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Messages - stanhieronymus

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Ask the Experts / Re: Ask the Experts: Stan Hieronymus (session 2)
« on: May 30, 2014, 03:43:17 PM »
This question came in from Robert Herold via direct email, and because of the route it took I'm not sure if it is related only to Belgian yeast strains:

"I frequently get a strong smell/flavor of band-aids in my beers (ales); it does not always occur. Can you tell me what it is, what is the cause, and most importantly how to avoid it. I am an all-grain brewer making 12 gallon batches. Thanks for your help."

First, for those not aware of it, this "The Beer Fault List" at the BJCP website is a great resource:

As it points out, that plastic phenolic can be a sign of an infection.

Ask the Experts / Re: Ask the Experts: Stan Hieronymus (session 2)
« on: May 30, 2014, 03:36:35 PM »
Hi Stan, Love your work. My question is - do you know of a way to predict good hop combinations?

My question comes from the sheer number of varieties that are now available. Obviously trial and error is one method but I'd like to be able to dial in a combination and the right proportions more quickly. I have read "The Brewers Apprentice" in which Mitch Steele provided some good classic combinations and that's helpful. But again, so many possibilities make it difficult.

New Zealand

Thanks, Reuben. Lots of effort right now being put into a) determining which oils/compounds in hops result in particular odor compounds (that become aromas after being processed by our brains) and b) breeding hops that feature those oils/compounds. We'd hope that means the catalog in the middle of the next edition of "For The Love of Hops" will list percentages of compounds such as linalool, gernaniol, citronellel, etc. AND they have meaning for you, the brewer.

In the interim, some broad stroke suggestions. These come with the reminder it is easy to overrate any one component. We've gone through periods where linalool was considered a key marker for "hoppy" aroma, then it was considered overrated. Now, a lot more interest in how in interacts with other hop components and yeast.

New World hops (meaning they originated there, though they may grow now in the Old World, or be used for breeding other hops grown in the Old World) seems to have two key markers found in much lower levels, or not at all, in European landrace vartieties - 4MMP and Geraniol. When I started researching the book the discovery of 4MMP was more of a breakthrough, one of those things that would have been easy to overrate. Maybe I ended up not discussing it enough - jury is still out. Geraniol - Cascade is a good example - is an example of a compound that breeders once tried to minimize.

So pairing hops known to have 4MMP and geraniol with hops relatively rich in linalool (all in the presence of yeast) seem to be producing some interesting fruity flavors that go beyond citrus. That's one reason brewers are so hot for hops with a higher percentage of oils. For instance, geraniol might be six-tenths of 1% (that's way above average) of the oils in Mandarina Bavaria from Germany, so just the overall oil level is equally important. And until more is known about specific compounds, brewers figure that a high oil hop like Equinox (previously HBC 366) at least has some of everything.

Meanwhile, my suggestion is to pair new hops with some you know a bit about. Still trial and error, to be honest. For instance, use something like Cascade (good geraniol) and Nugget (high in linalool) at knockout or in the whirlpool. After fermentation, split the batch into multiple parts and dry hop each with a different new variety (still at fermentation temperature, some yeast present). Repeat as necessary, remembering the best experiments change one factor at a time.

Sorry for the rambling. Something about the topic.

Ask the Experts / Re: Ask the Experts: Stan Hieronymus (session 2)
« on: May 30, 2014, 03:33:12 PM »

Any new impressions or insight into the value of mash hopping?.....specifically in regards to flavor contributions?

Afraid not. I'm certainly looking forward to this presentation at NHC: "Putting Some Numbers on First Wort & Mash Hop Additions. First wort hopping is a method many homebrewers use with the idea that it adds a smoother bitterness and a unique flavor contribution to their beer. Mash hopping is avoided by many brewers because it is commonly thought to be a waste of good hops. David Curtis of Bell’s Brewery’s General Store will review an experiment that isolates these two hopping techniques with the goal of putting a strong data point on exactly what contribution they make to finished beer."

Ask the Experts / Re: Ask the Experts: Stan Hieronymus (session 2)
« on: May 29, 2014, 02:35:33 PM »
I have a question about simple sugar and dryness of beer. A lot of people suggest using simple sugar to "dry out" a beer.  Obviously, 12 pounds of malt will produce a sweeter beer than 11 pounds of malt and a pound of sucrose. However,

(1) will 11 pounds of malt and a pound of sucrose produce a much dryer beer than 11 pounds of malt (with no sugar)?
(2) will 11 pounds of malt mashed at 149, 60 minutes, be drier than 11 pounds of malt mashed at 152, 60 minute, with 1 pound of sugar in the boil.
(3) what about 12 pounds of malt at 149 versus 11 pounds at 152 plus sugar in the boil?

I've always worried that adding simple sugar is just adding alcohol and making it harder to enjoy a few homebrews (too intoxicating) rather than making the beer a whole lot better.

(P.S., I realize that the mouthfeel is an important consideration too, so dryness is just one of many points to keep in mind.)

The answer to (1) would be dryer but how "much" is hard to answer ;>) The second two I honestly don't have a definitive answer for, so I will back up.

When I was in Brazil a couple of weeks ago talking about brewing with sugar I explained that one - maybe the - most important thing I learned from Belgian brewers is the importance of digestibility. The interpreter, who is a professional brewery, struggled with the translation. He asked if the wor "drinkability" was a synonym. I said no - in part because that has sometimes been turned into a marketing term that is a synonym for bland beer. [At a commercial/professional level it is a useful term.] OK, that even harder to define than "dry" but my point is that we are talking about more than percentage attenuation or final gravity. One of those dang brewing intangibles.

My intention - just mine, certainly not speaking on behalf of, say Father Theordore, who wrote the basic Chimay recipes - is to create a digestible beer with x amount of alcohol. I'm using the sugar to lighten the body, not increase the alcohol. I'm perfectly comfortable starting a triple at 1.068 - mashing at 146 and with sugar at 12% of the fermentables it will be right around 8%.

Sorry not to be more specific.

Ask the Experts / Re: Ask the Experts: Stan Hieronymus (session 2)
« on: May 29, 2014, 02:33:13 PM »
Hi Stan!

What are some interesting things you've learned about Belgian (and Trappist, in particular) brewers since you wrote BLAM almost 10 years ago?  This is one of my favorite brewing books, and favorite styles of beer.  How are market conditions affecting the trappists?  Has the beer changed?  Do any new yeast strains or process developments stick out in particular?

Also, I'm going to Belgium in the fall.  What's a can't miss place to see?

Chris - I guess I shouldn't be surprised that little has changed with the monastery beers in the book. Monks tend to take a long view. As you are aware, more monasteries have installed breweries. So far this doesn't seem to have had any impact on yeast strains, other ingredients or in process. The biggest change since BLAM was published (discussed above) is the access American brewers have to dark syrup.

Orval made the biggest process change. Brettanomyces is not longer added during secondary fermentation, but is dosed inline during bottling. And instead of holding bottles at the brewery while the Brett matures they release them earlier. That means in Belgium you can find fresh Orval that makes you think, "Whoa, hoppy."

Belgium is such a small country that you can see much of it in a short time - so it makes perfect sense to have a beer at the inn at Westvleteren and visit the ruins at Orval a day or two later. You won't have any trouble finding beer places. I'm inclined too make suggestions like if you visit Westvleteren stop in Poperinge and see if the hop museum is open, or if you are in Ghent go by Tierenteyn-Verlent for mustard, or take a day and just enjoy the back roads of the Ardennes (even if you don't end up at to Brewery Achouffe).

Ask the Experts / Re: Ask the Experts: Stan Hieronymus (session 2)
« on: May 29, 2014, 02:30:18 PM »
Hi Stan,

You talk a lot about beer from a place... which seems fairly literal when describing Germany, England, Wallonia or other small, well recognized regions where all ingredients are fairly close - but not North America. Can you contrast what is happening in the US against other well known regions and the challenges of sourcing truly local ingredients in such a large body of land?

Can you describe a US "beer from a place" example that mirrors the traditional brewery models from history?

As much attention as I've given this - much of it in public - you'd think I'd have a better grip on the idea by now, wouldn't you? I'm not sure I was ever firmly tied only to the reality "styles" originate in particular regions in ways that made them indigenous - but if so I am less so now. Even in Germany, for instance, I view it less literally than before. For instance,  Fritz Tauscher is a seventh generation brewer at Kronen-Brauerei in Tettnang, Germany. He uses only Tettnanger hops. He is one of nine member of a group that calls themselves "Brauer mit Leib and Seele" (Brewers with body and soul). "All are owners of breweries in the hands of the their families," he explained. "The beers are brewed with our hands."

I don't think beer needs to be brewed, literally, by hand to make this work. And it wouldn't work of those brewers didn't endeavor to keep the tradition going every day. To me that indicates new traditions can start now - ones that connect brewers, beers, and beer drinkers to "place."

Nonetheless there times we can point to geography in the U.S. - Bale Breaker Brewing in Yakima or August Schell Brewing in New Ulm. One almost brand new and making hoppy beers in a former hopyard, the other the second oldest (right?) in America. 

I tell you what, Matt. If you are going to be in Austin around Christmas we should plan on discussing this over beers at Pinthouse Pizza. I obviously still need help sorting this out.

Ask the Experts / Re: Ask the Experts: Stan Hieronymus (session 2)
« on: May 29, 2014, 02:26:53 PM »
Hey,  I have a brew pot that has a hair line leak is there another method other than welding I can use to patch the leak, that will stand up to the heat and not effect the taste of my beer?

I'm not really qualified to answer this one, but John Palmer is. So straight from the expert's email:

"the short answer is that welding is the best way if it is stainless or aluminum. You could potentially use soldering or brazing if it was stainless, but to get the braze metal to actually flow into the crack and fill it is very difficult using flux and a torch. I would say there is a 80-90% chance that it wouldn't work. Best bet is welding."

Ask the Experts / Re: Ask the Experts: Stan Hieronymus (session 2)
« on: May 28, 2014, 08:44:19 PM »
Hi Stan -

Is there any recent information that's come to light about the interplay of specific yeast strains and hops?


Jeff - Afraid not - nothing more recent than appeared in the article I wrote for Zymurgy last year. I'm constantly on the lookout and promise to report back if I read anything.

On an anecdotal level, I've talked to brewers (both amateur and commercial) who've used hops high in linalool (like Nugget or Bravo) for late or dry hopping along with geraniol-rich hops that are easier to get (like Cascade and Cluster) and ended up with "interesting" fruity character.

Ask the Experts / Re: Ask the Experts: Stan Hieronymus (session 2)
« on: May 28, 2014, 08:41:52 PM »
Years ago I think I remember Charlie P. asking about mosquitoes and beer drinkers.  I can't remember if the question was if the beer drinkers attract or repel the insects, but I think there was some folklore about it one way or the other. 
I recently read that one of the oils in some American hops is geraniol, which is an ingredient in some repellents. 
My question is whether a bunch of hoppy beer drinkers getting together will keep mosquitoes at bay or better yet, will drinking hoppy beers by yourself act as a repellent?
Hoping that hops keep me from swatting,

Jeff - Yes, indeed. Geraniol is used in many DEET-free repellant preparations. I expect it may be needed at higher levels than you'd find in beer. Might be just as well, because it turns out honeybees are attracted to geraniol.

Ask the Experts / Re: Ask the Experts: Stan Hieronymus (session 2)
« on: May 28, 2014, 08:39:00 PM »
Hi Stan,

When is the best time to make sugar additions such as candidate syrup in Belgian ales?

Some breweries I visited in Belgium made the addition early in the boil, others as late as in the final 10 minutes. I have never seen a study that might compare the results of different addition times. I do it after hot break.

Ask the Experts / Re: Ask the Experts: Stan Hieronymus (session 2)
« on: May 28, 2014, 08:38:01 PM »
Stan - looking for your feedback on candi sugar for Belgians. Do you make your own or prefer to buy off the shelf? If you make your own, please share your process. If buying, explain why.

I'm inclined to use the Dark Candi Syrup that Brian Mercer began to import shortly after "Brew Like a Monk" was published. Practically speaking, I'm lousy at making candy, which requites the same skill set as caramelizing sugar. And it was even harder when we lived at 5,000 feet above sea level. Going with a known ingredient removes a variable.

(Of course, I'm also willing to go totally the other direction and experiment with unrefined sugars you find at various markets.)

Ask the Experts / Re: Ask the Experts: Stan Hieronymus (session 2)
« on: May 28, 2014, 08:35:52 PM »
Have you ever heard of a dry hopping method in which you moisten the hops with 170* water proir to dry hopping, and if so, do you know the reason behind this?
I read about it in an older brewing book, and wondered what value there might be in such a dry hop method.

I think I might have seen mention of that in something Ron Pattinson posted (but wasn't able to find it again when I did a quick search), although never anything that included an explanation. I certainly wouldn't do it without making sure all the liquid ended in the beer - otherwise you'd be "washing out" the oils, and getting them into the beer is the point of dry hopping.

The best logical reason I can come up with is that it would speed the process of dry hopping, because the transfer rate (in this case into water, which would then go into beer) is faster at a warmer temperature.

Ask the Experts / Re: Ask the Experts: Stan Hieronymus (session 2)
« on: May 27, 2014, 09:27:56 PM »
Dry Hopping - Cold or fermentation temperatures?  Follow up: Dry hop in the primary fermenter or off the yeast in a secondary or keg?

Here are some basics and you can decide what works for you:

- Dry hopping at fermentation temperature will speed the process. That's more important at the commercial level, but for any brewer the quicker transfer cuts down the chance of getting fishy odors or grassy notes from too long of contact time.

- Dry hopping at fermentation temperatures also means yeast and compounds in the hops will continue to interact, creating other desirable odor compounds (through a process referred to as biotransformation).

- When you dry hop in primary the CO2 created during fermentation will drive off some odor compounds, although it also creates new ones.

- You will still have yeast present in secondary even if you rack off most of what is settled, enough that you will still get desirable biotransformations. Nobody says you can't dry hop in secondary, rack off of that and dry hop again in the keg (probably less biotransformation, but a lot of the "raw" hop character some people want).

Ask the Experts / Re: Ask the Experts: Stan Hieronymus (session 2)
« on: May 27, 2014, 09:06:14 PM »
Stan, what do you find are the top differences between successful brewing ventures and unsuccessful ones?  What are the keys that separate the "winners" from the "losers"?

Whoa, that's a big question - one I've been thinking about for two weeks since it was posted and still don't have a good short (or long) answer.

Since you used the words successful in the question I think figuring out what that means is a good place to start. Owners need to define success and how they will measure it, then ask themselves if they meet that measure it means they be operating a viable business. For instance, if having the No. 1 IPA at a beer rating site equals success then they might need a new business plan.

It's boring, but the only way to succeed is with an I-got-an-A-in-business-school quality business plan and sufficient capital to see it through. Of course the quality of the beer matters - both what leaves the brewery and what ends up in a drinker's glass.

A good business plan and good beer are a good running start. Something else I've found myself talking with brewers about recently is "scale." Naturally limiting size -- say selling beer only as far away as a horse can walk in one day, only on draft, and only to accounts that pour three a keg in a week -- eliminates the need for certain controls. Choosing to sell to a wider audience means you have to scale up. Deciding if and when to stop growing is one of the hardest decisions brewery owners have to make - and one more will likely be facing soon.

Sorry not to offer more specific suggestions. For me it might a forest and trees thing (or trees and forest, I never get those straight). Buy me a beer some time and we can draw some Xs and Os.

One other thought: Not every brewery that closes is necessarily a loser. It might not have lived up to (high) expectations, though could was viable. Or it might have succeeded for X number of years. It would be interesting to back through time and chart the history of every brewery that ever opened in the United States. How many of them lasted longer than one or two generations? How many post-New Albion breweries are going to end up multi-generation family-owned businesses?

Ask the Experts / Re: New Hop Growing Regions
« on: May 27, 2014, 07:21:59 PM »
Commercial hop acreage in non-traditional (outside of the PNW) states is small but growing, with Michigan, New York and Colorado alone now topping 600 acres collectively.  In addition, brewers seem to have a lot of enthusiasm in using locally sourced materials in their beer.   What are your thoughts on the role of these regions in meeting the craft industry's demand for hops as the market continues to grow?  Will they remain niche, or become a bigger player over the next several years?


My best guess is that they will remain a niche, but they will continue to grow. How is that for a fudge? I am more optimistic about the future of "local" hop growing than I was two years ago.

1) Beer drinkers and brewers ultimately will decide the fate of "local" - because those hops are always being to be more expensive and they may not always have the flavor and aroma of proprietary varieties - and demand feels stronger than a couple of years ago.

2) Meanwhile, the farmers of 2014 have more realistics expectations than in 2007-2008 - compared to people who thought at that time they could get rich quick - and are better prepared to deliver quality hops. 


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