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Monday beer links: Millennials, hops, ‘True Craft’ & other delights


The big news of last week (at about the 17-minute mark) may well generate the same flood of comments that we used to see when Anheuser-Busch bought another brewer, but occurred Friday evening so I haven’t drowned yet. Expect the aftershocks related to “True Craft” to be felt at the Craft Brewers Conference this week in Philadelphia. By chance — or maybe it wasn’t chance, only he can tell us — Greg Koch, who is at the center of this news, is speaking Saturday at a North American Guild of Beer Writers symposium. Keep end up being a sort of press conference. Short term, I put a couple of items related to the announcement at the end, because expanding the Twitter links makes this post very long.

Is Moderate Drinking Even Moderately Good For Us?
Every comment I come up with seems to include a bad pun, so just read it (please). [Via National Geographic, h/T Maureen Ogle]

Millennials Love Craft Beer, But Will A Hops Shortage Leave Them Thirsty?
[Via Forbes ]
2016 Hop Stocks Report – looking forward to a great year for hops.
[Via Washington Beer Blog]
The Forbes story, or a version of it, keeps reappearing in my Twitter feed. Up to date information about the overall hop supply and indications that water rationing should be less of a problem in the Yakima Valley than last year suggest the sky is not falling. Of course, at this time last year it looked like 2015 production would be higher than it turned out to be. In addition, hard-to-get varieties are going to continue to be hard to get, probably for years. Brewers Supply Group has begun keeping a very current list of hops it has for sale at the moment (for instance, Huell Melon was on the list early in the week and gone on Friday). I plan to spend a lot more time this week in Philadelphia asking questions related to hops than I do talking about “True Craft.”

How to brew like an 18th century Virginian.
[Via Zythophile]
Who Will Debunk The Debunkers?
[Via FiveThirtyEight]
Martyn Cornell nicely summarizes the fun we all had during Ales Through the Ages in Williamsburg, Virginia. The last evening before we all headed home there was a certain amount of conversation about similar events in the future, and I’ve been involved in related email exchanges with still more people since. I’m not certain what might result. We are often tugged in multiple directions. I want to see more research like Travis Rupp is doing, but I also know an awful lot of energy is being expended refuting bad history. The second link here has no apparent tie to beer — don’t read to the end expecting some beer payoff. Instead, there is this: “Is there any way to escape this endless, maddening recursion? How might a skeptic keep his sanity? I had to know what Sutton thought. ‘I think the solution is to stay out of rabbit holes,’ he told me. Then he added, ‘Which is not particularly helpful advice.'” Beer can be one big ole rabbit hole.

Mrs Mullis on Types of Pub Customer, 1972.
This made me smile more than any other beer thing — OK, the possible exception would be of Martyn Cornell’s answer to a question I asked on Twitter — I read last week. [Via Boak & Bailey’s Beer Blog]

‘Craft’ Beer Sabermetrics: the BCQ (Brewery Capacity Quotient).
Creative. [Via Yours In Good Fermentables]

Firm joins with iconic brewer to become a big player in craft beer business.
Warning: Includes a discussion of “exit windows.” Which leads us to the story of the week. [Via Boston Globe]

Greg Koch’s Answer to “Big Beer” is a New Platform Called “True Craft.
To get you up the speed before you read … [Via Brewbound]

This Is Reasonable Proof That Big Craft Is Losing It.
… Alan McLeod’s take. [Via a Good Beer Blog]


Click on “29 Apr” to expand and for complete context.


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.


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.

Some bitterness to balance all those hops, please

All About Beer magazine - Please pass the bitternessI should probably wait to comment on Jeff Alworth’s story until our postwoman delivers the latest All About Beer magazine (John Holl tweeted this photo of the cover yesterday), but he hinted at the contents when he posted “How American IPAs Evolved” at Beervana.

At the heart of his blog post you have this: “There has been a shift from very bitter IPAs to IPAs marked by flavor and aroma, but it has happened around the country as brewers each made natural discoveries on their own.”

You’ll notice the cover also says “Trending: Fruit IPAs.”

More data points:

New Belgium Botanical Imperial IPA.

Straight from the press release (or you can watch the video): “Using the fresh aroma of the spring landscape as inspiration, New Belgium Brewing’s Botanical Imperial IPA uses a blast of essential oils from backyard botanicals. basil, sage and juniper help create the freshest IPA around, with Bravo, Cascade, Sterling, and Willamette hop varieties delivering a potent hop punch.”

“The essential oils intensify the citrusy, herbal and spicy hop flavors,” noted Ross Koenigs, New Belgium pilot brewer. “The idea for a botanical IPA came from our love of both IPAs and gin. So back in 2014, we had our hop chemist run a bunch of gin botanicals alongside different hop varieties and then we started beta testing how those different herbs and spices played with the hops. The result offers notes of citrus, pine, wood, cedar, mint, and a little spice.”

Hops Oils & Aroma: Uncharted Waters.

It seems a little weird linking to a story I wrote for Craft Beer & Brewing, but it saves me pounding out 1,200 words again to explain some of the science behind what New Belgium is up to.

YCH HOPS Hop Varieties.

If you take a look at a few varieties (I suggest HBC 291, a hop that really needs a name) you’ll see that YCH HOPS has increased the amount of information itprovides about at least some varieties. It now provides data on linalool and geraniol. This is fun. For instance, notice that New Belgium is using Bravo, a variety with above average oil content and thus more geraniol than the average bear. It’s a hop that brewers can use to create an interesting blend — rather than wasting their time moaning, “Wah wah wah, I can’t get Citra.” Just remember, as the story points out, there’s a lot hop scientists are still figuring out.

Late hopping preserves these oils — about 50% of essentials oil evaporate during just 10 minutes of boiling. Although, as Alworth points out, brewers don’t necessarily need to boil hops as long as previously thought to extract bitterness (technically, they aren’t really extracting bitterness, they are orchestrating a conversion) too often they are creating beers that I find not bitter enough. Part of the reason is those big, juicy, tropical aromas and flavors create an impression of sweetness.

I’m no more interested in fruit bombs than I am bitter bombs.

So I was delightfully surprised last Friday when we dropped by the Virginia Beer Company in Williamsburg after the first session of Ales Through the Ages. I think their grand opening is this Saturday, but they’ve been throwing open their doors for a series of soft openinngs.

Brewer Jonathan Newman’s beers are ready. I didn’t love every one of them. For me, Nelson Sauvin hops and saison yeast may never work together (I am probably in the minority). But the rye saison with Amarillo hops was sublime. Every one of the beers, even the one with Nelson Sauvin, was balanced and nuanced. And, for those of you keeping score at home, even though they are unfiltered every one of them poured bright.

But my favorite moment was after I’d tasted the IPA, Newman asked me if I thought it is bitter enough. It has all the flavor and aroma you expect in a 2016 IPA, but, yes, it is bitter enough.

Monday beer links: It’s an IPA world and we’re all just living in it


Before burying you with this week’s IPA links a few others.

Rather a beer than a biscuit.
This is long, as in thank goodness for Pocket long. But should it intrigue you then I recommend Proust Was a Neuroscientist. [Via Called to the Bar]

After Homaro Cantu’s death, brewpub reborn with new name, new chef.
“When you think about something so terrible happening, it can demonize a space a little bit.” Another one suited for Pocket. [Via Chicago Tribune]


Pumpkin Beer Sales Go Flat, With Leftovers Lingering On Shelves Through Winter.
[Via Forbes]
Pilsner is the new pumpkin ale in the craft beer world.
[Via MarketWatch]

I’m not a pumpkin beer drinker myself, and I would like to see more pilsners in the marketplace. I expect we will. Some will be Americanized, for better or worse. And as the Forbes story makes obvious, sometimes brewers get too optimistic about how much a beer will sell. But there is a difference between growth of a type of beer slowing and that type disappearing. A lot is still going on in the pumpkin patch and we’ll see plenty of pumpkin beers soon enough, accompanied by the usual moaning.


The 11 styles of American IPA?
[Via Yours For Good Fermentables]
IPA Is Dead, Long Live IPA.
[Via Willamette Week]
How American IPAs Evolved.
[Via Beervana]
Tracking the Evolution of American IPA.
[Via This Is Why I Am Drunk]
The Madness of Causation: Why Do We Care?
[Via Beervana (yes, again)]

Stop. Take a deep breath. Maybe drink a pilsner. Now moving on …

Are Hazy, New England-Style IPAs a Controversial New Colorado Beer Trend?
Want to know was Jamil Zainasheff thinks about it? [Via Westword]

This conversation is not new — here is a photo from 2009 — and it seems to be picking up steam. Notice the number of times Jamil’s tweet has been liked.

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