Oskar Blues Buys Perrin Brewing

oskar-blues-blue Perrin
Oskar Blues, makers of Dale’s Pale Ale and other canned beers, has announced acquisition of the Perrin Brewing Co. of Comstock Park, Michigan (near Grand Rapids). MLive is reporting the deal, and that as part of it, Keith Klopcic, who formerly worked with nearby West Side Beer Distributing, becomes the new president at Perrin Brewing Co., replacing founder and former brewery head Randy Perrin. According to the article, “financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.” I love this quote: “Other than that, it’s the same company,” said Klopcic. “Nothing changes.” Not to second guess the deal, especially since I don’t personally know the parties involved (apart from Dale Katechis from Oskar Blues), but saying nothing changes when a brewery head and (I presume) a founder leaves a company when it’s sold doesn’t strike me as a particularly honest assessment.

Dan Perrin and Jarred Sper will continue running the brewery alongside production manager and head brewer John Stewart and his team. Sper, who will be vice president of sales and marketing at Oskar Blues-owned Perrin, said the brewery is very excited by the acquisition deal.

According to MLive, here’s what Dale had to say:

In a statement, Oskar Blues founder Dale Katechis called the deal “a radical thing.”

“We at Oskar Blues love the Michigan craft beer scene and what the guys at Perrin are doing,” Katechis said. “We feel that Perrin and Oskar Blues have the same mindset toward the craft industry and this partnership will allow us to share information and innovative ideas with one another.”

In December, the breweries teamed up on a lager called “Cornlaboration” that was sold only in Michigan, a state in which Oskar Blues began distributing in 2013.

Until Oskar Blues’ canned beer sales outstripped their original brewpub, they were considered one of the country’s largest brewpubs, so it’s interesting to see them reach a point where they’re acquiring additional brands and another brewery.

perrin-brewing

Studies Show Studies Don’t Show Much

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If there’s one thing prohibitionists love to shout about, it’s a new study showing how terrible alcohol is, and how it supports what they’ve been proselytizing about all along. A growing trend has been anti-alcohol groups funding studies, having the “team” look for problems through phrasing the study’s goals and methodology with a particular outcome in mind, and then releasing the results as if it was impartial news. Sadly, with our media overworked and underpaid, many fall for it and report such a sham study’s results without ever critically examining it or even looking for a dissenting opinion to bring some fair and balanced perspective. Prohibitionists, knowing this, package their press releases into print-friendly versions so media outlets can simply cut and paste, passing it off as actual news. To be fair, it’s not just them. Almost everybody does it. It’s become a game, of sorts, one where most reasonable people’s wishes are ignored in favor of a more extreme agenda. Issues get polarized, and meaningful dialogue is becoming increasingly impossible with mud being slung in both directions, though I tend to think on the prohibitionist front that more mud comes our way, than vice versa.

But I’ve spent the last decade or so taking a fairly critical look at study after study, taking issue with almost all of them in one way or another. For every study that says one thing, you can find another that says the complete opposite, which you’d think wouldn’t, or shouldn’t, be possible. But a lot of it has to do with the way studies are conducted, how rigorous the science is, and whether or not they started with a specific agenda or not. I’ve certainly crowed about studies that show alcohol in a positive light, though I’ve never financed any. But despite all the tamper tantrums from the prohibitionists, they’re the ones spending all the money creating a false record of harm, not to mention taking advantage of any others they can, part of their post-prohibition strategy to bring down alcohol by less obvious means in a slower, more patient approach, chipping away at public policy and the law brick by brick, so to speak.

As a result of seeing so many of these so-called “studies,” I’ve noticed a lot of tricks that they use to make them seem like the findings actually mean something, but they rarely do, and usually even the study’s authors, who presumably want to keep their status as impartial scientists despite taking money for funding, almost always issue cautions and calls for further testing and for no one to make too much of what they found, words invariably ignored by the people using their findings to promote an agenda. It’s made me question the entire medical, and to some extent the scientific, community because it’s so obviously been corrupted by money — like every other aspect of our society, sad to say — with so many willing to take money to help a fanatical group promote its agenda. And it seems like the shear number of such studies has ballooned in recent years, too. Just how many scientific journals can there be, and how many are truly scientific, if any?

But an article on Vox a few days ago addressed this very issue, with This is why you shouldn’t believe that exciting new medical study. As the author wonders “whether there is any value in reporting very early research,” I’ve seen how it’s more often misused than anything else. As she writes. “Journals now publish their findings, and the public seizes on them, but this wasn’t always the case: journals were meant for peer-to-peer discussion, not mass consumption.” Because of this, the amount of studies being conducted has skyrocketed since their use is often now well beyond the original purpose of real study and furthering the science surrounding an issue. The actual number of so-called journal studies have seen an astounding 300% increase over the last quarter-century.

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But as she points out, early reporting on these studies rarely leads to any meaningful breakthroughs, even though those initial findings become fixed in the public mind as fact. A recent example that springs to mind is about glutens. A study in Australia initially seemed to suggest that eating gluten-free could be healthier for even people who didn’t suffer from Celiac disease, but further work by the same scientist found that his initial results were incorrect, and that there were no appreciable health benefits to a gluten-free diet for most people. Despite this clear repudiation of the initial findings, gluten-free as a healthier lifestyle remains an idea many people not only still believe, but even follow, despite having been refuted years ago. This is not an isolated occurrence.

In 2003, researchers writing in the American Journal of Medicine discovered something that should change how you think about medical news. They looked at 101 studies published in top scientific journals between 1979 and 1983 that claimed a new therapy or medical technology was very promising. Only five, they found out, made it to market within a decade. Only one (ACE inhibitors, a pharmaceutical drug) was still extensively used at the time of their publication.

One.

So that means 100 others proved to not pan out, their promise as originally reported proving to not stand up to further research or lead to any meaningful breakthrough. But the news cycle has already moved on, and the damage has been done, with the study reported and its inaccurate findings fixed into people’s minds. And this is just one of the reasons why immediately promoting the results of a study to the public is a bad idea. As the Vox article makes clear. “This cycle recurs again and again. An initial study promises a miracle. News stories hype the miracle. Researchers eventually disprove the miracle.”

“There’s a big, big, difference between how the media think about news and how scientists think about news,” Naomi Oreskes, a Harvard professor of the history of science, recently told [Vox’s Julia Bellus] in an interview. “For you, what makes it news is that it’s new — and that creates a bias in the media to look for brand new results. My view would be that brand new results would be the most likely to be wrong.”

In some cases, results are published too soon precisely to get attention for the study or the research in order to get more funding to carry on the research, or simply because of the pressure to “publish or perish” in academia or a career. Or, of course, it’s published specifically to promote an agenda or ideology.

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More often than not, single studies contradict one another — such as the research on foods that cause or prevent cancer. The truth can be found somewhere in the totality of the research, but we report on every study in isolation underneath flip-flopping headlines. (Red wine will add years to your life one week, and kill you quicker the next.)

This is seen in beer, a lot, too. But as the graph below makes clear, it happens everywhere, all the time, with the main culprit being the media in general, and the prohibitionists more specifically, reporting on single studies that show one thing rather then treating the issue as a whole or continuum of understanding. In particular, Alcohol Justice frequently takes one study that shows something in line with their agenda and treats it as if it’s the final answer and no further study is necessary; they’re right, case closed. Which, as you can see, is never the case.

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A good example of this is a recent tweet from Alcohol Justice, questioning that “Alcohol good for your heart? Evidence is evaporating http://usat.ly/1JkkEny Don’t believe industry-sponsored science.”

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The link takes you to a USA Today story, entitled Alcohol good for your heart? Evidence is evaporating, which is where AJ got the witty language in the tweet. But the part about not believing “industry-sponsored science” is completely made up. The story never even addresses that as an issue. It’s pure propaganda. As you’ll see, the trail from the USA Today story leads not to “industry-sponsored science,” but to another anti-alcohol group.

The USA Today story itself is a hodgepodge of misinformation and innuendo, written in that most common style of the mainstream media that believes scaring people captures their attention and gets ratings, viewers or whatever metric they measure their success by. Early in the piece, the author sets out her premise.

But before you pour your next cocktail, beer or glass of wine, you should know this: the science suggesting a benefit has never been conclusive. And some experts believe the evidence is getting thinner all the time.

Almost no science is conclusive, or ever has been. That’s the point of continuously conducting research, to constantly learn more and to further our understanding of whatever’s being studied. But just as benefits may be inconclusive, the evils are similarly inconclusive. But she chose to frame the story in such a way as to emphasize the negative, despite the fact that the statement could be said almost any way and still be technically correct. And saying “some experts” reveals that not everyone agrees, even with so vague a premise. You can always find a person to disagree about anything, especially if they have some reason to do so.

To illustrate what I mean, take her reliance on an editorial written by “Mike Daube, professor of health policy at Curtin University in Australia.” He “writes that the once-touted benefits of moderate drinking ‘are now evaporating,'” providing the piece’s catch phrase and hook. But who is Mike Daube. Is he a doctor or scientist? Nope. Is he an impartial expert? Hardly, “Mike Daube, professor of health policy” is all that USA Today reports, and at the editorial she’s quoting from, the only author affiliation listed is “Curtin University, GPO Box U1987, WA 6845, Australia.”

But you don’t have to look too hard to find out that Mike is also co-chair of Australia’s National Alliance for Action on Alcohol, an organization who’s sole stated purpose is that is “has been formed with the goal of reducing alcohol-related harm.” So while he’s railing against “industry lobbying and promotion [being] rife and unchecked by governments, he’s pretending to be an impartial health professional, while also leading an organization who’s already convinced that alcohol has only a negative impact on society and is working to battle it, or get rid of it. That doesn’t seem particularly impartial to me. How utterly disingenuous and hypocritical. He’s using his background as a health policy professor to make it seem as if he has some expertise in medicine, but his area of study is public policy, with an emphasis on health, and you don’t need an advanced degree to understand those are two very different things.

And the editorial USA Today is relying on, Alcohol’s evaporating health benefits (they sure love a good turn of phrase, don’t they?), is published in The BMJ (formerly the British Medical Journal). So essentially a policy expert — who in 2012 was “awarded [the] ‘Oscar’ of public health campaigning — is editorializing about science and medicine in a medical journal. It’s an editorial — an opinion. No matter how authoritative, he should carry about as much weight on scientific matters as I do. We have exactly the same number of doctoral degrees in medicine.

Even so, while lambasting alcohol over a new British study which forms the basis for his “evidence is evaporating” quip, he has to admit that the study did show a positive correlation for “women aged 65 or more” but dismisses that as “at best modest and likely to be explained by selection bias.” Which may true, but then again maybe not. Perhaps more study is necessary before making such sweeping pronouncements as the “evidence is evaporating.” Which is entirely the point. He’s looking at one study in a vacuum and choosing the outcome he favors, because of his own bias. So that’s not, or should not, be newsworthy. “Hey guess what? What I believed all along is what I still believe, and here’s this one study that partially agrees with me, so I must be right after all. Can I be in your scientific journal?” Is this really what passes for peer-reviewed science? What a load of bollocks.

The USA Today article is actually very short, but is padded out with a list of “what U.S. experts say you need to know for now.” Unfortunately, that list is entirely about the negative aspects of alcohol consumption and completely ignores any positive contributions to a person’s health, and it’s not like they’re hard to find.

But one study said something different, so I guess all those others are wrong, right? Yet this is the approach prohibitionist groups take time and time again. And as the Vox article makes clear, this approach can result in creating false hopes and leading researchers, scientists and even public policy-makers down the wrong path. As journalist Julia Belluz admits, it’s hard for the press to not jump at new study results, because their novelty is catnip to the management structure of both old and new media. But as the media blinders are understandable and even forgivable, at least to some extent, that’s not the case for the anti-alcohol groups who take that news and use it unscrupulously to advance their agenda. They’re the ones doing actual harm, because they’re creating a false narrative that is dishonest and knowingly wrong. I think they’ve forgotten that advancing a particular point of view doesn’t mean destroying the other side by any means possible, especially since they so often claim to own the moral high ground. But if their “ends justify the means” strategy reveals anything, it’s that they don’t own a mirror. They only judge our morals, attacking us frequently and accusing us of caring only about business, money and hurting children.

The Vox article concludes with some sage advice from “Harvard’s Oreskes, Stanford’s John Ioannidis, and many other respected researchers,” who insist “we need to look past the newest science to where knowledge has accumulated. There, we’ll find insights that will help us have healthier lives and societies.” Could somebody please tell the prohibitionists?

The Equinox: Day, Night & A Beer

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Today, of course, is the Vernal Equinox, the first day of Spring for those of us on the northern side of the equator, and the beginning of Autumn for our southerly brethren. It’s also a day when we have roughly equal amounts of day and night.

People around the world have celebrated the equinox for millennia in an amazing array of ways. Back in the early days of Lagunitas Brewing, their celebration manifested itself, as you’d expect, in a beer they called Equinox. Launched originally in 1995, it quietly went away in the early 2000s, when they were working both day and night and it probably seemed like stopping to mark the middle of that made no sense. But this year, on the Equinox, they decided to bring back Lagunitas Equinox, though in a slightly altered package and recipe. It’s still a “pale oat ale,” but it’s a bit stronger now, at 8.4% abv (it was 6.4% before). It’s also again in 22 oz. bottles and kegs.

Lagunitas-Equinox

Lagunitas describes the beer as “a creamy, pale oat ale hopped up with a huge charge of Equinox and Simcoe hops for a piney, eucalyptusy, cedary, sprucey, foresty blast.” And Tony’s label notes make for some challenging reading.

Qan you imagine a world without Beer? Everything ewe gnoe would be different. Phish might phly, aaugs might uze power touls. Pfriedae nights mite be spent building treez out of the day after tomorrow’s pstale sour greem and cheaze leavings. And then theirft bea the speling iszuues. Thingss wood bee just plane wierd, eye meene weird. Come two thing of Itt, Eye think aya cool stand begin a kid bit hapier write gnaw… (glug, glug, glug… gulp.) Mmm, aaht Once again all Is right with the world, the fish are in their ocean, the dog will not maim me, I’ll have a date for Friday night, and I know for sure that in fact God loves me. Beer. You only borrow it. Kawl us!

They also created a pretty trippy one-minute video showing a split-screen journey of the beer during both day and night simultaneously.

Leffe IPA?

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Here’s an odd bit of news. The Belgian brand Leffe, owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev, has traditionally made abbey beers (though that’s certainly been changing since being acquired by ABI) and the current lineup from Leffe includes a “Blond, Brown, Ruby, Tripel, Radieuse or Vieille Cuvée,” and a few others, as listed on their website.

But according to an item on Totally Beer, a source in the French-speaking part of Belgium, La Libre, is reporting that ABI is planning on launching a new IPA under the Leffe brand, to be known as “Leffe IPA.” At least one Belgian beer source doesn’t think it’s a good idea, calling it a big mistake. It certainly seems like an odd fit to launch a hoppy beer under a label known for brewing abbey-style beers, not hop forward ones, no matter how popular IPAs might be.

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I made this up, but it doesn’t look right, does it?

UPDATE: It appears that ABI will not be calling the beer Leffe IPA after all. Much like the famous scene in “Pulp Fiction” about McDonald’s “Quarter-Pounder with cheese” being called the “Royale with cheese” in France, the Leffe IPA will also apparently be called the Leffe Royale. And take a look at the graphic below, taken from Beertime (though it appears it originally was printed in a catalog of some type), there will actually be three different Royales.

Leffe-royale

The graphic announcement says that the beer will have “subtle aromas” and “3 different varieties of hops” (despite listing four) but I think that’s just the first beer in the series. Curiously, it also appears to say that the Cascade hops are exclusive to Leffe, which unless I’m reading that wrong is an odd statement given that Cascade hops are the most popular hop variety used by smaller brewers. Of course, they could just be saying the beer is using Cascade hops exclusively, simply meaning it’s a single hop beer.

And this is a pretty interesting claim: “New brewing process: dry hopping.” I’m sure Britain’s brewers are howling with laughter at that one. Descriptors mentioned for the beers include “red fruits, peach, apricot, spices,” a “pronounced bitterness” and “very fruity.” So I guess the first beer is using the four listed varieties (Whitbread Golding, Cascade, Challenger and Tomahawk the second is brewed with the “Mapuche” hop variety from Argentina, and the last one Cascades. It’s possible that only the Cascade IPA is the IPA of the three, and that the others aren’t meant to be, just all more hop forward beers under the umbrella of the “Royale” series. H/T to The Beer Nut for sending me the link.

Craft Beer Share Reaches 10%

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The preliminary numbers for 2014 are out, and the news is fairly spectacular, especially if you remember Kim Jordan’s keynote speech in New Orleans predicting and challenging the industry to set 10 percent share of the market as an attainable goal. The Brewers Association today revealed that craft beer’s share of market finally blew past 10% and is now 11% of the total beer market, by volume.

From the press release:

In 2014, craft brewers produced 22.2 million barrels, and saw an 18 percent rise in volume2 and a 22 percent increase in retail dollar value3. Retail dollar value was estimated at $19.6 billion representing 19.3 percent market share.

“With the total beer market up only 0.5 percent in 2014, craft brewers are key in keeping the overall industry innovative and growing. This steady growth shows that craft brewing is part of a profound shift in American beer culture—a shift that will help craft brewers achieve their ambitious goal of 20 percent market share by 2020,” said Bart Watson, chief economist, Brewers Association. “Small and independent brewers are deepening their connection to local beer lovers while continuing to create excitement and attract even more appreciators.”

But wait, there’s more.

Additionally, the number of operating breweries in the U.S. in 2014 grew 19 percent, totaling 3,464 breweries, with 3,418 considered craft broken down as follows: 1,871 microbreweries, 1,412 brewpubs and 135 regional craft breweries. Throughout the year, there were 615 new brewery openings and only 46 closings.

Combined with already existing and established breweries and brew pubs, craft brewers provided 115,469 jobs, an increase of almost 5,000 from the previous year.

“These small businesses are one of the bright spots in both our economy and culture. Craft brewers are serving their local communities, brewing up jobs and boosting tourism,” added Watson. “Craft brewers are creating high quality, differentiated beers; new brewers that match this standard will be welcomed in the market with open arms.”

growth infographic

Anchor To Release Double Liberty IPA

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I generally don’t like revealing a new beer coming from a brewery before they’ve officially announced it, preferring to let the brewery manage how that information is made public. But since others have revealed it online, and because it’s pretty big news, I’m breaking my own rule. Anchor Brewery has apparently created a new beer called Double Liberty IPA.

Anchor-double-liberty

The label has been approved, drawn by their longtime label artist Jim Stitt, although no date has yet been set for its release as far as I know right now. Since they only recently released their new Flying Cloud Stout, I suspect it will be a little while before it’s officially announced. The COLA search also reveals it will be both bottled as well as available in kegs.

According to the neck label, “Double Liberty IPA is made with 2-row pale malt and whole-cone Cascade hops.” It also apparently has “double the hops and double the IBUs.” They describe it as “imparting uniquely complex flavors and dry-hop aroma to this radically traditional IPA.” I love that phrase — “radically traditional.” It also weighs in at 8.2% a.b.v.

I’m sure we’ll learn more details soon. Anchor’s brewmaster Mark Carpenter is speaking to my class at Sonoma State on Wednesday, so hopefully he’ll be able to tell me more then. But frankly, I’m pretty excited to try this new beer. Liberty Ale has long been one of my favorite beers, and is the beer I always order first, each time I visit the brewery’s tap room. So an imperial version of that beer has to be worth trying, especially if Mark had a hand it creating it, as he did with the original Liberty 40 years ago.

An Analysis Of Beers From An Early 1800s Shipwreck

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You may recall back in 2010, an exciting discovery was made off the Åland Islands, which is a large group of islands near Finland in the Baltic Sea. In September of 2010, Beer From Early 1800s Found In Baltic Shipwreck, and additional information followed in late November of the same year with an Update On Beer Found In Baltic Shipwreck. I noted at the time that some of the beer had been tasted and they were flirting with the idea of having the beer analyzed to possibly reproduce the beers discovered. In my first post about the discovery, I wrote. “It will certainly be interesting to see what further analysis of the beer reveals.” Well, apparently they heard me, because the analysis has recently been released. Hat tip to Jason Petros from the Brewing Network, who tweeted me the link accompanied by the following pleas. “Make me smarter! What do all these words mean?”

The link is to a journal article in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry entitled Analysis of Beers from an 1840s’ Shipwreck. The work was conducted primarily by a group of scientists in Finland, with some work also done in Munich, Germany. Here’s the Abstract:

Two bottles of beer from an about 170-year-old shipwreck (M1 Fö 403.3) near the Åland Islands in the Baltic Sea were analyzed. Hop components and their degradation compounds showed that the bottles contained two different beers, one more strongly hopped than the other. The hops used contained higher levels of β-acids than modern varieties and were added before the worts were boiled, converting α-acids to iso-α-acids and β-acids to hulupones. High levels of organic acids, carbonyl compounds, and glucose indicated extensive bacterial and enzyme activity during aging. However, concentrations of yeast-derived flavor compounds were similar to those of modern beers, except that 3-methylbutyl acetate was unusually low in both beers and 2-phenylethanol and possibly 2-phenylethyl acetate were unusually high in one beer. Concentrations of phenolic compounds were similar to those in modern lagers and ales.

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You can also read it online as a pdf, laid out on the page as it would appear in the journal. One thing stands out initially. In the initial reporting over the find, the bottles were believed to have been from between 1800 and 1830, but apparently further analysis dates them closer to the 1840s.

Introduction

In the summer of 2010 the wreck of a schooner (M1 Fö 403.3) was discovered in the Baltic Sea a short distance south of the Åland Islands, Finland, at a depth of about 50 m. Archeological evidence suggests the shipwreck occurred during the 1840s, but the schooner’s name, its destination, and its last port-of-call have not yet been identified. The cargo consisted of luxury items, including more than 150 bottles of champagne. Five bottles that look like typical early 19th century beer bottles were also brought to the surface. One of these cracked in the divers’ boat. The liquid that foamed from the cracked bottle looked and, according to the divers, tasted like beer.

Although at least one older (1825) beer sample has been reported, we are not aware of previous chemical analyses of any beer this old. Here we compare the physicochemical characteristics and flavor compound profiles of beer from two of these about 170-year-old bottles with those of modern beers. In contrast to the 100-year-old Scotch whiskey excavated from the ice under Shackleton’s 1907 base camp in the Antarctic and then thoroughly analyzed, these beers have not been stored under ideal conditions, as evidenced by some deterioration in quality. However, although both spontaneous and microbiologically driven chemical changes have occurred, the results give some indication of the original nature of the beers and the techniques used to manufacture them.

Opening the Shipwreck Beer Bottles

Bottles A56 and C49 were raised to the sea surface, and their corks and necks were protected with plastic wrappings. The bottles were stored in water at 2–4 °C and brought from Åland Islands to VTT’s laboratories in Espoo, Finland. The bottles were opened (on separate occasions) under sterile conditions because samples were also taken for microbiological examination (R. Juvonen, M. Raulio, A. Wilhelmson, and E. Storgårds, manuscript in preparation). The part of the cork protruding from the bottle was cut off. A slightly slanting hole was drilled through the rest of the cork using a sterilized drill. A surgical needle fitted with an air filter was inserted into the cork to allow sterile air to enter the bottle to replace the beer withdrawn. (During this procedure, the cork of bottle A56 broke horizontally into two pieces. The upper two-thirds of the cork was removed from the bottle by hand. The lower third remained tightly in the neck of the bottle, but later fell into the beer during an attempt to remove it.) A sterile steel pipe was inserted to the bottom of the bottle. Samples of beer were then slowly removed by syringe through this pipe. Samples for physicochemical analyses were centrifuged twice (10 min at 1000g, then 10 min at 9000g). The supernatants were analyzed immediately or stored in portions at −25 °C. Samples (50 mL) for hop analyses were sent to the Technical University of Munich, Germany, packed in dry ice.

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Bottle A56

The article then details the methods used to analyze the beers, comparing them to modern control beers. It’s long and detailed, but very interesting if you love this sort of thing. The results also go into a great deal of detail. For example, upon first opening the bottles.

Bubbles of gas, presumably CO2, formed during sampling, producing a light foam. Both beers were bright golden yellow, with little haze. Both beers smelt of autolyzed yeast, dimethyl sulfide, Bakelite, burnt rubber, over-ripe cheese, and goat, with phenolic and sulfury notes. As the samples warmed to room temperature, the smell of hydrogen sulfide disappeared and that of butyric acid (particularly strong in C49) strengthened.

After the lengthy analysis, and an even longer discussion begins based on their findings. Here are some highlights, but I encourage you to read the entire article.

The overall shape and detailed features of bottles A56 and C49 indicate a high-quality technology that was not yet used in Finland in 1840, but had been used to manufacture beer bottles for two or three decades in central and northern Europe (personal communication; Risto Aalto, Riikka Alvik, Markku Annila, Ulla Klemelä, and Kaisa Koivisto). The presence of hop components (extensively degraded), maltose, and maltotriose identifies the bottles’ contents as beers. The higher concentrations of hop components in beer C49 than in A56 cannot be explained by different degrees of chemical degradation or dilution by seawater and indicates that the bottles contained two different beers. Both shipwreck beers contained too little protein (Table 1) to permit protein identification by 2D gel electrophoresis. Most of the original protein was probably hydrolyzed (e.g., by proteolytic activity of lactic acid bacteria) and partially consumed by microorganisms during aging (both beers contained large numbers of dead bacteria and yeast). Peptides that may have been liberated by hydrolysis and still present in the beer would not have been detected in the protein assay employed as the acetone precipitation step is much less efficient for peptides than for proteins. The amino acid profiles of both beers were broadly similar to those of modern commercial beers (Table 4) and clearly different from, for example, that of apple cider. Features such as the relatively high free proline content are consistent with the raw material being cereal grain but do not distinguish between barley and wheat, which have very similar amino acid profiles. Furthermore, the amino acid profiles of the shipwreck beers have been disturbed by the activity of microbial contaminants.

The presence of hop-derived bitter compounds confirms the use of hops for bittering the beers. Kettle-boiling induces the transformation of α-acids to iso-α-acids and that of β-acids to hulupones. The lack of α- and β-acids and the presence of iso-α-acids and hulupones therefore indicate that hops were added to the worts before kettle-boiling. The amounts of cis-iso-α-acids were higher than those of the corresponding trans-iso-α-acids, which is in line with the higher stability of cis-iso-α-acids and literature findings that trans-iso-α-acids are readily transformed into tri- and tetracyclocohumols, scorpiohumols, and tricyclolactohumols by proton catalysis during aging of beer. Compared to modern beers, rather high amounts of these four compounds were detected; for example, 7.76 and 4.24 μmol L–1 of tri- and tetracyclocohumol were found in C49 compared to 1.00 and 0.46 μmol L–1 in a fresh Pilsner-type beer. The high levels of these aging products can be explained by the low pH and long “reaction time” in the shipwreck. Interestingly, the unexpectedly large amounts of β-acid degradation products hulupones and hulupinic acid are consistent with old hop varieties containing higher levels of β-acids than modern varieties, which have been bred to maximize the α-acid content.

A comparison to modern beers.

Compared to modern beers, beer A56 contained less maltose and both beers contained much less maltotriose and relatively high concentrations of glucose (Table 1). A plausible explanation is that after the initial (yeast-driven) fermentation, contaminating microbes excreted enzymes (e.g., amyloglucosidase) able to degrade residual carbohydrates to glucose. This glucose supply probably supported the growth and fermentative activity of lactic acid bacteria and other microbes. As conditions deteriorated (e.g., acidity increasing), the production of glucose exceeded the fermentative capacity of the remaining viable microbes, and glucose began to accumulate. This hypothesis would explain the high glucose and low maltotriose in the shipwreck beers, but does not immediately explain the relatively high maltose in beer C49.

Despite the unpleasant organoleptic features probably resulting from bacterial spoilage, chemical analyses revealed profiles of yeast-derived flavor compounds broadly similar to those of modern beers (Figure 2). There were some notable peculiarities. Both beers contained very little 3-methylbutyl acetate, but rather high levels of 2-phenylethanol and 1-propanol; A56 contained a high level of 2-phenylethyl acetate, but C49 contained very little; A56 (but not C49) contained a high level of ethyl decanoate and C49 especially contained a high level of ethyl hexanoate. A problem is to determine how much these results reflect the original character of the two beers rather than chemical changes during 170 years at about 4 °C. To our knowledge, there are no studies of the chemical stability of beer over such a long time. Vanderhaegen et al. studied the stability of top-fermented beer for 6 months at 0, 20, or 40 °C. Rates of change were very temperature-sensitive. Many compounds that changed markedly in 6 months at 20 or 40 °C were stable at 0 °C. The amounts of ethyl acetate and 3-methylbutyl acetate decreased by 25 and 60%, respectively, at 40 °C, but did not change at 0 °C. Thus, possibly both shipwreck beers originally contained only little 3-methylbutyl acetate, an important flavor component (banana) of modern beers. More probably, its concentration has decreased during the long aging. Lambic beers contain little 3-methylbutyl acetate, and this is thought to result from the activity of an esterase produced by Dekkera (Brettanomyces) yeasts during the lambic fermentation. Considering the lack of ethylphenol compounds in the beers, it may be more likely that an esterase derived from lysed Saccharomyces cells contributed to the loss of 3-methylbutyl acetate.

Summing up.

In summary, these two about 170-year-old bottles contained two different beers, one (C49) more strongly hopped than the other (A56) with the low α-acid yielding hop varieties common in the 19th century. Both beers exhibited typical profiles of yeast-derived flavor compounds and of phenolics. Present knowledge of the long-term chemical and microbiological stability of these compounds is not adequate to assess how closely the observed profiles indicate the original flavor of the beers. The flavors of these compounds were hidden by very high levels of organic acids, probably produced by bacterial spoilage. The composition of the microbial mixture used to produce these beers is unclear, but it probably did not include many strains producing the Pad1 enzyme responsible for the volatile phenols characteristic of wheat beers. Pad1 activity is common in wild yeast, and its absence suggests that the yeasts employed were domesticated rather than wild.

Jason, barring a degree in chemistry, I doubt I can make you any smarter than you already are, which is smart enough at least to send me the link. Thanks, buddy.

Bistro Double IPA Winners 2015

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El Segundo‘s Hammerland DIPA was chosen best in show at the 15th annual Double IPA Festival today at the Bistro in Hayward, California. A total of 63 Double IPAs and 34 Triple IPAs were judged. The full winner’s list is below.

Double IPAs

Triple IPAs

Peoples Choice Awards

Congratulations to all the winners.

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The scene at today’s Double IPA Festival at The Bistro.

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Steve Sartori from Altamont Beer Works with The Bistro’s Vic Kralj accepting his 2nd place for his Triple IPA.

Urban Chestnut To Buy German Brewery

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Here’s some interesting news, and a nice twist or role reversal of recent events. Florian Kuplent, the talented former Anheuser-Busch brewer, in 2011 opened the Urban Chestnut Brewery in St. Louis, after A-B was acquired by InBev. I first met Florian in Denver shortly after he’d brewed an excellent German-style hefeweizen at the Fort Collins A-B brewery. Kuplent was born in Bavaria, Germany, and also was trained as a brewer at Weihenstephan.

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According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Urban Chestnut “has acquired the Bürgerbräu Wolnzach brewery in Wolnzach, which is about 35 miles north of Munich.” That’s right, a small craft brewery has bought a German brewery. Apparently, Bürgerbräu Wolnzach closed down around six months ago, and Klupent saw an opportunity. The Post-Dispatch explains that the “St. Louis-based company plans to brew small batches of beer at the Bavarian facility in the second quarter of 2015. Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.”

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The Brewhog Saw His Shadow Again, 6 More Weeks Of Winter Beers

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Over in Gobbler’s Knob, in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, Phil the Groundhog — a.k.a. Brewhog — raised up his head this morning and looked around, and this year saw his shadow everywhere he looked for the second year in a row. You know what that means. It’s six more weeks of drinking winter beers this year. Or something about a late spring, I can’t keep it straight. You can see a video of Punxsutawney Phil here. And there’s more information about Groundhog Day at the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club.

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