ASBC/MBAA meeting was very nice!

The “Brewing Summit” (the joint annual meetings of the ASBC and MBAA) in Chicago just concluded last Saturday and it was a lovely time.   It was the second time I’ve been to Chicago, and this time I was able to bring my spouse along with me and between the seminars, the sightseeing, and the friends/colleagues we saw, we had great fun.  I even got to wear a “Presenter” ribbon on my name tag – a first for me at an annual meeting for these organizations.   Hopefully I’ll get that opportunity again.   Although I didn’t cover the material quite as well as I’d like, I got some great feedback and plenty of compliments, so that was very nice.  That’s normal, though:  I often try to set my standards just out of my reach so I usually wind up a bit disappointed in the result.   It’s hard to feel confident in your material when you’re sharing the stage with some of the Titans of Sensory Science.

I also picked up a brand-new copy of Charlie Bamforth’s new book “Flavor” and got it signed by the Pope of Foam himself.   It’s not a big book, but it’s a great overview of many beer flavor issues, and it’s written in Bamforth’s conversational style so it’s quite entertaining as well.    Another high point was the “Pearls of Wisdom” talk where Oregon State’s Dr. Tom Shellhammer and Firestone Walker’s Matt Brynildson “debated” various hop topics, such as pellets vs. whole cone, Noble vs. American hops, kettle vs. dry-hopping, etc, only to be put in their place with facts from MillerCoors’ master hop chemist Pat Ting.  Very entertaining.  Wish you were there.

Best food I had while I was there?   Breakfast at West Egg Cafe on Fairbanks.   Their omelettes and potatoes were large and delicious, and service was fast, prices were good.

I took over 13 pages of notes for the events I attended, so once I get the electronic proceedings I’ll do some write-ups on the things I saw.   I promise!

Now I just need to dig out of this backlog of work and get this productivity train rolling again.

So, yeah…

…I’m going to put that last topic on the back burner while I reassess how I want to proceed with it.    That post was originally going to look at the claims of a type of household cleaning product we have in our home, but the microbiology data came back confusing and difficult to explain.   I’ll look at redesigning the test and try to get it posted before next year.

I’ve had a heck of a year in this new position.   Developing, installing, and maintaining QC databases, learning VBA and writing macros to manipulate QC and sensory data, making and shipping training standards for our far-flung taste panelists, preparing to move closer to corporate headquarters, managing product specifications, participating in the ASBC Technical Subcommittee on Sensory, and putting out the various fires that come up in our quality labs.

Anyway, the real reason I’m resurrecting this zombie blog today is to mention that I’ll be heading to Chicago next week to attend the American Society of Brewing Chemists and Master Brewers Association of America annual meetings / Brewing Summit. I’ve been asked to present some information during one of the workshops,  so that will be pretty exciting. As of yesterday, there were about 900 people registered for the event in total.   I’ve been to Chicago once before to attend a Siebel class, and it was a relatively nice place.   I like where I live better, but it was nice.

I’ll probably be taking many notes and posting up some of the more interesting things I find, so check back a few times over the next couple weeks and hopefully there will be some new content for you to enjoy!

Now, back to work.   Taste panel is in 45 minutes and I’ve got more data wrangling tools to put in place!

Good news: A new post is coming!

Bad news:   It’s not exactly beer-related.   But is is related to microbiology, food safety, and kitchen sanitation!    And there is a dearth of real information about this specific topic on the web right now so I figured since I can address the topic with original “research”, I’ll put it up here on the blog so others can gain knowledge from it as well.

That’s all I’ll say about that until the results are in.  Expect it in 1-2 weeks, but I have a backpacking trip scheduled for next weekend, so I hope to post it before that.

I’ll also consider what other topics I can post about that are beer-related, as I know I’ve been VERY delinquent in that regard.

 

Considering new material, and a relevant event announcement

Hello BSS readers,

I know that it’s been awhile since I’ve written, but that should come as no surprise by now.    I have been spending some time recently thinking about how guilty I feel leaving this blog inactive for so long, and considering some material I can post soon.   I’ll do my best to get something up when I can.

Also, I’d like to mention that I’ve received correspondence from a colleague of mine about a beer sensory workshop that he will be running during Seattle Beer Week.    On May 18th at Pyramid Brewery Alehouse in south Seattle, there will be two 90 minute sessions where Ian McLaughlin, of Craft Brew Alliance, will explain sensory science and beer flavor, and will present a number of flavor standards and other types of samples.  It sounds like essentially the same type of material that goes up on this blog, so it could be pretty interesting!

Here is a link to the workshops.  It is $30, but it sounds like that could also get you a free tour of Pyramid Brewery and discounts on food and drink.   And if I can swing it, maybe you’ll even see me there…

http://www.seattlebeerweek.com/events/681-Beer-tasting-Beer-Judging-101

Tickets:

http://beer101sbw-srch.eventbrite.com/

New Year, New Job, New Posts

Hello BSS Readers, and Happy New Year!

I hope the recent holidays have found you well. Again, I shall apologize for the lack of material that’s been showing up here. The last several months have been rather busy, I guess. I don’t really have a good excuse, but I do have some exciting news! I’ve got a new position in my company! In the next few weeks I am moving out of the quality control lab and taking a brand new position in the company (created just for me). This position will be part of a corporate-level service group designed to solve problems for the company. Part of my job will be to train *all* of our panelists across the company, which I’m actually already doing but this will be in an official capacity and will be more involved and will likely mean more traveling. Another part of my job will be poking through mountains of production data to look for issues and solve problems, and to create reports for the big wigs. I’m pretty excited about all the changes it will be bringing.

Once the dust settles after this transition (like the training of replacements, completion of remodeling projects, etc) I expect that I will have a little more time to put into this blog. I have some material from WBC that I still need to post, and I think I’ll have some other things to discuss as well by that time.

So, onward into 2013! This blog ain’t dead yet!

Macrobrews: “Crap on Tap”?

Perusing the latest issue of BeerAdvocate, I found a letter in the Feedback section referencing an article that I could tell I just had to find: Andy Crouch’s “No Crap on Tap” article.

In this article, Andy lambastes the tendency for many craft/micro beer drinkers to describe beers from the Big Breweries as inferior, poor quality, “crap”. He bemoans the use of catchy rhyming cliches, like saying that your favorite pub has “No Crap on Tap” or, in other words, they don’t sell any Budweiser or its ilk.

It’s refreshing to hear more people voice the position that these macrobrews are far from “poor quality”. It’s something I’ve been saying for years.

In a nutshell: these beers are made to extraordinarily tight specifications, from the raw materials all the way the to finished package quality. They are made to meet amazing levels of consistency from different production facilities across huge geographical distances . The lack of flavor that they have compared to craft beers is not, in fact, a mark of inferiority but rather the mark of a beer that has nowhere to hide any flaws: the slightest slip-up in production means that faults in the flavor would stick out like a sore thumb.

What YOU should do about it: feel free to express your opinions about how lovely or how terrible that beer tastes. But realize that they are just that: opinions. Try not to conflate your opinions with your perception of quality.

Analytical 2:

Analytical 2:

TALK 1: Recent discoveries in beer foam, Karl Siebert, Cornell

Best foam seen with lowest pH (3.?) and mid-range ethanol (5%), in an ovalbumin, isoalpha acid model system. Very simplified, so not totally accurate.

Above pH data was disputed in a study with actual beer (more foam at higher pH), so something was missing in the model system.

With an unmalted barley protein extraction, a higher pH and mid-range ethanol showed most foam, proving a better system than the ovalbumin model.

Seems like LTP1 protein is the main protein involved, and the interactions are mostly hydrogen bonding.

?s: should use malted barley as changed in proteins occur. Yes, I’m not done with this research yet. LTP1 has been shown to be responsible for gushing, does this disprove that? It may be a matter of degree, where normal beer hs the right conditions for moderate foam production.

TALK 2: Critical review of the measurement of carbon dioxide in packaged beer, Donald Hutchison, AB-InBev

Most instruments use pressure/temperature method. Must attemporate and equilibrate sample, correct for air altitude, and package volume.

TALK 3: CO2 solubility in wort and beers, R. Alex Speers, Dalhousie University

When is the beer saturated with CO2 (when bubble formation starts in fermentation)? pH, sugar, ethanol effects?

ASBC measurement is based on undefined reference standard beer, (sg 1.01, changed 1.015 for unknown reason. No chart or formula has provided justification. No presentation of data analysis of error. Formula says

ASBC method possibly used 95% of the value of CO2 solubility in water.

CO2 is 10x more soluble in ethanol than in water, so why does higher etoh content in beer have a negative influence on solubility as per the formulas?

(Findley, Shen, 1911, J. Chem Trans). The only report on CO2 solubility in beer?!

Why do we measure CO2 at higher temps? More accurate for reading gauges.

Need a tested and unified method, which includes factors for pH, ethanol, and extract, not just T and P.

?s: some reports on solubility ARE available, different formulas are available in the soft drink industry, although they also can’t establish origin. Now, ASBC methods have to be based on published papers. Have you investigated how large differences have to be until we can perceive differences in carbonation? Very small study showed no perceived visual differences from 2.2-2.7vol. (visual only?!?).