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

Beer Review: All Together (Ever Grain and Other Half Brewing)

All Together by Ever Grain Brewing Co. (Partnering in ‘collaboration’ with Other Half Brewing Co. and many other breweries for this project.)

Many of you have probably heard of the ‘All Together’ project, started by Other Half Brewing Co. As soon as I heard about it, I had to immediately find the first brewery in my area to do it and get one; that first one in my immediate area turned out to be Ever Grain Brewing Co. Unfortunately I missed out on the 4pk of it, but I did get in time for a crowler (or two) of it, and I was informed that the crowler sales would go towards the project, just as the 4pk sales did.

I will be posting links to several other sites and sources about this here in this beer review / article, and I highly recommend you checking them out, and I also highly recommend checking out whatever ways you can have of donating.

Here is a direct bit from the Other Half Brewing Co.’s website on their official beer release version of theirs:

A world wide collaboration hosted by Other Half, Stout Collective and Craftpeak to support the enormous amount of hospitality workers laid off during this difficult time. We are donating 100% of our proceeds to the Restaurant Workers Community Foundation. We brewed this recipe with 2-row, oats and carapils and then hopped it with a beautiful blend of our hand selected Citra, Mosaic, Simcoe and Cascade. We intentionally kept the recipe simple so that every brewer that wants to do it can do it. Keep an eye out for versions from over 500 breweries worldwide all working to help others in need. Visit alltogether.beer for all the details and a list of breweries involved. Collect them all 🙂 Brewed in Rochester. 

Other Half Brewing Co.

Many breweries jumped on board, and you can find some lists of who all is doing it on a few other sites, such as Craftbeerdrinking and Hopculture.

Craftbeer.com’s article (All Together Collaboration – Beer to Help Hospitality Workers) lists: Non Sequitur Beer Project, Side Project, Southern Grist, Mikerphone Brewing, Fifth Hammer Brewing, Modist Brewing, Outer Range Brewing Co., Industrial Arts Brewing Co., and obviously Other Half Brewing Co.

The All Together Beer website, a site designed for this and set up for this project, has a wealth of information on the project. I highly recommend checking this out. You can find the recipe, you can find ways to donate, and if you are a brewery, you can also find a way to jump aboard and become part of the project, as well as print out labels, and get ways to promote the beer for yourself as well. At the bottom of their page, they have a map and a running tally / statistic. There is 824 breweries that have participated, in 50 states (of the United States of America), and in 53 countries. That is amazing and just phenomenal! 824 breweries is insane! And every state, and 53 countries helping out, is just downright awesome. I don’t care how you slice it, breweries helping people, will always be awesome, and I will always gladly do what I can to help support that.

There is a map, that you can zoom in and see what breweries are doing the project. So being a Central PA native, I had to zoom in on PA and see who all is jumping aboard, and here is a list of many that are:

(in no particular order)

  • Saucony Creek Brewing Company
  • Robin Hood Brewing
  • Shy Bear Brewing
  • Hidden Stories Brewing Co. LLC
  • Rotunda Brewing Company
  • Ever Grain Brewing Co.
  • Fourscore Beer Co
    * Collaboration with: Prototype Brewery and Meadery and Wolf Brewing Co.
  • Shabby Deck Craft Brewery
  • Suburban Brewing Company
  • Voodoo Brewing Company
  • Hitchhiker Brewing Company
  • Grist House Craft Brewery
  • Roundabout Brewery
  • East End Brewing Co.
  • Dancing Gnome
  • 11th Hour Brewing
  • Whitehorse Brewing
  • Four Points Brewing
  • Sly Fox Brewing Co.
  • Lost Tavern Brewing
  • Birthright Brewing Co.
  • Angry Erik Brewing
  • Naked Brewing Co.
  • Free Will Brewing
  • Imprint Beer Co.
  • Well Crafted Beer Company
  • Ten7 Brewing Company
  • Brothers Kershner Brewing Company
  • Bald Birds Brewing
  • Rebel Hill Brewing Company
  • Stickman Brews
  • Brewery ARS
  • Odd Logic Brewing
  • Second Sin Brewing

And that’s just the list of Pennsylvania breweries! And just the ones mentioned so far. Who knows if more will do it (hopefully). And thats also just one state out of fifty, and one part of a country out of fifty-three countries. So there is obviously a lot more breweries doing this! Some big names too like Equilibrium Brewing in New York are on board as well. So there is definitely a lot of momentum and weight behind this movement and project, which is absolutely fabulous! Keep up all the great work breweries!

Another link with information can be found at Hopculture: Hopculture – Other Half’s All Together Beer Project for Hospitality Workers.

Now we got all of that behind us, the whys, the hows, and the whats of this amazing and great beer. Lets get into the beer itself!

All Together by Ever Grain Brewing Co.

Beer: All Together
Brewery: Ever Grain Brewing Co.
Collaboration: Other Half Brewing Co.
Style: IPA – New England
ABV: 6.5%
IBU: None Listed
Untappd Description: We are proud to be apart of this open-ended beer collaboration masterminded by Other Half Brewing Co. 100% of our proceeds are going to Hospitality Assistance Response of Pennsylvania.

Some of the various breweries listed what they changed of the recipe or adjusted, if they swapped hops or malts or added adjuncts. Ever Grain’s Untappd listing doesn’t state any changes. So I’m assuming its near identical to the recipe given by Other Half Brewing. You can find their recipe on their All Together website, and you can click here directly for the recipe. I also saved a copy of the recipe, and I’ll post it here as well:

Other Half All Together recipe.

So this is what I’m assuming Ever Grain did, just on their system, with possible minor tweaks along the way.

Firstly – appearance is beautiful orange. It has that lovely New England IPA look to it. Golden orange juicy appearance to it, like pouring into a tall pint glass your morning OJ (not… the killer… or running back… but the drink); but this time with alcohol added! (Double win!). It has a little foam head to it that is light and fluffy with dispersed bubbles.

Aroma is pound for pound sound for sound pure hoppy juicy, citrus, fruity, and delicious smelling. Just cracking this open and pouring it already has my mouth watering and ready to drink it. I got notes of citrus, grapefruit, passionfruit, orange and tangerine, with a bit of zest or lime to it at the end. There isn’t any west coast IPA notes to be found in this, no evergreen tree, no earthy notes, no forestry like notes, all pure New England typical hop aromas and notes. The dry hopping really brings them out to the forefront.

Taste is phenomenal, and sadly makes this beer go waaaaaaaay too quickly. Me and my friend D. Scott drank two crowlers of this, way, too, quickly, while doing one of our Knights of Nostalgia sessions. I think we finished our crowlers in about fifteen minutes each. Which, thankfully this is only 6.5% so we weren’t rocked from basically pounding 32oz., but this was also just too delicious to even set down. It is very juicy, very dank, very delicious. Its both fruity and citrusy, with notes of grapefruit, passionfruit, orange and tangerine. Theres a bit of a lime / lemon twist at the end, but very subtle, barely noticeable, but there is definitely a citrus vibe to this that goes with the fruity juicy nature of the beer itself. And like I said, at 6.5% its not too heavy or overwhelming, even in a 32oz crowler; or if you get a 4pk of this, (4 x 16 = 64oz) you could probably handle a 4pk in an evening and be fine for work the next day. (Work…. work…. I vaguely recall work….). The mouthfeel is also very nice, its not too thick, not cloying, or heavy, or watery thin either, its just the right level of consistency and feel on the tongue. This is definitely an easy sippable beer or a quick quaffer. Which, obviously, I was pretty quick with mine, but your mileage may vary. Knowing also, that 100% of the proceeds is going to the Hospitality Assistance Response of Pennsylvania, also makes this just so much tastier and drinkable.

My Untappd Rating: ****.25
Global Untappd Rating: 4.26 (as of 5.14.20).

Cheers everyone. Hopefully you are all making it through this quarantine and lockdown relatively safe, sound, and mentally safe and sound. If you are looking to donate for hospitality workers, there is links here in this article, and the All Together Beer link has thee most information on that. As well as information if you are a brewer, home brewer, or commercial brewer looking to make the beer as well. So please check that out here: All Together – Beer – We’re All In This Together.

As always everyone, thanks for checking out the blog, click the like, the follow, the subscribe, and share, and do all those other cool things to help us out. We greatly appreciate it, and love all of our readers. Stay safe and healthy, and make sure to drink up lots of All Together to help our favorite bartenders! They are going to need it. Even when we re-open, things will be tough for them for a while, and probably dealing with idiots not wanting to follow CDC guidelines and the such will be all the more difficult for them. So please, help them out. Cheers!

-B. Kline

All Together by Ever Grain Brewing Company

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

Beer Review: Road Trip Snacks (Panther Island Brewing)

Road Trip Snacks by Panther Island Brewing

I’ m not sure what beaver nuggets are…. but I like them (at least in beer). Never heard of them, have no idea of them, but this was a damn tasty fine beer, so I’m all for them. This was in the beer mail package from Texas, and made for a great grilling beer. (Dinner for breakfast was made.)

So, did a quick search (Google search) for beaver nuggets. (Just typed in beaver nuggets). First thing up is an Amazon item, for Beaver Nuggets (r) by Buc-ee’s. The description for the item says: “Buc-ee’s Beaver Nuggets are the number one snack item in the Buc-ee’s store! These beaver nuggets are a delicious caramel coated corn pop snack. Great treat for Buc-ee’s fans.” (Amazon)

Buc-ee’s Beaver Nuggets (on sale on Amazon.com)

Not gonna lie, tempted to order a bag of these, just to see if their as good as the beer is. Tempted. (Read: not really gonna do it, but I am tempted / thinking about it).

Texas Beer Mail Package

One of the several beers I got from Texas; Road Trip Snacks is brewed by Panther Island Brewing. Panther Island Brewing is a microbrewery from Fort Worth Texas. Untappd lists them with 132 unique beers and a global average rating of 3.7 (as of 5.8.20). Their description reads: “We are local to Fort Worth. Born and raised. Texas through and through. We offer beer that is brewed by people that give a crap about what beer tastes like. We have 4 core beers available year round and brew specialty beer every season. We also have small batch unique beers that we pour in-house only. We open to the public on Thursday and Friday from 4pm – 10pm and Saturday and Sunday from 12pm – 10pm. We love live music and often have local artists play when we are open. The selection of food trucks we have on site for our tours is always different and unique. We are available for private bookings for corporate events, fundraisers, weddings, birthdays, receptions, etc. Contact us at amber@PantherIslandBrewing.com for more information.”.

Road Trip Snacks by Panther Island Brewing

Beer: Road Trip Snacks
Brewery: Panther Island Brewing
Style: Brown Ale – English
ABV: 6%
IBU: None
Untappd Description:

Brown Ale brewed with Buc-ee’s Famous Beaver Nuggets.

*Buc-ee’s, Ltd. is the owner of the Beaver Nuggets mark, and that Buc-ee’s, Ltd. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse or sponsor, the beer.

This lives up to its style’s namesake – it is a brown beauty. Very thin, (barely there) head. Few bubbles. But thick, pouring, heavy looking beer. Appearance there isn’t a whole lot to say about this beer, its unassuming.

Cracking the tab, you get super rich maple aroma right away. Some deep complex caramel malts get mixed in, but this is extremely maple, like maple bacon candy, like maple syrup, a very good, rich, dense maple flavor. It smells extremely delicious right from the opening of the can, especially if you love maple syrup (or at least the smell of it).

I found this very delicious. I could see it going the other way for people, but I personally really liked it. The reason is that it is like a maple syrup and caramel malt bomb exploding in your mouth. It has a very thick mouthfeel, almost a little cloying, but it is very rich (sets off ‘diabeeeeeetus’ alarm bells), very sweet, very maple, very caramel malt. There isn’t really a massive amount of other flavors or complexities, but there is a lot of maple, (a LOT), and an underbody to this of caramel malt that supports all that maple flavor. There is a slight ‘nut’ flavoring to this, either imparted from this being a brown ale or from the Beaver Nuggets; not sure. Like I said, these combinations either work for you, or they don’t. It did for me, it might not for others (or you).

My Untappd Rating: ****.25
Global Untappd Rating: 3.84 (as of 5.8.20).

Cheers everyone. Remember two days til mother’s day. Get your mom something nice!

-B. Kline

Beer Review: Thursday (2016) (Cycle Brewing Company)

Thursday by Cycle Brewing Company (2016 vintage)

When in Rome… or when its Thursday and your beer is called Thursday, right? How can you not drink a beer called Thursday…. on any other day than Thursday? It’d be sacrilege otherwise! Heresy one might even say!

So here I am, late on a Thursday, enjoying a big, bold, deep, dark, delicious, four year aged stout. And this is a fine beer. And today was a day where I “earned” me this big bad stout. Early in the day, I stopped at the Central PA Blood Bank (by appointment, with my mask), and donated. I then braved humans and did my grocery shopping at Karn’s. Then home I did a lot of small chores about the house (mainly food prep.) So, like I said, I deserved this beer.

Blood Donation time

I cannot stress the importance of donating blood, especially at this crucial time. Blood is a premium right now, and unfortunately many who could donate before, no longer can (or are afraid to). Google or look up your local blood bank and contact them. It is safe, relatively pain free, and every donation can save up to three lives.

Ok, time for me to step down from my soap box, and move on.

Florida beer mail

In another local for local style trade, I sent two friends in Florida ten beers from local breweries – Pizza Boy, Tattered Flag, Boneshire Brew Works, Rubber Soul, and Ever Grain. In return, they sent me two Cycle Brewing bottles. Buddy Shots (2020) and Thursday (2016).

So I waited for a nice Thursday to drink the Thursday. Saving the Buddy Shots to drink with D. Scott or during one of our podcasts, so we can share it around. Once again, thats just obvious, it writes itself. As a famed director once said, “Its like poetry… it rhymes.” (Bonus points if you tell me in the comments section who said that!)

Alright, enough meandering talk, lets get to the beer review!

Thursday by Cycle Brewing

Beer: Thursday (2016)
Brewery: Cycle Brewing Company
Vintage: 2016
Style: Stout – American Imperial / Double
ABV: N/A
IBU: None
Untappd Description: Maple Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout (Maple DOS). We let the maple syrup barrels do their thing.

The 2016 version on Untappd doesn’t list an ABV. But the 2015 version does – 11%. The 2020 vintage lists it as 11.5%. So most likely the 2016 version is similar. (11-11.5%). Cycle Brewing Company is a micro brewery from St. Petersburg Florida. Untappd has them listed with 642 unique beers and a global average rating of 4.21. They have no description listed.

This pours out dark and heavy looking, foreboding one might say. Its black, and to pull out my trope one more time – Razor Ramon hair black. It has a nice brown creamy head. Interspersed and varied bubbles on the top, nice lacing on the glass as its drank. Quality stout all around.

Aroma is mostly bourbon. Thats forefront, center, left, and right of this beer. As soon as I popped the cap I was getting strong bourbon barrel notes. Theres not much else aroma-wise. Perhaps some hint of maple, but I’m not really getting it. The extra four years of cellaring might have worn the aroma thin on this.

Flavor is good, nice, tasty, heavy bourbon barrel, little notes of wood, but no real true taste of maple. The mouthfeel is a little bit thin, but it still has a strong presence. I think the maple and the thinness are probably a result of the four years of cellaring. The thinness isn’t too much of a problem. There is no off flavors, or cloying or sweetness; which I figured some sweetness due to the maple, but its not present. It still has a good boozy bite to it, but as it warms and as you sip it, the bite mellows and it just becomes pretty smooth. Full warmed up, this is just a nice sipping bourbon heavy stout. By this point you don’t taste the (presumably) 11%, but you certainly know its there.

I think maybe four years is a bit too long to sit on this and age. Two years is probably the sweet spot for it. Would be interesting to have tried this fresh, for comparison’s sake.

My Untappd Rating: ****.25
Global Untappd Rating: 4.27 (as of 5.7.20)

Sadly, I don’t have a Friday, so I can’t do that tomorrow. But make sure to check back in tomorrow for another post!

Cheers everyone!

-B. Kline

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