23 million Americans (including breweries, suppliers, wholesalers, retailers, and importers).

  • In 2016, 'craft' breweries, themselves, employed 128,768.

  • **************

    Total number of breweries

  • Nearly 6,000 U.S. breweries are expected to be in operation by the end of this year, up from about 5,300 at the end of 2016. The vast majority of them will be 'craft'(small, independently-oned, and/or locally focused).

  • In 1970, there were 4,000 breweries in the world. At the end of 2016, there were 20,000.

  • The number of beer brands, worldwide (excluding one-offs), is close to 250,000.

  • In 2016, worldwide 'craft' beer sales totaled $85 billion.

  • **************

    Beer vs. wine & spirits?

  • In 2016, consumer preference for beer increased from 42% to 43%, for wine decreased from 34% to 32%, and for spirits decreased from 21% to 20%. 36% of the population does not consume alcohol. (This is an interesting poll result from Gallup. Numerous other media are saying the opposite: that Americans are shifting away from beer to wine and spirits.)

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Pic(k) of the Week: Mssrs. Beaumont & Webb

Mssrs. Beaumont & Webb (03)

Quad is NOT a style!” insisted Stephen Beaumont, as he and Tim Webb presented the just-released edition of their new book —Best Beers: The Indispensable Guide to the World’s Beers— to a 50+ filled room (attendance, not all demographics), upstairs at the Brick Store Pub, in Decatur, Georgia, on 14 November 2017.

Among many beery accomplishments, Tim Webb is also the author of The Good Beer Guide Belgium, first published in 1992, and now in its 7th edition (the latter co-authored in 2014 with Joe Stange). The 8th edition is scheduled for release in spring 2018; in fact, Webb was working on the final revisions during this America trip. Sadly, it will be his last update to the series.

Stephen Beaumont, in his own words, has been ...
lucky enough to have spent the last 25 or so years sipping and savouring beers and spirits all around the world, and getting paid to write and talk about it. Along the way, I’ve managed to author or co-author ten books, beginning with the first of two editions of The Great Canadian Beer Guide back in 1994. [...] Among my other books, I’m extremely proud of The World Atlas of Beer, which I co-wrote with Tim Webb and has now been printed in eleven international editions in nine languages.

In previous editions, Best Beers: The Indispensable Guide to the World’s Beers had been entitled The Pocket Guide to Beer. This was both because that is what the books had been and because, to some degree, Messrs. Webb and Beaumont wrote them as an homage to the late beer writer, Michael Jackson, who had begun the Pocket Beer series in 1986.

For the 2017 edition, the authors have retitled and re-tooled the book to include fewer beer reviews. And why is that?
Our own very conservative estimate places the global brewery total at over 20,000, but it is likely that there are many more than that. [...] The worldwide count of regular beers is fast closing on a quarter-million, and when one-offs are included, doubtless well beyond it. [...]

So, you might ask, why create a book that features even fewer beers? The answer is focus. Rather than attempt to deliver a cross-section of breweries spanning the globe, we have assembled a carefully selected group of what we firmly believe are the best minds in beer [listed at the back of the book] and tasked them to deliver detailed reviews of the absolute best beers their native lands have to offer. Not the most talked about or rarest or the most obscure, but simply the finest ales and lagers and mixed-fermentation beers that eager enthusiasts might actually be able to get their hands on. Star ratings have been dispensed with because all the beers we have featured are at the top of their class.

That evening in Georgia, the audience was served anecdotes and appetizers, cheeses and full plates, and six beers, too (but no quadrupels). The presentation was recorded; at some point, I'll post a transcription, including Beaumont's quad rant and Webb's saison rant. In the meantime, here is another, less 'artistic' view of Mr. Webb (left) and Mr. Beaumont (right):

Mssrs. Webb & Beaumont (01)


Friday, November 17, 2017

New England IPA: "the first beer style based around Instagram culture."

Garrett Oliver, at Morning Advertiser

Garrett Oliver —author, bon vivant, editor of The Oxford Companion to Beer, and brewmaster for Brooklyn Beer— recently had something to say about so-called New England India Pale Ales.
I think it (NEIPA) is a fad. These things come and go. I have seen a great many fads over my 28 years of brewing. Three or four years ago, it was black IPA —everyone brewed one. Now, it is hard to find one.

And more...
New England IPA is a beer style that can be really tasty when it is well made, but it can't even sit on a shelf for two weeks. It has no shelf life to it at all. It is the first beer style based around Instagram culture. [...] It is based on the idea that you wait online or at a brewery to get some of this limited thing.
—Read the full interview with Mr. Oliver at the The Morning Advertiser (in the U.K.), published on 15 November 2017.


What is NEIPA?

Typically cloudy in appearance and loaded with fruity esters from both hopping and fermentation, New England IPAs [sometimes known as NEIPAs or Vermont-style IPAs] rose to fame on the back of a beer called Heady Topper from The Alchemist Brewery in northern Vermont. Other northeastern US and central Canadian breweries soon started to emulate the massively successful beer, and from there this new style spread westward [and south] and eventually overseas.

Along the way, the appearance of these beers gradually evolved, growing first densely cloudy, then turbid and finally reaching something resembling orange juice with a head on it. As the "turbidity stakes" grew hotter, it came out that some breweries were adding flour and fruit purées to increase the cloudiness and "juicy" character of their beers.

Surprisingly, the principal difficulty with such ales is not that their appearance might put drinkers off — a dense cloudiness has, in some circles, come to be perceived as a mark of quality — but that some of these ales lack the flavour stability necessary in a market where competition is growing and kegs or cans of beer might not wind up being consumed within an optimal time frame.
—Tim Webb & Stephen Beaumont
Best Beers: The Indispensable Guide to the World’s Beers (2017)

In their new book, Mssrs. Webb and Beaumont alliteratively placed their NEIPA description, accompanied by a few other beer 'style' candidates, under the heading, Suspect Styles & Tenous Trends. Mr. Oliver, in his interview, was adamant that his brewery would never brew such a beer, throwing shade: "We don't do bandwagon." And this blog's writer, a past brewer, simply disdains ugly beer.

So, whence NEIPA? Its murk —and beer murkiness in general— continues to pop up all over, unabated. What do we know? Instagram or not.

Yellow Beer


Saturday, November 11, 2017

Pic(k) of the Week: Dr. Morten Christian Meilgaard (1928 - 2009)

Dr. Morten Christian Meilgaard (1928 - 2009)

Umami and oleogustus! Today would have been the eighty-ninth birthday of scientist Dr. Morten Meilgaard, a man of good taste.

Born on 11 November 1928, Dr. Meilgaard would become a pioneer of the science of beer flavor identification and nomenclature. In 1979, he created the Beer Flavor Wheel, a landmark organoleptic tool that the European Brewery Convention, the American Society of Brewing Chemists, and the Master Brewers Association of the Americas soon designated as an accepted standard. His book, Sensory Evaluation Techniques, became a textbook for sensory science.

Dr. Meilgaard died on 11 April 2009, at age 80. His Beer Flavor Wheel is still being used today by brewers, beer judges, and sensory scientists. His textbook is now in its 5th (and revised) printing. His influence on brewing (and craft brewing) and on the enjoyment of beers is ongoing and substantial.

Above, Meilgaard is pictured in 1962, sailing in Australia (with beer and cigarette), at age 34. The photo is via Stephen Goodfellow, an adopted son of Meilegard, who wrote the following biography to accompany the photo:
Morten Christian Meilgaard was born on Fyn, Denmark in 1928. His younger siblings, Ida, Jorgen, and Erik, followed in short succession. As their father, Anton Meilgaard, was a country doctor, they were brought up in a rural milieu in Morud. Their school was a considerable distance away, and during some winters, they would ski to pursue their education.

Morten caught the travel bug early, taking a road trip with his friends Finn and Torben, pulling a creaky four-wheeled cart around Jutland in 1944, during the German occupation of Denmark.

After WW II, Morten pursued a degree as a chemical engineer and became a research chemist specializing in yeasts for Alfred Jorgensens Laboratorium in Copenhagen. This dovetailed nicely with his love of travel, and his job took him all over the World. He became the Johnny Appleseed of establishing the [nomeclature of] flavors of beer throughout the world, including in Japan, South Africa, and the Americas.

Morten's contribution to the field of sensory science cannot be underestimated; it was truly extensive. Amongst his many contributions, He is the major contributor to the flavor wheel, a Rosetta Stone of sensory evaluation science.

Morten's publication, Sensory Evaluation Techniques, is the educational standard in this field of science. He was quite possibly the foremost expert in his field.

During his work and travels in England, he met Manon Meadows. They fell in love and remained married for almost fifty years, until her death in 2007.

Justin Meilgaard, Morten's and Manon's son, was born in England, 1966.

In 1967, the entire family, including Manon's mother, Doris Meadows, moved from Denmark to Monterrey Mexico where Morten worked for the Cuauhtemoc Brewery from 1967 to 1973.

In 1973, Morten was hired by Peter Stroh of the Stroh Brewery, Detroit, where he worked as Peter's right-hand man until the brewery was acquired by the Miller Brewing Company in 1999, at which point Morten retired.

Even after retirement, he continued to be active in his profession for many years, doing consulting jobs for the Danish Government, working with his co-editors on a revised edition of his book, and donating his extensive collection of brewing literature to Wayne State University [in Detroit, Michigan].

In 2008 Morten returned to Denmark and Sweden to visit family and revisit the important sites of his childhood and early adulthood.

Morten is survived by his younger brothers and sister, Jorgen, Erik, and Ida, and by his sons, Justin Meilgaard and myself.


Meilgard's Beer Flavor Wheel

Beer Flavor Wheel

[Beer descriptors in the Beer Flavor Wheel] are divided first into those perceived by sense of taste and those perceived in aroma. The descriptors are then organized into 14 categories, each of which contains between one and six descriptors. Meilgaard's aim in creating this wheel was to establish a standard vocabulary of beer evaluation and to this day many organizations use his Beer Flavor Wheel as a reference tool.
The Oxford Companion to Beer: Oxford University Press, 2012.

  • A more detailed description of the Beer Flavor Wheel —"Focus On Beer Flavor"— was written in 1997 by Scott Bickham (of the BJCP) for Brewing Techniques, a long defunct magazine whose articles are —thank goodness— maintained online.
  • Physical copies of the Beer Flavor Wheel can be purchased from the Master Brewers Association of the Americas (MBAA).
  • In 2016, scientists Lindsay Barr and Nicole Garneau 'updated' Dr. Meilgaards' wheel with their Beer Flavor Map, a graphic explication of beer flavor rather than of chemical analysis. Among other changes, the new 'map' elevated “umami” (savory) and “oleogustus” (fat) to the subcategory of taste and designated “mouthfeel” as a primary sense.
    We elected to use the common descriptors to make the Beer Flavor Map useful to anyone that picks it up, no matter if they had sensory training. This structure allows more people to speak using a common vocabulary of beer flavors. The map bridges the gap for people to begin to associate the descriptive vocabulary with the chemicals.
    Lindsay Barr works as the sensory specialist at New Belgium Brewing and has her BS in biochemistry and molecular biology as well as an MS in food science and technology. Dr. Nicole Garneau received her BA in Genetics and her Ph.D. in Microbiology, and currently is the curator and department chair of health sciences at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Both are members of the Beer and Food Working Group of the [U.S.] Brewers Association. The team is developing a companion model —to make the technical side of flavor just as accessible as the descriptive —and a mobile app— to combine the descriptive and chemical sides of sensory analysis.

  • Pic(k) of the Week: one in a weekly series of photos taken (or noted) by me, posted on Saturdays, and often, but not always, with a good fermentable as the subject.
  • See the photo on Flickr: here.
  • Camera: Olympus Pen E-PL1.
  • Commercial reproduction requires explicit permission, as per Creative Commons.

  • For more from YFGF:

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

"Brewmaster": the trailer

A film, called Brewmaster, directed by Douglas Tirola, will arrive in theatres in the new year.

The trailer, which you can watch exclusively on Food & Wine, details several aspects of American beer culture. It follows one man as he studies to acquire his Master Cicerone certification, the beer equivalent of becoming a sommelier. Another thread in the movie follows a young man who quit his job as a lawyer to brew his own beer and pursue his dream of opening a brewery of his own.

The film is also peppered with expert voices in the beer world, such as Jim Koch, the co-founder of the Boston Beer Company; Vaclav Berka, a senior brewmaster at Pilsner Urquell (the company funded the film in honor of its 175th anniversary); and Charles Papazian, who founded the Association of Brewers and the Great American Beer Festival.

Food and Wine Magazine which wrote that blurb, ignored appearances by Ray Daniels of the Cicerone Certification Program, Randy Mosher of several books, and Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head Brewery.

And the trailer reeks of fanboy-dom. Beer is referred to as the “most noble beverage ever conceived by man” and “a gift from God.” Food and Wine Magazine, in presenting the trailer, states that the documentary will be required viewing for "beer fanatics." Which does not promise a serious, 'documentary,' consideration of the topic.

But trailers are designed to sound loud and proud. And, as counterpoint, it does contain is this snippet, from Garrett Oliver, beer author and brewmaster of the Brooklyn Brewing Company:
If you can't put that beer out tasting essentially the same every time, that doesn't mean you're a craft brewer. It means you're not a brewer.

Food and Wine Magazine says that Brewmaster will have select screenings in November and will be released to the general public in January. I don't know director Douglas Tirola from John Facenda, but just on that Garrett Oliver statement alone, maybe this might be worth the price of admission.

Without further comment, here's the trailer presented for your enjoyment.


Saturday, November 04, 2017

Pic(k) of the Week: Wooden cask, deconstructed.

Wooden cask, deconstructed

A wooden cask, deconstructed...
1) TOP HEAD (purple arrow)
The entire front disc. Even though it's referred to as "top", it faces forward, not up. It's circumferenced by a wooden ridge called a chimb (white arrow), or chime. The head consists of four planks: two crescent-moon shaped pieces called cants (bright green arrows). Between them are the two middles (blue arrows). The lower cant is where the keystone bung sits.
2) BACK HEAD (not pictured)
The back of the cask.
3) PITCH (forest green arrow)
The BELLY of the cask, made up of several wooden planks called staves (aquamarine arrows). The shive bung (fuscia arrow) sits at the top of the pitch.
4) QUARTERs (forest green arrows)
The two sections of the belly between the pitch and the front and rear chimes, respectively.
5) HOOPS (red arrows)
Metal bands keep the heads and staves securely in place.



1) SOFT SPILE (pale green arrow)
Porous bamboo peg inserted into the tut in the shive bung. The tut (not pictured) is an indentation in the center of the shive bung. When venting a cask, the tut is hammered through, and the spile inserted.
2) STILLAGE (dark blue arrow)
Stand on which the cask sits, angled slightly forward toward the top face, the bottom of the back chimb no higher than the level of the top of the keystone.



A beer cask can be made of wood or metal although stainless steel is much more the common choice these days. Although metal casks are welded together and don't have staves as do wooden ones, one can still refer to a cask's heads, chimbs, keystone, shive bung, spiles, stillage, etc. Ditto for plastic casks.

  • Casks come in many sizes. A firkin is one size of cask, equal to 10.8 U.S. gallons.
  • The cask above is NOT a firkin, but a 10 U.S. gallon wooden cask. It did, however, contain cask-conditioned ale. *.
  • Volume sizes here are given in U.S. measure. Thus, a 10.8 U.S.-gallon firkin (U.S.) is identical in volume to a 9 U.K.-gallon firkin (U.K.)

  • Empty: 24 pounds (11.24 kilograms).
  • Full: 114 pounds (51.71 kilograms).
  • One gallon (of water) = 8.34 pounds (3.78 kilograms)
  • The weight of one gallon of beer will be a bit more than that of water, due to its specific gravity (weight of unfermented starch, sugar, etc.)
?? ... but more than 90.072 pounds, the weight of 10.8-gallons of water.




A barrel and a cask, while superficially similar, serve two distinct purposes.
A barrel is for aging.
A cask is for cask-conditioning.
A barrel-aged beer is well-aged; a cask-conditioned beer is, well, fresh. It's the package and the intent.

Fobbing at the Tut

Fobbing at the Tut:
A series of occasional posts on good cask cellarmanship.


Friday, November 03, 2017

The indefatigable Ray Johnson!

Ray Johnson —the indefatigable "I want a keg of your beer" man of Virginia beer— has died.

Rayner M. Johnson (Age 75) of Springfield VA, passed November 5, 2017 from complications of a sudden stroke. He is survived by his loving and supportive wife of 44 years, Kathy; sons, Matthew and Charlie (Anika) and the grandchildren.
5 November 2017

The indefatigable Ray Johnson!

If you're a good beer person who doesn't live in Virginia (or Maryland or the District of Columbia) you probably don't know Rayner (Ray) Johnson. But boy, oh, boy, those who do, do!

For nearly 40 years, Ray was an organizer of the Blue-Gray Show, a premier breweriana show of the East Coast. He was a member of the National Association of Breweriana Advertising (NABA) and the Brewery Collectible Club of America (BCCA), and a past national Board member of the latter as well as an inductee into its Hall of Fame. Maybe more so, Mr. Johnson was an indefatigable supporter of Virginia 'craft' beer. He visited every brewery in the state, those extant, some shuttered, and those many planned.

More recently, Mr. Johnson was the northern Virginia distribution manager for Virginia Craft Beer Magazine and a canning line supervisor at Fair Winds Brewing Company, in Lorton, Virginia.

Word has come that Mr. Johnson is in a medically induced coma after suffering a stroke this past Tuesday evening, 31 October.

Please send good thoughts and hoist good beers toward his speedy and full recovery. I am, tonight, with fervor.

May Nikasi be with you, Rayner Johnson! There are (so many) breweries yet to visit.


Thursday, November 02, 2017

Hops. Martin Luther's 96th Thesis?

In as much that notions of historical causality can be stretched thin, it's still fun to conjecture about the effect of any one man or woman upon history's arc. And beer's history.

Martin Luther's 95 Theses of 1517 sparked the partial dissolution of the Catholic Church in Europe. That schism, it could be argued, freed brewers in proto-Protestant Europe to use additives other than those Church-decreed. One of those, the herb, hops, went on to displace the Church's spice mixture —gruit— in brewers' beers. That switch may have happened without Luther, but what came of his hammering in the Wittenberg church door, the Reformation, nurtured it.

Thus, the other Reformation! How Martin Luther, five hundred years ago this week, helped to change our beer.
[On 31 October 1517], an obscure Saxon monk launched a protest movement against the Catholic Church that would transform Europe. Martin Luther's Protestant Reformation changed not just the way Europeans lived, fought, worshipped, worked and created art but also how they ate and drank. For among the things it impacted was a drink beloved throughout the world and especially in Luther's native Germany: beer. [...]

In the 16th century, the Catholic Church had a stranglehold on beer production, since it held the monopoly on gruit — the mixture of herbs and botanicals (sweet gale, mugwort, yarrow, ground ivy, heather, rosemary, juniper berries, ginger, cinnamon) used to flavor and preserve beer. Hops, however, were not taxed. Considered undesirable weeds, they grew plentifully and vigorously — their invasive nature captured by their melodic Latin name, Humulus lupulus (which the music-loving Luther would have loved), which means "climbing wolf." [...]

Even before the Reformation, German princes had been moving toward hops — in 1516, for instance, a Bavarian law mandated that beer could be made only with hops, water, and barley. But Luther's revolt gave the weed a significant boost. The fact that hops were tax-free constituted only part of the draw. Hops had other qualities that appealed to the new movement; chiefly, their excellent preservative qualities. [...]

If the Catholic Church lost control over the printed word with the invention of the printing press — the technological weapon that ensured Luther's success — it lost control over beer with the rise of hops. "The head went flat on monastic beer," says William Bostwick [the beer critic for The Wall Street Journal and author of 'The Brewer's Tale: A History of the World According to Beer.'] 'Did Protestantism explicitly promote hops? I don't think so. But did it encourage the use of hops? I would say, yes, probably.' [...]

Luther would have relished his role in promoting hops. If anyone loved and appreciated good beer, it was this stout, sensual and gregarious monk. His letters often mentioned beer, whether it was the delicious Torgau beer that he extolled as finer than wine or the 'nasty' Dessau beer that made him long for Katharina's homebrew. 'I keep thinking what good wine and beer I have at home, as well as a beautiful wife,' he wrote. 'You would do well to send me over my whole cellar of wine and a bottle of thy beer.'
Read the rest of the story —here— written by freelance journalist Nina Martyris, for The Salt, the food 'page' of National Public Radio.

Finally, it bears reiteration that Martin Luther himself was a regular drinker of beer and its hearty espouser. Katharina von Bora, his wife, was an accomplished brewster. Then and five hundred years later: thank you and amen!
I opposed indulgences and all the papists, but never with force. I simply taught, preached and wrote God’s Word; otherwise I did nothing. And while I slept, or drank Wittenberg beer with my friends Philip [Melanchthon] and [Nicholas] Amsdorf, the Word so greatly weakened the papacy that no prince or emperor ever inflicted such losses upon it. I did nothing; the Word did everything.


Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Virginia bans alcohol.

101 years ago, today, on 1 November 1916, the Mapp Act became law in Virginia: alcoholic beverages were prohibite and the entire state went dry. For the rest of the country, National Prohibition —under the 18th Amendment to the Constitution— would not take effect until 17 January 1920.

Although Virginia established statewide prohibition through a popular referendum, it nonetheless faced several challenges in enforcing the new law. Its long coastline made it difficult to prevent smuggling, i.e. rum-running. It bordered on a wet state, Maryland, which made barely an effort to enforce national dry laws from 1920-1933. Virginia contained several cities which were reluctantly dry, most notably Alexandria, Richmond, and Norfolk. In addition, Virginia had a long-established moonshining tradition in the mountainous western part of the state. As a result, Virginia struggled to live up to the dry ideal it set for itself in 1916.

[...] The referendum on state-wide prohibition [with two simple choices, “For State-Wide Prohibition” and “Against State-Wide Prohibition”] passed, on 2 September 1914 by a vote of 94,251 in favor and 63,886 opposed. Of Virginia’s 100 counties, 71 voted in favor of prohibition. Eight of the ten congressional districts went dry, and one of the remaining two was wet by only ten votes. Surprisingly, sixteen of the state’s twenty cities also voted in favor of going dry. Traditionally cities were strongholds of wet votes. However, only Arlington, Norfolk, Williamsburg, and Richmond stayed wet.Accordingly, following the referendum, the Virginia legislature quickly passed a prohibition law, called the Mapp Law after state Senator Walter Mapp of Accomack County, making the entire state dry as of midnight, the morning of November 1, 1916. [...]The Mapp law defined “ardent spirits” as “alcohol, brandy, whiskey, rum, gin, wine, porter, ale, beer, all malt liquors, absinthe, and all compounds or mixtures of any of them.” The phrase “all malt liquors” was worded to include both intoxicating and non-intoxicating drinks made of malt.

The new dry law closed numerous distillers, six breweries, as well as several hundred saloons, in addition to taking away business from bottling companies and distributors. Breweries and distillers were allowed to stay in business so long as they sold their product out of state. Five of the six Virginia breweries stayed open until 1918. Only Robert Portner’s in Alexandria closed immediately.

[...] Virginia shares the Chesapeake Bay with Maryland, and the bay seemed as if it were designed for smuggling with its many small islands, coves and inlets. Norfolk had been wet during the referendum and remained a popular spot for smugglers to import alcohol. Finally, Virginia had a long-standing tradition of moonshining, especially in the western mountains, an area which traditionally resented Richmond’s control. Moonshiners found that prohibition furnished an even larger market for their product.
—Mark Benbow of, as published in the winter 2010-2011 issue of Brewery History

Seventeen years later, on 3 October 1933, Virginia voters would vote to end statewide prohibition. A few weeks later, on 25 October, a state convention would ratify the 21st amendment to the U.S. Constitution, repealing Prohibition, making Virginia the 32d state to do so. The amendment would take effect less than two months later, on 5 December. A few months after that, on 7 March 1934, Virginia's Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control would be established.

And so it goes.