Saturday, April 27, 2019

Pic(k) of the Week: What color do brewsters dream in?

Lauter tun (02)

What color do brewsters dream in?


Pictured: a lauter tun [pronounced like 'louder' but with a 't' in place of the 'd'; 'tun' like 'ton']: one of the several pieces of stainless-steel kit in a brewhouse.
a stainless-steel vessel that receives the entire mash from the mixer [or mash tun] after the suitable conversion time has passed [barley malt starch enzymatically converted into sugars]. It has a slotted false bottom with 'valleys' arranged in concentric circles. The mash bed sits on the false bottom. To enable wort runoff to the brew kettle, rakes with knives rotate slowly, cutting the mash. The bed is sparged [washed with hot water] during the runoff.
— Christine P. Rhodes, Tom Bedell, et. al
The Encyclopedia of Beer, 1995.


Thursday, April 25, 2019

VeggieDag Thursday: A few craft brewers fight to protect their principal ingredient — water.

How to clean a river?

"You can’t make great beer without clean water."

Four ingredients comprise most of beer: water, barley malt, hops, and yeast. Of those, water holds the greatest share by far, 95% of beer's makeup, give or take a few percentage points.
Not only is clean water critical for our health and our economy—it’s essential to making a great-tasting pint. That’s why almost 100 breweries have joined the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) to work to protect the Clean Water Act of 1972. Brewers for Clean Water (BFCW) advocate for measures that safeguard their water sources from upstream pollution and keep waterways clean for their downstream neighbors.

One major fight of the BFCW campaign is to save the 2015 Clean Water Rule, which clarifies the scope of the 1972 Clean Water Act and protects vulnerable waterways from pollution and destruction. Brewers for Clean Water members were instrumental in persuading the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to adopt this important rule. Now they’re working hard to counter efforts to repeal it.
National Resources Defense Council

In March, a group of 59 'craft' breweries, partners in NRDC’s Brewers for Clean Water campaign, sent a letter to both the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers opposing the agencies’ 'Dirty Water Rule' proposal to slash clean water protections for waterways around the country.
Mr. Andrew Wheeler, Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency
Mr. R.D. James, Assistant Secretary of the Army, Civil Works, U.S. Department of the Army

Dear Administrator Wheeler and Assistant Secretary James:

We oppose your proposal to substantially limit the number of waterways receiving protection under the Clean Water Act. This rule would endanger critical wetlands and streams across the country—waterways that our craft breweries depend on to provide the clean water we use to brew our beer.

Beer is mostly water, so the quality of our source water significantly affects our finished product. Compounds present in brewing water can affect pH, color, aroma, and taste. Sulfates make hops taste astringent, while chlorine can create a medicinal off-flavor. The presence of bacteria can spoil a batch of beer. Even small chemical disruptions in our water supply can influence factors like shelf life and foam pattern.

Unexpected changes in water quality—due to pollution in our source water, or a change in the treatment process at our local drinking water plant—can threaten our brewing process and our bottom line. We need reliable sources of clean water to consistently produce the great beer that is key to our success. It is thanks in part to this important natural resource that the craft brewing industry contributes about $76.2 billion to the U.S. economy each year, along with more than 500,000 jobs.

For years, craft brewers have been asking for more clean water protections, not fewer. We supported the 2015 Clean Water Rule because it helped protect the sources of drinking water for 117 million Americans from pollution and destruction, providing certainty that we would continue to have access to the clean water on which our livelihoods depend. Importantly, that rule was based on sound science. The record showed that the waters it protected had biological, chemical, and physical connections to larger downstream waterways.

This proposed rule, to the contrary, ignores the overwhelming scientific evidence that protecting small streams and wetlands is essential to ensuring the quality of America’s water sources. It would prohibit applying federal pollution-control safeguards to rain-dependent streams and exclude wetlands that do not have a surface connection to other protected waters. It also invites polluters to ask for even greater rollbacks, such as eliminating protections for seasonally-flowing streams.

We strongly oppose these proposed changes, which would affect millions of miles of streams and most of the nation’s wetlands. Science shows that protecting these waters is important to downstream water quality. We must maintain clear protections for the vulnerable waterways that provide our most important ingredient.

We are depending on you not to roll back the safeguards established under the Clean Water Act. Protecting clean water is central to our long-term business success. Moreover, it is vital to the health and the economy of the communities where we live and work.

Thank you for considering our views on this important matter.
The 59 brewery signatories to this letter.

Kudos to these brewers.

Nevertheless, there are over 7,300 'craft' breweries in the United States. One wonders why only fifty-nine were concerned enough about their prime ingredient that they would sign this letter. Or why the signature of their industry representative, the [U.S.] Brewers Association, is absent.

VeggieDag Thursday
VeggieDag Thursday is an occasional Thursday post
on an animal-free diet and on environmental and ecological issues.


Saturday, April 20, 2019

Pic(k) of the Week: Rosebush, refreshed

Rose bush, refreshed

They say to spray water droplets on flowers when shooting close-ups. I prefer to wait for nature to provide the raindrops. Waiting for a breeze to subside: that's another thing.

Here, a spring rain refreshes a fledgling rosebush, in a garden in DeKalb County, Georgia, on 12 April 2019.


Thursday, April 18, 2019

Drinking, again! Euphonia Pilsner

Euphonia, posed

It was during the 2013 Craft Brewers Conference that I took my first whiffs of hops Ariana, Calista, Hallertau Blanc, Hüll Melon, Mandarina, Saphir, and Smaragd, the new German harvest of American-esque hop varieties (although the Germans would NOT like that characterization!). Aromas of melon and mulberries, and even foxy tones.

I revere German brewers' traditional, 'noble' hops such as Hallertau Hallertauer Mittelfrüh, but I was impressed by these new kids, bold yet elegantly restrained. During the six years since, those hops have caught on with brewers in the States.


Euphonia Pilsner

Here's one such beer, American-brewed, paying homage back to that. It's Euphonia Pilsner, brewed by New Realm Brewing, of Virginia Beach, Virginia (and Atlanta, Georgia).

I enjoyed it al fresco and 'still life'd,' in Decatur, Georgia, on 14 April 2019.
  • The brewery's website states:
    German-style pilsner combines tradition with modern hopping techniques for a nice floral hop character. Brewed with German Pilsner malt, and late addition hops to provide a soft bitterness and vibrant hop aroma. 5% abv [alcohol-by-volume].

  • The can states:
    • "Hersbrucker, Huell Melon, Saphir, & Sterling" hops.
    • 5.8% as the abv rather than the website's lower claim of 5%.
    • The provenance, "Brewed in Georgia," whereas the punt of the can is clearly stamped with the words, "Brewed in VA,"
    • The packaging date: 14 March 2019 (also inked on the punt, under the can).

  • Now, my turn:
    Restrained use of new-age fruity lager hops overlays classic spicy/floral hops. There's a hint of classic lager sulfur but NO hint of the brunchy —egg and apple— foul of many 'craft' lagers. In the background, there's firm shortbread malt.

  • Conclusion:
    Overall, Euphonia Pilsner is bright and crisp, and overtly, if not bluntly, aromatic, with a sustained finish. It's proof that New Realm's brewmaster co/owner, Mitch Steele —the 2014 recipient of the [U.S.] Brewers Association's Award for Innovation in Craft Brewing, the former head brewer for Stone Brewing and, before that, a brewer for Anheuser-Busch, and the man who literally wrote the book on IPA — knows how to brew a pilsner, by Groll! That the beer tasted 'born-on fresh' a full month after it was packaged is a further testament to his brewing chops.

A series of occasional reviews of beer (and wine and spirits).
No scores; only descriptions.


Saturday, April 13, 2019

Pic(k) of the Week: Doggin' Dogwood

Doggin' Dogwood

It's early April in Georgia, and many of the dogwood blossoms are already past peak. But not these guys.
The four showy flower petals of the flowering dogwood (Cornus florida) aren’t actually petals as botanists define them. The dogwood petals instead are modified leaves called bracts that surround a cluster of about 20 tiny yellow flowers. As the flowers bloom, the showy bracts expand to attract pollinating insects. Each bract has a dark red-brown indentation at its tip. Depending on location, dogwood trees may bloom in March, April or May for about two weeks. When pollinated, the flowers produce red berries relished by wildlife.

As seen in Sycamore Park, in Decatur, Georgia, on 11 April 2019.


Wednesday, April 10, 2019

What's 'craft' beer worth? Try $27.6 Billion.

This week, a plenitude of American 'craft' brewers are in Denver, Colorado, attending the Craft Brewers Conference/BrewExpo, the industry's annual confabulation, hosted and organized by the [U.S.] Brewers Association in different U.S. cities each year.

In conjunction with that, the BA has released its annual compilation of annual growth data for the U.S. 'craft' brewing industry. Such as:

Craft Beer Production, 2018
In 2018, small and independent brewers collectively produced 25.9 million barrels and realized 4 percent total growth, increasing craft’s overall beer market share by volume to 13.2 percent.

Retail dollar value was estimated at $27.6 billion, representing 24.1 percent market share and 7 percent growth over 2017. Growth for small and independent brewers occurred in an overall down beer market, which dropped 1 percent by volume in 2018. The 50 fastest growing breweries delivered 10 percent of craft brewer growth. Craft brewers provided more than 150,000 jobs, an increase of 11 percent over 2017.

There were 7,346 craft breweries operating in 2018, including 4,521 microbreweries, 2,594 brewpubs, and 231 regional craft breweries. Throughout the year, there were 1,049 new brewery openings and 219 closings—a closing rate of 3 percent.

Craft Breweries, 2018

[These] numbers are preliminary. [...] A more extensive analysis will be released during the Craft Brewers Conference & BrewExpo America® in Denver, Colorado from April 8 – 11, 2019. The full 2018 industry analysis will be published in the May/June 2019 issue of The New Brewer, highlighting regional trends and production by individual breweries.

— [U.S.] Brewers Association
2 April 2019

And while I'm at it, here's the BA's super-duper definition of its member breweries, that is, its definition of what a 'craft' brewery is. Note, however, that the BA does not define what a 'craft' beer is.
An American craft brewer is a small and independent brewer.
  • Small:
    Annual production of 6 million barrels of beer or less (approximately 3 percent of U.S. annual sales). Beer production is attributed to the rules of alternating proprietorships.
  • Independent:
    Less than 25 percent of the craft brewery is owned or controlled (or equivalent economic interest) by an alcoholic beverage industry member that is not itself a craft brewer.
  • Brewer:
    Has a TTB Brewer’s Notice [Federal license to brew beer commercially] and makes beer.

Trailer for the short, "For the Love of Craft," produced by [U.S.] Brewers Association founder Charlie Papaziaan. The film is to be premiered at the CBC.


Saturday, April 06, 2019

Pic(k) of the Week: Friday afternoon Contrast

Friday afternoon Contrast

Garage-style doors opened, April spring let in, and Artifice Pale V2 served on draught. It's a Friday afternoon in the taproom at Contrast Artisan Ales, on 5 April 2019.

The brewery is new. Contrast opened to the public —in the city of Chamblee, Georgia, population 29,000, a few miles north of Atlanta— only three months earlier, in December 2018. It's owned and operated by Chase Medlin, the past head brewer at Twains Brewpub and Billiards in nearby Decatur.

Contrast's taproom is cozy and spartan —a converted auto-repair shop— with local artwork on the walls and a wrap-around white granite bar-top. Wooden barrels double as tabletops in the stool-less small outdoor front patio.

The two-vessel seven-barrel brewhouse can be seen in the background. Beers are served from finishing tanks located in a cold room directly behind the bar (to the left in the photo).

The pictured beer, Artifice Pale, is a not a hazy or juicy-fruit pale ale but a bright and crisp one with a citrusy aroma and dry finish, at an alcohol level of 5.6% (by volume). I would surmise that an apparent 11% alcohol decrease from the recipe for version 1 decreased the sweetness but increased the perkiness in this, version 2.

And increased —gulp— its 'drinkability.'

  • Neither Contrast's website nor its Facebook page lists the brewery's address (or current beer list). It's: 5504 Peachtree Road, Chamblee, Georgia 30341, just east of the intersection with Broad Street.

  • Pic(k) of the Week: one in a weekly series of photos, posted on Saturdays, and occasionally, but not always, with a good fermentable as the subject.
  • See the photo on Flickr: here.
  • Camera: Olympus Pen E-PL1. Lens: Canon 50mm ƒ/1.4 FD.
  • Settings: 20 mm | 1/100 | ISO 200 | f/4.0
  • Commercial reproduction requires explicit permission, as per Creative Commons.

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