OK, let’s start with a listicle (an article in the form of a list). Craftbeer.com gives what they feel are the top 5 beer releases of 2015. How they arrived at these 5 beers isn’t explained.
Bud Watered Down?
Is Bud watering down it’s beer? Well, if you know anything about how macrobreweries produce beer, then you know that they are. Most big breweries use a process called high-gravity brewing to increase their output. High-gravity brewing involves brewing a beer stronger than your target specifications, then diluting it down to working strength. For example, many American Pilsners are brewed at around 16 ° Plato, but diluted at packaging so they resemble a beer brewed at 11 ° Plato. You can do this at home, too, if you want to produce more beer than you have fermenter space for. For example, if you’re brewing for a big event. (I’m aware some homebrewers think this is sacrilege. My response would be, it’s just a technique — if you don’t like it, don’t do it.)
I can’t help but wonder if that fact is somehow playing into the lawsuit involving Budweiser “watering down their beer” and overstating their alcohol content. I could be wrong (and I of course realize that Bud isn’t a homebrewer favorite), but I somehow doubt Bud is doing this. It’s too much risk for too little gain — and the evidence of the crime would be available wherever beer is sold. It’s not hard to get beer independently tested, and tests so far have not revealed that alcohol levels are misrepresented.
St. Patrick’s Day Massacre
With St. Patrick’s Day coming up, here’s a little bit of craft beer history retold — the “St. Patrick’s Day Massacre” at Lagunitas. So take a look at the article and relax, don’t worry and enjoy . . . you know, whatever it is you enjoy and is legal in your jurisdiction.
Brewing! Science! Brewing Science!!
A graduate student in Australia has examined two types of barley — one with “stay green”-like characters — and how different levels of drought affect the starch structure in the grain. The “stay-green” character in sorghum is associated with higher productivity in dry conditions and scientists are studying if the trait can provide a benefit for other cereal grains. The article in Popular Science focuses on the possibility that the research will benefit barley growers when weather conditions worsen due to global warming. The original paper, however, is mostly focused on the genetics and growth of the barley strains in different conditions. (The original paper is not open access, so you’ll need to pay to read it. It’s linked to in the Pop Sci article.)
The journal eLife just published a paper mapping the microbial ecosystem of a brewery and how it changes with the seasons. This is an actual science journal article, so it’s pretty dense, but it should be something every brewer with an interest in biology reads.
Worst Beer Article
What was the worst beer article this week? Well, for starters, take a look at this article. In it, the author explains why she can’t wait for the craft beer revolution to die. Why? Well, because she likes fizzy yellow lagers. She goes so far as saying that craft beer is “un-Australian” — something that most Australian homebrewers would, I’d wager, dispute. The idea that other people should be able to choose the beer they enjoy never seemed to have occurred to her.
Still, there was an even more idiotic piece on brewing in Esquire this week. In it, the author — who clearly knows next to nothing about brewing — tells all homebrewers that their beer sucks and what they need to do to fix it. One of his 5 points in the article is that homebrews taste soapy, which he attributes to leaving the beer too long in the primary fermenter. In actuality, whereas there are situations that can cause a beer to taste soapy, they are relatively uncommon. He also complains that homebrews are watery, something he attributes to . . . well, I’ll quote him. “In general, you need to leave the capped beers alone for three weeks for the proteins to develop, so slow down.” There’s so much ignorance crammed into one little sentence, I don’t even know where to start.