Beer Education: Series Overview

Well, like I said at the end of Module Ten, I would do a series wrap-up afterwards. If you’ve followed along, and if you have done the program / MOOC as well, we are all done now. It took roughly two months to get it completed, as my first post about the Series was on March 26th and I finished the class and Module Ten on May 26th. So two months from start of the blog about it to the end of the actual module, and another day or so for this final wrap-up. Not bad, and an interesting way to pass the time, especially during this quarantine and lockdown.

Speaking of that, things are progressively re-opening here in Central PA area, as well as in the nation as a whole. We’ll see how that goes, and with fingers crossed, maybe soon we’ll be sharing a pint together at a brewery.

As I said from the beginning of the series, I was doing this class without the certificate, so all of the ‘verified track learner’ pages and assessments were off limits to me. I would love to hear from anyone in the comments section who took the full version of the class, and paid for the certificate and got to see the verified track learner’s content pages. My take on that is this though – the certificate would be NICE to have, and would LOOK good… but, it is ultimately unneeded. The information learned is the real value, and any brewery that you are looking to use this for, will most likely be happy with you having the knowledge over the piece of paper. (Of course, the piece of paper would help a bit more, but I don’t think its a massive jump in ‘helping’ or value.) Brewing, and brewery industry jobs, are kind of still in a medieval sense, or in a ‘wild west’ kind of territory. Most breweries are opened with the owner being the head brewer (for craft breweries in America), and most of them got their start home brewing. So you have a lot of basically self-taught people opening their own businesses who learned by home brewing, not professionally. Now, this isn’t always the case, but it seems to happen frequently enough to bear out the point.

Thats not to take away from getting the certificate. Doing so will be an addition, and will help you in jobs. But so is just taking this class. Just show some proof of doing it, and answer questions and show your knowledge. There is other free (and pay-for) resources and certificates online, getting some of them will help as well.

So lets recap the course a bit. There was ten modules, not counting assessments and all that, there was ten modules with different topics for each. In each module was segments, but lets broadly just look at the modules.

  • Module One: The History of Beer Brewing
  • Module Two: Barley and Malting
  • Module Three: Water
  • Module Four: Hops and Spices
  • Module Five: Yeast
  • Module Six: The Steps of the Brewing Process
  • Module Seven: Fermentation and Maturation
  • Module Eight: Filtration and Packaging
  • Module Nine: Beer Quality and Stability
  • Module Ten: Beer Assessment and Tasting

In all of the discussion pages, so far, I’ve received two comments / replies back in the actual modules. I will post my comment and the responses here.

First:
My comment: “I find it in interesting in America that especially in the last few years there has been a greater move to go from bottle to can. Likewise from growler to crowler. I actually tend to prefer bottles for the 12oz and 16oz varieties, but prefer crowler (32oz) over the growler (32oz). Can’t exactly place why, perhaps because of a taste difference. Though I’m told by many there is no taste difference, and The Alchemist brewery even says to drink their IPAs from the can rather than from the glass. (I do typically pour into glasses from either can or glass; unless busy grilling or mowing or whatever, then I drink straight from the can or glass.)

Curious what other’s thoughts are on the glass bottle vs. can debate.”

The response:

“By: kr3846

In my opinion cans are the way to go 100% of the time. They are basically mini-kegs. They protect better against light and oxygen way better than crown/ bottles ever could. Which is a good enough reason to deem them the winner out-right. They are lighter weight which cuts down on shipping cost, both as a raw material and as a finished product. This also means they can be packed more cans per truck/ boat which ultimately leads to less consumption of fossil fuels. They are also 1000 times more recyclable than glass. In America, very few if any breweries (if any) are doing glass bottle returns. Plus, with cans you do not have the concerns with breaking glass around swimming pools, patios, backpacking, camping, etc.

I think (in America at least) there is still a stigma about drinking from a can. As if it is ubiquitous with large crappy breweries like AB-InBev. People seem to see drinking from a bottle as the “craft” or “artisanal” option. I wish we would move past this and accept cans as the clearly superior form of packaging they are for all the reasons listed above.

That being said, in the growler/ crowler debate, I think growlers are the way to go for the simple fact that they are re-usable. The single use aspect of crowlers, while convenient, is not very environmentally friendly. I do not have nearly the strong opinions in this debate than I do in the can vs bottle debate.

As for Heady Topper, they say to drink from a can because the beer looks like shit. Or the more “scientific” reason would be to keep the hop compounds contained in the can rather than losing them to the volatility of pouring into a glass.

Cheers!”

Second:
My comment: “Another great module. I have really been enjoying this course! I am learning a lot!

-B. Kline
https://thebeerthrillers.home.blog/

The response: “By: StijnS (Staff)

Hi Ben,

Thanks for these nice words. We also appreciate that you keep a blog on your progress throughout the MOOC.

Have fun with the last module of the MOOC,

Stijn”

Overall, I really enjoyed the MOOC and the modules were all well done and very informative. The various expert clips were especially interesting and educational. For those, looking to further their beer or brewery knowledge, or looking for something to do (most modules were very quick and not extremely time consuming), or for someone looking for a foot in the door at a brewery or just hoping to better themselves for a brewery position (or one they already have), I would highly recommend this course.

I will be posting more information on possible other classes I do, and others that I’ve done in the past, when I get to the next beer education series, so be on the alert for that. And as we enter June, be ready to see a lot more beer reviews and brewery reviews as places start to open back up.

Until then, please stay safe and healthy, we’re almost there! Cheers!

-B. Kline

The Beer Education Series:
** EdX: The Science of Beer Brewing
* Beer Education: Series
* Beer Education: Syllabus
* Beer Education: Introduction
* Beer Education: Module One: The History of Beer Brewing
* Beer Education: Module Two: Barley and Malting
* Beer Education: Module Three: Water
* Beer Education: Module Four: Hops and Spices
* Beer Education: Module Five: Yeast
* Beer Education: Module Six: The Steps of the Brewing Process
* Beer Education: Module Seven: Fermentation and Maturation
* Beer Education: Module Eight: Filtration and Packaging
* Beer Education: Module Nine: Beer Quality and Stability
* Beer Education: Module Ten: Beer Assessment and Tasting
* Beer Education: Series Overview

Beer Education: Module Ten: Beer Assessment and Tasting

Welcome to the final module of the class – The Science of Beer Brewing! Congrats! We finally made it. Took us a while, but we got here, and after this it’s all over; unless you signed up for the verified track learning and the certificate, in which case you’ll have a final exam / assessment after this final module. If you took that route, congrats and good luck. Hopefully the certificate will help you!

Like every module, this one also starts with an introduction video. This one is 2:11 and talks about this being the final module, about beer tasting, assessing the qualities of a beer, and how people will rate and enjoy the beer.

Our first page of the module is a text page about chromatography, and its the first of the segment about ‘methods to analyze chemical composition of beers’. “Chromatography is a method for separating, identifying and quantifying molecules present in a mixture, in our specific case, in beer. Separation of different molecules occurs by allowing the mixture to run through a thin tube, called a column. This column contains a specific filling, also referred to as the stationary phase, that interacts differently with different molecules, depending on their exact chemical or physical properties. These interactions affect the rate at which these molecules pass through the column and separate the different molecules from each other – causing each of the molecules to exit the column at a different time, the so-called retention time. As the molecules exit the column, they are detected and identified. The output is a chromatogram.” (EdX: The Science of Beer Brewing. Module Ten.)

The page then has a picture of a sample chromatogram. It then discusses the columns; how they are made – from a large variety of materials; two general columns are packed columns and capillary columns. In packed columns the phase known as stationary is packed into the cavity of the columns. In the capillary columns that same stationary phase is coated on the inner surface of the columns. This text page then has two tab pull-downs at the bottom for: gas chromatography and high performance liquid chromatography. Give yourself plenty of time, because each of these tab pull-downs could have been a page unto themselves.

Next up is spectrophotometry. “A spectrophotometer uses different wavelengths of light to determine the concentration of a compound in a sample. Specific wavelengths are absorbed by certain compounds and hence the amount of light that is absorbed can be used to determine the concentration of the absorbing compounds.” (EdX: The Science of Beer Brewing. Module Ten.)

Some beer properties that can be measured spectrophotometrically:

  • Color
  • Bitterness
  • Other beer characteristics
    * glucose
    * free amino nitrogen (FAN)
    * fructose

There is others as well, but these are the primary ones to be concerned with and to note here.

The next page is a quick knowledge check (ie. test). The first question is a two-part drop-drag (multiple choice) question. The second question is a multiple check-box, where you will need to pick all of the ones that apply and are correct.

Moving along, we come to the next segment of this module: sensory analysis of beer. Our first page for this segment of the module is a typical introduction text page. “The methods discussed in the previous section allow you to quantify the different compounds present in beer. However, it is the interaction between all these compounds that determines how the beer is actually perceived by us. It is still very hard to predict a beer’s taste and aroma solely on the measurements of the individual aroma compounds. Different flavor compounds can interact with each other, with some compounds masking or enhancing the perception of other compounds. Each compound also has a specific flavor threshold, below which it will not be perceived. And of course, this flavor threshold also depends on what other flavors are present in the beer (and hence on the ‘matrix’ in which it is present: the flavor threshold of a compound will be different in water than in a beer…).” (EdX: The Science of Beer Brewing. Module Ten.)

Aspects of sensory analysis are:

  • visual aspects
  • aroma
  • taste
  • mouthfeel
  • body

Clicking next, we come to a text page about ‘testing panel’ and training a testing panel. Two big reasons for having a tasting panel is to ensure beers are true to brand and to evaluate the consistency of the beers. (How often have you read or heard about batch 1 vs batch 2 from a craft brewery or the lack of consistency between batches; I can think of the recent hullabaloo with Funk Brewing and a batch not having the consistency of a previous batch; this is why its so important to keep consistency between batches the same.)

“More specifically, do the beers contain all the typical flavor compounds they need to contain? Does it taste how this specific beer should taste, according to customer’s expectations? Is the beer conform the specific style or brand?” (EdX: The Science of Beer Brewing. Module Ten.)

Testing panels are people hand-picked by breweries to sample, test, and preview recipes, beers, ingredients, new procedures in brewing, new vessels, etc. They are usually a group or assortment of knowledgeable people with an extensive background in beer and alcoholic beverages; cicerones, BJCP judges, former brewers, restaurateurs, malsters, hop growers, etc, etc. (People with expert knowledge in the field.)

The first step to the testing panel, is to train the participants. As with everything, definitions and vocabulary is essential, so you will want everyone on the same page, using the same language, describing beer in the same terms, etc. This is why there are groups like the BJCP Judges, who have a uniformal way of judging beer. So this is a two step process; step one: development of vocabulary, and then step two: standardization of vocabulary.

Development of Vocabulary – “People are exposed to different flavors and are asked to write down the words they associate with a specific flavor. This can be done by using beers that have very specific flavors, or, more commonly, by using commercially available flavor standards (packaged flavor molecules that can be readily added to liquid and consumed).” (EdX: The Science of Beer Brewing. Module Ten.)

Standardization of Vocabulary – “Here, panel members discuss different words associated with a specific flavor. In the end, people agree to use some of these words as specific descriptors for a specific taste. In this way, everybody will use the same word to, for example, describe specific hop aromas. Based on the vocabulary developed during these steps, a tasting sheet can be developed that can be used  as a tool during the actual tastings. Of course, you don’t necessarily need to establish your own vocabulary from scratch. You can also use the terms from, for example, the Beer Flavor Wheel that will be discussed later in this module. In a next step, the panel is trained in specific attributes. This is usually done by spiking known quantities of flavor-active standards into beer and asking the panel to describe what they smell or taste (without them actually knowing what they should be smelling/tasting). This allows to determine the threshold of different compounds.” (EdX: The Science of Beer Brewing. Module Ten.)

The next page moves on to discuss tasting sheets and the tasting wheel. For anyone who has done any kind of beer judging at events, or training for BJCP or cicerone, this is all common knowledge. People who also grow hops for a living have similar sheets for how their hops should smell, feel, etc after harvest.

Most breweries have a beer evaluation sheet or a tasting sheet. They are typically broken down per style, so you would have a page for Lagers, a page for IPAs, a page for Stouts, a page for Sours, etc. (And some can be further broken down from there, but thats typically marked and noted on the main style sheet.) [For verified track members, there is a beer evaluation sheet / tasting sheet you can download.]

“Another commonly used tool is the Beer Flavor Wheel. The Beer Flavor Wheel was developed by Morton Meilgaard, a flavor chemist at a brewery in Detroit, in an attempt to standardize the language used in beer evaluation. The beer flavor wheel was jointly adopted in the 1970s by the European Brewery Convention (EBC), the American Society of Brewing Chemists (ASBC), and the Master Brewers Association of the Americas (MBAA). The wheel  (see figure below) gives a specific descriptive name to a wide range of distinct beer flavors. These are first divided based on if they are perceived by taste or smell (odour). Next, they are grouped into 14 categories, each with specific descriptors. For example, one of the categories is ‘aromatic and fragrant’. This is then broken down into specific descriptors, namely alcoholic, solvent-like, estery, fruity, acetaldehyde, floral, and hoppy, which can then be further subdivided into second-tier terms (not shown on the wheel itself).  Many of the main descriptors are also assigned distinct compounds responsible for the flavor, referred to as the ‘reference standard’. ” (EdX: The Science of Beer Brewing. Module Ten.) Following this, on the page is an example beer flavor wheel. In 1993, Susan Langstaff updated the most commonly used beer flavor wheel to include mouthfeel descriptors.

Clicking NEXT, we come to the experiment page. Its a ‘do it yourself’ beer tasting. The page tells you what you’ll need to do a beer tasting, what ingredients, what equipment, etc. It also has a 9 minute video describing how to ‘professionally’ drink a beer. An interesting it discusses is a ‘black glass’, that way you are not persuaded or biased by the coloring of the beer. Its a very informative long clip, with the three main instructors giving you sage advice on how to properly, professionally, and smartly drink a beer.

The next page is a discussion on the tasting from the experiment. Here is my post in the discussion (a slight cop-out since I didn’t re-do the experiment, but I think it holds enough weight):

“I recently did a canning for SOCIAL DISTANCING – a collaboration beer between Tattered Flag, Abomination Brewing, and Pilger Ruh Brewing. Since I had several cans of it from the canning, I did that as my beer tasting. I also wrote up a review on it for my blog:

https://thebeerthrillers.home.blog/2020/05/25/beer-review-social-distancing-tattered-flag-abomination-brewing-and-pilger-ruh-brewing/

I really enjoyed it and thought it was a wonderful IPA to taste. I got lots of floral, citrus, hop notes, especially since it was dry hopped. My aroma segment from the article actually says:

“Canning day the whole brewery smelled delicious, like walking into a hop filled bakery. And cracking this beer just three days later retained that same smell. Strong juicy New England style hoppy deliciousness as soon as the tab cracked and the can opened. Very strong, citrus, floral and fruity notes, hint of peach and mango especially out of the fruit.” And not much changed doing the taster a day later either.

Cheers!
Enjoy!

-B. Kline
The Beer Thrillers
https://thebeerthrillers.home.blog/

I stand by the aroma, even a few days later, so I think I nailed their question. (The question for the discussion was about the aroma.)

The next page is an expert clip, its by Dr. Veerle Daems, a sensory analysis for Haystack. The clip is six minutes and fifty-seven seconds long. Haystack is a full service research agency.

After this, is a quick knowledge check (test). The first question is a check-box select all that apply question, the second is a drop and drag question, and then a feedback question.

The next page begins our next segment of the module – Belgian Beer Styles. As per usual, the first page is an introduction text page. “Every beer is unique: beers are extremely diverse in style, taste and aroma. Interestingly, most beers belonging to the same beer style do share some characteristics. In the first module of this MOOC, we used these shared characteristics to delineate 8 different beer profiles that were used in the beer profile quiz you took at that time.” (EdX: The Science of Beer Brewing. Module Ten.)

The eight beer profiles that they use are:

  • easy going – lagers, amber ales, pale ales
  • the dark side – brown ales, stouts, and porters
  • funky flavor – sours, geuze, and brett beers
  • high hops – IPAs
  • fruity – fruit beers
  • spicy specials – witbiers, wheat bears, spicy blondes
  • triple trouble – Belgian tripels, strong blondes
  • no-low alcohol – NAB-LAB

The first page after the introduction is dedicated to the easy going beers, the lagers, amber ales, and pale ales. “Lager, amber and pale ale were grouped together to form the ‘Easy-going‘ category in the beer profile quiz you took at the start of this MOOC. We have grouped them together since most of the beers within these styles are light, easy to drink, refreshing and have a low to medium ABV.” (EdX: The Science of Beer Brewing. Module Ten.)

From there, the next page is the dark side; the brown ales, stouts, and porters. “Brown, stout and porter were grouped together to form The Dark Side category from the beer profile quiz you took at the start of this MOOC. These three beer styles were grouped together in this category since they often are dark, creamy and sweet, with a caramel or coffee-like aroma and taste.” (EdX: The Science of Beer Brewing. Module Ten.)

After this is the funky flavors, the sours, geuzes, and brett beers. “Lambic, gueuze and Brett beers were grouped together to form the Funky Flavour category from the beer profile quiz you took at the start of this MOOC. These three different beer styles were grouped together since they are often complex in taste (tart, barnyard, sour, acidic).” (EdX: The Science of Beer Brewing. Module Ten.)

Then, we got the IPA. A familiar and favorite across the American craft beer scene, especially in recent years, and in all kinds of variations. From West Coast hoppy IPAs to New England smooth and juicy IPAs, or even ‘milkshake IPAs’ with lactose, and other variants in between (and even further apart!). “As you have seen in the first Module in this MOOC, the term India Pale Ale (IPA) refers to a British beer style that originated in the 1700s. British brewers realized that beers brewed using large amounts of hops would preserve better during the long journey to India compared to other beers. After a while, this IPA style was also brewed for the domestic market. IPAs were one of the first styles brewed by American craft breweries in the 1970s. Nowadays, different takes on the ‘traditional’ IPA exist, including for example New England IPAs, which are characterized by an intense tropical hop-derived aroma.” (EdX: The Science of Beer Brewing. Module Ten.)

Fruit beer is a pretty simple category. Fruit. In. Beer. Pretty simple, right? …Right. Don’t worry, there’s no M. Night Shamalyan style twist to this one. “Fruit beers formed the Fruity category from the beer profile quiz you took at the start of this MOOC. Different fruit beers exist, using different beers as a base to add fruits. The typical sourness of Lambic beers makes them ideal to be blended with fruits. These fruits not only add fruity and sweet aromas, but also provide a sugar sources during refermentation. Historically, Lambic brewers have used locally grown fruits to add flavours to their beers: sour cherries (used for Kriek beers) and raspberries (used for Framboises). Nowadays, other beers apart from Lambic beers are used as a base as well to make other fruitbeers, which are often sweeter than Kriek beers or Framboises.” (EdX: The Science of Beer Brewing. Module Ten.)

After this we have witbeer or witbiers. “Wheat beers and spicy blondes were grouped together to form the Spicy Specials category from the beer profile quiz you took at the start of this MOOC. Wheat beers, also called Witbier (not to be confused with German Weissbier), is one of the most unique beer styles of Begium. The name Witbier likely refers to the old Dutch word for wheat (‘weit’), since wheat is blended in with the malted barley. Historically, the wort was spontaneously fermented. This resulted in a cloudy beer with a sour taste. To balance out this sour taste, gruit was added. Nowadays, a mix of hops, coriander seeds and orange peel is used instead of the gruit.  Nowadays, witbier is no longer produced via spontaneous fermentations. Instead, yeast strains are used that produce a characteristic, clove-like, pepper and spicy aroma. Witbiers are usually bottle conditioned with fresh yeast.” (EdX: The Science of Beer Brewing. Module Ten.)

The next category (and page) is the ‘triple trouble’ or tripels and strong blondes. “While many publications differentiate between Tripels and other strong blond ales, sensory and chemical analysis of different beers from these categories indicate that there in fact is a large overlap between these categories (with some notable exceptions of course!). Bottle refermentation is common for both styles, resulting in strong carbonation.” (EdX: The Science of Beer Brewing. Module Ten.)

And the final category, the NAB-LABs. The non-alcoholic beverages or near non-alcoholic. (Think O’Douls.) “NABLABs were the final category in the beer profile quiz. NABLAB stands for No Alcohol Beers (<0.5% ABV) and Low Alcohol Beers (<3.5% ABV). The alcohol levels is the only criteria to place a beer in the NABLAB category and hence different beer styles, including pilsner, amber, IPA and wit, are present in this category. Health concerns as well as responsible drinking behavior are the two main reasons listed by consumers as to why they drink NABLABs.  Not long ago, NABLABs were less popular: brewers arrested fermentation before all fermentable sugars were converted into alcohol (resulting in a very sweet beverage) or used a distillation process that not only stripped the beer of ethanol, but also of much of the volatile aroma compounds. Additionally, many LABLABs tend to lack some body, and are considered less ‘full’ than other beers. Recent advances in brewing technology now make it possible for brewers to produce NABLABs without much compromise in flavor.” (EdX: The Science of Beer Brewing. Module Ten.)

The next page is a verified track learner page. A page for only those getting the certificate and paying the extra money for the course. (So we’ll be skipping this page, like I said in the previous articles, I’m not doing the certificate program, so I won’t have access to the verified learner track pages.)

Looks like we’ve reached the end, the next page is the ‘overview and check’ page, where you check the boxes saying you’ve learned everything in this module. The page after that is the assessment page – another page for verified track learners only. Clicking next we come to the feedback and questions page, a discussion page at the end of each module, where you can leave a note, or ask a question. The professors regularly check in, and like to help here especially. Following this page is the text page – End of Module Ten. They breakdown the different between the verified track and the audit track (the audit track is the non-certificate / free / non-paying program that I did, the verified track is the 99.99$ certificate track). At the end of this page, unlike other end of module pages, there is another discussion portion, but this time for the entire MOOC, so you can leave any feedback you have about the entirety of the MOOC, as well, or give a thanks, or shout-out, or what have you. I left a final note on the last MOOC overview discussion page:

“Thanks so much! This has been so much fun, and I’ve done it through my blog, which helped keep me on task, and I know my readers have really enjoyed it as well. Thank you for offering this, and doing it for either free or for certificate is so awesome. Was a great and fantastic (and productive) way of killing the lockdown time.

To see the start of my series on this you can check it out here: https://thebeerthrillers.home.blog/2020/03/26/beer-education-series/

To check out my blog:
https://thebeerthrillers.home.blog/

Thank you so much for all the valuable information, and for giving me something to do and write about.

Cheers!

-B. Kline
The Beer Thrillers
https://thebeerthrillers.home.blog/

Clicking the next page, it takes you to a page discussion the final assessment and a heads up on its grading system, for the verified track learners. They have until May 31st (2020) to complete the final exam. It accounts for 45% of their final grade of this MOOC. They will be graded, and if successful, certificates will be sent out June 2nd (2020).

As for us, we are all done now. Module Ten is done. The entire MOOC is done. I hope you feel as accomplished as I am. This was a fun MOOC, a fun course, a very informative course, and I know I learned quite a bit. If you did it with the verified track and get your certificate, congrats even more. Hopefully that will help to land a job at a brewery or craft beer bar or bottle shop as that is definitely something to hang your hat on. For those looking to further their beer, or brewing, or brewery education, I recommend the Brewer’s Association safety courses. I had taken them a few years ago (two and three years ago now). Each course in that comes with a certificate, and it has all aspects of the brewery covered. From silo and grains to bottling to kegging to sanitizing, to chemicals, to everything. There is a lot there, and they give you free certificates, and its all very well done as well. So I highly recommend that if you are looking to further your education. You can find them at: https://www.brewersassociation.org/educational-publications/free-online-brewery-safety-training/Brewer’s Association Safety Training.

I will do a follow-up wrap-up post in the next day or two, that will basically just be saying how everything is done, and just put a coda and a cap to this beer education series on the blog. I will also go back through, and edit the previous module and series installments here on the blog to include a full linked syllabus and series overview at the bottom of each post, that way you can get to any module or part of the ‘Beer Education Series’ you want to from any other module post. So that should make things simpler. (You can also click on the Category or Tag – Beer Education and that will provide a list of the links as well.)

I would love to hear in the comments from anyone else who has completed this journey along with me. Or if anyone else knows of any other beer education series online. Also love furthering my education (shouldn’t we all?). Especially at this time of rest due to the lock-down, which is starting to lift – at least here in Pennsylvania. We’ll see how that goes. June 5th the whole state moves to Yellow Phase, and soon after that several counties will enter Green Phase for the first time. Fingers crossed for humanity on this one.

Alright everyone, thanks for joining me on this module and the MOOC, and congratulations on completing it! I’m off to have a beer to celebrate!

Cheers!

-B. Kline

The Beer Education Series:
** EdX: The Science of Beer Brewing
* Beer Education: Series
* Beer Education: Syllabus
* Beer Education: Introduction
* Beer Education: Module One: The History of Beer Brewing
* Beer Education: Module Two: Barley and Malting
* Beer Education: Module Three: Water
* Beer Education: Module Four: Hops and Spices
* Beer Education: Module Five: Yeast
* Beer Education: Module Six: The Steps of the Brewing Process
* Beer Education: Module Seven: Fermentation and Maturation
* Beer Education: Module Eight: Filtration and Packaging
* Beer Education: Module Nine: Beer Quality and Stability
* Beer Education: Module Ten: Beer Assessment and Tasting
* Beer Education: Series Overview

Beer Review: Social Distancing (Tattered Flag, Abomination Brewing, and Pilger Ruh Brewing)

Social Distancing by Tattered Flag, Abomination Brewing, and Pilger Ruh Brewing

Friday, as you guys have read, I was lucky enough to help out at Tattered Flag’s canning run for their collaboration effort with Abomination Brewing and Pilger Ruh Brewing for their version of Social Distancing. Abomination Brewing has set this collaboration up, and they have done it with a few varied other breweries (notable ones include Ever Grain Brewing and Breaker Brewing).

Abomination Brewing’s press release on the beer:

The Beer industry has always relied on community, now more than ever. And since we can’t drink a beer together, we’ll BREW a beer together, but responsibly apart, to get us through these hard times. Social Distancing is a massive collaboration with some of our favorite folks in the industry! Each collaborating brewery will be brewing up their own unique version of this DDH DIPA, so trust us, you’re going to want to try them all! We will be updating the list below as we announce collaborating breweries!” (Abomination Brewing – Social Distancing)

A full list of participating breweries include:

  • Saints Row Brewing
  • Kinsmen Brewing
  • Hoof Hearted Brewing
  • The North Brewery
  • Breaker Brewing
  • Ever Grain Brewing Co.
  • Pilger Ruh Brewing
  • Ten7 Brewing Company
  • Rotunda Brewing Company
  • Tattered Flag
  • Front Porch Brewing
  • Icarus Brewing
  • Bolero Snort
  • Lost Tavern Brewing

Its quite a hefty list. Each beer brewed is a collaboration, all with Abomination Brewing as the genesis. For example; Rotunda Brewing is a collaboration with them and Abomination Brewing. Ever Grain Brewing is them and Abomination Brewing; Breaker is them and Abomination Brewing, and the one I will be reviewing here today – Tattered Flag’s – is a collaboration with Tattered Flag, Abomination Brewing, and the guys at Pilger Ruh Brewing.

So grab a chair, sit six feet away, grab a glass and a Social Distancing, and lets check this bad boy out!

Canning Day at Tattered Flag (5.22.20)

Firstly, lets look at the breweries involved – Tattered Flag, Abomination Brewing, and Pilger Ruh Brewing. For many readers, Tattered Flag will be very recognizable, especially on this blog as I’ve reviewed several beers from them (Tattered Soul, You Hoppin On Me?, Tattered Dreamz, Member Berry, Wasted Away Again, Inexplicably Juicy, Should Have Put Him in Custardy, Pink Guava, Boulangerie Stout, and lastly another collaboration involving Pilger Ruh Brewing and Abomination Brewing [as well as three other breweries – Wolf Brewing, Rotunda Brewing Company, and Snitz Creek Brewing] – Abbra Collabra Six-Way Banana Milkshake IPA).

So, astute readers of the blog should recognize Pilger Ruh and Abomination Brewing as well. From the various reviews as well as event coverage I’ve done (like Ffej of July, and different brewfests). Tattered Flag and Pilger Ruh have ‘hooked up’ several times over the recent years, and each time has resulted in a homerun, and this certainly is no different.

For some background information all the same:

Pilger Ruh Brewing – Nano Brewery, 63 unique beers, a global average rating of 4.03 (as of 5.25.20). Untappd Description: Future nano brewery coming to Schuylkill County PA!
Abomination Brewing – Contract Brewery, 133 unique beers, a global average rating of 3.94 (as of 5.25.20). Untappd Description: Nomadic brewers specializing in out of this world experimental ales. #beermonster.
Tattered Flag – Micro Brewery, 416 unique beers, a global average rating of 3.79 (as of 5.25.20). Untappd Description: (blank).

Social Distancing Canning Run

So we canned this just Friday; 5.22.20 at the Tattered Flag brewery. Have no fear, we all maintained social distancing and practiced safety and precautions given everything going on. Justin as head brewer for Tattered Flag supervised the canning and the guys from Pilger Ruh Brewing (Tyler and Conlan Budwash, and Anthony Deppen) were on hand as well. As well as myself and two other volunteers. The canning run went smoothly, very few low-fills and no disasters (like a few times in the past). Starting at 10AM and ending around 1:30PM, not a bad, quick, easy, smooth canning day. I got to hang out with the guys, drink a few (…ok three) of the Social Distancing beers, as well as sample the Pineapple Upside Down Cake (Custardy series), and try out the Breaker Brewing and Ever Grain Brewing Co’s variants of the Social Distancing beer.

I figured for the review though, getting to have this beer with family on Memorial Day (again, social distancing was performed, and all people mostly quarantined together, and all in good health, as well as only an attendance of 7 people counting little ones), this would be the perfect, appropriate time to review the beer. So without further adieu, lets review!

Petunia Pig loves Social Distancing

Beer: Social Distancing
Brewery: Tattered Flag
Collaborators: Pilger Ruh Brewing and Abomination Brewing
Style: IPA – Imperial / Double New England
ABV: 8%
IBU: (none listed)
Untappd Description: Social distancing is our newest collab hosted by Abomination Brewing co and brewed in our facility with Pilger Ruh Brewing Co. With a base of 2-row, wheat, and oats each brewery put a spin on this collab by selecting different hop varieties. Our version was whirlpooled with Motueka, fermented with Kviek Voss, then slammed with a Citra and Strata dry hop for notes of mango, fresh berry, bright citrus, and gooseberry. Please enjoy no less than 6′ from your drinking buddy!

Canning day the whole brewery smelled delicious, like walking into a hop filled bakery. And cracking this beer just three days later retained that same smell. Strong juicy New England style hoppy deliciousness as soon as the tab cracked and the can opened. Very strong, citrus, floral and fruity notes, hint of peach and mango especially out of the fruit.

Appearance is very pretty, as my dad even noted “looks like you have lemonade and mixed a little bit of orange juice in it… boy” (…….thats a direct quote to. Also after he admonished me for using Petunia Pig instead of the Sylvester Cat pint glass too. He stands by his statement that Petunia wouldn’t drink but that Sylvester was a lush.) He is pretty right about the appearance; it is a lighter orange juice coloring. Typical for a New England IPA, its unfiltered, its juicy, its dank, its hazy (or as the cool kids would say “hazy AF”…. no clue what the A and the F stand for…). There is floaters but nothing crazy snow-globe like. It did manage to turn Petunia’s eyes an evil Sith Lord like yellow / orange.

Taste is genuinely juicy delicious. No hop bite, even the day of canning there was no ‘green-ness’ to it and hop bitterness. This is just a juicy, fluid, smooth beer. Immediate notes of peach, mango, floral, juicy, citrus hops; smaller notes of berry flavors like fresh picked mixture of blackberry, raspberry, and gooseberries. There is a floral note to the hops as well, and just a bit of an underlying wheat and oat tasting to it. The dry-hopping really brings out the bright and juicy hop notes, and keeps the bitterness down especially. No strong hop bite makes this extraordinarily smooth and juice like drink. It also masks the 8% making this feel a lot lighter and airy. With the small foamy pillowy head, you definitely get a vibe of lightness and airyness from this, just a gentle nice summer drink. Perfect for parties, or by the pool, or hanging out…. while being six feet (minimum) apart from friends. Made for a wonderful Memorial Day weekend beer (had a few the night before and then one at the party), also made for a fantastic post-7 mile hike at Gifford Pinchot beer as well Saturday night. This is definitely a fantastic and easy juicy beer.

My Untappd Rating: ****
Global Untappd Rating: 4.16 (as of 5.25.20)

Hopefully tomorrow or Wednesday I’ll wrap up Module Ten in our beer education series (which is the last module), and we’ll have that all finished. Also, make sure to check out the canning article from my day volunteering and helping the canning run for this wonderful beer. Thank you everyone for checking us out, make sure to like, subscribe, follow, share, etc, etc, etc, etc. We here at The Beer Thrillers greatly appreciate it!

Also, make sure your staying healthy out there, make sure to drink plenty of juice (wink wink nudge nudge) and stay six feet apart (…social distancing one might say…). Enjoy your Memorial Weekend, and remember why we celebrate it. Why you would have the day off (even if you weren’t furloughed like I am), and respect and honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Cheers everyone! Happy Memorial Day, happy beer, and see you guys once this is all behind us! We’re getting there, almost out of the woods!

-B. Kline

Beer Education: Module Nine: Beer Quality and Stability

As always, we start off module nine with a video – a one minute and eight second video – discussing the module; providing an overview for Module Nine – Beer Quality and Stability. Beer quality (obviously) is very important; as is the stability of beer. No one wants a beer that is flat or disgusting after just one week, and especially the day its brewed. So lets get into this and find out what creates a quality beer.

Clicking next, our first page of the module is a text page overview of the module. Beer stability can be divided into six different types:

  • Colloidal stability
  • Microbiological stability
  • Flavor stability
  • Foam stability
  • Light stability
  • Gushing

Up next is a “do-it-yourself” experiment about beer aging. The page walks you through doing the experiment, what ingredients you need, what to do, how to do it, etc. The next page after this is the discussion page for the experiment where you can discuss your results, thoughts, questions, etc.

After this we have a rather long page of definition and types for colloidal stability.

  • Clarity – it is an important characteristic for beer, especially lagers; like pilsners.
  • Turbidity – (caused by haze) you can observe this when particles are deflected by the light in or through beer. Lower transparency. “This is measured using nephelometers, specialised instruments for measuring the concentration of suspended particulates using light scattering. Turbidity is mostly expressed in EBC-units. For a freshly filtered beer, this value should be close to or lower than 0.8 units although beer color can interfere with the measurement (darker beers have a higher baseline).” (EdX: The Science of Beer Brewing. Module Nine.)
  • Colloidal haze – is often formed during conditioning and cold fermentation. It is typically (and hopefully) removed during clarification and filtration.

“The most commonly found beer compounds in haze are proteins/polypeptides (smaller proteins, mostly degradation products) and polyphenols but also polysaccharides, metal ions, hop resins, and melanoidins have been found as constituents of haze.” (EdX: The Science of Beer Brewing. Module Nine.)

There is three types of (bad) haze: chill haze, permanent haze, and starch haze.

Our next page (still under colloidal stability) is all about haze formation. “Haze is the result of (weak) reversible (for chill haze) and irreversible (for permanent haze) interactions between proteins/polypeptides and polyphenols. For chill haze, these reversible interactions can be ionic and hydrophobic interactions or hydrogen bonding. In permanent haze, a covalent attachment between polymerized polyphenols and phenolic residues of amino acids in the polypeptides are the basis for haze formation.” (EdX: The Science of Beer Brewing. Module Nine.) This page is full of diagrams of the various polyphenols and other compounds that make a beer hazy. The figures are both black and white and grey-scaled and show the molecular breakdown.

The following page is a text page titled – Factors influencing haze formation (still under colloidal stability). This page describes the ‘possible’ factors that induce haze in colloidal stability, with the final possibility being the most ‘agreed upon’ by scientists. “…existing polyphenols first need to be activated by oxidation before they can react and develop haze. Due the detrimental role that oxygen plays in colloidal stability, mechanism 2 for the initiation for haze formation is nowadays most plausible and accepted by scientists.” (EdX: The Science of Beer Brewing. Module Nine.)

The rest of the page is a large chart broken into two categories: factors and how / roles. Listing the different factors of haze and how they appear. There is eight factors: light, storage temperature above 4 degrees (C), pasteurization, movement of the beer, pH, oxidation in presence of O2, metal ions (copper, iron, etc.), and carbohydrates.

Following this page, is another lengthy text page – colloidal stabilization. “Given that the primary cause of colloidal beer haze is the formation of protein-polyphenol complexes, several procedures to retard and/or prevent haze formation during beer storage have been developed and implemented.” (EdX: The Science of Beer Brewing. Module Nine.) There are some measures to reduce this. Use of raw materials (malt and hops) low in proline-rich proteins and polyphenols, low protein grain, use of hop extracts, forced formation of protein-polyphenol complexes during mashing and retention of these complexes during mash filtration, mashing in at low pH (5.2), low sparge rates, acidified sparging water, coagulation of haze-sensitive proteins and the formation of protein-polyphenols complexes during wort boiling.

“The most important measure for haze prevention of course is to avoid the presence of small particles in the final beer. These particles are responsible for invisible pseudo-haze but are also nucleation sites for further haze formation. This is why it is important to minimise the load on the filter by proper brewing operation (as highlighted above) and to apply a proper filtration regime (see module 8). Specifically for colloidal stability, it is important to focus on lowest possible temperature, minimum oxygen pick-up and correct filter aid during filtration.” (EdX: The Science of Beer Brewing. Module Nine.)

After this page is a ‘quick knowledge check’. The first question is a drop-and-drag question, the second is a multiple choice (choose as many as apply), and the final question is a true or false.

We now move onto microbiological stability. The first page of this segment is ‘factors influencing microbiological stability’. Some yeasts and bacteria are able to contaminate beer, able to grow in beer, and through this it can destabilize beer. Beer is considered a microbiological stable beverage. The parameters for this stability are:

  • ethanol content – up to 10%
  • carbon dioxide content – 0.5% w/v
  • low pH – 3.8pH – 4.7pH
  • iso-alpha acids – 15-100 ppm
  • reduced availability of nutrients
  • low oxygen content – below 0.1 ppm

Some things to prevent microbiological instability are:

  • wort boil / heat treatment in the final container (pasteurization / sterile filtration)
  • aggressive sanitation procedures
  • no spontaneous fermentation or open fermentation vessels

The next page is ‘spoilage microorganisms’. “All raw materials such as malt, hops, water and adjuncts carry their own specific microorganisms. If these microorganisms can proliferate during one of the brewing steps, they can produce metabolites causing off-flavors. In case these microorganisms survive all the steps in the brewing process (including pasteurisation when applied), they might end up in the final packaged beer as contaminants and potential spoilage microorganisms. The yeast used for fermentation can also be source of contamination since it has been observed that pitching yeast can be contaminated with low levels of bacteria and wild yeasts. Proper yeast handling in the brewery is necessary to avoid any contamination (check out module 7 again for more details on yeast handling in the brewery, including acid washing of cropped yeast). Another important source for contaminations is the brewhouse equipment (vessels, piping) if they are not properly cleaned and maintained. Until the package is closed or sealed, the final steps of the brewing process (after fermentation) can also be prone to contamination from airborne microorganisms or microorganisms on the filling equipment (microbial growth due to high humidity).” (EdX: The Science of Beer Brewing. Module Nine.) Following this introduction paragraph is a figure that lists some of the most common spoilage microorganisms at a brewery or in a beer. Contaminating bacteria in beer are typically lactic acid but occasionally also anaerobic bacteria. After this is a pull-down chart to learn more about the common microorganisms. (Lactic acid bacteria, fungi, wild yeast, etc.)

Our next page is dedicated to cleaning and sanitization. If you talk to any brewer, or home brewer, one of the things they repeat over and over and over and over is – clean, clean, clean, clean, clean. When asked what they do most as brewers, its often they’ll say something like “cleaning” in that sad, half-joking, not really joking kind of way, and they’ll look distant, mumble something and wander off. (Believe me, I’ve seen that look many times!)

A list of potential contaminations in beer:

  • remainders of (old) beer
  • microbiological contamination (bacteria, fungi, yeast)
  • hop remnants
  • calciumoxalate in fermentation and lagering tanks (beer stone, beer scale; can be removed using acids)
  • lipids-proteins
  • mineral deposits in water circuits

NOTE: Remember the difference between CLEANING AGENTS and DISINFECTING AGENTS. Cleaning agents remove product residues or deposits like lipids or proteins. Disinfecting agents kill off most microbiological contaminates.

Clicking next, we come to an expert clip by Professor Charlie Bamforth. It is 10 minutes and 10 seconds long. In Bamforth’s own words: “So, what I like to talk to you about is flavor stability, freshness,which is probably the biggest technological challenge facing the brewer today.” This is a great clip, he is funny, witter, and very intelligent, and speaks about the freshness, and discusses many topics. He does say that cans are greater than bottles. He gives a lot of information, but his biggest thing is keeping beer cold. (Talk to any good beer distributor, or bottle shop worker, like Breski’s Beverage, or The Fridge, etc, and they will all agree with that as well.) Under his clip is a chart of temperatures and shelf life. 10(c) = 9 months (expected shelf life). 20(c) = 100 days / 3 months. 30(c) = 1 month. 40(c) = 10 days. So that gives you some kind of idea about how important keeping beer cold is.

Moving on, our next page is the introduction page for the next segment – flavor stability. “

Flavor stability is one of the most challenging parameters to achieve. The flavor of a beer will always change over time and hence it is perhaps better  to speak of flavor instability instead of stability. Sometimes other terms are used to refer to flavor (in-)stability: in literature also beer ageing or staling are used to describe the changes in beer flavor that occur during (long-term) storage. Any change in aroma or taste compared to the fresh beer can be considered as flavor instability. Especially for exported beers, the time till consumption can be very long, increasing the changes for ageing. But why can’t an aged beer be preferred over a young beer, just like is now the case for most wines? Well, you literally got a taste of why this isn’t the case when you performed the Do-It-Yourself experiment at the start of this module! In beers, ageing results in the formation of undesirable (off-)flavors. The formation of these aged-dependent flavors varies from one beer style to another. Lager beers are for example very prone to flavor instability.” (EdX: The Science of Beer Brewing. Module Nine.)

Some results of beer aging:

  • decrease of bitterness
  • decrease of fruity aromas
  • increase in sweet taste
  • increase in caramel, ribes (black currant), and toffee like aromas
  • increase in cardboard like flavors

This is just a generalization, and certain complexities change differently. Craft breweries in America (and Europe, and elsewhere in the world in recent years) are starting to produce certain beers purposefully for aging, a lot of barrel aged beers already lend themselves to being bottle aged in a cellar.

The next page is a text page about important molecules. This is a rather long page full of chemical and molecule diagrams, as well as a large chart at the end of the page. A very science heavy page with the diagrams and figures and charts. But full of important information, so make sure to read over it. (It also does have an extensive paragraph of information as well.)

Another long page – reactions involved in beer instability, follows this. The page even begins with a warning describing how this is a very long unit and will require sufficient time reading over it all. “Carbonyls and mainly staling aldehydes, such as the key staling component E-2-nonenal, are important flavors that occur during beer ageing. Fresh beer contains rather low levels of these aldehydes (mostly below their flavor thresholds), but their concentrations increase during long-term beer storage. Some of these carbonyl compounds are directly responsible for the observed off-flavors as their concentration increases above the odor threshold (e.g. E-2-nonenal), while other carbonyl compounds might also increase in concentration during ageing but stay below their respective threshold for detection.” (EdX: The Science of Beer Brewing. Module Nine.)

Factors influencing flavor stability:

  • oxygen
  • transition metals
  • temperature
  • sulfite
  • heat load
  • vibrations

After all this, we come up to another ‘quick knowledge check’. (I love the fancy name for ‘quiz’ or ‘test’.) It’s one drop-and-drag question, followed by four checkbox questions (multiple options, select all of the best that apply).

Moving on, we start the next segment of the module – foam stability. The first page of this segment is definition and formation.

Definition – “Foam is an important criterion for beer quality since the consumer will judge a beer also with his/her eyes. Foam is differently evaluated in for example Germany and most European countries in comparison to England/UK:  British consumers don’t like a beer head (expect for Guinness); in fact the less head, the better while Germans like a thick layer of foam. The foam potential of a beer is determined both by the raw materials and brewing process and is a complex interaction between different beer constituents. Foam quality is a evaluation of two parameters: foamability (volume) and stability. Another important visual effect from the foam is the adherence to the side of the glass called cling or lacing.” (EdX: The Science of Beer Brewing. Module Nine.)

Foam Formation – “Beer is a colloidal mixture of supersaturated CO2 in the liquid beer matrix. As gas is hydrophobic, it rather sticks together than be fully dissolved in the liquid. These areas with high gas concentrations are bubbles. When beer is opened and poured in a glass, foam is formed as a result of the release of CO2 bubbles due to pressure reduction. CO2 bubbles occur at condensation or nucleation sites (e.g. impurities, cracks in the glass material or small particles). As they rise, they will attract surface-active molecules, with low surface tension but high hydrophobicity (e.g. proteins or iso-alpha acids). As such these molecules will form a layer around the gas bubble and will stabilise the bubble in the liquid beer matrix. The amount of dissolved CO2 determines the amount of foam formation, while the surface-active molecules determine the foam stability. In sparkling water, the dissolved CO2 content is also high but due to the lack of surface-active molecules, bubbles will rise but they will not form foam at the liquid surface as the bubbles will immediately collapse due to the surface tension.” (EdX: The Science of Beer Brewing. Module Nine.)

Foam Stability – “After bubble formation, drainage of beer from the foam by gravity will occur and the bubbles start to shrink and collapse. The rate of drainage can be reduced by creating a small bubble size (gentle pouring to create a creamy head) and the amount of hydrophobic interactions (determined by the amount and type of surface-active molecules). Beer foam will slowly decay due to the collapse of bubbles mainly due to an effect called disproportionation. Disproportionation is the moving of a gas from a small bubble to a larger bubble. This causes the small bubble to collapse and the larger bubble to increase in size. Too large bubbles in the foam are undesirable. These large bubbles also burst more quickly due to an even higher surface tension, causing the surface-active molecules to flow back into the liquid. As a result foam becomes more solidified especially in the upper layer (due to CO2 diffusion to the air at a reasonable rate).” (EdX: The Science of Beer Brewing. Module Nine.)

Clicking next, the following page again comes with the ‘time warning’ letting you know its going to be a long unit. (Seems to be a trend with this module, several pages now have had this warning; lots of charts with pull-down tabs and lots more ‘hidden’ information.) This page is titled ‘molecules positively affecting beer foam’. Some molecules that contribute to beer foam are: CO2, proteins / polypeptides, hop bitter acids, carbohydrates, mailiard reaction products, and metal ions. There is a pull-down chart for you to click on each of these headings and read more. (I recommend doing so because this is typically where the quiz questions come from.)

Next page is the opposite of the last; its ‘molecules negatively affecting beer foam’. There are two big factors – alcohol and lipids. Alcohol: “The presence of ethanol should positively influence foam stability due to the increased viscosity of water by the presence of ethanol. However, experimental evidence points towards an opposite effect: foam stability decreases with increasing ethanol concentration, probably due to an ethanol-induced reduction of the rigidity of the surface-active molecule layer. Higher alcohols are also negative for foam stability: the chain length of the alcohol is direct proportional with the degree of impact on the foam.” (EdX: The Science of Beer Brewing. Module Nine.) Lipids: “Lipids also destabilise beer foam (see figure below) and the negative effect increases with length of the hydrophobic chain. Also detergents have a detrimental effect on beer foam stability. Both components are mostly remainders of inadequately cleaned glasses.” (EdX: The Science of Beer Brewing. Module Nine.) This is followed by a chart. There is a smaller, third factor: Protenaise A. “Proteinase A of yeast is an enzyme that degrades proteins. Therefore it is a negative factor for foam stability as it also degrades hydrophobic proteins and polypeptides that are the major constituents of foam and contributors for foam stability. The amount of proteinase A secreted by the yeast highly depends on the yeast health: stressed yeast (e.g. old yeast or poor yeast handling) will produce more proteinase A. Therefore, high gravity fermentations are more prone to poor foam stability: both the decrease in hydrophobic proteins due to dilution and the stress on yeast during fermentation will negatively affect foam formation and stability.” (EdX: The Science of Beer Brewing. Module Nine.)

Moving onwards, we come to ‘factors in the brewing process affecting foam | foam stability’. These factors are: barley, malting, wort production, hop acid utilization, fermentation and maturation, and pasteurization.

Shocking – after this segment, we have a closing quiz, err – I mean – quick knowledge check. (Just like all the past segments of this module.) This time its three check-box questions (multiple picks, pick all that apply).

The next segment is light stability. And we start off with formation of lightstruck off-flavor. Beer is extremely sensitive to light; which is primarily why bottles are brown-glass rather than the light green-glass you see for Heineken or clear-class like Corona or Landshark. (Also shows why they sometimes get ‘skunked’, and also shows the quality of these beers in general.) This page has chemical diagrams showing how the light affects the beer.

There are measures to minimize light and how it affects beer. Some of them are:

  • brown / amber glass bottles
  • glass thickness
  • a coating or sleeve on the outside of green-glass bottles
  • reduced iso-alpha acids
  • elimination of riboflavin

Time for the next segment – this one sounds like a doozy – ‘gushing’. As with the other segments, our first page is a definitions and terms (or types) text page.

Gushing – “Gushing is generally defined as uncontrolled, often intense over-foaming of a bottle upon opening, without previous shaking or any other agitation. This over-foaming can cause losses of up to 30% of the beer in a bottle. For breweries, apart from the obvious economic loss, beer gushing also causes reputational damage – nobody wants to be soaked in their favorite beer when opening a bottle! Just have a look at the video below to get an idea about how bad this gushing can sometimes be.” (EdX: The Science of Beer Brewing. Module Nine.)

There are two types of gushing – primary gushing and secondary gushing. Primary gushing is caused by the presence of small fungal surface-active proteins. Secondary gushing is caused by CO2 oversaturation, the presence of suspended particles, and course inner surface bottle texture. There is a small clip of a bottle being opened and gushing up; something I’m sure most of us craft beer fans have encountered before. Most likely due to ‘secondary fermenting’ from a sour. The Black & Blue Tastee I had from The Veil Brewing Co was a ‘gusher’. (I’ve had numerous others over the year, just using this particular one as an example here; primarily because I have done a review on it before.)

Next page is factors affecting primary gushing. The page discusses the fungal causes to primary gushing. The most common fungal cause is Fusarium fungi. The page goes on to discuss detection of gushing potential and reduction of primary gushing.

After this is a text page on secondary gushing. Changing of temperatures, refermenting, continuing fermentation, and outright overheated of bottles / cans / beer can result in a secondary gushing. Too much active sugars usually causes the refermentation and continual fermentation that results in certain fruited beers gushing.

The next page is for verified track learners only. Its tips on improving stability. The next page after this is a materials collection page, telling you what to collect for the do-it-yourself project (experiment) upcoming in Module Ten. After this is the typical ‘overview and checks’ end of the module page. Then we have an assessment page for verified track learners. (These are larger, counted and graded tests for those getting a certificate. Unlike myself, who is not, if you are paying the 99.99$ for the certificate, you can do these tests and other pages.)

The last two pages of the module are a feedback and questions (ending discussion page), and then the ‘end of module nine’ page. Congratulations we have finished another module! If you hit the next button it will take you to the Intro page for Module Ten, and that is where we will pick up next time! Can’t wait to see you then!

Cheers everyone, and I really hope you are all enjoying this ‘beer education’ series. Please let me know!

(PS: Today is my daughter’s birthday; Lily turns 11.)

Also, tomorrow is a double-canning day at Tattered Flag. Look to read about that afterwards! Cheers everyone!

-B. Kline

The Beer Education Series:
** EdX: The Science of Beer Brewing
* Beer Education: Series
* Beer Education: Syllabus
* Beer Education: Introduction
* Beer Education: Module One: The History of Beer Brewing
* Beer Education: Module Two: Barley and Malting
* Beer Education: Module Three: Water
* Beer Education: Module Four: Hops and Spices
* Beer Education: Module Five: Yeast
* Beer Education: Module Six: The Steps of the Brewing Process
* Beer Education: Module Seven: Fermentation and Maturation
* Beer Education: Module Eight: Filtration and Packaging
* Beer Education: Module Nine: Beer Quality and Stability
* Beer Education: Module Ten: Beer Assessment and Tasting
* Beer Education: Series Overview

One-Year Anniversary

The hop arbor in front of Beer Thrillers headquarters.

It was one year ago, while sitting on my porch, looking over at this arbor, that I started up the blog. Not when I decided to start it – but when I actually did it. When I picked the blog name, when I setup the WordPress site, and when I did all the site work, creating it, building it, etc. I didn’t start it preloaded with articles like some (like some smarter writers / bloggers), and it was a long time probably overdue, but I started it, and made a main page. Started a Archive page, and with it sunny, and with a can of a brand new beer I hadn’t had before (from my shift manager at work – J. M. ) I wrote my first beer review for the site / blog.

The picture above was taken a month or two later during a rainstorm while sitting on the same side-porch swing overlooking the same arbor; which is growing Centennial, Cascade, and Chinook hops by the way; but those hops, not exactly those hops, but hops in general, is part of what led to this all. Its a much longer story than just one year, and probably a lot more convoluted than necessary. Meandering one might even say (just like my writing style tends to be, from what I’ve been told). But basically what I’m getting to (or alluding to), is that hops, and craft beer in particular, is what has led to this blog.

I’ve always been a writer, as far back as I can remember; always a reader and always a writer. (You pretty much can’t be the one without the other to some degree.) In fifth grade I wrote a short story that won a few prizes and was recognized by our governor at the time (Tom Ridge). I won’t say when I started drinking, but I will say my first ‘craft beer’ was Sam Adams. Original Boston Lager Sam Adams. When my friends were getting Budweiser or Bud Lite or Miller Lite or Coors Lite, I was ‘that guy’ who was drinking Sams.

This segued into me finding Troegs and getting into them, especially due to them being so local (first on Paxton Street in Harrisburg and then on Hersheypark Drive in Hershey; basically them starting just to the West of me and then moving just to the East of me). Fast forward a few years and me getting very heavily into craft beer, finding new breweries, trying new styles, and types, and discovering all that there is to know about beer. Fast forward to me helping out at breweries, learning to home brew, going to brewfests, taking some BJCP classes, reading blogs and watching YouTube videos, webinars, and in person seminars. Needless to say – its been a long time in coming in me writing and starting this blog.

As is typical with me, I start a bit behind the curve, where many others had been doing blogs, podcasts, and YouTube videos for years, I get in after the wave pretty much crests. So, something I should have done a few years ago (say 2012 or 2013) here I am, in 2020, having started in 2019. Not a bad thing, and not a problem.

The Beer Thriller logo (since day one)

But enough about me, lets talk about the blog itself. Its the blog’s One-Year Anniversary today; not mine. (If you are reading this, you care much more about the blog than myself anyway.) So, one year ago today, the blog itself started. Started with the main page, and a four-pack of beers my co-worker gave me that I decided to use to start beer reviewing. Just like doing an Untappd review, but upped in scale and scope and size. My first few reviews were crude, rather short, and probably not as entertaining as they are now (if they are considered entertaining now). I started off with: Scratch 375 – CocoNator by Troegs Independent Craft Brewing. After that was Painting with Light by South County Brewing; followed by the first beer I did a review of that I had worked on (canning) – a collaboration with Tattered Flag and the soon to be opened Wolf Brewing: Boulangerie Stout. (You also get to see my faithful companion for at home drinking; and occasional breweries – Leela, my border collie who will turn 11 this December.)

Over the year there’s been a lot of ups and downs, in life, as well as on the blog. Stressful at times writing, and finding an audience, and getting people to see or read, I wouldn’t change it, and honestly can say its been 99.999999% fun. Very few times has there been ‘issues’ or problems, and its more on my end of frustrations with writing and basically struggling to write at times. Even something so simple as this blog can be daunting to write at times, getting the energy to do it after work (or before work), and with kids, etc. Over the past year has seen me branch out from just doing beer reviews to also doing brewery reviews, to discussing my trips to the Kinzua Bridge area and to Pittsburgh with my daughters, as well as all manner of things like brewfests, canning for Tattered Flag, growing my hops, etc.

Canning day at Tattered Flag

Volunteering for Tattered Flag and helping them can has been great fun, and very informative, and has helped me learn a lot about the brewery industry and beer, and brewing. Seeing brewers come and go through Tattered Flag and learning bits and pieces from all of them.

As well as visiting and traveling to many different breweries, not just in Pennsylvania, but also in Maryland, Delaware, and New Jersey. Reminds me of my sister’s wedding where the reception went to four different breweries and a cidery as a ‘brew-tour’ in the Rochester area. Getting to do the brewery tour and listen to the head brewers at Three Heads Brewing was great fun and informative as well.

Getting to see a great brewery pop up basically right in my backyard (Boneshire Brew Works) and watching them grow as also been great. Getting to meet Alan, Carson, and Alex, and talk to them a lot, and then meet a ton of great people at the brewery; like Karl Larson, Josh Doncevic, Owen, Jason Millar, Kirby, and so many more people I can’t even begin to list or this blog post will just look like a list of names.

Becoming a regular (well, technically I was long before the blog, but just saying) at Boneshire Brew Works, Troegs Brewery, and Tattered Flag, I’ve gotten to meet so many great people, and get to pick the brains of so many top brewers in the area. All of which has definitely helped the blog here (hopefully, something you can tell, and hopefully something that does help and add to the blog).

I always envisioned this blog as being a big giant web of things; but all beer and brewery related. Articles on beer reviews, brewery reviews, articles on home brewing, on hop growing, on BJCP judging, articles about various brewfests or beer events, book reviews of beer or brewing books and textbooks, articles from ‘insiders’ working in the beer industry, those brewing, or serving you the beer, those from home brewers who know how to brew some amazing beers on small 1 to 5 gallon systems. From hop growers (like myself) who can tell you what you need to do to grow hops. Just a whole slew of things. And I think I have succeeded in that to some degree. Not quite the massive diversification and a ton of articles about the various aspects as I had planned; but some.

Interestingly enough, this is (ironically perhaps?) the 200th blog post of the blog, as well as the Anniversary blog posting. I have done a few other recap blog posts for people over the year, like my November Recap, or my End of 2019 Recap, or the Best of 2019 Article. I have to say, I can’t believe how this has grown, how big this blog has gotten, how well it has done, and how many talented people have graced the digital web of this humble blog.

Over the year, I have had several people writing for me. Josh Doncevic (J. Doncevic) has written several beer reviews and articles for us, and he is an amazing guy with a wealth of insight on beer reviews, breweries, and he regularly helps out at Rotunda Brewing as well as Boneshire Brew Works, and is just a fantastic guy to hang out with. AJ Brechbiel has also written a few articles about home brewing and stuff and his brew-club Default Brewing. With everything going on, and getting to work for Rough Edges Brewing, his time has sadly become limited, but hopefully (fingers, toes, nostrils crossed) we will get to see some more writings from him. Recently, I have also been graced with two friends who have also taken up writing for the blog – Andy Parys (A. Parys) and Karl Larson (ihackbeer). Both great guys who can write well, know their stuff. Karl Larson brings a massive wealth of knowledge to the blog, having won more awards for home brewing than I can count, as well as brewing commercially for Boneshire Brew Works and now for Newfangled Brew Works. The man is a walking encyclopedia; just try him sometime.

At the bottom of all of the posts and pages here on The Beer Thrillers you can see a list of the most recent articles from each writer under their name. From AJ to Josh, to Karl, to myself, to Andy, you can see all of our most recent articles, as well as the recent tweets from our Twitter page.

Which brings me to another thing about the blog – all the side stuff. Over the year, to help with the blog, I’ve begun to learn ‘social media’. Which is nowhere near as easy as you would think or sounds. The Beer Thrillers now has a Facebook, a Twitter, and an Instagram page that I regularly keep up with. (In descending order of how often I post to them.) As of 5.17.20, we currently have 562 likes and 593 followers on Facebook, 162 followers on Twitter, and 113 followers on Instagram.

Likewise with the side stuff, I have begun podcasting with my good friends that I’ve known since 5th grade – D. Scott, Dan Arndt, Esteban, and a host of other random people who pass through the garage and basement we broadcast from (including A. Parys). I am featured on several podcasts as well as commentary tracks. You can check out the Podcast at: So A Mexican and a Scott Walk Into a Bar….. I have also been featured on a call-in podcast all about beer: Beer with Strangers. My particular podcast episode is – A Beer Thriller in Hershey.

Back in February and March of this year (before the ‘dark times’, before the Empire, before COVID-19), things really were looking up for the blog here. I was featured on the above mentioned podcast. I was invited out to Extol to do an in-person beer podcast. Me and Josh visited Mellow Mink for a behind the scenes tour of the brewery. I was invited to visit the new (future home) Rubber Soul Brewery which will be opening in Hummelstown. There, I toured the facility with Jaime (head of marketing for the new Rubber Soul) and got to take visits and get A Sneak Peak of Rubber Soul. I met a representative from Visit Hershey & Harrisburg PA at the Hershey Tattered Flag location, where we discussed numerous upcoming projects and got press credentials for myself and my ‘team’ of writers. Also, in recent months, Let Us Drink Beer blog has been guest writing an article as well for us, about once a month about the Georgia beer scene, and I’ve been writing a blog entry for them about the Hershey-Harrisburg beer scene.

I have also written a rather lengthy piece back in September for Breweries in PA – which you can find both on their blog site and my blog as well. Breweries in PA – Touring the Harrisburg Area Breweries. My entry: Touring the Breweries that Surround the Harrisburg Area.

Unfortunately then, middle of March saw the coronavirus / COVID-19 really enter the American landscape, and by end of March, I’m on furlough from my job, and the brewery industry upended. Not just the brewery industry, but the restaurant industry, as well as the entertainment industry (that I work in) – which includes event planning, event type things like fests, casinos, resorts, tourist attractions, etc; all got hit hard by the disease and the restrictions placed to help maintain and safeguard the disease. The last few months have certainly been a very tough time for all; not just in the industry. With the pandemic affecting so many, and costing many lives, as well as affecting so many people’s jobs, incomes, and families in various ways, this has certainly been a troubling and trying time. No different for my blog. I like to think I have been lucky; my blog isn’t the biggest deal, its not even my job or sole source of income; this is more for fun than anything else. I still have my health, my home, and my family’s health. Times could be a lot harder for myself. So I am truly fortunate there. But, the blog has been hindered by this world-wide pandemic all the same. Things I would have been doing by now (AC Brewfest, Harrisburg Beer Week, Little Big Beerfest, RenFaire Brewfest at Mount Hope, amongst numerous other events, and happenings) have all been sidelined or postponed. Some outright cancelled. Some breweries have closed and expansions cancelled (Stoudt’s, Full Pint, Crystal Ball, Night Shift), while there has also been some good news – like Hemauer’s Opening. This has certainly been troubling times indeed. But we will get through, I know of that. Humans are resilient, we’re tough to kill, we’re hardy, we’re tenacious, and we love our beer. We will survive, prosper, and come back. This I am sure of.

On the more – amusing side of things, my friend D. Scott has started a gaming live-stream page on Facebook that I have guest-starred on a few occasions. You can check it out at Knights of Nostalgia. We play mostly old school NES, SNES, and similar video games. Please check it out, give a like, follow, and check out some of our live-streams.

I am hoping that everyone has been enjoying the blog. That you’ve all have found something of interest, read something you have liked, or have enjoyed your time reading and viewing the blog. Perhaps you have found a beer review interesting, or a brewery review interesting. Or found one of my other entries entertaining, possibly even chuckling at something. I hope I have brightened at least every reader’s day a bit, or informed, or educated, or made your day better in some way by checking out this blog.

I am looking forward to a wonderful second year. With the blog expanding even moreso. With new series and features, new types of articles, more podcasts, perhaps even solo beer related podcasts, or even just beer only related podcasts. Possibly YouTube videos. I will soon be wrapping up the Beer Education Series, which I’ve hoped everyone who has been following along with me has found informative as well as entertaining (and perhaps even educational?). I am looking forward to doing more things like this. More book reviews. More beerfest events (once the current climate changes).

Please, as always, if you have enjoyed the blog, give me a like, click the follow, sign up for the emails, and even more importantly, talk to me, let me know in the comments section, or if you rather stay private – contact me through the CONTACT US page. I love hearing from you, all of you, all of our readers. Tell me what I screwed up. Let me know where I was wrong. Tell me how I’m an idiot. That the beer I liked was actually bad, etc. Or, hey, maybe even a bit of praise? Sure, why not, never hurt the ego to hear something good right? Just leave a comment. Love hearing from all of you. It is really, honestly, so great to hear from everyone. I really truly do enjoy it, and it helps at least brighten my day even a smidge, to see a new like, or comment or a new subscriber, so don’t be shy.

I just want to close this article by saying how thankful I am for everyone. For every person that has clicked on any of my articles, who has read even a single word of any of my pages, who have clicked the like, followed us, commented on one of the articles, or in any small way supported this page and blog by forwarding or sharing posts or entries or articles or whatever you have done. I cannot say this enough, I cannot express it enough, THANK YOU. Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you x1000000000 infinitum. Thank you. It really means the world to me and my fellow writers, for everything that you have all done. I appreciate it more than I can describe. Thank you so much once again.

Thank you for visiting, I just want to give you our homepage link one last time for you to click and bookmark: The Beer Thrillers Homepage.

Cheers everyone. Thanks for making this a fun, fantastic, great year writing for all of you. Please, click the like, follow us, subscribe to us, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. And most importantly, cheers, enjoy a good craft beer or home brew for us. Support your local small breweries struggling during these unprecedented and difficult times. Stay healthy, stay happy, and please come back again. Cheers everyone!

-B. Kline

Night Shift Brewing Cancels Expansion

Night Shift Brewing is stopping their expansion into Philadelphia.

In more sad news, during these ‘dark’ times, we have (even) more unfortunate news. Not quite on the level of the Full Pint Closing or Crystal Ball Closing or Stoudt’s Announced Closing, but Night Shift has announced their canceling their expansion into Philadelphia. This is disappointing news for many; especially Pennsylvanians and Philadelphians.

Back in August 2019, Night Shift Brewing announced they were going to be pushing into Pennsylvania; with a Philadelphia brewery and complex. In August 2019, they posted on Instagram: “2019 has been a wild ride. Thanks to all our thirsty fans, we opened Lovejoy, launched coffee, and today announce our new Philadelphia brewery. With an Everett expansion also in the works, that’s three new brewhouses in 12 months! Hard to believe this all started with a 15 gallon homebrew kettle. Love y’all.”

Sadly though, time has not been kind to Night Shift Brewing. Where 2019 was a wild ride, 2020 has been an even more wild ride, and particularly an unpleasant and nasty one. (For them as well as the industry a whole; and to be honest, for pretty every human on the face of the Earth at this point.) So, unfortunately, the plans for the Night Shift Brewing complex in Philadelphia will be no more.

In a press release this morning, Night Shift announced that they were canceling their expansion into Philadelphia.

Night Shift Brewing’s Philly announcement.

“It is with great personal sadness that we at Night Shift Brewing have made the incredibly hard decision to cancel our Philly expansion project. 

For over four years, we worked to find our second “forever home” and plant roots in our hometown. Last year, signing that lease agreement for our space in Roxborough, PA was an absolute high point. We were more excited than ever, and the early welcome we got from Philadelphians exceeded our wildest expectations. We couldn’t open it fast enough.” They announced in their Press Release.

They have cited COVID-19; the novel coronavirus and the pandemic as being the main impetus for this cancellation and halting of their growth into Philadelphia. “It wasn’t meant to be. The COVID-19 pandemic shook our business to the core, and obviously almost everything outside of it. We’re lucky that we’re still in operation and able to see ourselves coming out of this crisis intact. But pushing forward on our Philly project has become too dangerous, threatening a potential collapse of NSB if we don’t pull the plug now. So, hard as it is, that’s what we’re doing.” Stated Night Shift co-founders Rob Burns, Mike O’Mara, and Michael Oxton.

This is disappointing news to be sure, as their production facility was expected to brew roughly 60,000 barrels of beer; bringing their capacity total up to 100,000 over their three different locations. In comparison, in 2018 Lord Hobo brewed 37,800 barrels, Tree House brewed 44,300, and Jack’s Abbey brewed 49,000 barrels. Night Shift is still expected to break the 40K mark this year despite COVID and despite not opening the Philly location.

You can read more about their announcement from their page itself: “Philly News – Night Shift Brewing.”

SOURCES:

(Announcement of Expansion)

(Announcement of Cancellation)

For more information on other breweries that have closed in recent months, you can check out our articles on Stoudt’s Brewing, Full Pint Brewing, and Crystal Ball Brewing.

We have also covered several brewery openings in recent months as well.

Thank you for reading everyone. Please check out our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages, and please hit the subscribe and follow buttons on those various platforms as well as here on our blog. Thanks and cheers!

-B. Kline

Beer Review: Blackbird (Martin House Brewing Company)

Blackbird by Martin House Brewing Company makes for an excellent grilling beer.

Its upper 60s in early / mid May in Central PA, its a bit past noon, and you are stuck ‘inside’ (or at least stuck in / on ‘lockdown’) due to coronavirus / COVID-19, and you have a grill going in front of you, cooking up some hot dogs for three hungry offsprings…. you know what goes well with that? A fantastic Imperial Sour! Thats what! And luckily, as part of my beer mail trade, I received an excellent Imperial Sour all the way from Fort Worth Texas. And, it was absolutely delicious, hit the spot, was an excellent grilling beer, and went down far too fast (and made for a nice afternoon nap out in the sun reading.)

A bit ago, I did a beer mail trade, I sent some local beers – Boneshire Brew Works, Tattered Flag, Pizza Boy, Ever Grain Brewing, and Troegs Independent Craft Brewing; and in exchange I received beers from Texas. I’ve covered quite a few of them so far on the blog – Islla En El Cielo, Road Trip Snacks, Virtually Inseparable, and $#!+ Ton!. So far, the entire beer mail package I received was delicious. …Except for one – but I knew that going in, and thats primarily due to my tastes, my friend D. Scott loved it; and thats the Spicy Pickle Beer Maid beer from Martin House Brewing Company. I hate pickles. I’m not a huge spice person. And I received it for free as a bonus beer. I poured myself basically a shot of it, and gave Drew the rest of it, knowing pretty much full well that I was not going to like it. And sure enough, I didn’t. Thats not really a negative to the beer – thats just my own tastes, and I knew that going into it. (Don’t worry, I didn’t pull the famous Untappd line of: “0.5 Stars, IPA, I don’t like IPAs.” Or something similar.) Thats just a type of beer thats going to be polarizing, if you like pickles, or spice, you’ll probably like it, if you don’t, you’ll hate it. Not a lot of middle ground on that beer, and really, you aren’t going to be buying that beer if you know you’re not going to like it.

Alright, so lets move on, to a beer I really DID enjoy from Martin House Brewing Company – and that’s Blackbird. So lets discuss it!

Blackbird by Martin House Brewing Company, from Fort Worth, Texas.

Beer: Blackbird
Brewery: Martin House Brewing Company
Style: Sour – Fruited
ABV: 9.2%
IBU: 6
Untappd Description: Imperial Blackberry Sour.

According to Untappd; Martin House Brewing Company is a microbrewery from Fort Worth Texas. They have 505 unique beers, and a global average rating of 3.78 (as of 5.12.20.) Their Untappd description reads: “Martin House Brewing Company is a team of brewers, explorers, and dreamers. We avoid tradition in favor of adventure, both in brewing and in life. We value good ingredients and good people, and each of our beers will pair perfectly with life’s memorable moments. We want to be the handcrafted beer you and your friends choose when celebrating your most recent adventure or planning the next one. Martin House – Made in Texas by Texans.”

This pours a beautiful berry purplish, or lavender hue, its bright, sparkly, and looks like a lot of your typical berry infused sours. Especially blackberry or blueberry or raspberry sours. This is a bit on the more royal purple, darker purple spectrum, with the blackberries providing the deeper, darker contrasting purple coloring. It looks beautiful. It has a nice bit of carbonation and foam with a reasonable amount of head retention and leaves a good lacing on the glass as you drain this (and drain it quickly I did).

Aroma is strong berry, thankfully, which shows how this is a good beer. When blackberries are your main ingredient, I better well be getting a very heavy nose of them, and I certainly do with this. It has a tart, bite to the berry smell. You get a few hint of other berry notes, or at least I felt like it – raspberry a mild bit. There is also a faint hint of the booze hidden here from the smell.

Taste is fantastic. Its smooth, its tart, its sour, its even a bit boozy, but it is very dangerously crushable. I quaffed mine down far quicker than I expected. There is a boozy aftertaste from draining it. It almost tastes like it could have been barrel aged, but I’m 99.999999% certain its not, though I couldn’t find anything on their site, on Untappd, Beer Advocate, or with a quick Google search saying either way. Sadly the Untappd description doesn’t give you a lot to go on. You definitely can tell this is an Imperial or Double, and you certainly get that 9.2% ABV with this. It has a very tart going towards sour taste, which gets amplified by the higher ABV. It is undeniably juicy and very berry flavored, so if you are not a fan of berries – in particular black berries, this might not be for you, but I think it would still be an enjoyable beer. Its like drinking a very potent juice, with a bit of a boozy bite to it. It is a wonderful summer beer, and perfect for grilling, perfect for sipping outside in the sun, in just soccer shorts, tanning, reading, and… falling asleep and getting massively burnt because you passed out for an hour and a half and only get woken up by your youngest jumping off the trampoline to purposefully scare you ….. not speaking from experience or anything here. Sigh.

My Untappd Rating: ****
Global Untappd Rating: 4.1 (as of 5.12.20)

We are nearing our one-year anniversary here on The Beer Thrillers blog (May 17th, 2020 will be one year of the blog going strong), and what a wild ride its been. Especially the last few months. It certainly has thrown a monkey wrench in quite a few different ways. But its also provided an outlet for these troubling times. Look for a big article on that date, talking about the blog in a bit of a historical aspect.

Cheers everyone. Please keep safe and healthy, and please keep supporting your local businesses and breweries. They need it now more than ever!

-B. Kline

A fantastic grilling beer – Blackbird by Martin House Brewing Company

Beer Education: Module Eight: Beer Filtration and Packaging

As with every other module, we begin with a quick summary and preview video that takes about a minute and twenty seconds to start us off. Discussing what happens after fermentation and maturation.

The next page is a text page titled “What is Filtration?”. “During filtration, a turbid liquid (in this case: unfiltered beer) is mechanically separated by a filter medium into a clear filtrate and a residue. The beer is forced through this filter by applying pressure, so that there is a pressure difference between the inlet (where the unfiltered beer enters) and outlet (where the filtered beer exits) of the filter.” (EdX: The Science of Beer Brewing. Module Eight.)

The main goal of filtration is to remove yeast cells, as well as things that could result in a hazy beer (obviously, notwithstanding purposeful hazy beers like New England IPAs and pale ales). This also results in better beer stability. Filtration is also a way to remove some bacteria, further helping with the sterilization of the beer and protecting the drinker (customer).

Beer is usually filtrated after lagering. (After fermentation but before bottling.) The speed of filtration depends on the number of yeast cells and the fermentation equipment used.

Next is a page of text and diagrams discussing the different filtration mechanisms. There is several ways, but the big three are: surface filtration, depth filtration (mechanical retention), and adsorption filtration. (The page provides a diagram for each of these mechanisms.)

Clicking next we come to another text page – introduction to filter types.

  • Sheet Filters – This filter consists of filter sheets between plates.
  • Membrane Filters – The beer is passed through membranes with very fine pores.
  • Filter-aid Filters – Filters coated with specific filter-aid. Kieselguhr is most commonly used in the beer industry

Filter aids come in two main varieties: Kieselguhr and perlite. “Kieselguhr is also called diatomaceous earth. It is the fossilized remains of diatoms, single-celled micro-algae with a hard but porous cell wall composed mainly out of silica – SiO2. These skeletal remains were deposited on ocean bottoms millions of years ago. Kieselguhr has a high porosity, causing substances to be filtered out from the beer due to mechanical retention. Kieselguhr only has limited adsorption capacities, implying that it does not significantly alter flavor and color of the filtered beer.” (EdX: The Science of Beer Brewing. Module Eight.) “Perlite is a material of volcanic origin. It is volcanic glass formed by the hydration of obsidian- a rock formed by the rapid cooling of lava. By heating perlite to 800°C, the water inside will expand and ultimately cause the perlite to burst. The resulting glassy structures are then milled to yield perlite powder, a very light, loose powder. Perlite consists of aluminium silicate. Because of the grounding, perlite does not possess a fine, internal structure and filtration mainly happens due to the cavities and channels between the perlite particles.” (EdX: The Science of Beer Brewing. Module Eight.)

Moving onto the specific filter types, first up – sheet filters. Sheet filters are fiber sheets that are hung between plates. The sheets are mostly cellulose but also use Kieselguhr (typically). The unfiltered beer flows from one plate to the next via the filters. In breweries, sheet filters are used for the finest filtration – also called polishing. There is some disadvantages to sheet filters; they are: occupy a large amount of space, need to be cleaned manually – so time consuming and hands on, filtering of turbid beers can be a very slow process, and high operating costs due to water usage and time factors.

Filter aid filters are the next type we take a look at. Filters are pre-coated with a filter-aid. The particles of filter-aid are smaller than the pores of filter support that they are coated on. To prevent this from getting into the beer the filter-aid is applied in three layers:

  • Precoat Layer
  • Safety Layer
  • Continuous Dosing

The most commonly used filter set-up using filter-aid filters is a set-up using kieselguhr-PVPP, with PVPP standing for polyvinylpolypyrrolidone.

Membrane filters have extremely very fine pores, like a giant mesh. This mesh or membrane filter catches the most and has quickly become the more popular way of filtration for many breweries in America. A big disadvantage to the membrane filter though – is when the pores get coated in with the impurities of the unfiltered beer, building a wall to them that lets nothing past. To prevent this, beer can be pre-clarified before ran through the membrane filters.

The next page is a 4:45 minute expert clip by Dr. David De Schutter, who works for AB InBev Europe. AB InBev has over 250 breweries, with countless amount of filtration systems throughout these breweries. AB InBev has its own interbrew filtration system.

Following the expert clip is a ‘quick knowledge check’. It is two questions, a drop and drag question, and a ‘check all that apply’ question.

We now move onto the next subject – beer packaging. The first page is ‘types of beer packaging’. Any consumer of beer should be pretty familiar with the various types of beer packaging. There are three main types of material styled products:

  • Glass or PET (polyethylene terephtalate) bottles
  • Cans (aluminum)
  • kegs

The types used by breweries vary for purposes of the beer and how it is sold, as well as region. In Europe, glass beer bottles are preferred and favored; where as in America consumers prefer aluminum cans, especially for the larger macro produced beers (Budweiser, Miller Lite, Coors Lite, etc.)

The next page is about glass beer bottles. Some of the important features of a glass beer bottle are: neutral to taste, impermeable to gas, and heat resistant. However; glass is heavier, and prone to breaking when transporting. The preferred color of a bottle is brown glass or brown-sugar class; primarily to prevent ‘skunking’. “This is because brown colored bottles offer the best protection against the formation of something that is called a lightstruck flavor – a pungent smell that is often described as ‘skunky’. This skunky flavor is caused by photo-oxidation of isohumulones (iso-alpha acids), important compounds derived from hops. This photo-oxidized product can react with thiols present in the beer and this results in the formation of 3-methyl-2-butene-thiol, also known as MBT. It is MBT that is responsible for the pungent, lightstruck smell in beers. MBT also has a very low flavor threshold: only a few ng per L (ppb) are sufficient for people to pick up the smell.” (EdX: The Science of Beer Brewing. Module Eight.) This is followed by a diagram showing how MBT forms.

For green bottles, the brewers use special hop extracts containing hydrogenated or reduced iso-alpha acids. Green glass bottles can also be coated with a lightblocking layer as well to prevent the MBT formation.

Up next is a 2 minute video about the bottling line. The next page is a text and diagram page about filling bottles with the beer. Home brewers and commercial brewers use similar equipment, but just on much different size and scope.

Following this is a page on carbonation. Carbonation is the process of dissolving carbon dioxide in a liquid; in this case in the beer. The degree (amount) of carbonation in a beer is a big factor in many ways for different types of beer. It can also potentially be too much, causing ‘gushers’ or ‘geysers’ when opened. It adds body and mouthfeel to a beer, foam formation, foam stability, and also can affect the hop aroma.

Carbonation can be performed before or after packaging. Beer can be carbonated one of two ways – natural carbonation or forced carbonation. Natural carbonation comes during the fermentation process (usually near the very end). Forced carbonation is after the beer is fully fermented, carbon dioxide is pumped into a sealed beer container, this allows the carbon dioxide to be absorbed into the beer.

Next up is a nearly seven minute expert clip from Dr. David De Schutter. In it he discusses beer packaging, especially how to minimize beer oxidation. At this point, oxygen is the ultimate evil for beer. Another aspect is making sure the beer is drinkable and microquality is ensured. Using either flash pasteurization or sterile filtration. Once again, following the video clip is another ‘quick knowledge check’. It is one question and is ‘check all that apply’ question.

We now move onto the next portion of this module – microbiological stability of beer. The first page is an intro to this segment of the module. We start off with pasteurization. “Pasteurization is a process used to increase shelf-life of food products and beverages, including beer. It is named after the French scientist Louis Pasteur. Remember him from the timeline in Module 1? Not only did Pasteur discover that yeast is responsible for the fermentation process, he also discovered that thermal processing of beer and wine would prevent them from souring. This is because the increased temperature destroys or inactivates micro-organisms that could otherwise lead to beer spoilage, or that, in the case of pathogenic microbes, even be harmful to humans. For example, if microbes such as lactic acid bacteria would still be present in the packaged beer, they would lead to sour beer by producing lactic acid. Presence of Pediococcus species in the packaged beer would lead to butter-like off-flavors because of diacetyl production. By pasteurizing the beers, these microbes are inactivated and hence cannot produce these compounds anymore. In other words, pasteurization increases microbiological stability of the beer.” (EdX: The Science of Beer Brewing. Module Eight.)

Beer pasteurization can be performed before or after packaging of the beer. There are two main types of pasteurization, namely flash pasteurization and tunnel pasteurization.

Flash pasteurization: “The term flash pasteurization refers to short-time pasteurization (15-30 sec) at high temperatures (71-74°C), with temperatures used in flash pasteurization being higher than those used in tunnel pasteurization.  Flash pasteurization is most often used for beer that will be filled in kegs, and is most often done using plate heat exchangers. ” (EdX: The Science of Beer Brewing. Module Eight.)

The steps for flash pasteurization:

  • cold beer is warmed up
  • beer is brought to the pasteurization temperature (and maintained there for a short while)
  • the beer is cooled down again
  • the beer then needs to be packaged

Tunnel pasteurization – “Tunnel pasteurization is often incorporated in the beer filling process. Tunnel pasteurization is performed on packaged beer (in cans or bottles). Bottled or canned beers slowly pass through a long, narrow chamber (a tunnel, hence the name tunnel pasteurization) and are warmed up by spraying them with warm water for a fixed time before cooling. The beer is held at a pasteurization temperature of 60°C for a set time, usually around 30 min. The exact time of pasteurization also depends on the type of beer that needs to be pasteurized. In contrast to flash pasteurization, the beer inside a bottle does not all heat up in the same way in tunnel pasteurization – resulting in a temperature gradient inside the bottle.” (EdX: The Science of Beer Brewing. Module Eight.)

Cold sterile filling is also a method, and is actually gaining traction because the above procedures can age a beer quicker (due to the rising temperatures).

Beers in glass or aluminum cans have labels. Just like food at your grocery store, beer also requires labels. It lets you know key information about the beer, at the worst, it allows you to know the name of the beer so you at least know what the heck you’re drinking. Different regions, countries, and states require different information to be presented on the beer labels for the sake of the consumers as well as for those shipping the beers. The EdX course gives the example of Belgium which requires the following information:

  • Product Type
  • List of Ingredients
  • Net quantity in metric units
  • Date of minimum durability
  • Special conditions for keeping or use
  • Name or name of business, address, manufacturer, packager, and importer
  • Country of origin or provenance
  • Alcohol content for beverages that contain more than 1.2% ABV (alcohol by volume)
  • Lot identification

The page then has a discussion page where it is asking people to show their favorite beer labels. I presented the label from Fourscore Beer Co’s “This is Nut the Fluff You’re Looking For“. (Which if you click the link you can see my review of.)

My post: “

This is Nut the Fluff You're Looking For

I chose this label because I’m a huge Star Wars fan, and I love how it both imparts what the beer is, as well as a fun pun, and uses the Star Wars theme. I think its done very well and is a nice clean, crisp, American craft brewery beer label.

https://thebeerthrillers.home.blog/2020/03/24/beer-review-this-is-nut-the-fluff-youre-looking-for-fourscore-beer-co/

-B. Kline
The Beer Thrillers
https://thebeerthrillers.home.blog/ – “

The next page we move onto the next module. The first page is a list of materials to collect for the ‘do it yourself’ experiment in Module Nine. After this is a page for verified track learners about priming sugars and carbonation. Next page is on the different priming sugars for carbonation. There are three main sugars for priming: corn sugar, table sugar, and dry malt extract (DME).

The next page (still listed on verified track learner; although it is letting me, a non-verified track learner see and read it) is about the carbonation levels of different beer types. It has a chart of recommended levels of carbonation per beer styles, for ex. Belgian Ales – 3.8 to 4.8 (g/l).

Now we come to the ‘end’ of the module. With the overview and check page. Followed by the assessment for verified track only. (Which this did not let me view.) After this is the feedback and questions page as is typical for the end of each module. I posted under the topic “Can vs. Bottle”:

“I find it in interesting in America that especially in the last few years there has been a greater move to go from bottle to can. Likewise from growler to crowler. I actually tend to prefer bottles for the 12oz and 16oz varieties, but prefer crowler (32oz) over the growler (32oz). Can’t exactly place why, perhaps because of a taste difference. Though I’m told by many there is no taste difference, and The Alchemist brewery even says to drink their IPAs from the can rather than from the glass. (I do typically pour into glasses from either can or glass; unless busy grilling or mowing or whatever, then I drink straight from the can or glass.)

Curious what other’s thoughts are on the glass bottle vs. can debate.

Cheers!”

So I’ll posit this to you dear readers as well, what do you think, do you have a preference between cans or bottles? If so – why? Also, do you pour into a glass typically when drinking? Does that affect your decision?

And last but not least, hitting next, brings us to the “End of Module 8” page. Congratulations! Another module done and in the books. Time to grab (another?) beer, and prepare for Module Nine!

I’ll see you there guys, and in the mean time – Cheers!

-B. Kline

The Beer Education Series:
** EdX: The Science of Beer Brewing
* Beer Education: Series
* Beer Education: Syllabus
* Beer Education: Introduction
* Beer Education: Module One: The History of Beer Brewing
* Beer Education: Module Two: Barley and Malting
* Beer Education: Module Three: Water
* Beer Education: Module Four: Hops and Spices
* Beer Education: Module Five: Yeast
* Beer Education: Module Six: The Steps of the Brewing Process
* Beer Education: Module Seven: Fermentation and Maturation
* Beer Education: Module Eight: Filtration and Packaging
* Beer Education: Module Nine: Beer Quality and Stability
* Beer Education: Module Ten: Beer Assessment and Tasting
* Beer Education: Series Overview

Beer Review: Virtually Inseparable (Celestial Beerworks and Turning Point Beer)

Virtually Inseparable by Celestial Beerworks and Turning Point Beer

This was a juicy, big, bold, IPA that was sent to me as part of that Texas beer mail package. I’ve done a few other reviews from the beers sent to me – Road Trip Snacks, Thursday (2016), Islla en el Cielo, $#!+ Ton, Daebak, Chocolate Confidential, Sunshine and Opportunity, Azathoth, Citraquench’l, Paradise Lost, Irish Table, Athena, Vanilla Ice Cream Stout, Reve Coffee Stout, and Ghost in the Machine. (In short, I love getting beer mail; and love doing beer reviews of them!)

This is another gem from a beer mail / beer trade. Haven’t had too many misses on my beer mail and beer trades (thank the maker). While we’re all stuck inside due to the snow squalls and cold May weather here in Central PA; lets check this out.

Virtually Inseparable (a quarantine collaboration between Celestial Beerworks and Turning Point Beer)

Beer: Virtually Inseparable
Brewery: Celestial Beerworks
Collaborator: Turning Point Beer
Style: IPA – Triple New England
ABV: 10%
IBU: None listed
Untappd Description: A “virtual collaboration” with our cyber pals at Turning Point Beer. It’s a triple IPA brewed with Citra, Strata and Sabro. It has aromas of passionfruit and pineapple, and is jam packed with flavors of coconut, mango, taffy, and melon. It has a soft and fluffy mouthfeel and is the absolute brightest 10% glass of juice.

Interesting hops for this – Citra, Strata, and Sabro. People seem to be on the fence with sabro hops (some love it, some hate it).

This looks pure orange juice. Bright, beautiful golden orange color. Little foam to the head, not crazy head to it, but enough to be good. The bubbles are interspersed and varied. This is certainly hazy, with a few ‘floaters’ but nothing egregious.

Aroma is strong, super strong hoppyness. As obvious as the appearance of the beer is, the aroma kicks in as soon as you crack the can and lets you know right away that this is a Triple IPA. You get immediate notes of coconut, passionfruit, mango, pineapple, and a bit of melon.

Lets take this opportunity to look at the hops involved in this delicious triple IPA:
* Sabro – Sabro is an aroma hop that is notable for its complexity of fruity and citrus flavors. It imparts distinct tangerine, coconut, tropical fruit, and stone fruit aromas, with hints of cedar, mint, and cream. Sabro’s pedigree is the result of a unique cross pollination of a female neomexicanus hop.
* Citra – Citra hops are now one of the most coveted aroma hops in the US and have a strong citrusy profile with elements of grapefruit, lime and tropical fruit.
* Strata – Bittering with Strata brings a nice balanced bitterness. Flavor and aroma additions bring out the fruity side with tropical fruit and fresh berry brightness. Brewers say that dry hopping deepens the grapefruit and dank/herbal/cannabis elements.
(Information comes from Yakima Valley Hops, Hopslist, and Learn.Kegerator; respectively for all three.)

This has a soft mouthfeel. Its very juicy, very dank, but extremely drinkable and no booze or strong bite despite its 10% ABV. The flavor this is fantastic. You get notes of coconut, passionfruit, mango, slight berry notes, a bit of citrus poking through at points (primarily in a tangerine or orange taste), a little bit of pineapple. I think the biggest hop fruit flavor is mango, which explains why I enjoy it so much, thats always one of my favorite hop or fruit flavors in beers. (Funny because I don’t eat mangos as actual food, but love the flavor of them in beer.) There is little bits of floaters in this, but nothing you actually taste or detect as you drink. There is no dryness to this, and very little bitter or hop burn as well, its just genuinely a smooth beer, with a decently heavy mouthfeel but overall it tastes light and airy but still juicy. It goes down relatively quickly too, especially for a 10% beer. Having multiples of this around could be a danger that’s for sure.

My Untappd Rating: ****
Global Untappd Rating: 4.46 (as of 5.10.20)

This was a wonderful beer to have at home, sitting relaxing, after I did a 10+ mile walk with my dog (Leela) walking the Conewago Recreational Trail. I walked it from the start on Rt. 230 near where Elizabethtown begins, and took it all the way to the Lebanon County line (where it becomes the Lebanon Valley Rails and Trails) and, went a bit further, than turned around. After the walk, stopped at Moo-Duck to support local breweries. I got a taco flatbread pizza, and a crowler of Hades Chocolate Rye (which I drank later that night with my friend and was delicious).

We’re rolling through May everyone, its now May 10th, which means we’re 1/3rd of the way through the month. I hope everyone is having a wonderful May, and is enjoying the blog, hopefully also, everyone is staying safe, staying (primarily) home, helping local small businesses and breweries, and doing their part to beat this virus. We’re all in this together.

Would love to give a shout out to all the hard working nurses, doctors, people who are volunteering for their communities by handing out lunches at schools, taking care of elderly, or doing whatever they can for their fellow neighbors and people. And a big thank you to people still working at some of the ‘centers’ of this; grocery store workers, cashiers, hospital employees, medical professionals, firefighters, etc. Thank you to all of you!

We’ll get through this. We’ll get back out there to life, and we’ll all sit down for some beers together! Until then, cheers from afar!

-B. Kline

Beer Review: Blue Hippo (Boneshire Brew Works)

Blue Hippo by Boneshire Brew Works

A beautiful day calls for a beautiful beer does it not? Before the cold spell, before the rain and ugliness, before the threat of murder hornets, a nice, beautiful day spent doing yard work, grilling, relaxing, and doing the like – requires a delicious, zesty, tasty, cold brewski. And what better one to do it with than Blue Hippo by Boneshire Brew Works.

I had discussed doing the Pink Hippo on the blog before, back at the time of my review for ‘This is the Way‘ by Broken Goblet. Pink Hippo was a delicious beer, and its cousin (or sister, or brother, or step-sibling) is just as delicious. (Actually, I think it’s probably the better of the two so far in this series by Alan.)

Boneshire Brew Works is my closest ‘watering hole brewery’, and that is certainly no disrespect to Boneshire Brew Works or the hard work of brewer Alan Miller. (Non-quarantine) The cozy atmosphere of the brewery leads it to be the small town drinking pub for a lot of people. Myself, D. Scott, A. Parys, J. Doncevic, and many others included. Karl Larson (ihackbeer) also was a part-timer brewer for them. Its a great place to hang out, chat, listen to some wonderful live music, and drink some of the finest and most delicious beers in the Central PA area.

Of course right now with the quarantine, nobody is really hanging out in there, but I still love stopping in there for some 4packs (to go) and talking with Jason and Alexis (obviously safely from six feet or more away). (Bonus note people – right now, more than ever, even when stopping in at breweries just to grab a 4pk to go, leave a tip for your bartenders. Their still there, working, at a reduced rate right now due to closures of the indoor seating, and their still doing lots of work behind the scenes. We need to stick together and help each other out. …steps down from soapbox….)

As usual, I jibber jabber and ramble before getting to the beer review, so lets cut the crap and get right to it with this bright and delicious zesty beer.

Blue Hippo and reading go hand in hand on a beautiful sunny day.

Beer: Blue Hippo
Brewery: Boneshire Brew Works
Style: Fruit Beer
ABV: 5%
IBU: None
Untappd Description: This is beer 2 in our Hippo series, where we brew with loads of fruit. Blue Hippo is brewed with insane amounts of Blueberry and Tahitian Lime. Strong lime aroma and flavor rounded out with ripe blueberry.

Blue Hippo and grilling some burgers.

As you can see from the various pictures, this is just a beautiful beer. It has a reddish (slight pinkish hint) to purple hue. Little bits of floaters / pulp one can see when poured from an unrolled can. It is certainly carbonated, it is a fruit beer afterall, and doing some possible refermenting, so definitely keep this cold, drink it fresh, and drink it quick!

Aroma is fun with this one. Its got definite tartness from blueberries and you get a good whiff of that out the gate, and its called the lime as well. It smells carbonated, with the bubbles tickling your nose as you take in the nose of this (and yes, I understand that doesn’t sound ‘technical’ or ‘correct’, but you can tell, and smell, and taste carbonation, thats my stance anyway). It smells like a ‘spritzer’. This is just a fun beer from the appearance and the aroma, before you even get to the taste of it. Sometimes you just ‘know’ when a beer is going to be good, when they just look fun, and you can’t wait to drain that glass.

This is certainly a case of this. This is such a great relaxing day beer. And at 5% it is completely crushable. Both a great sipping beer, and one you’ll finish in no time flat, its fantastic for all day. A Senators game, a college baseball game, your daughter’s softball game (shhhh, no one is telling), or mowing the yard, or suntanning, or sitting out to read (one of my favorites), this is just perfect for it. This tastes very similar to a spritzer, just like its smell. A fruited spritzer, unlike the white wine ones. The zest level on this thing is off the charts, but with a great tartness and slight funk from the blueberries. This is the right kind of blueberry taste; not too tart, not too funk, just right. Perfect middle ground on the blueberry flavor, and with the Tahitian lime zest and flavor, it gives it a fantastic kick to it. Mouthfeel is fine, no off flavors, just nice tartness, no cloying, no sweetness. Its not a true sour, it just has a bit of a tartness and the zest kick. At 5% you can drain the first, drink the second, and start on your third and not even feel a thing, perfect for the summer. (When its not snow squalling in May that is!) This is just a wonderful, well made, well crafted, and delicious beer. Probably better than Pink Hippo, which itself was very good. I highly recommend grabbing this while its still available at the brewery, and if you live close, they’ll even deliver it!

My Untappd Rating: ****.5
Global Untappd Rating: 4.2 (as of 5.9.20).

You can order online through Boneshire Brew Works’ website at: Boneshire Through Square.Site. Or check out their official webpage: Boneshire Brew Works.

Still rolling through May pretty strong. Make sure to wish your mom a happy mother’s day tomorrow. Make sure you avoid all this cold and the snow squalls. And keep washing your hands, practicing social distancing, etc. I want to be able to have at least SOME fun this summer, and go to events like the Ffej of July and brewfests at Lititz or Lancaster or the make-up dates for the RenFaire or AC Brewfests.

Cheers all!

-B. Kline

Blue Hippo by Boneshire Brew Works

Create your website at WordPress.com
Get started