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Messages - The Professor

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General Homebrew Discussion / Re: blending
« on: October 11, 2015, 07:37:20 AM »
Blending is an important skill for correcting minor problems or imbalances in beers. It has produced more than one Ninkasi winner in the past and you can too...if you have the palate and skill.

So true.  Over the years I've had batches that didn't end up as intended, and I was always able to salvage them by blending with other brews I had on hand (some of my favorite standard 'house' recipes were actually the result of some of these blends). Taking good notes on brew day and careful measuring at blending time allowed pretty accurate reproduction of the blends and repeatability by subsequently using some 'reverse engineering'.

The blending idea has certainly been used in commercial settings as well, both in actual production as well as experimentation/formulation.  It's standard procedure in some UK breweries, and it has also been suggested (whether it's true or not) that many of Pabst's contract brewed 'legacy' brands actually may be a variety of blends using a core set of standard brews.

In the early '80s, I attended a beer talk/tasting in New York conducted by Matt Reich, the guy behind the excellent New Amsterdam Lager.  During a chat with Matt afterwards, I asked how he and his consultant (the esteemed Joe Owades) came up with the flavor profile and formula for New Amsterdam (which was a very good beer, and unsurprisingly in many ways quite similar to Sam Adams Boston Lager, which  hit the market around the same time).   His answer was that one of the primary things they did to arrive at a prototype for the final product was to concoct and taste various blends of a large selection of commercial products (both domestic and imported) which were available at the time.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Best Compliment a brewer can get
« on: October 10, 2015, 11:13:51 AM »
...His mind was made up that dark beers taste bad, and are too heavy - he didn't like them at all...

Lots of folks feel that way but often have an "aha" moment (no pun unintended ;D) when they taste the right 'dark' beer.
When I was in college in Iowa in the beginning of the 1970s, my beloved IPA was not distributed in that state, so I pestered the local grocery store manager into ordering a supply of Pabst Bock...and that beer became my preferred alternative (when it was available) to the Bud, Hamm's, and Grain Belt  that everyone was drinking.  Whenever I offered some of the bock  to my friends they refused, and I was looked upon as crazy (in all fairness and in retrospect, that characterization wold be hard to deny).  I usually got the common "they only make when they clean out the barrels every year" comment.
My favorite though was when I offered it to a collegemate in the agricultural department, and he offered the following very poetic observation: "How can you drink that?  Don't you know that stuff will give you the s***s??"   :o

The date on the bottles of the current version of Bally IPA is indeed the packaging date.

I make my own beer ;) too. 
It has been a very long time since I've purchased a full sixpack of any commercial beer...BMC, "craft", or otherwise.
I simply don't need to.

All Grain Brewing / Re: Momentary Lapse of Reason...
« on: August 29, 2015, 10:01:20 AM »
It will be completely beer sanitary. Sometimes we way, way, way over-worry about sanitation. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing. But stuff like bottled water is sanitary enough for beer, no problem. Things like aluminum foil, plastic bags, paper towels, bottled water are all sanitary enough for clean beer fermentation.
Ever since Denny claimed that foil fresh off the roll is good to go, ive trusted that. But just to be safe I spritz with starsan lol

Yeah I always squirt it with starsan and give it a couple of minutes of contact before using it.

I still don't.  After 13 years, no problems.

Same here.  Using foil right off of the roll is perfectly safe.  And with regard to bottled waters (whether distilled, spring, or purified), I believe that most bottled waters nowadays probably get a UV treatment at bottling, the way many of the better non-heat pasteurized farm ciders do.   I've only topped up with bottled water very infrequently, but whether  it is UV treated or not, it has never posed a problem or caused infection.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: What qualifies as "Real Ale"?
« on: August 29, 2015, 09:52:05 AM »
....I do not believe real ale requires use of ingredients from England or any other part of the British Isles or to be brewed there
... The big issue for homebrewers is usually whether CO2 is artificially introduced to carbonate or serve the beer. CAMRA opposes even the CO2 breathers on casks because it interferes with the natural oxidation that otherwise occurs in a cask...
Absolutely orrect with regard to the ingredients.  British brewers have been using American hops (and even American malts)  since the 19th century.  Also, sugars of various types are definitely not a taboo (it can be argued that some truly authentic Brit style ales actually require them)

The co2 issue is a tricky one.  Real Ale should certainly not be overcarbonated (like most American beer and ale is) but where CAMRA's definition loses me is the requirement of allowing air into the cask as opposed to a protective blanket of inert gas, and if you've ever been to England and experienced the difference in quality of Real Ale at various pubs, it becomes obvious that the disallowance of a blanket of co2 or nitrogen is a big mistake.   Allowing air to displace the liquid in the cask as it empties is fine, just so  long as the the turnover in a busy pub  allows a cask to be emptied within a day or two.  Beyond that, exposure to air is definitely detrimental to the beer.  When I was in the UK, I had some really incredibly fine Real Ale...and on the other side of the coin just as much that ranged from "tasting a bit off" to being virtually unpalatable (kind of like the state of "craft" beer in the USA, which is also becoming a bit of a crap shoot nowadays.  LOL)

Commercial Beer Reviews / Re: Things you wish breweries would figure out
« on: August 18, 2015, 08:29:56 AM »
Five different IPA's in the tap room isn't really a variety.
A very good point  along with a number of others in this thread.  I love IPA, but most of them taste and look cloudy and amateurish (and I have a quiet chuckle every time I hear the nonsensical excuse that "IPA is supposed to look that way").

With regard to brewer salaries, in speaking to people I know or have known in the commercial brewing world over the years it is clear that there is quite a wide range.  It depends on a lot of things:  how committed to quality the owner is, the size of the operation, how much business the brewery is doing, and of course, how much the brewer is willing to accept..  I've heard of talented head brewers with a good, specifically focused total brewing education and a proven track record making at least $60k/year...but  brewers working under the head brewer will generally rarely come even close to that kind of salary for two reasons:  1)  they are the "line cooks" of the brewing world and 2)  (based on what I've been told more than once) they are a 'dime a dozen'.

One of the things that a lot of breweries need to figure out (especially the new breed of small, "local" ones) is that rushing product out the door using the 'freshness' hype spin actually often results in clearly sub-par product.  Of course, aside from the impatience factor that is often a holdover from the homebrewing roots of many of the small, local startups,  proper aging/storage is certainly a problem for the new breed of small brewers because time is money; they generally need to turn product around quickly.
Here in NJ there have been quite a few new small breweries popping up and most of them are serving beers that taste like they were brewed last week (and that's not a compliment).

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: No head retention in lagers
« on: August 03, 2015, 04:16:54 AM »
Excessive aging and contact with autolyzed yeast could also be a factor.

Perhaps oxidation could be contributing to a lack of foam?

In any case, I wouldn't blame aging, necessarily.  I can't speak with regard to lagers specifically since while I love them, I rarely brew them...but my  IPA, Porter, and Barleywine/Burton which I brew a lot of and all of which get an average of 8-12 months aging at minimum (and in some cases far longer)  tend to pour pretty consistently with very long lasting heads of foam that leave a generous, clinging  lacing on the glass.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: BJCP catagory for pilsner ale
« on: July 22, 2015, 06:54:39 AM »
I always need help categorizing my beers. Everyone always tells me to enter it as what it tastes like. So, what does it taste like? Even with ale yeast, it could come across as a pilsner depending on the yeast strain, its fermentation and storage profiles...

Precisely...just enter it as whatever it most tastes like. That is. after all, the most important parameter and, in the end, the only one that really matters at all.
I've tasted lager beers made with ale yeast that actually tasted more authentically  'lager-like' than some which were made with actual lager yeast.  As suggested by others in this thread, there are factors at play in the flavor profile of a beer other than the type of yeast (or other ingredients) used.

Commercial Beer Reviews / Re: Stone Pale Ale 2.0
« on: June 23, 2015, 03:32:52 PM »
It's puzzling to me.  Like skylar, I'm not a particularly big fan of Stone's brews (and speaking for myself, don't really understand the hype surrounding the brewery) but I will say that they had a reasonably decent product with their Pale I do have to wonder what compelled them to change it.  Has an official explanation ever been offered?

When ever I see an established product touting the words "improved", the vast majority of the time it turns out to be anything but.  More often than not the words "new and improved" could more accurately be characterized as a consumer warning.
The old saying is, "if it ain't broke, don't fixit". 
I guess they thought that their Pale Ale was 'broke".   ::)

Events / Re: 2015 NHC Impressions
« on: June 15, 2015, 11:23:57 AM »
I was there in spirit. I kept a watchful eye on the forums. Next year is east coast and I will have to make it.

Same here.  Next year's is a very do-able drive for me, so if I'm not on tour or working on the left coast, I fully expect to be able to make 2016 and meet a lot of the folks I've enjoyed reading, comparing notes with, and (open minded old dog that I am) learning from.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Green Beers
« on: June 05, 2015, 05:57:24 PM »
Personally, I prefer taste over historical accuracy. So, I would take which ever route tastes best. Of course, if you are submitting to a contest or if you want to drink your beer as the bourgeoisie or proletariat did, you should age accordingly.
I also prefer taste over historical accuracy. My main goal for my question was that I have seen Mr. Professor post about currently aging his IPAS for extended period as in a year I believe he said. I was just curious how that turns out, or what he does differently than most to ensure that it turns out great. My real search is to brew an IPA that I like or love fresh that still tastes great or has great aroma for longer than say the first 2 months after bottling
You make a good point.  For me, the taste of an aged IPA is what I like, tradition totally aside...probably because the IPA I drank a lot of in the late '60s/early-mid '70s despite it's fairly high price  (Ballantine India Pale) was aged for a full year before packaging and the resulting 70+ IBU bitterness was intense, but very crisp and clean.  The aroma of that IPA was also intense, very probably more intense than the 'authentic'  IPAs of the 1800's  since near the end of the 1 year bulk maturation, Ballantine dry hopped the product and at bottling, very generously dosed it with house-made aromatic fraction distilled hop oil. My source for that info is a series of chats with former Ballantine employees in the early '80s (which was around ten years after the Ballantine plant closed for good),  If you have a bottle of the new Sierra Nevada Hop Hunter IPA handy (or better still, poured on draft), take a whiff of it and the imagine that hop aroma times three...and that will give you some idea of what the aroma of the original Ballantine IPA was like (the recently released re-creation, while quite good, lacks both the intense aroma and the long aged character of the original).
In any case, that's what prompted me to age my own home brewed IPA for 6-12 months on average, and that's how I've done it since the early-mid 1980s.  The real trick (and not always an easy one) is brewing it often enough to allow that kind of aging.   ;D

(late edits to clarify and correct spelling & grammar)

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Green Beers
« on: June 05, 2015, 05:41:56 PM »
The aging of traditional Brit IPAs was not to gain some benefit, it was the nature of transportation by ship.

True to some degree...but the fact is that in those days, many ales and most porters were intentionally and routinely long aged to benefit flavor, even for domestic use.

I'm curious enough about this to ask for your source.
I thought it was pretty well known that in the 18th & 19th centuries especially, well aged beers/ales/porters were generally considered to be superior and premium products (and priced accordingly).  Old Ale or Burton Ale (arguably essentially the same as what came to be called Barleywine when Bass coined the term at the turn of the 20th century)  and vatted Porter are prime examples.  The Porter brewers especially brewed and bulk aged their products in huge quantities and aged them in enormous vessels for a year or even  longer.

There has been quite a bit written about this, there are lots of sources to search but it has certainly been covered quite well (and probably best)  by both Martyn Cornell and Ron Pattinson (both very dedicated and gifted researchers in addition to being two of the  brewing world's best  "mythbusters"), as referenced by others who responded to your query.
Cornell's writings about India Pale Ale are particularly compelling reading (and rather surprising).

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Green Beers
« on: June 05, 2015, 08:03:34 AM »
The aging of traditional Brit IPAs was not to gain some benefit, it was the nature of transportation by ship.

True to some degree...but the fact is that in those days, many ales and most porters were intentionally and routinely long aged to benefit flavor, even for domestic use.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Green Beers
« on: June 04, 2015, 06:48:44 PM »
It has been my understanding that IPAs should be drank fresh....

Not all IPAs.  Traditionally, IPA was a long aged style (even American ones well into the 1960s-70s). 

It's only in comparatively recent years that IPA has been commonly sold and consumed very young.  Drinkers these days do seem to enjoy the young, green hop flavors common to the current wave of American IPAs...and this is a fortunate thing for brewers that don't have the desire or available storage to facilitate the traditional aging that defines the original style.

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