Sunday, October 28, 2018

What's Brewing IV

Red Baron attended the fourth edition of What’s Brewing, a workshop about beer and brewing, organized at and by the Carl-Schurz-Haus.

I vividly remember the inauguration of the series in 2014, missed the second beer seminar in 2015, and still have some good recollection of the third workshop in 2016.

The scientific background of those seminars is supported by the periodic table of beers.

The initial masters of ceremony from 2014 had reunited for the 2018 edition, or shall I write vintage. The difference between the first and the fourth workshop was that the man from Los Angeles, James Tutor, has developed into a well-known and respected authority of the craft beer brewing scene while the multilingual and literate guy from Gent, Frank Geeraers, has become an international know expert and writer on beer brewing and its history.

As a nostalgia, Frank showed my slide of 2014 presenting the parade of beers tasted then.

Not only James and Frank have developed but between 2104 and 2017 the microbrewing scene as well. In the States, the number of microbreweries has doubled from 3500 to 7000. While in the south, their density is low, in the north, there are not only red and blue, but brew states too, notably Montana and Colorado, as Frank explained.

The audience of the 2018 workshop, or should I write my drinking buddies, were mostly young people, possibly one reason why discussions only slowly shifted into a higher gear. It required the tasting of some beers before the keywords taste, yeast, and Reinheitsgebot fired up a lively exchange of views.

The alcohol content of a beer is a flavor enhancer. Red Baron regularly makes the experience when drinking the ideal isotonic beverage, alcohol-free white beer, for lunch in a restaurant. Its taste does not compare to that of the regular stuff.

Although the first two beers presented at the workshop were low in alcohol, they were still full of taste. Jester King Le Petit Prince (2,9%) is a wild ale with a touch of lactobacillus. Its fermenting is delicate for care must be taken that the “delightful interplay between noble hops and farmhouse yeast” does not turn sour.

Schneeeule Glattwasser (2.9%) is a farmhouse wild ale too. The meaning of Glattwasser is related to the brewing process when water is passed through the mash to extract the wort. Further runnings contain lower and lower concentrations of wort but may still be used for brewing a low-alcohol beer. Schneeeule (snow owl) was brewed on the 2nd running of a bock beer. Some beetroot was added to intensify the taste.

Braupakt is brewed in a collaboration between Weihenstephan, the oldest German brewery of 1040, and the Sierra Nevada, a former home brewery in Chico, CA, of 1980. This fruity wheat beer with 6% alcohol is most interesting because of its aftertaste of pale ale.

Frank is distributing the collaboration beer.
In my opinion a Mexican Standoff Stout is a contradiction in terms and so is the taste, or in the words of Bill Clinton’s modified dictum: It’s the taste, stupid: "Stout brewed with oat flakes and smoked malt, fermented with tonka beans (the vanilla of the poor) and cinnamon sticks;" an aroma bomb. The Mexican Standoff Stout is not a beer to be drunk but a liquor to be sipped.

Stone White Ghost, the "true authentic Berliner Weisse served only in cans, for Cans are better. Period." The Stone brewers used the traditional lactic acid cultures of the 1920s and write that this particular Berliner Weiße with 4.7% alcohol is a bright and sparkling thirst-quencher.

How true; there is no need to upping its taste with raspberry or woodruff syrup. For me, Stone White Ghost was the revelation of the evening. The quest for new strains of yeast that are reproducible is on. However, that a young craft brewer combed a sofar unknown yeast strain out of the beard of an old beer brewer, I regard it as fake news.

Kitchen Brew/Braukollektiv is a New England Indian Pale Ale (NEIPA) using London Fog yeast. Its bitterness is remarkable with a Plato of 14.8⁰ (about 70 IBU > International Bitterness Unit).

The Stone/Hanscraft Quince Essentialtakes the haze craze with the apple-pear-citrus flavor of the oft-ignored quince fruit." Goodby Reinheitsgebot, just for some extra individual taste?

Not so for the Spencer Imperial Stout with an alcohol content of 8.7%. It only blends US malts, and the US hops with a selected Belgian Trappist yeast strain. The description reads like one from a wine tasting: "A massive, roasted, malt-forward American Trappist take on the Anglo-Russo Imperial Stout Tradition. Luxuriantly frothy foam, waves of coffee, chocolate, and caramel sensations, a generous blend of dark fruit flavors. Intense and robust."

Following this heavy taste, the Emma Heimspiel (home match) was a relief. Craft brewer Almut Emma Zinn from Freiburg was present at the workshop. Her hallmark is Beers without beards. In spite of rinsing my mouth, it was difficult to fully appreciate the subtle taste of Emma’s light summer beer.

The utter thrill for a craft brewer is the creation of a beer using the ultimate combination of the four terroirs of brewing: malt, hop, water, and yeast. In this context, Frank showed his un-ingredient list. On it are fruit, coffee, dry hopping, beard yeast, and haze. Note that dry hopping now is the standard in mass beer brewing.

With the un-ingredient list on the wall, James is enjoying his beer.
With 10 p.m. approaching Red Baron had to leave and did not taste the tenth beer. Anyway, I safely arrived home on foot and by streetcar with my blood alcohol not being excessive.

Here is the parade of empty bottles and of one can of the beers professionally presented at What’s Brewing IV.

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