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Brew Bloods: Drink Beer, Think Beer

Join Marc and Dustin each week as they pick a beer, drink a beer, and rate a beer, plus dispensing education and laughs along the way.
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Brew Bloods: Drink Beer, Think Beer
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Now displaying: June, 2015
Jun 24, 2015

“Across the troubled maelstrom of time, people always need a beer.” - Ellen Kushner, The Fall of Kings

We're joined by an old friend from Sweden (@LostInSweden) who brings us a liquorice beer from Denmark's brewery Det Lille Bryggeri: the Double Chili Lakrids Ale.

Det Lille Bryggeri is a microbrewery from Ringstead, Denmark that was started in 2005 by Rene Hansen. The name means "The Little Brewery" and they place a high value on harmony between the ingredients and feel that the raw materials should always be reflected in the beer.

In the education corner, we talk about liquor's purpose when it comes to brewing beer.

In news, we talk about the these stories:

- A hop shortage threatens craft beer
- A naked beer festival is coming to London
- Ohio is trying to raise the ABV limit to 21%

Feedback is appreciated and please leave us an iTunes review!

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The Importance of Liquor

The first confusing term I ran into when I went on my first brewery tour years ago was liquor, which in brewing terms is another name for water, or more specifically hot water that starts the brewing process by steeping the grains. After all, when we think of liquor, most of us think of tossing back whisky, vodka, gin or tequila.

The origins of the term have been lost to history, but the Oxford English Dictionary does mention a reference dating back to 1671, so the term has been around a long time. We also know that Trappist monks would punish their apprentices for calling liquor water.

Some have speculated that it may have just referred to water that was of a suitable quality to brew beer, as in the dark days before Mr. Wizard, brewers couldn’t change the mineral content of water, while some speculate it goes back to the ancient world, when beer and other distilled or fermented beverages were safer to drink than what was pulled out of the river.

As you would expect, the quality of the water that goes into the brew greatly affects the final taste and many towns like London, Burton-upon-Trent, and Munich all became famous for beer styles derived from the distinctive taste of their unique water sources.

In modern times, though, we have the ability to filter water and change its properties to suit our needs. As we talked about recently in episode 4, Kona has breweries outside of Hawaii that produce their beer, but they’re able to do it by altering the water in other towns so that it matches the properties of the water in their home town in Kailua-Kona.

If you decide to brew your own beer, be very aware of how water will affect the outcome; the taste of the water isn’t the only important factor. We could go down the rabbit hole with how each mineral can effect a beer, but know this: Hard water, which has a high concentration of minerals, can make the bitterness from the hops taste astringement in a pale beer, while soft water, which has a low concentration of minerals, allows the more delicate flavors to shine through. Hard water also lends itself well to darker beers, as it will balance the acidity of roasted grains.

So just remember: just as the quality of the water you put in your physical body can affect your health, so can the quality of water you put into your beer body. Good liquor does beer body good.

Jun 17, 2015

“There are more old drunks than there are old doctors.” - Willie Nelson

To celebrate the end of season 5 of Game of Thrones, we're tackling the Ommegang Game of Thrones Three-Eyed Raven. Ommegang is a Belgian-style brewery out of Cooperstown, New York, and it was the first farmhouse brewery in over a hundred years when it was started in 1997.

The Three-Eyed Raven is a dark saison with 7.2% ABV that was released in April 2015.

In the education corner, we talk about what makes skunky beer.

In news, we talk about the these stories:

- New Hampshire is disallowing babies from appearing on beer bottles
- A 110-year old man shares his thoughts on longevity
- BrewDog has plans for Ohio

Feedback is appreciated and please leave us an iTunes review!

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What Makes Skunky Beer?

For those of you new to the craft beer world, or maybe still in transition from the big guys, beers such as Stella Artois or Heineken are commonly found options that are considered to be a bit more obscure than your Budwiser or Coors offering. If you’ve ever been a regular drinker of these brands, or their green bottled brothers, you may have noticed something different about them. The first beer you had, tasted as you expected, However, that last beer you brought back, that was sitting on the cooler after a day spent pool side, now tastes awful. When this happens, your beer has become skunked.

This phenomenon known as skunked beer has been blamed on many factors, the most common being refrigeration practices (allowing your beer to go from cold to hot to cold). Though that can make beer stale by increasing the rate of oxidation, it's not the culprit for that skunky taste.

Skunked beer is caused by a specific chemical reaction triggered by exposure to light, as explained by the American Chemical Society. This is known by many brewers in the craft beer industry, and explains the push away from green, or jeebus forbid, clear glass bottles, towards cans and brown bottles.

The name “skunk” fits this process perfectly. Beer’s primary source of bitterness comes from the addition of hops. They're added to the wort, or not-yet-beer, during the brewing process. When boiled, hops release iso-alpha acids into the liquid. If beer is exposed to sunlight, the sun's power breaks down those iso-alpha acids. The result: compounds bound with proteins which contain sulfur. This creates a new chemical that is almost exactly identical to the one found in skunk spray.

People can taste this chemical in concentrations of one part per billion.If you filled an Olympic-sized swimming pool with beer, one eyedropper of this stuff would change the way it tasted.

In short, keep your beer out of the sun, and lets hope the move towards canning continues.

Jun 10, 2015

"When the devil says to you: do not drink, answer him: I will drink, and right freely, just because you tell me not to.” - Martin Luther

The Brew Bloods return to their hometown roots of West Texas with Kahl Brewing's Texas Six Gun Ale Powder Burn Jalapeño Porter out of the town of Abilene. There's not much information available on Kahl Brewing, but they've been around for 2 years and there's only one other brewery in the town. Other than the Powder Burn they also make the Buckshot Weissbier, Hollow Point Pale Ale and the Incendiary Blonde.

In the education corner, we talk about the origins of the true king of beer, Gambrinus.

In news, we talk about the these stories:

- The Russian beer market is getting crushed
- The drought is causing Bear Republic to pull out of Texas
- University of California has turned brewers' yeast into morphine and it could become heroin

Thanks to JTGuf for his great review.

Feedback is appreciated and please leave us an iTunes review!

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Who is the Real King of Beer?

Thanks to beers like Tricerahops and Total Domination, you may have heard of the goddess Ninkasi thanks to Ninkasi Brewing, but have you heard of the real king of beers, Gambrinus?

Though he’s a legendary figure in Europe, Gambrinus is not a god like Ninkasi and he’s not even a patron saint, in the strictly canonical legal sense, though he is that in spirit. Gambrinus is almost like the Santa Claus of beer. He has many stories attributed to him, from bringing beer to Earth to making crops grow and he has many origin stories.

In one story, Gambrinus was a young glassblower in Flanders and he sold his soul to the devil after a noble woman rejected him. In return the devil taught him to make beer so he could forget the woman. After that, young Gambrinus spreads beer far and wide to Europe and becomes a noble, the duke of Brabant and Count of Flanders, but he prefers the title that the villagers have given him: the king of beer.

In a Belgian legend, the brewers of Brussels couldn’t decide on who to pick as their leader, and so they organized a contest to see who could carry a large beer barrel to a spot in the distance. Whoever did so would become their head brewer. A duke from Brabent named Jan Primus entered the contest and, rather than carry the full barrel like everyone else who had failed, he put a spigot into the bunghole, lied under the barrel and drank until it was empty and then carried the barrel to the finish line with no trouble.

In Germany, Gambrinus is also the mythic German king Gambrivius, the seventh-generation descendant of Noah who lived during the thirteenth dynasty of egypt and was the paramour of Isis, the goddess of nature, magic, and motherhood and it’s from the Egyptian god Osiris that he learns brewing and brings it to mortals.

However, like many legendary figures such as our own presidential vampire slayer Abraham Lincoln, the real origins behind the legend of Gambrinus are murky. The name first appears in Western Europe during the Middle Ages and has been associated with two real people.

The person most often associated with Gambrinus is the aforementioned John Primus, also known as John 1, Duke of Brabant, who lived from around 1251 to 1295. Brabant was a wealthy beer making state in the Holy Roman Empire that encompassed Brussels, Germany and Belgium. According to legend he was a relative Prince Charming, and a model for how all princes should behave, as well as being gifted in jousting and producing bastard children.

John Primus was a hero to the people and because of that the duke of Brabant may have been the inspiration for Gambrinus. John Primus also laid the foundation for the beer industry by allowing deputy mayors of Brussels to grant licenses for brewing and selling and legend has it that he drank 72 quarts of beer over a three day feast.

Though it’s speculative, Gambrinus’ name may be a mispronounciation of John Primus, since John in Dutch is Jan and in French it’s Jean and Yan or Jean Primus sounds an awful lot like Gambrinus.

The second person that may have inspired  Gambrinus is John 2, Duke of Burgundy, also known as John the Fearless, who lived from 1371 to 1419. Burgundy, which mostly corresponds to modern day Burgundy, France, was also known for hits beer production and it was John the Fearless who introduced and legalized hops within the county of Flanders, where beer was still being brewed without it and ingredients in beer were highly regulated, though some attribute the introduction of hops to Primus.

In 1405, after taking over the rule of the County of Flanders, John 2 also created the Order of the Hop as an award of merit and those in the order celebrated by drinking beer. The Order of the Hop was resurrected in 1971 by the International Hop Growers Bureau to honour great acchievers in the hop industry.

John the Fearless’ tie to the Gambrinus name is speculative but, he was married in 1385 in the beer city of Cambrai which may have also been known as Gambrivium in Latin, though Hamburg also claims that name.

So, when you see Budweiser calling themselves the king of beers, but you can ignore theirs sales numbers and terrible beer and bite your thumb at them. All hail king Gambrinus, the true king of beer.

Jun 3, 2015

"A man who lies about beer makes enemies." - Stephen King, Pet Semetary

We don't get many Asian craft beers here in Texas, and so it is with great joy that we take on Kiuchi's Hitachino Nest Commemorative Ale. Kiuchi Brewery was founded in 1823 in the village of Naka-Shi, Ibaraki prefecture, Japan by Kiuchi Gihei, the headman of the village. With the rice leftover from taxes, Gihei decided to start a sake brewery and in the early 1990s the family decided to expand into craft beer wit the Hitachino Nest line.

In the education corner, after receiving our first voicemail, we explain exactly what makes a West Coast IPA.

In news, we talk about the these stories:

- Jester King is launching their own cruise to the Caribbean
- A Philly brewery is launching a Wu-Tang Clan beer
- Ravenswood Winery is suing HBO over the Game of Thrones Ommegang Three-Eyed Raven beer 
- The quest to reproduce the world's oldest shipwrecked beer

Thanks to bkharmony for his great review.

Feedback is appreciated and please leave us an iTunes review!

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What is a West Coast IPA?

Whenever you reach for an IPA, you expect to be hit with some powerful hop flavor. An array of hops are used when creating different IPAs across the world. The west coast is known as the source of the IPA surge the United States has seen over the past few decades. Today we answer the question, what makes that IPA specifically a West Coast IPA.

West Coast IPAs are defined by their bitterness, extreme hop aromas, and high ABV content. The concept of the West Coast IPA, as we know it, was first created by Anchor Brewing Co in San Francisco. Anchor’s brewmaster and owner Fritz Maytag, who purchased Anchor in 1965, wanted to bring back the British dry hop process and bitterness to beer that had gone by the wayside for years. A friend of Maytag’s, a hop farmer, suggested he introduce the Cascade hop into his brew. Cascade, a new Oregon based hop just introduced in the early 1970s, was added to Maytag’s brew kettle. These hops, mixed with the dry hopping process, turned into Anchor Brewing’s Liberty Ale, a beer still made by Anchor and available year round.

Shortly thereafter, in 1980, Sierra Nevada brewer Ken Grossman, used only whole cone American hops, including Cascade, and created what was at the time one of the hoppiest beers in the states, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.

The increase in hops continued from there, leading to the line of the double and triple IPAs many of us enjoy today. Next time you enjoy a high IBU brew, give a nod to Fritz Maytag and San Francisco’s own Anchor Brewing Co.

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