Today’s plan for WBC: Hops 1, Barrel aging, and more?

Well, due to the lack of free wi-fi at the Hilton yesterday, I blogged the whole thing on my phone. Not fun. Today we’re at the convention center and I’m expecting there to be wi-fi so that I can use the iPad, which will actually be rather excellent in comparison.

Today I plan to attend the Hops 1 technical session, and Barrel aging. I don’t see much else on the schedule today that would catch my attention more than these (even skipping the keynote this morning, as Columbia Sportswear’s Tim Boyle doesn’t really lift my sails).

I’ll do my best to post stuff again today, so stay tuned.

Update: You’re telling me that wi-fi at the Oregon Convention Center costs $13 a day for 128K download speed? Have I found a wormhole to 1994?

This is ridiculous. No way am I going to do this on my phone again. I’ll have to take notes and paste them up later. Sorry.

Sensory Workshop, WBC

Sitting in on (and lending a hand to) the Sensory Workshop for craft breweries.   It’s an all day event, and right now Annette Fritsch (Boston Brewing) is giving an overview introduction. 

More updates to follow as I think of them.

Update: Annette is explaining the importance of separating your preference for a beer from whether or not it tastes like it should. As a panelist in a production facility, you will likely be tasting some beers that you dislike (I know I do), but you must resist the urge to mark the sample down and instead focus on how close the sample is to what it should taste like. Very difficult.

Update 2: Teri Horner (MillerCoors) is covering raw material sensory analysis. They check their dilution water (apearance, taste, flavor) every FOUR hours!!

Update 3: Just before lunch, Amanda Benson (Deschutes) introduced a small handfull of flavor standards and explained their origins and characteristics. Later, they will pass out 3 blinded samples and quiz the attendees as to their identity.

Now, Annette is back and discussing sensory methods for QA.
In/Out method: testing whether samples are in or out of your normal variation (go/no go). Hard to do statistical analysis on this simple data. Intensive for panel leader, as identification of issues can be subjective. +: short, easy to train, simple. -: no descriptive information, subjective, need lots of data, directly impacts the release of products so it can lead to bias (“we need to ship this beer!”, or “I will have lots more work to do if we destroy this beer”).

Degree of Difference:
You know samples are different (via diff tests), degree of difference tests can tell you how different.
+: less time and resources than full descriptive profiling. -: useless unless attributes are specified and panelists are trained, cutoffs must be established.

Some discussion of Difference from Control (an article on this already exists on this site; I’ll skip it here).

Update 4: Next up, Gwen Conley from Port Brewing/Lost Abbey to discuss intermediate/advanced training.

Panel types: acceptance, difference/descrimination, production release, profiling. Most of this talk on descriptive profing. She has little information on her slides, and her oratory is fast and all over the place so we’ll see how much of this I can record…

Now she gives examples of scales and intensity rating for basic tastes. They’ve passed out more tasting samples for a demonstration: ketchup, for example, where flavors are broken apart and rated on their intensities.

Shelf life: hold beer at cold, room temp, and hot (partially for micro reasons, not absolutely necessary). I think hot (85-90F) is useful to an extent, as it can give you a rough idea of how products behave differently which can be useful for solving issues further upstream.

Package/product interactions: can liner material can pick up aromas, so take care where they are stored. “Garbage truck caught fire outside Ball plant, and cans smelled like burnt electrical wire, fish, diapers, etc”.

Update 5: Now welcome Lindsay Guerdrum, from New Belgium, discussing in-process tasting. What to do if malts are mixed in a silo? If a fermentation is moving too slow? Without in-process tasting, you may not catch this until it gets too expensive to fix. It saves money and time and resources to have this type of tasting procedure. It keeps products consistent for you consumers. Validate your panelists continually with spiked samples to ensure they are trained and sensitive. Who to put on this panel? Validated, knowledgable of your products, consistent, unbiased (yeah right), unemotional, communicative people. Define and establish: anomalies, who monitors and communicates issues, where and when in the process it is tasted. Make sure you have support from management and tasters; get them to buy-in. Build a profile of the flavor of your beers at different stages of production for comparison. Write decision trees and SOP’s for different scenarios. Hold a blending panel to determine acceptable blending ratios for anomalous beers. Comunicate results. Track anomalies to watch for patterns and pre-empt further issues.

Update last: the round-table expert panel, with the above folks and Lauren Salazar (New Belgium). I think I’ll just leave it here, since this will be all over the place. If something noteworthy comes up, I’ll mention it.

Countdown to World Brewing Congress, 2012

The Hotel Monaco here in Portland is quite nice. I got here a couple days ago to handle a couple of projects for The Company prior to the beginning of WBC, and my time here so far has been pleasant. I went to the Brewer’s dinner which kicked off the Oregon Brewers Festival, and it was alright. Just way too many people; I hate huge throngs of people, especially when they all congregate around the beer tables even though they are not currently getting beer; they really need to put a zone in front of the tables that is reserved for people actually getting beer, and if you want to “hang out” you need to go off somewhere else. The beers I had there were a lime Kolsch from Burnside Brewing (obvious lime flavor extract, a bit too artificial for me even though I love a good kolsch), Hopworks IPX (nice, but a bit too biscuity for me), a couple pilsners whose identities elude me at the moment (obviously very memorable!), and Gigantic Brewing’s Axes of Evil beer (the full name of which reminds me of a show dog’s stage name – it was quite a mouthfull). This last beer was my favorite. It had a very unique aroma which I struggled mightily to identify; it wasn’t something I’d really encountered before. But I was nearing the end of my desire to stay there any longer, so I didn’t really feel like getting more to analyze it further. Maybe I’ll run across it again some time. The last two nights, friends and co-workers and I have been haunting the Shanhai Tunnel bar on 2nd and Ankeny. It’s a bit of a dive, but I like that and one of their bartenders makes a mean Caipirinha (yum). Where to go tonight? We’ll see…

Tomorrow, the pre-Congress seminars start, and unfortunately I’m not registered for any of them (an extra $200 almost for each one). There may be a chance I can get in to some of them since I know people who are involved with about 3 of them or so, but we’ll have to see what happens.

When the Congress officially starts I will do my best to make a few posts about what I see, but typing a bunch of stuff out on-site with an iPad may be a bit too awkward. I may start a post in the morning and gradually edit it to add more as the day progresses, or I may just wait until I get back to my room to record my thoughts. I have no idea what’s going to happen, but I’ll try to give you some glimpses here and there.

Btw: need info about WBC events schedule and such? There’s an app for that! Google Play and the iTunes app store both have this free app, and it has all sorts of information. Pretty handy.

Finally, I apologize about any typos over the next week: the iPad is highly inconvenient for the accurate typing of lots of text.

Not really a new post

Well, seeing as though I rarely find myself posting here, I suppose all that this site is good for anymore is the archive of posts I’ve managed to assemble. I haven’t forgotten or ignored the site over the last couple months, but I certainly have not been doing much with it. Every once in awhile I get a comment that needs an approval or a reply, but apart from that I’ve had very little time to actually post more content. I still want to post more at some point so I’m not abandoning the site by any means, but I certainly can’t say that I’ll be a prolific poster. The sensory department here at my company is growing by leaps and bounds with new systems and procedures being added all the time, and this means I tend to have little time to do stuff like write for this blog.

That being said, next week I’m traveling to Portland to attend the World Brewing Congress. This is a large meeting of brewing industry professionals and academics from all over the world, held every 4 years. I went to the one in San Diego in 2004, and that was awesome (had an excellent introduction to authentic Brazilian food at Rei do Gado, as well). I hope this year is just as exciting; having a look through the program I see that there are a number of talks and symposiums that sound interesting.

While I’m there I hope to have the opportunity to write some posts (and tweets and the like) about the material I find and the people I meet, so stay tuned! There’s a link to the WBC site in the banner to the lower left if you’d like more information.

The final word on beer serving temperature.

Sounds a bit arrogant, eh? Well, follow along and we’ll see if you disagree.

It seems like every week I run across some sort of discussion about what temperature to drink your beer at. These conversations usually involve some people (who are often fairly well educated in the various topics of beer) enlightening the beer n00bs of the best way to serve, pour, and drink various beers. This “best way” is most often dependent on the style of beer in question, with lagers being served colder than ales and other ideas like that. Well, I’m here to tell you that is a bunch of bollocks.

Now, don’t get me wrong: everyone who drinks or eats anything should know that volatile flavor compounds are more readily released and detected when the sample is warmer. The same with agitation: when you stir, swirl, swish, or chew your sample (be it solid or liquid) you’re allowing more volatiles to be released. Also, controlling serving temperature has great importance when conducting sensory experiments, not only for ensuring that all samples are treated in the same way, but also to maximize (or whatever the goal is) the chance of picking up certain flavors. These are all fundamental ideas in flavor science.

But beyond these considerations, my point is that once you are armed with that knowledge you should be free to enjoy your food or beverage in whatever way you like most. There are a number of instances where a beer will taste better when it is colder than it does after it warms, regardless of the style. I’ve experienced this many times, particularly when drinking beers from small microbreweries who may not have the control of quality parameters that larger breweries have. Some beers will be wonderful and defect free when drank below 40F, but after the beer warms in your glass some of the ugly defects that you didn’t notice earlier start to come out. Diacetyl is usually the culprit here, but it can be other flavors as well. Plenty of times I’ve opened a can of Heineken and poured it into a frosty glass and enjoyed the first half, but by the time I near the end of the glass oxidation flavors are starting to make themselves apparent and the beer becomes far less tasty. In these cases you almost NEED to drink the beer cold, regardless of whether it is an ale or a lager, just to enjoy it. Another reason I enjoy my beer colder is that it’s more drinkable and refreshing, and yes, I often like my ales drinkable and refreshing. Sometimes when flavors hide behind the coldness it can make the beer easier to drink. For example, beers that have higher alcohol and a lot of solvent-like flavors can be tamed when drank colder, while they can sometimes get more aggressive and unpleasant as they warm.

What might bother me the most about this serving temperature topic is when a pub will assume that this is the best temperature at which to serve their beer. Sure, it may be better for delineating the subtleties of the beer flavor, but what are those extra 10 degrees doing to the stability of the beer? It’s allowing the beer to oxidize and age that much faster, so while you may be trying to appreciate the beer now you are also making a poorer quality beer for the next pint.

What it boils down to is this: don’t tell me how to enjoy my beer. I know how and when to use serving temperature to achieve different goals, but when I am drinking beer because I just want to drink a beer, I will serve it at the temperature that I want it at, not what you think it should be. And I encourage you all to have the same mind set: if you like your IPA at 35F, that is your call and I won’t ever have a problem with it. I just hope you’re not under the impression that all the flavor you taste is all the flavor there is in that beer.

Hop Candies: woah.

If you are a fellow hop appreciator, then you may be interested in these.   A reader of this blog contacted me with some questions a little while back, and also offered some of his unique products to me to try:  hop candies.  These are Jolly Rancher-like candies made from the aromatic oils of a single hop variety, and they are very interesting.

Despite tasting like you’re chewing on a fresh hop cone, these candies are not really bitter at all (there may be a hint of bitterness if you stretch your imagination), but the aroma is very authentic.  Lots of myrcene and caryophyllene, the types of flavors that you’d pick up from a dry-hopped beer (and that are lost when you hop in the kettle).  He sent me a sampling of 3 varieties (Cascade, Fuggle, and East Kent Goldings) and while they are all similar they do have their distinctions.  For one, the Fuggle seems slightly more bitter than the Cascades, but it is a minor difference.  The bitterness comes across more like a slight tickle from time to time, so it’s not that disagreeable if you aren’t normally a fan of bitterness.

The main concern that I had, and was shared by the various panelists who tried them, is that they are a little too big.  These candies are about the size of the small Tootsie Rolls but slightly longer, and I think they could be about 1/2 – 2/3 of that size, as they seem to drag on a little too long.  Some of my panelists thought that the aftertaste that lingered for quite some time was unpleasant in the way it stuck around, but personally that was my favorite part.  With the candy in your mouth you had the continuous resinous raw/fresh hop flavor explosions, but after it was gone it became more subtle, with floral and citrus notes. A unique take on breath fresheners…

They are available from a number of online sources, listed below.  Check them out!  They’re probably unlike any other candy you may have had.
Grape and Grainery

2 more articles on deck, maybe today, maybe some other day soon!

Linalool – Fresh and Floral Hop Aroma

Linalool has a rather prominent, but at times contested, place in hop aroma. Over the past several years, many brewers and research groups have attempted to use it as a marker in the assessment of the qualities and quantities of hop aromas, both in the hop field and in the beer bottle. Other investigators have been hesitant to distill the representation of such a complex phenomenon as hop aroma into a single compound, and have downplayed its usefulness as a chemical marker. Nevertheless, linalool is an influential part of hop aroma in many varieties and, depending on hopping regimes, in finished beers as well. Here, we’ll discuss the importance of this aromatic compound in hops and brewing.

Linalool is a terpene alcohol, and is closely related to myrcene, being its hydration product.  It is found in dozens (if not hundreds) of plants, flowers, and spices, but in freshly dried hop cones it is generally found at levels of about 25-150ppm (mg/kg).  Due to the ability to have two configurations at the #3 carbon, linalool is found as two stereoisomers (S, R), each having different thresholds and aroma qualities:  S-linalool has a sweeter, more floral aroma and an odor threshold of about 7ppb, while R-linalool has a wood, spicy, and lavendar-like character and a much lower threshold at less than 1ppb.   Regardless of the total level of linalool in a hop variety, the ratio of these stereoisomers in fresh hops seems to be fairly consistent:  about 93% of it is in the R form.  Generally, linalool’s threshold in beer is much higher – upwards of 100ppb  (2.2 and 180ppb, for R and S respectively).   The pure linalool that I use in my sensory department (which I have to assume is a mixture of isomers) has a very pleasant sweet, tropical, fresh floral character, but is also not unlike the aroma of Froot Loops® cereal.   To be honest, it’s one of the most pleasant aromas I’ve ever smelled, which is probably why it’s a very popular addition to many fragrant commercial products, from perfumes to laundry detergents.   Apparently, it’s so pleasant smelling that it has been shown to reduce stress levels in laboratory rats and inhibit the activity of genes associated with stress hormones.

Despite having an aroma that is only remotely reminiscent of hops, linalool is widely accepted as one of the few compounds that directly contributes to hop aroma in beer.  Being a volatile flavor-active compound, however, the presence of linalool in beer hinges greatly on a number of factors.  Not surprisingly, the variety of hop plays a crucial role in the amounts of linalool available for the beer, but also the growing conditions and the maturity of the plant at harvest time.  Some research breeders have considered using linalool as a way to gauge the readiness of a crop for harvest.  Apart from variety, growing conditions, and maturity, production processes in the brewery have the biggest impact on linalool levels in the beer.  The sweet and floral aroma characteristics of linalool are quite distinct from the hop aromas generated by the noble hop varieties favored by many European brewers, but this is not necessarily due to the varieties themselves (although they do tend to be lower in levels relative to the newer American aromatic hops).   More influential is how these nobel hops are often used in such beers, and that is often via “kettle hopping”, where noble aroma hops are added near the beginning of the boil.  Despite most of the hop essential oils being lost via steam distillation throughout the boil some hop aromas must remain, as this kettle hop aroma is generally described as spicy, woody, and herbal – terms which are obviously not malt-related.   But these aromas are also dissimilar to that of linalool, which must be lost with the rest of the essential oils.  As one might expect, European kettle hopped beers have very low levels of linalool and “sweet, fresh, and floral” hop aroma terms are not associated with these beers.

So, just like hop aroma in general, in order to get more linalool in the beer, one would need to add hops later in the boil so that not so much is lost via distillation.  “Late hop aroma” is imparted by adding hops at kettle knockout or in the whirlpool.  This is where you really begin to notice the impact of some of the essential hop oils, leading to various aromas like citrus, piney, floral, perfume, etc.   The later the addition (ie, the closer to wort chilling) the more linalool will remain in the wort.  Some research has demonstrated that when adding hops at 10 minutes prior to the end of boil, linalool levels can rise from about 8ppb to 60ppb before tailing off near 30ppb by the end of boil.   By contrast, adding the hops just 2 minutes before the end of boil, linalool levels can rise to 85ppb before stabilizing at about 80ppb.   Even without any indication as to what hop variety was used or other parameters, this is a dramatic demonstration of the importance of timing with regards to hop additions.

As you probably already know, dry hopping is the best way to get the elusive hop aroma into beer in significant amounts.  But, interestingly, research has shown that this doesn’t necessarily apply to linalool.  While some linalool may be imparted by dry hopping, it seems that it is rather negligible compared to late kettle hopping.  In addition, many of the other aromatic compounds contributed to the beer during dry hopping (such as methyl esters and ketones) will likely mask the presence of linalool to the point that it would be difficult to detect.

The final way that linalool is introduced to beer is via glycosides (which I’ve discussed before).  Glycosides are interesting because they can carry aromatic compounds into the beer rather surreptitiously and release them under various circumstances.   A glycoside is essentially a sugar molecule which is bound to another molecule at its #1 carbon position, and in such a configuration they are not flavor-active.  However, during fermentation, yeast enzymes break this bond and release the aromatic molecule.  Some of these glycosides contain linalool as the aromatic compound.  It’s not always enzymes that are needed to cleave these molecules in twain;  sometimes an acidic environment is all that is needed.  In fact, glycosides also play an important role in wine flavor, as wine is quite acidic.   But while most beer not as acidic as wine, acid hydrolyzed glycosidic cleavage reactions still take place in beer.   It’s been shown that if glycosides survive into the finished beer, they can continue to release linalool as the beer ages, and depending on what kind of hop product is used and other production parameters, this source of linalool may actually be more influential to beer flavor than the linalool which comes from the hops directly.  I’d really like to delve a little deeper into glycosides and how they are introduced and modified throughout the brewing process, but besides the little bit of research I’ve found regarding them, all the references I can find now are in German…  and I don’t speak German.  If anyone knows of any papers about glycosides and beer flavor, please let me know.

And, for now, that’s all I have to say about that.  I think the next posts will be about some beer we’ve drank recently.

See you next time!


Peacock, V., “The Value of Linalool in Modeling Hop Aroma in Beer”, Master Brewers Association of the Americas Technical Quarterly, 47:4, 2010, p.29-32.

Kaltner, D., Mitter, W., “Changes in Hop Derived Compounds During Beer Production and Aging”, Hop Flavor and Aroma:  Proceedings of the 1st International Brewers Symposium, MBAA 2009, p.37-47.