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Archive | May, 2011

Time as beer’s fifth ingredient

Brian Yaeger asks if “consistency is the fifth ingredient in beer” (the first four being those specified in Germany’s beer purity law).

I find it easier to think about time as an ingredient. It adds to cost of production, and it influences the quality of the resulting beer, just like barley or hops. A beer that lagers six weeks occupies tank space that could have been used to produce three two-week lagers. Decoction makes a longer brew day. Beer properly bottle conditioning in a warm room is beer that could already by bringing in money were it otherwise carbonated.

Which box is that notebook in?In all fairness, Brian’s post is really intended to be more about the importance of consistency. There’s a New Beer Rule (#4: The god of beer is not consistency) about that, but he’s reminded me of the need for further discussion about the difference between quality control and blind devotion to “consistency.” That’s going to have to wait a couple of weeks, because there are comments from brewers somewhere in these boxes (or others) I want to include.

But a quick hint where I’ll be going. I’m far less bothered when a brewer changes the blend of hop varieties in a particular beer based on the quality of a particular crop than when he or she is dry hopping a beer and she or he doesn’t understand how that can affect diacetyl reduction. A little more or less marmalade on the nose this month is OK. A little more butter in the mouth is not.

Back to filling boxes.

Mid-week beer links

* This is the reflective, toned-down version of how Darren of Beer Sweden really felt at the conclusion of the European Beer Bloggers Conference 2011: “I believe I have just witnessed the genre of beer blogging come of age in London and stake its claim as a credible and indispensable media source of the future.”

He understands the bloggerstalkingaboutblogs dynamic, at the end writing, “I apologise if this post is a little too much blog and not enough beer.” But, my goodness, such enthusiasm. So one more excerpt: “What I learnt has left me in no doubt bloggers are the vanguard of modern beer media.”

* Those are bold words, but Mark Dredge (who obviously isn’t biased because he acted at UK organizer, but that doesn’t mean he has to sit silent) is inclined to agree. Be sure the read the comments that follow.

* Dark Lord Haiku Contest. From STL Hops. Four winners. Four different vintages of Three Floyds Dark Lord. One stipulation. You must pick up the bottle in person in St. Louis.

* The case against the em dash. “According to Lynne Truss—the closest thing we’ve got to a celebrity grammarian, thanks to her best-seller Eats, Shoots and Leaves—people use the em dash because ‘they know you can’t use it wrongly—which for a punctuation mark, is an uncommon virtue.’” Isn’t this something that should be discussed at a blogging conference?

* “High alcohol wines lose both focus and complexity.” Could the same be said about beer?

* When brewery suppliers go vertical. Thomas at Geistbeer Brewing Blog considers the consequences for both homebrewers and small batch brewers.

* The return of the wanderer. Jack Curtin has made it home from the Wild West. I point this out because Jeff Alworth suggests we all give Liquid Diet a link to boost Jack’s Wikio rankings.

* Wallace, Idaho. Why wasn’t there a brewery at the entrance of the Wallace RV Park when we passed by during our Grand Adventure?

Where in the beer world? 05.23.11

Where in the beer world?

I don’t really expect anybody to tell me where in the beer world this photo was taken, but it’s one of those things you see and you want other people to see as well.

First, “It’s not a Belgium.” Well, right. And it’s not Belgian either. Is that a good thing, a bad thing, or just a thing?

Second, “air fermented.” I thought I knew a little about brewing practices in Belgium, but this is a new one to me. Perhaps whoever scribbled the addition meant “open fermented.” Except, when I was at Sierra Nevada in early February I tasted several versions from a variety of different size conditioning tanks. Unfortunately, my notes are packed in a box that is one of a dozen marked “office.” But I sort of remember that not everything underwent primary fermentation in Sierra Nevada’s four open fermentation squares. I could be wrong. I’m used to that.

Anyway, as intriguing as it was to try one version with more banana notes, another richer with dark fruits, my favorite is the blend. The one in the bottles pictured above. A one-word tasting note, elegant.

A gose by any another name

What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call’d,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name,
And for that name which is no part of thee
Take all myself.

- Juliet, from Romeo and Juliet

Love. Hate. Writers. People who write headlines. A match sometimes made in heaven. Sometimes in hell.

In the May/June issue of Imbibe magazine writer Josh Bernstein explains that the beer known as gose is pronounced “gose-uh.” The headline on the story reads, “So the Story Gose.”

The story is worth your time, and it’s online. For me it raises a question that I can’t answer. The dreaded You say tomato, I say tomahto question. In this case, You say goes, I say gose-uh. Is it still a gose if it is imperial-ized, if it is dunkel-ized, if it is brewed without wheat?

Bernstein writes about those sort of Americanized versions (imperial and dunkel from the Portsmouth Brewery in New Hampshire; the non-wheat version one of four seasonal goses from Cascade Brewing in Oregon), and he’s more comfortable with calling them gose then I am. (For the record, Portsmouth and Cascade both make excellent beers across the board, and I’m not suggesting they shouldn’t brew these particular ones.)

Quite honestly, this isn’t worth losing sleep over. Gose is a niche product. If you search the beer sites you’ll find plenty of examples, but mostly one-offs brewed in small batches. Still there’s a difference between reviving an interesting beer and treating it as an oddity. Eric Rose’s Tiny Bubbles is a fine example of the former.

We certainly don’t need to create more styles — Portlander Gose? Portsmouther Gose? no thank you — to make the difference clear. However it’s also not appropriate to toss in some combination of salt, coriander and lactic acid and imply the result would taste like the beer students drank in Leipzig pubs in 1900.

Once again, I’ve got a question, not an answer.

But here’s one I can answer right now. Pumpkin Gose? No.

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