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What would a hop named Elvis smell like?

Yesterday I asked this question on Twitter: Which one of this is not a hop variety?


Sadly, voter turnout was low, but curiously the oldest variety here was the one selected most often as the invention and it took a while before Joshua David Hicks came up with the correct answer. Best I can tell, nobody has trademarked Elvis as the name of a hop variety.

I asked the question because this week a) Saint Arnold Brewing in Texas released a beer made with Ariana and has invited drinkers to provide feedback, and b) Sierra Nevada Brewing announced this year’s German Oktoberfest partner will be Mahrs Bräu and the beer will be made with the “nearly forgotten Record hop varietal.”

Saint Arnold calls its new beer Icon Green – 7220 Pale Ale, in part because the Germans only named the variety Ariana a few of weeks ago. German hop growers will be serving samples of beers made with this hop (its full name until last month was 2010/72/020) as well as 2010/08/033 next week at the Craft Brewers Conference in Philadelphia. Evaluating the hops raw members of a German panel found 2010/72/020 “pleasant and mild with slight nuances of berries like blackcurrant (cassis) and sweet fruits (peach, pear, tropical) and slightly resinous.” And they described 2010/08/033 as “hoppy, sweet fruit impressions like apricot and passion fruit. These are joined by one or two spicy and vegetable-like notes (bell peppers, olives).”

Texans who drink Icon Green can make up their own mind and provide feedback online. There are five essay questions:

– How would you describe the aroma of Hop 2010/72/20?
– How would you describe the taste of Hop 2010/72/20?
– Is there another hop you would describe as having a similar profile?
– For which beer styles would this hop be appropriate?
– What are your overall feelings toward this hop?

I can guarantee you German hop growers are looking forward to seeing the answers.

This is the second year that Sierra Nevada has collaborated with a Germany brewery to make an Oktoberfest beer. Last year’s partnership with Brauhaus Riegele resulted in one of my favorite Oktoberests of 2015. It was a malt forward beer, and the 2016 will be as well. So I’m not sure what mentioning the hop variety in the press release means. I’d like to know, and have already dashed off email enquiries, about why Record was chosen and where it is being grown now.

The variety resulted from breeding in Belgium — a Northern Brewer mother was open pollinated by a Saazer male — in the 1960s, intended to create a higher alpha hop that was relatively disease resistant. It was a high alpha hop in its day, about 6.2% alpha acids in 1981, and grown in what was then West Germany (almost 1,000 acres in 1978) as well as Belgium.

In case you are wondering, Denali is a variety from Hopsteiner first known as experimental variety No. 06277 (and unofficially as Nuggetzilla). Monroe is a relatively new hop from Germany (although its heritage is “American wild”) named after Marylin Monroe. The description from hop broker Barth-Haas suggests, “When you add the hop to a beer, then she shows her true colors: exactly like everyone remembers Marilyn Monroe in a red dress. A guise full of red aromas. In the nose, there are wonderful raspberry notes supplimented with orange syrup and added to this in the taste is the sweet taste that reminds one of summer and cherries.” I did not experience that at the 2015 Craft Brewers Conference when I had a beer brewed with Monroe, but I’ll seek out another sample next week at CBC in Philadelphia. Meanwhile, I am left wondering what we would expect a hop named Elvis to bring to a beer.


What are spruce, dandelions and hibiscus doing in Monday beer links?


The Reinheitsgebot – A Personal Voyage.
“Let the brewing traditions of Germany open and grow, to give the beer-drinking public what they want, and see a rejuvenation of German beer culture at a time when the trend has been away from beer.” [Via The Bitten Bullet]


A short history of spruce beer part one: the Danzig connection.
A short history of spruce beer part two: the North American connection.
[Via Zythophile]
Foraging for Fonta Flora’s Appalachian Wild Ales.
[Via Serious Eats]
9 New Floral Beers That Don’t Remind You of Your Great Aunt Esther.
[Via bon appétit]
Spot a theme?


The True Story Of Milton Glaser’s Best Client
“In the initial consultation, Steve Hindy had a couple ideas of what he wanted the brand to evoke. ‘I said Milton (Glaser), I want the Brooklyn Bridge, I want the Dodgers, I want every guy in Brooklyn to want to get this tattooed on his arm,’ Hindy says. ‘And Milton said, ‘Save something for me to do!”” [Via Fast Company]

Great Story, Shame It’s Not True.
It’s this simple: “Lots of pubs have fascinating stories attached to them but it’s a shame so few of them seem to be true.” [Via Boak & Bailey’s Beer Blog]

The deal that shook craft beer five years ago is still reverberating.
The deal is the sale of Goose Island Beer Co. to Anhueser-Busch InBev and founder John Hall says, among other things: “That’s one reason why there’s the High End today. That’s really equipped to sell a specific product, tell more stories and connect on-premise rather than in an off-premise way. Also, I think the biggest portion was the PR thing. When we said, ‘Trust us, it’s all about the beer,’ it is all about the beer — and the beer is as good [as], if not better than, it’s ever been. There’s more of it, there’s more creativity, and then, if you look at the employees, they’ve done better professionally and financially, those who have stayed. Those who didn’t? That’s their choice.” [Via MarketWatch]

Blogunitas: When Big Gets BIGGAR.
Greg Nagel has lots of pictures from the newest Lagunitas brewery. Meanwhile the story he posted last week (it got squeezed out of links here because there were so many) about what might be a new brewery in LA or might be fiction kept getting stranger. [Via OCBeerBlog]

Genesee becomes local craft’s big brother.
Genesee Brewery invites local (non-Genesee) brewers to sit in on its sensory panel and also opens its laboratory for outside use. Area brewers have borrowed equipment, been trained to count yeast, for instance, and Genny has provided analysis of beers.[Via Democrat & Chronicle]



America & Germany’s Reinheitsgebot

Shakespeare is commonly believed to have died 400 years ago Saturday, but it seems — and I don’t think this is because I live in an insular beer world — that the official 500th anniversary of the Reinheitsgebot is getting a lot more attention. If you somehow missed the onslaught, read this story, or this story, or this one, or do a search on Twitter.

What else could there be to say? How about a sideways look at the Reinheitsgebot and how it might have affected beer in the United States?

Yesterday evening, Greg Casey pointed out how different beer in America might have been had the U.S., or at least some states, enacted Reinheitsgebot-like laws in the last decades of the nineteenth century or the first of the twentieth. Casey worked in the brewing industry for more than 30 years before retiring from MillerCoors in 2013. He is best known for his expertise in yeast. He invented the application of chromosome fingerprinting to provide the global brewing industry with its first definitive means to fingerprint production strains of yeast.

Greg Casey speaks at MBAA meeting at O'Fallon Brewery in St. Louis

Even before Casey retired he had begun research into the political battles to define “what is beer?” that began in the final decades of the nineteenth century and continued until the beginning of Prohibition. He shared some of the information about the arguments surrounding the use of adjuncts he has accumulated during a presentation at a St. Louis Chapter of the Master Brewers Association of the Americas meeting at the O’Fallon Brewery. He is in the process of writing a book he’ll call Americans Drink Beer With Their Eyes that he hopes to see published in 2017.

Thursday he focused on what happened in Missouri and suggested, as he has in presentations to other MBAA chapters across the country, that brewers today who use ingredients beyond water, malt, hops and yeast owe a certain debt to those who fought for the the right to brew with adjuncts. Not something you think about right off.

Hypotheticals are always, well, hypothetical. So it is hard to imagine the government imposing a Reinheitsgebot-like law. However, consider that after Congress passed the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 the committee in charge of establishing standards for malt liquors tentatively proposed definitions that created a separate class for malt beers made without adjuncts. The proposal also included a requirement that lager beers be lagered for at least three months. (Good luck enforcing that.) Neither of those became part of the final recommendation, but it is just one of many examples Casey has.

What you might not think about when you are drinking a kumquat gose or pineapple IPA is it was relatively recently that it became acceptable to serve such beers in mixed company. Legal earlier, sure. A good example of a brewer’s craft, not so much. Fritz Maytag at Anchor Brewing and Jack McAuliffe at New Albion made as big a deal about “beer purity” in the 1970s as any anti-adjunct politicians did in the 1890s.

When Frank Prial of The New York Times visited McAuliffe in 1979, he wrote:

Jack McAuliffe boasts that his beer is a completely natural product. “We use malt, hops, water and yeast,” he said. “There are not enzymes, which the big breweries use to speed up the process of mashing and aging; there are no broad spectrum antibiotics, which they use to stop bacteria from growing, and there are no heading agents to create an artificial head. The proteins which are filtered out of most beer are what make the head. We don’t filter.”

And Maytag might as well have used the word Reinheitsgebot last year (and 50 years after he bought Anchor Brewing) in an interview in the San Francisco Chronicle:

Mind you, there was no beer in the world more traditional than ours. Pure water, good yeast, malted barley, hops. Period. No additives, no chemicals, no nothing. That was a theme we felt strong about. To make old-fashioned beer in a pure, simple way.

American brewers today are not playing by the same rules.


Why dry hopping may lower iso-alpha acids but boost bitterness

Recent research related to hops and brewing is not making life easier for the people who write brewing software.

Exhibit A: A peer-reviewed paper in the Master Brewers Association of the Americas Technical Quarterly titled, “Humulinone Formation in Hops and Hop Pellets and its implications for Dry Hopped Beers.” (A condensed version of the results of the S.S. Steiner experiments described in the Technical Quarterly is available at the Hopsteiner website.)

Exhibit B: Research going on at Urban Chestnut Brewing in St. Louis related to the impact of dry hopping on pH, then the impact of pH on perceived bitternes.

We’re not talking about changes in International Bitterness Units (IBU) that result from dry hopping, so I pretty much made up that part about problems for brewing software. But the changes in bitterness are real. So ripped from the headlines:

– Humulinones are formed by the oxidation of alpha acids within the hop. They are not a recent discovery, but there was little reason to pay attention to them before brewers began dry hopping at the rate some do today. Yes, you may blame IPAs.

– They are about two-thirds as bitter as alpha acids that are isomerized by boiling (becoming iso-alpha acids, the primary bittering component in beer), but — here is the key — they are more soluable and will dissolve into beer during dry hopping to increase bitterness.

The devil is in the details:

– Baled hops (which is what almost all brewers previously used) contain less than 0.3% w/w (which basically means by weight), but the concentration can increase to .5% w/w after hop pelleting.

– Hops with a higher hop storage index (HSI – and when that is higher it means the hop loses its alpha acids more quickly) have a higher concentration of humulinones. This is variety dependent.

– Comparing a low-IBU beer to a high-IBU beer in order to understand the solubility characteristics of humulinones produced a surprising result. Increasing the dry hopping dose from 0 to 0.5, 1.0, and 2.0 pounds per barrel resulted in progressively lower iso-alpha acide consentrations, from 48 to 39, 35, and 30 ppm, respectively. “This siginifcant loss in bitterness was offset, however, by the large increase in humulinones that dissolved in the beer.”

And the bitterness was different. I had to read this explanation slowly (I could feel my lips move): “Sensory evalutation of a very low IBU beer spiked with 22 ppm of humulinones was compared with the same beer spiked with 14.5 ppm of iso-alpha acids. The bitterness intensity of the two beers appeared to be similar, confirming that humulinones are about 66% as bitter as iso-alpha acids. The bitterness profile of the humulinone beer, however, appeared smoother, and there was less lingering on the tongue than with the iso-alpha acid beer. This smooth bitterness makes sense given humulinones are more polar than iso-alpha acids and should therefore not stick or linger on the tongue as long as iso-alpha acids.”

Moving on to pH.

Kurt Driesner, quality assurance manager at Urban Chestnut, discussed some of the early results of the brewery’s research at a MBAA meeting at UCB last month. Expect more information in a few months, but right now: typical dry hopping at UCBC increases pH between 0.1 and 0.25 units; preliminary data suggests that every 0.1 increase in pH is equivalent to a 2 IBU increase in perceived bitterness; and the perceived difference can be observed through pH adjustments independent of any dry hop addition.

S.S. Steiner also observed that pH increased as the dry hop dosage increased, so took five commercial beers with different IBUs and different pHs and dry hopped them with with Cascade hop pellets. The results showed that regardless of starting IBU or pH dry hopping had a linear impact on pH, with the pH rising by about 0.14 units per pound of hops used per barrel.


The last Monday beer links before the big Reinheitsgebot party


There was a lot to read last week. I felt particular pressure assembling these links because Boak & Bailey were out in the field and didn’t post their usual Saturday nuggets and longreads. I didn’t want to leave anything out, so pardon pairings that look strange and please be sure to at least scan to the end.

Recreating Old Beer Styles Conference part 2.
You knew I’d put this first. Beyond the the nitty gritty details about styles you may or may not care about there is this: “After the Beer History Conference we had a preview of CAMRA’s revitalisation project from Tom Stainer. Martyn Cornell asked if this was CAMRA’s version of Tony Blair’s ‘Clause Four moment’. Ron Pattinson saw it as the choice between taking a Stalinist or Trotskyist position. To which I could only reply that when it comes to real ale revisionism I’m positively Maoist.” [Via Ed’s Beer Site]


Wie verändert sich der Biergeschmack?
(What happens to the taste of beer?)
Next Saturday is the Big Day, the 500th anniversary of the Reinheitsgebot. If you are still catching up with what that might mean then read Jeff Alworth’s story in All About Beer magazine. This interview (Google will translate it for you, although I sense something is lost in the process) with Ludwig Narcissus is fascinating. He offers first hand experience about the last seventy years of brewing in Germany. There are many takeaways, beyond that Narcissus finds the Reinheitsgebot important. My favorites:

a) He wrote the recipe for a beer called “Hersbrucker” that was brewed at the Weihenstephan pilot brewery. I love Herbrucker hops.

b) At the end he is asked, “If you were young brewers today – what would you wish for and the beer?” He answers, “Dass es so bleibt wie bisher, mit dem erweiterten Feld der Craft-Biere.” In his view, tradition and craft can oo-exist. [Via Frankfurter Allgemeine, h/T @STLBrewer}

Blind German Pils Tasting #3 – In the Land of the Blind.
We can’t get most of these beers in the United States, but there’s a good chance you can’t get a bunch of the beers on any other “drink this” list. [Via Berlin Craft Beer}


Cloudy IPAs: Cloudy with a chance of hops. [Via Joe Sixpack] and What We Need to Talk About When We Talk About North East IPAs. [Via Beer Graphs]

Wooing the Brewery: How Asheville’s big beer deal fell flat. Remember the discussion last week about Roanoke “winning” Deschutes’ east coast brewery? This is the story from the other competitor. A very long read, about 5,000 words worth. [Via Citizen Times]


What Happened to the United Craft Brewers?
[Via Boak & Bailey’s Beer Blog]
What Could UCB Ever Do For Us?
[Via Beer Noveau]
Brewdog and craft beer post-The United Craft Brewers.
[Via Brew Geekery]

Much of the discussion here is about defining “craft beer.” Where have we seen that before? Just because there is no definition that satisfies everybody does not mean tha craft beer is not a thing. But, from Brew Geekery, there comes a warning: “Surprisingly, Brewdog’s project is an international one, as James told us he and Martin are in talks with Stone Brewing in the US regarding it. Stone has obviously been a massive influence on Brewdog, but how any definition of UK craft beer can be arrived at between the two perplexes me. It would make sense if Brewdog had applied to the Brewers Association about an international membership, but just what is it and Stone brewing here? A breakaway global movement? Craft brewers of the world unite? Whatever they are up to, they’re no doubt set to throw a metaphorical hand grenade into the already volatile battleground of how to define craft beer.”


Anheuser-Busch buys Devils Backbone, its 8th craft brewery.
Just one story about last week’s big sale, an interview with Devils Backbone co-founder Steve Crandall. “We have a vision, and we’ve had a vision since we started this business. We’re on 100 acres here in the Blue Ridge Mountains, and we want to develop a very positive experiential facility, including a campground and RV hookups. We’re a destination brewery — people drive to get here and want to stay on the property — but we couldn’t spend any money on it because everything was going to capacity. AB listened to us and believed in us. From the very beginning, we had a great relationship with these guys; prior to meeting them, I wasn’t sure they put they’re pants on one leg at a time, but they do. They’re decent people. So we’re building the campground — plus some other things we’re not ready to announce yet — and a 50,000-square-foot facility at our packaging facility in Lexington.”
[Via Chicago Tribune]


On the Road Again: The Very Real Impact of Beer Tourism.
“In a way, it’s merely one end of a spectrum, where at the other, local rules supreme. Even if you may be a national brand, you can still find a connection to that powerful emotional theme of community.” [Via This Is Why I’m Drunk]

Finding Cuban Beer in the Land of Cigars and Rum.
“‘This is the perfect drink for this country,’ our guide, Anna, explained as we drank mugs of helles lager. ‘People think we are sugar cane and rum, but here people are hot all the time. You go to the beach and the baseball game, and people drink beer. Not the mojito, not the Cuba libre. Beer. Every day they are drinking beer.’ [Via All About Beer]

Lithuania and its peculiar, little-known farmhouse ales.
“When we name the world’s great beer-drinking people—the Czechs, Germans, Belgians, Brits, and what the hell, Americans, too—we probably ought to include the Lithuanians. Based on their number of breweries, distinct brewing traditions, sheer quantity consumed and beer’s importance in their social life, they belong in that echelon. But people rarely mention Lithuania in that conversation, because they don’t know much about it.” [Via DRAFT}


Two Atlanta beer pioneers talk local beer history.
[Via Creative Loafing]
Inside the Tank | Off Color Brewing’s John Laffler.
[Via Porch Drinking]
Hear From DC Brau’s Co-Founders About Their Five Year Mark.

Reports from Atlanta, Chicago and Washington, D.C. Does the metro-centric aspect indicate anything? I’m not sure, but I know you too should love the barrel aged cask story (link No. 1).



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