Malted Barley Appreciation Society

Malted Barley Appreciation

Society Newsletter

Vol. 4, No. 11                             November 1997

The October Meeting

By Lucy Zachman

If there's anything our gang appreciates, it's a guest speaker who brings a truckload of beer to sample!

Phil Markowski of Southampton Publick House, our speaker this month, discussed the ins and outs of brewing and poured a great variety of his products. A homebrewer since 1984, Phil noted that the increased quality of available ingredients has greatly improved our ability to produce good beers. And as we've improved, so have brew pubs and micro breweries. In fact, Phil said the way his brewpub works is similar to a large homebrewing process.

Phil said he tries to buy ingredients from the country in which a particular style originated and "brew it the way they brewed it." He sticks to two yeast strains that he uses in most of his products, but he'll add some cultured yeasts on occasion.

The economics of running a brewpub, however, mean that often the brewer has to settle for less than the best ingredients and he can't always brew the style of his choice. You have to make a profit in order to keep going, Phil said. Sometimes, that means brewing beer that is slightly different than the style we beer connoisseurs are familiar with.

With its 15 bbl system, Southampton brewed about 700 bbl in its first year of operation. Now, thanks to distribution in New York City and elsewhere, they are up to about 2,000 bbl. a year.

Southampton generally offers five regulars and three seasonals. Currently on tap are Helles lager, American Wheat, IPA, Porter and Alt. Seasonals include "Secret" Ale, cask conditioned Burton Ale and Oktoberfest.

Phil offered a number of samples from his brewpub and discussed each of them at length. Following is a list and brief description of each:

Secret Ale -- A German "Sticke" (secret) style with a fruity nose. It was lightly dry-hopped, but the hop flavor/bitterness was quite pronounced. Ingredients included Steinbach malt, Helles two row, Vienna and a little chocolate, wheat and caramel wheat, with Hallertau and Spalt hops and Weiheinstephaner yeast.

Helles -- This beer had a sour nose that Phil developed, intentionally, with 1�% sour malt. Also used were Vienna and Helles malts, Hallertau hops and yeast #3470 (Wyeast #2206), a strain used by 70% of the breweries in Germany, Phil said.

Oktoberfest -- Phil described this beer as falling between a Vienna lager and a Marzen Oktoberfest. It was light on malt flavor and hop nose, but had a pleasant dry finish. Phil said that, in his opinion, most Marzen styles were just too "sticky", which could be why this Oktoberfest seemed a bit light for style, but still quite nice. German malts included Helles, Vienna, 10 degree Munich, Caramel and a bit of sour malt.

Porter -- This brew was very dry, very chocolatey and pretty darn strong! Some compared it to an Imperial Stout. Malts included English chocolate and black, Munich and 10 degree Munich, with East Kent Golding and Cluster hops.

Belgian Double Wheat -- An original indeed! Phil used a secret yeast that he wouldn't disclose, but other ingredients were unmalted wheat, Helles malt, a bit of sour malt, coriander, orange peel and Curacao.

Saison -- While he used Dupont yeast, Phil said he was leaning toward a Saison Regal (more orange or amber) with his interpretation rather, than a Dupont. His Saison was aged six weeks in oak and has Curacao added to the Belgian pale malted wheat, sour malt, and Kent Golding hops.

Peconic County Reserve -- To finish up our Southampton tasting, Phil poured this very dry, oak aged Peconic Reserve. Michael Jackson described it as having a "light, soft start; restrained sweet apple in the middle; quickly moving to a crisp attack of assertive (but in-balance) Calvados, and an oakey, sappy, bitter finish." Phil added Chardonnay grape juice and grapes harvested from a local winery which gives this beer its distinctive dry sourness and acidity.

After all that, I'm tired. See ya next meeting!

Note to readers: The Malted Barley Appreciation Society has joined the World Wide Web. Check out our page at: Malted Barley Appreciation Society Home Page.

We also have an E-Mail address. Any E-Mail can be sent to the editor at:
my E-Mail address. Keep those E-Mails coming in!

On Wednesday, November 12, 7:30 PM, the Malted Barley Appreciation Society will have our next monthly meeting. This meeting will mark the triumphant return of GABF-winning brewer Garrett Oliver, of the Brooklyn Brewery. Garrett will discuss his Abbaeye de Brueklyn, the Monster Barley Wine (Currently on draft at Mug's Ale House) and whatever else takes his fancy. In addition, many good homebrews should be available for the tasting. As usual, the meeting will be held at Mug's Ale House, 125 Bedford Avenue in Brooklyn. See you there!


by B.R. Rolya

In August, Bob and I took a trip (with his parents) to Germany and France. We continued our extensive research into the different beers of Germany (and wines of France) that we had started in Franconia two years ago. Unfortunately, we were slightly constrained by Bob's parents who had other interests besides beer, but by the end of the trip, it was easier to convince them to join in our research.

We started in K�ln (Cologne) for business reasons and made a point to try as many K�lsch beers as possible during our stay there. Only beers made in K�ln can be called K�lschbier, even if the same style is brewed elsewhere, since the name is protected. K�lsch beer is served in small .2 litre glasses made of very thin glass. The waiters carry a round tray with a handle at the top and round holes for glasses, sometimes in one tier, sometimes in two; since the glasses are so small, everyone is always ordering another round. By the end of our stay there, Bob's parents, who don't drink much beer, were ordering 2 or 3 in one sitting - quite a compliment to the brewers of K�ln! One of the "only in Europe" high points was being able to buy K�lsch beer at the convention center while working. The brand served was probably the Bud of K�lsch, but we still enjoyed plenty of them.

One of the beers that we particularly enjoyed was at P.J. Fruh. Their Fruh Echt K�lsch had a very rich, golden color; a delicate floral aroma; and a dry, crisp finish with very mild bitterness. We also enjoyed Ph�ffgen K�lsch, still brewed on the premises, which had a very subtle flavor and faint hop presence. At Ph�ffgen, we tried a summer specialty of herring, which turned out to be a whole raw fish, but after the initial shock, we found it to be rather tasty. The beer at the Malzm hle (malt mill) brewpub was more malty than the others we tried and a little less dry, but also had the characteristic floral aroma. The traditional food at Malzm hle was very good, except for the sauerkraut which arrived with chunks of ham swimming in it, after we were assured that it contained "no meat at all!". We sampled a few other K�lsch, both on tap and in bottles, but none of them stood out as being exceptional.

We then continued on the vacation part of the trip and made our way to the Black Forest via train and car. The Black Forest isn't particularly known for local beer, so much of what we drank there was from Bavaria, but we still found the occasional local gem.

One day we visited the town of Alpirsbach, which, surprisingly, was not listed in Michael Jackson's Pocket Guide. Alpirsbach is the site of a large abbey that was highly influential during the 11th and 12th centuries, and the monks became known for their beer which was brewed from the unusually soft water of the local hills. As we drove into town, we could smell the brewery and knew we had to stay overnight. We stayed in a little hotel across the street from the brewery and fell asleep to the aroma of boiling wort.

The brewery makes several different styles, including Alpirsbacher Kloster Weizenbier which had a pleasant banana and clove aroma and was very refreshing to drink. We did find it to be somewhat weak in flavor, but we tried this one from a bottle in another town in a strange, makeshift bar. The "bar" was set up for a few weeks in the summer during the town's festival and consisted of planks set across a shallow riverbed. We caught it at the tail end when the boards were creaking and sagging beneath the weight of the patrons. After making our way down a rickety set of steps to the riverbank, we purchased our beers and unsteadily walked onto the planks and sat down at a picnic table, hoping that we wouldn't fall through to the water that was about a foot below us.

On tap in Alpirsbach, we enjoyed the Dunkel which had a lovely caramel color, amazing head retention, and a good malt aroma. This beer was very light in body and had some caramel notes in the malt flavor. The "Export" which seemed to be pils-type beer, was very refreshing and with a mild flavor, but didn't stand out as anything special. The "Special", which the bartender informed us was a "normal" beer, like a Helles, but seemed more like a pils. It was absolutely crystal clear with a delicate malt aroma and a slightly tart finish; like the Dunkel and Export, it had a big, foamy head.

The German portion of the trip concluded in Munich where we only had about an 11/2 hours to drink beer before catching a train to Paris. We hurried off to the Augustiner beer garden, which is conveniently located near the train station, and had half-litres of their outstanding Helles which is pleasantly malty in its aroma and flavor with a clean finish. We then literally ran back to the train station, caught our train, and readjusted our palates to the fine wines of France.

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Troubleshooting Guide

by George De Piro

Have you ever tasted something in a beer, but not been able to figure out what it was? Hopefully this guide will help you out. Knowledge of the aromas and flavors of beer, and how they are formed, is vital to being a good brewer. Only when you know how to control the flavors that you are tasting can you brew beer as you envision it.

Acetaldehyde: Smells like Budweiser (unripe apples). It is produced by yeast during fermentation, and then reduced by the yeast in the conditioning tank. Its presence in beer can be a sign of extreme youth, but is just as easily caused by removing the yeast from the beer too soon. Rarely encountered in homebrew.

Alcoholic: You all know this one; have a whiff and sip of vodka. Higher alcohols present a similar sensation to ethanol, but harsher and more solvent-like. You can almost sense that they will give you a hang-over.

Astringent: A dry, puckering sensation. Is often likened to extreme bitterness or even sourness, but it is distinctly different. Leaves a harsh, dry feeling in the mouth. This is most often called "that homebrew tang." It is caused by many things, each yielding a subtly different taste. The most common causes are using chlorinated water (medicinal notes from chlorophenols), wild yeast infection (spicy or medicinal phenols), excess tannins in the beer (grape skin sensation) caused by oversparging or boiling specialty grains. Perhaps the most common flaw in homebrew because it has so many different causes.

Bitter: Most often associated with hops. Not a fault in every beer, but it is in some. It is sensed on the back of the tongue.

Burnt: A phenolic, ashtray-like flavor/aroma associated with anything that has been burned. It is beyond "roasted." Burnt character can be introduced into beer by the excessive use of roasted grains or malts, or the scorching of the mash.

Butter: Caused by the chemical diacetyl. It is desirable in some beer styles, but unwanted in many more. It is most often caused by bacteria of the genus Pediococcus, but can also be produced by brewer's yeast. Some yeast strains are more prone to leave residual diacetyl than others. Removing the yeast from the beer too soon will also cause diacetyl. Introducing oxygen into the fermenting beer prevents the yeast from reducing diacetyl and will also lead to its presence in the beer. Many English breweries do just that to increase the buttery notes in their beer. This also greatly reduces their shelf life, though (oxidation effects).

Caramel: The aroma and flavor associated with caramel candy. It is sweet, and somewhat similar to diacetyl (the two compliment each other nicely). It is derived from the use of crystal malts and is formed to a lesser degree during the boil.

Cardboard or paper: Usually detected on the palate. This is the result of oxidation. Air introduced into the wort or beer at any point other than pitching time can (will) produce this. Very common in imported beers.

Corn: Caused by Dimethyl Sulfide (DMS). DMS is produced during the boil. It boils at 100 F (38 C) and is evaporated off during a vented, vigorous wort boil. Some DMS is expected in beer, especially malty lagers. Without it, beer would be quite bland. It should not be present in large enough quantities to be perceived as corn, though (unless the beer has corn in it!). Excess DMS is usually the result of poor ventilation of the boil, a less-than-vigorous boil, and/or slow cooling of the wort.

Estery (fruity): Can be sensed as any number of fruits, but most common are banana, pineapple, and raspberry. Most often caused by underpitching and/or under aerating the wort. Can also be caused by high fermentation temperatures and excess trub in wort. Esters are greatly influenced by yeast strain; some yeasts (such as Weizen strains) produce them copiously despite the brewer's best efforts to keep them in check. Other yeasts are very forgiving (The famous "Chico" ale yeast used by Sierra Nevada) and ferment "cleanly" under adverse conditions.

Harshness: When you can't quite put a precise adjective on the beer, "harshness" often fits. Caused by several things, but most often associated with astringency (see above). Can also be caused by high-molecular weight ("higher" or "fusel" alcohols). Higher alcohols are often caused by high fermentation temperature or stressing the yeast (underpitching high-gravity wort).

Hoppy: You all know the smell and taste of hops, so I won't go into detail.

Husky/Grainy: Not necessarily astringent; can be perceived simply as the flavor of grain. Very common in light-colored brewpub beers. I have a theory, which is mine, that this is caused by brewing light-colored beers in less-than-soft water. I could be wrong, though...

Malty: The taste and aroma of malt should be something you are all familiar with. It is different from sugary sweetness; more flavorful and satisfying. The smell of a decoction mash and the flavor of fresh, imported Munich malt are good examples of the sensation. Spaten Dopplebock is another good example of maltiness.

Meaty/Broth-like: Caused by methional produced during fermentation that is too cold. I've not experienced this one in my own beers, and I often push the lower temperature limits of yeasts. Dave Miller says it's so, though. File it away in the unfortunate event that you need this info!

Medicinal: See astringent, because they are often found together. Usually caused by brewing with chlorinated water and/or wild yeast. Unrinsed iodine or chlorine bleach will also cause this.

Metallic: Very often found in the foam of hoppy beers. If it is also in the palate of the liquid, it is most likely caused by exposure to metal (like using a chipped enamelware pot for brewing). In most developed countries the government is fairly strict about keeping iron and zinc levels low in the public water supply, so it is NOT usually caused by high-iron water!

Moldy/Musty: A sensation similar to that of entering a wet basement or unused summer cottage with a leaky roof. Also described as earthy. Usually caused by mold, either in the beer or on the malt that the beer was made with. Corked beers are often a touch musty and earthy, but in a pleasant way. Not desirable in most beer styles.

Phenolic: See astringency and medicinal. The other forms of "phenolic" are perceived as being smoky, band-aid-like, plastic, electrical fire-like, spicy, clovey, and Listerine-like. These are all caused by wild yeasts. Note that some wild yeasts will impart a very pleasant spiciness to the beer (if you're lucky), but it must still be considered a flaw in most beer styles. You will find phenols, usually the pleasant spicy ones, in many Belgian beers and German HefeWeizen. Fresh Orval is sometimes described as having a "bad-aid" note, but rarely is that considered pleasant or "to style."

Roasted: A more pleasant version of "burnt." The proper use of roasted grains and/or malts can add pleasant roasted tones to a beer, even imparting coffee and chocolate notes. Most appropriate in stouts and porters.

Rotten Eggs/Sulfury: Self explanatory. Caused by hydrogen sulfide (H2 S). Normal aroma during lager fermentations. Can also be caused by bacteria. Some beers, such as Spaten's, have a touch of sulfuriness that some find pleasant. That can be achieved by sealing the beer in a conditioning tank before the sulfur completely dissipates during the lagering process.

Rubbery: Not quite the right description of yeast autolysis, but the best that I can do. Rarely encountered in any beer. The best way to learn about it is to store a thick slurry of yeast at >70 F for a few weeks. Take a whiff. After you stop gagging, make a mental note of the smell.

Salty: Self explanatory. Caused by excess table salt (sodium chloride), magnesium sulfate, or other salts. Rarely encountered. Soapy: Ever say bad words as a child and upset your mother? Than you know what this is like. If not, try showering with your mouth open. It is caused by high fermentation temperatures which make the yeast produce high levels of fatty acids.

Solvent: Caused by ethyl acetate and higher alcohols produced when fermentations are too warm. The problem is especially common in high-gravity fermentations (that is, worts rich in sugar, not on Jupiter, although that may do it, too).

Sour: Acids are perceived as being sour. There are subtle differences between the flavors of different acids. Vinegar (acetic acid) is sharper than lactic acid

Sweet: Another one that you should all know. Sweet is not necessarily the same as "malty." Some beer styles allow for a high degree of sweetness, others do not. A beer that tastes inappropriately sweet could be the result of a stuck fermentation, too high a mash temperature, or using an extract that has low fermentability (like Laaglander extra light).

Skunked: This flaw is common to commercial beers that have been stored in light. Not many homebrewers are foolish enough to do that, so it is very uncommon at contests. The odor is almost exactly like that of a skunk. If you're a city dweller, open a bottle of Heineken to learn what it smells like. Light reacts with hop compounds to cause this sulfury, yet distinct, odor.

Toasty: Similar to light roastiness. Very appropriate in Oktoberfest beers. This character is derived from malts that have been kilned at higher temperatures than pale malt, but not roasted (i.e., Munich malt, toasted wheat malt, etc.).

Yeasty: The best way to learn this aroma/flavor is to smell and taste fermenting beer (especially an overpitched starter culture). It is somewhat rubbery and sulfury, but definitely unique. Not usually desirable. Some styles, such as HefeWeizen, can be mildly yeasty, but it should not be the most prominent flavor or aroma.

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