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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: August, 2015
Aug 26, 2015

“In wine there is wisdom, in beer there is Freedom, in water there is bacteria.” Benjamin Franklin

Pucker up, as this week we take on Bell's Brewery's Cherry Stout, a stout that's normally quite tart, but we've aged this one to see how it's changed. Bell's Brewery is a brewery that started out as a Michigan home brewing supply shop and was the first Michigan brewery to open an onsite pub in 1989.

The Cherry Stout is lightly hopped and brewed with tart Montomorency cherries grown in Michigan.

In the education corner, we talk the origins of IPA and what exactly it is.

In news, we talk about the these stories:

- Now there's a Count Chocula beer
- What is the next IPA?
- The geography of America's beer preferences
- How to be a beer geek without everyone hating you

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What is an IPA?

Frequently on this show we talk about IPAs and we’ve even talked in this segment before about what exactly a West Coast IPA is. But, what exactly is an IPA and how does it differ from other styles of beer?

First, IPA stands for India Pale Ale and its origins began when the British were colonizing India in the early 19th century. When Brits were shipping pale ale beer to the troops, the beer would have to travel by sea south all the way to the Cape of Good Hope, which is the southernmost tip of Africa, and then northeast again to India.

With such a long voyage that took six months, extreme temperature changes thanks to crossing the equator twice and no refrigeration, the beer was frequently stale or infected by the time it reached India. While legend has it that it was all beer, it’s worth noting that porters were also shipped successfully to India. But, given the heat of India, the British soldiers were unhappy with such a heavy, dark beer.

George Hodgson of the Bow Brewery in East London is the one that solved the beer spoilage problem and created the first IPA. When trying to solve the problem of spoilage, Hodgson first recognized the preservative qualities of hops through barleywine, a beer that was brewed for wealthy country estates when disputes with France caused wine shortages. It was meant to be aged and in fact, many estate owners would brew a barrel of barleywine when a son was born and tap it when the son turned 18.Barleywines were  also known as October beer, named after the harvest, and they used intense amounts of freshly-picked hops to keep them fresh. 

Hodgson’s resulting beer was more alcoholic and very bitter, but it would survive the trip. It first arrived in India in January of 1822 and the rest is history.

Eventually refrigeration was invented, of course, and spoilage was no longer an issue. But, the bitter style has survived and become very popular today.

The bitter characteristic in IPAs has remained throughout history and of course, this means that the beer will be much more bitter than you may be used to with other beer styles. As we’ve talked about before, the bitterness in beer is measured in IBU, which stands for International Bitterness Unit. The higher the IBU in a beer, the more bitter it is expected to be, but this also depends on the malt profile. With the lower malt profile of an IPA, you IBU will hold more weight than it will with, say, a stout or a porter.

Alcohol in an IPA tends to start higher than other beers, at around 5.5% ABV, though that is changing quickly with the advent of session IPAs in recent history, such as Lakewood’s Hopochondria or Founder’s All Day IPA.

Today there are three main styles of IPA: American, English and Imperial and beneath that there are many substyles, such as a black IPA. All three use an abundance of hops both in flavoring the beer and providing an aroma, and often brewers will use several varieties in one recipe.

Both American and English IPAs tend have medium-high to intense bitterness, flavor and aroma with medium-high alcohol content. American IPAS tend towards the fruity, floral or citrus flavors and aromas thanks to hops from America, whereas English IPAs are typically more earthy and spicy, using hops of a variety of origins.

The Imperial or Double IPAs are those at have intense bitterness, flavor and aroma and alcohol content will be high, like most Imperial beers. There is no one hop or hop origin that comprises an Imperial. The presence of malt will likely be higher as well.

Popularity for IPAs has skyrocketed in the last decade, as drinkers’ palates have evolved and grown accustomed to more bitter flavors. They’ve gotten so popular now that people are looking for the “next” IPA, whether that’s goses or wild ales or sours, but so far IPA is the king of craft beer.

You may hate IPAs the first time you try them; I certainly did. However, the more I drank them, the more I came to appreciate the wide range of flavor that is present. Keep trying them and you may find that a whole new world opens up for you.

Music Provided By: 

Bensound - "Jazz Comedy"

Kevin McLeod - "Off to Osaka"

Quantum Jazz - "Orbiting a Distant Planet"

Aug 19, 2015

“I feel sorry for those who don’t drink because when they get up in the morning that’s as good as they’re going to feel all day.” — Frank Sinatra

Javi Fuentes (@JaviFuentes) from Central Track joins us in our linen suits, bolo ties and a Kentucky Ale Old Fashioned Barrel Ale, a beer based on the cocktail know as an Old Fashioned. Kentucky Ale, aka Alltech Lexington Brewing, is a regional brewery out of Lexington, Kentucky started by Irish entrepreneur Dr. Pearse Lyons, who loved a beer with a bourbon back and wanted to replicate that flavor combo in a beer. 

The Old Fashioned Barrel Ale is based on Kentucky's standard issue ale, brewed with orange peel and then aged with cherries in bourbon and bitters barrels.

In the education corner, we talk about cellaring your beer.

In news, we talk about the these stories:

- 17 weird drinking laws from around the world
- North Korea is wants foreign investors for craft beer 
- CAMRA are trying to protect British pubs
- There's going to be a Wheaties beer. Sure, why not?

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Cellaring Beer

A common discussion amongst beer enthusiasts is how long to cellar a beer. Beer nerds enjoy collecting rare releases, as many as possible, and often don’t want to drink them immediately. In some cases, this effects a beer in a positive way, in others, it can be detrimental. So the question is, which beers cellar well and which should be enjoyed immediately?

Several factors contribute to how your beer will age. First, style. Generally beers with a high abv (7% or higher) will age better than lower abv beers. Light, as we have discussed before, can cause beers to get skunkier, so the less light the better. Third is temperature, which effects the speed of the aging process. The hotter it is, the faster it ages. Keep your beer cold, but not frozen, to keep it fresh longer. The last factor is movement, which agitates the beer and causes oxidation.

  •          Bitterness decreases
  •          Harshness increases
  •          Fruity and floral esters decrease
  •          Ribes (catty/black currant character) increase
  •          Wet paper/cardboard character increases
  •          Bready character increases
  •          Sweetness (toffee/honey) increases
  •          Metallic character increases
  •          Earthy character increases
  •          Straw character increases
  •          Woody character increases
  •          Vinuous character (wine/sherry/stale fruit) increases
  •          Meaty-like/brothy flavors can develop

IPAs, along with any other hop forward beers, should not be aged as the bitter, floral and citrus flavors fade over time. The same can be said for many types of seasonal and fruit beers as well.

Remember one key point when aging your beer, it won’t spoil. It won’t make you sick like an old carton of milk, however the way in which it ages may not be pleasant. While there are some beers that tend to age better than others based on the way they were originally brewed, it’s ultimately all about your palate and the tastes you prefer. So buy a six pack, drink some, age some, and see what your taste buds enjoy.

Aug 12, 2015

“Do not cease to drink beer, to eat, to intoxicate thyself, to make love, and to celebrate the good days.” — Ancient Egyptian Credo

We take on our highest rated beer yet with the Prairie Artisan Ales Prairie Bomb. Will it bomb? Prairie Artisan Ales is a brewery out of Oklahoma that has exploded to success and they have several very highly rated beers.

In the education corner, we talk about diacetyl and how it's ruining your beer.

In news, we talk about the these stories:

- A study says there 4 types of drunks

- AB InBev did right by a microbrewer

- Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley are opening a Dallas brewpub

- Lagunitas may be exploring their options for sale 

- Who wants semen in their beer?

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Identifying Diacetyl   

In the past we’ve talked about the skunking of beer, which is an off flavor produced by beer gone bad via light waves, but there are many other flavors and aromas that can indicate when a beer has gone bad, one of which is diacetyl, or as mists say, die-uh-cee-til.

Diacetyl is a chemical that presents a buttery flavor or aroma and if you’ve ever made microwave popcorn, then you’ve ingested it, because it’s what’s manufacturer’s use to give it that “real butter flavor.”

Diacetyl is also known as a culprit behind popcorn lung, which isn’t as fun as it sounds. Popcorn lung, or bronchitis obliterans in fancy science man terms, first gained widespread notoriety in the early 2000s when a number of workers at a popcorn factory developed this condition due to the airborne inhalation of diacetyl.

Diacetyl production is a perfectly normal part of beer fermentation and it’s produced by normal yeast metabolism. However, you don’t need to worry about the diacetyl produced through beer fermentation, because the amount you’re consuming won’t approach harmful levels.

If brewed correctly, the buttery diacetyl flavors will mostly be cleaned up by the yeast and the presence of a little bit diacetyl is considered normal in some beers. However, diacetyl is hard to control and as a beer ages the diacetyl flavors can spin out of control, become unpredictable and of course ruin the beer.

A variety of factors can cause a diacetyl bomb, which is when a beer goes bad and you get a mouthful of butter.

First, high levels diacetyl can be produced if you’re unknowingly using mutant yeast and not in the fun X-men weay. Mutant yeast are yeast colonies that lose their ability to metabolize oxygen properly and they won’t be able to clean up diacetyl appropriately.

A second culprit behind diacetyl is a bacteria known as pediococcus, which can make a beer both sour or buttery. Brewers routinely test their beer for this bacteria, but test results can take up to a week.

A third culprit is unsanitary conditions, and not just on the part of the brewer. Sanitation is important at all stages of a beer’s life, from the word go to the tap lines that are used to deliver beer into your glass.

So, if you’re ever having a beer and you notice a strong buttery or butterscotch flavor, now you know that diacetyl is the villain. If you’re at a pub and they’re not cleaning their tap lines every two weeks, you need to alert the brewer, talk to the bar manager, and consider going somewhere else. 

Aug 5, 2015

“Stay with the beer. Beer is continuous blood. A continuous lover.” Charles Bukowski

BrewDog's Tokio (or is it Tokyo?) comes to stomp our faces in at a boozy 18% ABV. BrewDog is a craft brewery out of Scotland that has exploded in popularity since its inception in 2007.

In the education corner, we talk about the differences between porters and stouts (text below).

In news, we talk about the these stories:

- One brewery says price hikes are coming

- Washington's Yakima Valley is about to have a hop shortage

- How craft beer is impacting the economy

- Who exactly makes 90% of the beer in the U.S.A.?

- The world's northernmost brewery is about to open

- AB InBev was interested in Dogfish

- BeerAdvocate is returning to its ratings roots

- The band 311 is getting its own beer

- The show The Walking Dead is getting its own beer

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Porter Vs Stout

There are so many types of beer brewed today. Everything from the generic light lager to the triple mango IPA has made its way to your local beer store shelf. Some of these styles are noticeably different, yet others aren’t. Two common basic styles that many of us have issue distinguishing from one another are the classic porter and its big brother, the stout.

The first of the two styles to make an appearance was the porter. This showed up in London in the 1700s. The dark, medium bodied beer was a hit amongst the strong, portly workers who drank it. Hence came the name, porter. But as with anything these porters were not the end of beer experimentation. Brewers quickly wanted more body, and more alcohol. From these desires, a stout was born. A stout, in its original form, was just a stronger, “stouter”, version of a porter. At its conception, it was even called a stout porter.

The reason people have issue with keeping this formula straight today is the fact that brewers have since crossed the paths of porters and stouts. Many craft brewers have created porters that are stouter than your average stout, and vice versa when it comes to stouts. Some brewers still determine the difference based on the malt that is used within each style. Porters generally use malted barley, and stouts unmalted roasted barley. This is not a hard and fast rule in the industry however.

In the same way some Pale Ales taste more like IPAs, and vice versa, the porter and stout dividing line has blurred dramatically since the stouts creation. The brewers themselves often cross the lines of the source material, making it difficult for the nerdiest beer nerd to fully define why a beer is called one or the other. The debate rages on, so grab your favorite stout porter or porter-y stout, and discuss.

 

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