Author Topic: Diacetyl  (Read 1179 times)

Offline Phil_M

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Diacetyl
« on: February 02, 2017, 12:50:38 PM »
I swear the more I research this topic, the more I dislike the BJCP and the typical American craft beer snob.

In my ongoing efforts to brew British styles more authentically, I've been working on trying to figure out more on diacetyl being appropriate. So, I went to shutupaboutbarclayperkins.com and ran a search:

http://barclayperkins.blogspot.com/search?q=diacetyl

Most of the hits are on lagers, that's fine. Usually on how to reduce diacetyl. OK, that's what I'd expect for a lager...

Then I start seeing that Ron mentions several German lagers having diacetyl, and notes that this seems to be a good thing. Fine, but try getting that point across to some...diacetyl isn't evil, and I don't think it deserves the "allergic" response many have towards it.

I guess this is a rant. But I feel better now, so there's that. I'll stop buy and grab a pack of Samuel Smith's Nut Brown Ale on the way home tonight and enjoy my diacetyl in peace.
Corn is a fine adjunct in beer.

And don't buy stale beer.

Offline pete b

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Re: Diacetyl
« Reply #1 on: February 02, 2017, 01:03:27 PM »
I think some people train themselves to perceive "flaws" rather than what's good. I am fine and even favor a little diacetyl in some beers. Even a little DMS in some lagers is OK with me.It all needs to be barely there though.
I'm not a super taster and grateful for it.
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Online tommymorris

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Re: Diacetyl
« Reply #2 on: February 02, 2017, 01:15:09 PM »
To me diacetyl can quickly overwhelm other flavors. A tiny hint can be fine, but, most of the times I have tasted it in my home brew the flavor mutes hops and malt flavors and all I taste is movie theater butter beer.

I see your general point though. Some flaws in small amounts can add character.  A hint of green apple in a lager can be nice. A bit of fruity ester can be nice. It's just when these flavors dominate that I want to dump the batch.

Offline Phil_M

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Re: Diacetyl
« Reply #3 on: February 02, 2017, 01:35:07 PM »
I see your general point though. Some flaws in small amounts can add character.  A hint of green apple in a lager can be nice. A bit of fruity ester can be nice. It's just when these flavors dominate that I want to dump the batch.

Exactly. Seems most tasters go "This beer has 'flaw X', subtract Y points", when perhaps listing if the "flaws" detract or add to the overall experience.
Corn is a fine adjunct in beer.

And don't buy stale beer.

Offline klickitat jim

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Re: Diacetyl
« Reply #4 on: February 02, 2017, 02:02:43 PM »
Everyone has their own sensitivity level to various things. Each one ought to become aware of that. I know that I pick up diacetyl much sooner than most people but I am not necessarily turned off by it. To me in low levels it can easily be confused with Carmel, then, butterscotch, and when it's really strong it's movie theater butter. I get the slickness somewhere in the butterscotch level and up. In my opinion, those styles where it is acceptable it should still not be at the slickness level. The question should always be is it taking away or adding to the drinkability of the beer. If it's adding to drinkability it's not a flaw even thought it might be a flaw in a different style. Is Lactic sourness a flaw in a berlinerweiss?

Offline udubdawg

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Re: Diacetyl
« Reply #5 on: February 02, 2017, 02:12:07 PM »
I don't think it's the BJCP's fault per se.  Rather I look at human nature.

A lot of judges, when new, are a bit unsure of their skills.  And we definitely have some higher-ranking judges who are a little overbearing with the "why the hell did you push this terrible beer?!" in a mini-BOS setting. 

I believe being unsure of one's skills leads to a "low-hanging fruit" or "Fault-Finder" type of judge.  I just wrote about this in a cider article last night.  Certain flaws make a decent percentage of judges just tune out.  "What is this s***, butter?! How dare they! The horror, the horror - I'm done!" - and they give the rest of the beer (or mead, or cider) short shrift.  That's not OK.

The easiest way to not have anyone question your judge skills is to ding the beer and not have it move on.  So we have people looking for reasons to dislike the beer, instead of looking at its merits.  People who see styles as extremely narrow, rather than existing on a continuum, with some overlap between styles.  And if we don't address it, those judges often become experienced judges with the same skewed perception of flaws and their severity.

/soapbox

cheers--
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Offline HoosierBrew

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Re: Diacetyl
« Reply #6 on: February 02, 2017, 02:29:50 PM »
I don't think it's the BJCP's fault per se.  Rather I look at human nature.

A lot of judges, when new, are a bit unsure of their skills.  And we definitely have some higher-ranking judges who are a little overbearing with the "why the hell did you push this terrible beer?!" in a mini-BOS setting. 

I believe being unsure of one's skills leads to a "low-hanging fruit" or "Fault-Finder" type of judge.  I just wrote about this in a cider article last night.  Certain flaws make a decent percentage of judges just tune out.  "What is this s***, butter?! How dare they! The horror, the horror - I'm done!" - and they give the rest of the beer (or mead, or cider) short shrift.  That's not OK.

The easiest way to not have anyone question your judge skills is to ding the beer and not have it move on.  So we have people looking for reasons to dislike the beer, instead of looking at its merits.  People who see styles as extremely narrow, rather than existing on a continuum, with some overlap between styles.  And if we don't address it, those judges often become experienced judges with the same skewed perception of flaws and their severity.

/soapbox

cheers--
--Michael




Well I hope it does get addressed. I'm not surprised but I appreciate your insight. I would throw out BoPils as a good example of where the diacetyl issue is often over criticized. Nobody wants a popcorn butter beer ( I detest much more than a hint), but a trace as being ok and to style is pretty well spelled out in the guidelines.
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Offline klickitat jim

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Re: Diacetyl
« Reply #7 on: February 02, 2017, 02:50:30 PM »
I don't think it's the BJCP's fault per se.  Rather I look at human nature.

A lot of judges, when new, are a bit unsure of their skills.  And we definitely have some higher-ranking judges who are a little overbearing with the "why the hell did you push this terrible beer?!" in a mini-BOS setting. 

I believe being unsure of one's skills leads to a "low-hanging fruit" or "Fault-Finder" type of judge.  I just wrote about this in a cider article last night.  Certain flaws make a decent percentage of judges just tune out.  "What is this s***, butter?! How dare they! The horror, the horror - I'm done!" - and they give the rest of the beer (or mead, or cider) short shrift.  That's not OK.

The easiest way to not have anyone question your judge skills is to ding the beer and not have it move on.  So we have people looking for reasons to dislike the beer, instead of looking at its merits.  People who see styles as extremely narrow, rather than existing on a continuum, with some overlap between styles.  And if we don't address it, those judges often become experienced judges with the same skewed perception of flaws and their severity.

/soapbox

cheers--
--Michael
When I first judged I had only taken the online written. No rank, well recognized I guess or pending. Anyway, it was awkward. I suddenly had no idea what to do. I wanted so bad to peak at the other guys sheet. I didn't want to be wrong. After a miserable flight like that, I decided no more. I was just going to go with what I was perceiving and crank out my score sheets. About 2 beers into the next flight my score sheet was about 12 points lower than the certified and national I was sitting with. They were kind and asked why. Huge diacetyl! In a APA. Steve Antoch happened to be walking by and I asked him what he thought, he took one sniff and said diacetyl. Handed it back and walked off. Since then I just go with my own perceptions. However I never argue with any other judge about what they are perceving.

Offline dmtaylor

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Re: Diacetyl
« Reply #8 on: February 02, 2017, 03:57:14 PM »
I don't think a wee bit of diacetyl is necessarily a "flaw" in any style.  The problem is when it is so distracting that you cannot taste anything else very well and it becomes difficult to describe the rest of the beer's merits or flaws.  Unfortunately also, for supertasters or those who may be highly sensitive to diacetyl or other off-flavors, this happens more often than they'd prefer.

BJCP or "flaw" or not....... if it tastes good to you, then it tastes good to you, and for you, that's all that really matters.  And same for me.  And same for the next guy & gal.  Do you enjoy the beer?  Would others enjoy the beer?

On the other hand..... I sure love the taste of IT in a lager.  If it doesn't have IT, then I don't want it.  (I can just hear some of you saying, "Ni! Ni!" ;) )  So I am, in fact, part snob, and part not-snob.
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Offline bayareabrewer

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Re: Diacetyl
« Reply #9 on: February 02, 2017, 04:28:04 PM »
I don't think a wee bit of diacetyl is necessarily a "flaw" in any style.  The problem is when it is so distracting that you cannot taste anything else very well and it becomes difficult to describe the rest of the beer's merits or flaws.  Unfortunately also, for supertasters or those who may be highly sensitive to diacetyl or other off-flavors, this happens more often than they'd prefer.

BJCP or "flaw" or not....... if it tastes good to you, then it tastes good to you, and for you, that's all that really matters. And same for me.  And same for the next guy & gal.  Do you enjoy the beer?  Would others enjoy the beer?

On the other hand..... I sure love the taste of IT in a lager.  If it doesn't have IT, then I don't want it.  (I can just hear some of you saying, "Ni! Ni!" ;) )  So I am, in fact, part snob, and part not-snob.

couldn't agree more. A very skilled and successful winemaker once told me there are only two type of wine in the world, the ones you like to drink and the ones you don't. For me, the same applies to beer.

Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Diacetyl
« Reply #10 on: February 02, 2017, 04:29:46 PM »
Everyone has their own sensitivity level to various things. Each one ought to become aware of that. I know that I pick up diacetyl much sooner than most people but I am not necessarily turned off by it. To me in low levels it can easily be confused with Carmel, then, butterscotch, and when it's really strong it's movie theater butter. I get the slickness somewhere in the butterscotch level and up. In my opinion, those styles where it is acceptable it should still not be at the slickness level. The question should always be is it taking away or adding to the drinkability of the beer. If it's adding to drinkability it's not a flaw even thought it might be a flaw in a different style. Is Lactic sourness a flaw in a berlinerweiss?
My perception of Diacetyl is not at threshold levels, I have no problem getting it in a beer that has the spike in an off flavor course, but that is >3 times threshold. Do I mind some Diacetyl in beers? If the level is low enough it is something that may add to the beer.

Diacetyl is a flaw to most judges, but in the appropriate beer they wax poetically about the clove and banana, two things I really don't appreciate in beer. There is no accounting for taste!

Another thing is when a judge attributes any apple ester as being acetaldehyde. Everyone says Bud has acetaldehyde, but it is an apple ester that the AB yeast produces. Mitch Steele says that Bud doesn't release the beer until the acetaldehyde level is below threshold. Link for the sceptical, go down to the acetaldehyde paragraph.
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Offline reverseapachemaster

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Re: Diacetyl
« Reply #11 on: February 02, 2017, 04:35:34 PM »
The answer to OP's question is that the right amount of diacetyl is whatever amount you enjoy in the beer.

I don't believe in enslaving myself to trying to brew with authenticity if for no other reason than because there's not a single right answer to how any style or region brews. You can find British beers (or English beers, more specifically) with high levels of diacetyl all the way down to low levels. No part of that range is more or less authentic.
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Offline Phil_M

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Re: Diacetyl
« Reply #12 on: February 02, 2017, 04:37:37 PM »
I guess my gripe is that most consider diacetyl to be a flaw as the generalization they operate under. Nobody would call clove in a hefeweizen a flaw, though it would be in an APA. However, clove isn't dumped in the "flaw" category the same way diacetyl is. Diacetyl is a bogeyman, though honestly I've had more beers that have had issues with clove.

What you prefer in beer is another matter. I don't like "white" IPAs. They're revolting. I could have a perfect 50 white IPA and I'd still refuse to drink past a sip or two. I'm just trying to point out that I think too many people consider diacetyl an allowable flaw, rather than just another flavor that can be done right or wrong. (see my above example on clove)
Corn is a fine adjunct in beer.

And don't buy stale beer.

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Re: Diacetyl
« Reply #13 on: February 02, 2017, 04:39:10 PM »
I swear the more I research this topic, the more I dislike the BJCP and the typical American craft beer snob.

In my ongoing efforts to brew British styles more authentically, I've been working on trying to figure out more on diacetyl being appropriate. So, I went to shutupaboutbarclayperkins.com and ran a search:

http://barclayperkins.blogspot.com/search?q=diacetyl

Most of the hits are on lagers, that's fine. Usually on how to reduce diacetyl. OK, that's what I'd expect for a lager...

Then I start seeing that Ron mentions several German lagers having diacetyl, and notes that this seems to be a good thing. Fine, but try getting that point across to some...diacetyl isn't evil, and I don't think it deserves the "allergic" response many have towards it.

I guess this is a rant. But I feel better now, so there's that. I'll stop buy and grab a pack of Samuel Smith's Nut Brown Ale on the way home tonight and enjoy my diacetyl in peace.

Why are you upset with the BJCP rather than the individual judges?
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Offline Phil_M

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Re: Diacetyl
« Reply #14 on: February 02, 2017, 04:57:28 PM »
I swear the more I research this topic, the more I dislike the BJCP and the typical American craft beer snob.

In my ongoing efforts to brew British styles more authentically, I've been working on trying to figure out more on diacetyl being appropriate. So, I went to shutupaboutbarclayperkins.com and ran a search:

http://barclayperkins.blogspot.com/search?q=diacetyl

Most of the hits are on lagers, that's fine. Usually on how to reduce diacetyl. OK, that's what I'd expect for a lager...

Then I start seeing that Ron mentions several German lagers having diacetyl, and notes that this seems to be a good thing. Fine, but try getting that point across to some...diacetyl isn't evil, and I don't think it deserves the "allergic" response many have towards it.

I guess this is a rant. But I feel better now, so there's that. I'll stop buy and grab a pack of Samuel Smith's Nut Brown Ale on the way home tonight and enjoy my diacetyl in peace.

Why are you upset with the BJCP rather than the individual judges?

Not so much the BJCP, moreso the beer community as a whole.
Corn is a fine adjunct in beer.

And don't buy stale beer.