Tag: Beer Floaties

Beer Floaties, Floaters and Snowflakes, Oh My!

If you’ve never seen “floaties” in bottled beer, that’s typically a good thing.

Floaties in Seven-Year-Old Witbier.

[Floaties in Seven-Year-Old Witbier.]

What are “beer floaties”?

Floaties (also known as floaters or “snowflakes”) are small chunks of coagulated protein that have fallen out of the solution of the liquid beer as a result of aging, and are often (but not always) darker in color in darker colored beers.

Beer Floaties in Five-Year-Old Flanders Red.

[Floaties in Five-Year-Old Flanders Red.]

Floaties can develop and become noticeable in as little as two years depending on the
particular beer style and storage conditions (floaties may appear sooner in beer that is
not refrigerated).

To be clear, floaties are not the same thing as yeast sediment which is normal in bottle-conditioned beers of any age.  Yeast tends to be smooth and dense and gives beer a cloudy hazy appearance when aggressively disturbed as when rolling a bottle of bottle-conditioned Hefeweizen or swirling the bottle during the pour.

Foaties in Yeast.

[Foaties in Yeast.]

Floaties, on the other hand, are approximately bread crumb-sized clumps of protein and if present are easily disturbed like the white particles (“snowflakes”) inside a snow globe.  Even some beers that are appropriate for aging like Gueuze and Flanders Red may likely develop floaties over time.

Floaties don’t taste like much of anything (bland grain mush/soggy white bread crumb), but if serving an aged beer with floaties, the floaties can sometimes be left behind in the bottle if poured carefully.

When purchasing beer, remember that floaties are a sign of aged beer, and if floaties are visible when held to the light in a bottled beer that is not intended for aging, the beer should probably be avoided, especially if the beer is beyond a year of the bottling date, or if there is no bottling date at all.

That said, some fresh unfiltered IPAs (particularly dry-hopped versions) may contain elevated levels of “chill haze particles” due to increased polyphenols from the hops that bond to malt-derived protein and beta glucan, which can be exacerbated if the beer is not properly “cold crashed” or chilled prior to filtration.  Such special cases are separate from age-related floaties that appear in beers that have been sitting on the shelves beyond their best-by date.

To be clear, it’s highly unlikely that old beer causes any sort of health risk to humans, but most beer is beyond its prime after a year, and even less for most hop-forward styles of beer.  Again, if no packaging date or “best by” date is present on a beer that contains floaties and was not intended for aging like some sour beers and high ABV brews, it is best to avoid purchasing that beer as a general rule of thumb.

Floaties in Imperial Pilsner.

[Floaties in Imperial Pilsner.]

Lastly, just because a beer is old does not mean it will contain floaties.  For example, no floaties were visible in a 12-year-old bottle of bottle-conditioned lager.

Related Article: Beer Syndicate Reviews Decade-Old African Beer Forgotten in a Hot Garage.


Hi, I’m Dan: Co-Founder and Beer Editor for BeerSyndicate.com, Beer and Drinking Writer, BJCP Beer Judge, Gold Medal-Winning Homebrewer, Beer Reviewer, AHA Member, Beer Traveler, and Shameless Beer Promoter.

Beer Syndicate Reviews Decade-Old African Beer Forgotten in a Hot Garage

Up front, allow me to apologize for some inexactitudes in the title of this article:

1. We actually tasted THREE African beers of the same brand called “Tusker”, which is a popular lager produced in Nairobi, Kenya. One of the beers was 12 years old, another was 7 years old, and the third one was recently purchased.

Tusker Labels

2. The older beers were first stored at room temperature, and then accidentally left unrefrigerated in a hot garage for the last four years. Of course the term “hot garage” is relative. In this case, the garage would reach temperatures upwards of 117 °F (47 °C) during many months of the year.

117 Degrees F

We figure there might be some questions about this tasting experiment, so here’s a rough attempt to answer some of those:

Q1. Did anyone get sick or die from drinking this old beer?

A1. Nope.  No reports of stomach aches, headaches, dizziness, blindness, greyscale, herpes simplex 10, gender impermanence, partial or complete death, space-time fissures, ransomware, or explosive-D.

Q2. Were these beers intended for aging like some sour beers or some high ABV beers?

A2:  No, the beers in this tasting were ABSOLUTELY NOT designed for aging.  The beers in question were your run-of-the-mill standard lager beers weighing in at 4.2% ABV.  In fact, the brewery indicates “Tusker” is best within one year of bottling, and these dates are listed on the bottle.

Printed on Bottling Date

Q3: Wait, so you’re telling me that a brewery from Africa has been clearly listing easy-to-understand calendar bottling dates and “best by” dates on their beer for at least the last twelve years?  Why don’t more breweries in the U.S. and the rest of the world do this?

A3: Fantastic question.  We assume that the African brewery that produces Tusker is utilizing some ridiculously expensive advanced technology unavailable to most other breweries in the world.  We can’t think of any other possible explanation for why a brewery would not want to let consumers know when their beer was bottled.  Let’s move on from this question quickly please.

Q4: If you knew these beers weren’t intended for aging, especially out in a hot garage, what possessed you do conduct this experiment?

A4: Three words: science.  (Well, “three words” if you include the first two words of the previous statement; and now an additional twenty-nine words from this sentence used to explain the first statement.  So, technically thirty words?  Well, now a total of fifty-one words.  Or do the words “twenty-nine” and “fifty-one” actually count as one single word or as two words?  Sorry, let me get back to you on this question.)

Q5: Why African beer?

A5: Great question.  Why African beer?  No particular reason other than we intended to do a beer review on Tusker twelve years ago when we first bought it, but didn’t get around to it.  Then, five years after that, we bought a new bottle, and… you got it… didn’t get around to it.  We finally got around to it.

Q6: Do you think the beers aging in the hot garage did anything weird to the beer?

A6: Not really.  I could be wrong, but my impression is that heat generally accelerates the aging process, so perhaps the beer took on an increased aged character?  But after twelve years, what’s the difference.

Q7: I’ve heard that after a few years, beer can develop “floaties”, or little clumps of coagulated protein.  That twelve-year-old beer must have looked like a snow globe, right?

 A7: Like you said, “floaties” in old beer can be pretty common.  They may look weird, but floaties aren’t dangerous or taste like much of anything.  Oddly enough, there were no floaties in any of these beers.  My guess is that floaties tend to develop in beer with more protein in suspension such as in beers that contain some portion of wheat like in the image of a seven-year-old Canadian wheat beer below.

Floaties in Seven-Year-Old Wheat Beer

We did, however, notice that all of these beers were bottle conditioned, and that layer of yeast at the bottom of the bottle was a darker shade of brown in the older beers.  Below is a rare image of yeast and sediment caked on to the bottom-inside of the 12-year-old bottle of Tusker, also known as a “Yeast Totality”:

Yeast Sediment Layer Inside a Beer Bottle

Q8: So I’m assuming the older beers were disgusting.  The 12-year-old beer must have been awful, a drain-pourer for sure, right?  How did it not make you guys sick?

 A8:  No, they weren’t disgusting.  I get that some people have this natural fear of old food because we know that many kinds of food spoil after a certain time and can make humans sick.  Of course, there are some well-known “shelf stable” exceptions like honey and bottled spirits like vodka that basically have an infinite shelf life.  And although most beer certainly isn’t intended for aging, I would suggest that a properly bottled beer never “goes bad” and spoils in the way chicken or milk might.  Instead, most bottled beer tends to be “best” by a certain date, but likely never gets to the point where it is undrinkable or would make somebody sick.  This is because the alcohol and, in many cases, the hops in beer act to preserve the beer, preventing harmful organisms from growing in the beer.

Q9: So I’ve heard that old beer tastes a certain way because of oxidation.  They say beer will start to taste like cardboard.  Is that would happened here?

A9:  “Cardboard” is a commonly quoted descriptor for old or oxidized beer.  But that’s a generalization because not all styles of beer will age in such a way that they necessarily smell or taste like cardboard.  But, yeah, a faint cardboard or papery character was slightly noticeable in these aged beers, though the more unmistakably obvious descriptor in this case was cooked squash.

Q10: I like the elephant on the label of this beer.  I assume the name “Tusker” is in reference to the elephant on the label and that image was chosen because the elephant is a popular image associated with Africa?

A10: Sort of.  The beer is named in memory of the company’s founder, George Hurst, who was killed during an elephant hunting accident in 1923.  “Tusker” is a nickname for a male elephant.

Q11: A little morbid, but okay. Any other elephant facts while you’re at it?

A11: Sure.  Here are five: (1) In 1956, a contestant on the game show “The Price is Right” won a live elephant. (2) Elephants are one of the few species that can recognize themselves in the mirror.  (3) Elephants are not scared of mice as some myths suggest, but they are scared of ants and bees. (4) African elephants can distinguish different human languages, genders and ages associated with danger.  (5) Female elephants go through the longest gestation period of all mammals, with pregnancy lasting 22 months.

Q12: Okay, enough with the elephant factoids.  Twelfth and final question:

What were the beers like?

A12: Here are some descriptions, starting with the freshest one and ending with the 12-year-old beer:

Tusker Finest Quality Lager (Fresh Bottle)

Overall, Tusker is a bit on the honey-sweet side, particularly for a lightly flavored Pilsner.

Tusker BeerA hard pour into the center of a snifter glass barely managed to muster up a mere three millimeters of quickly fading off-white head over a clear pale apple juice-colored body.  Aromatics include a hint of dry Kix cereal, faint tupelo honey, golden corn syrup, subtle malt, a note of flour, a touch of calcium and uncooked biscuit.  Honey-forward flavor with a note of cream corn in a generally watery, but thirst-quenching, light-bodied Pilsner. Medium-high carbonation, medium-low sweetness and bitterness although absent of actual hop flavor, with an aftertaste of tupelo honey.

 

Tusker (Seven-Year-Old Bottle), a.k.a. “The Abused”

A touch darker in color compared to the fresh Tusker, with clearly oxidized squash-like character present throughout.

Old Tusker BottlePours a slightly hazy pale amber body forming about 1/8 inch of off-white frog-eyed head that fades in less than ten seconds.  The aroma is reminiscent of cold but cooked butternut squash with a touch of maple syrup and a pad of butter, light brown sugar, no hops and no alcohol.  Cooked squash is the main player in the flavor along with medium-sweet honey suckle nectar, watery Port wine, medium-low carbonation, no hop character, sweet graham cracker paste, Honey Smacks cereal, watery prunes, and wax paper with an aftertaste of white raisin and Port.

Tusker (Twelve-Year-Old Bottle), a.k.a. “The Crypt Keeper”

Compared to the seven-year-old Tusker, the twelve-year-old version was more complex and mellow, slightly darker in color with more cedar, honey and tobacco character and less squash.

Old Tusker Beer BottleThe lightly dusty bottle of twelve-year-old Tusker pours a slightly hazy deep gold body with an off-white film of head that fizzles out in under ten seconds.  The aroma is suggestive of baklava, light raw squash with salt, cedar-aged cream soda, cold Lipton iced tea, honey, a hint of chlorine, peeled sweet potato, and cedar cigar box inside a humidor.  Flavor impressions include honey, mild squash, light brown sugar, vanilla cream soda aged in cedar wood, medium-sweet cane sugar, inhaling an unlit honey-dipped cigarillo, Lipton “Brisk” iced tea with a light lemon tanginess, no hop character, and a touch of brown paper bag leaving behind an aftertaste of loose tobacco, subtle prune and white raisin.

So there you have it.  That’s what some old beer that was stored in a hot garage was like.  No one died.  No one hated it.  In fact, dare I say, the old beer was actually enjoyable, with the 12-year-old version scoring an 85/100… as far as aged-Tusker goes.


Hi, I’m Dan: Co-Founder and Beer Editor for BeerSyndicate.com, Beer and Drinking Writer, BJCP Beer Judge, Gold Medal-Winning Homebrewer, Beer Reviewer, AHA Member, Beer Traveler, and Shameless Beer Promoter.

Canadian Bomb Shelter Beers for the Imminent Apocalypse

With the official Doomsday Clock currently the closest it’s been to “midnight” since the onset of the Cold War in 1953, people are starting to ask the big question:

What beer should I stock up on for when the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse come riding into town?

In response, BeerSyndicate sampled a selection of seven-year-old canned beer to determine which ones held up the best in preparation for prolonged life in a vault. 

By the way, the concept of the “Doomsday Clock” was originally created by former Manhattan Project physicists in 1947 and has been maintained ever since by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists with past contributors including the likes of Albert Einstein and J. Robert Oppenheimer to name a few.  The clock itself is the symbolic analogy for a human-caused global catastrophe with “midnight” representing the end of civilization.

As of January 2017, the clock is 2 ½ minutes to midnight. 

Doomsday Clock

Look, you got lucky with Y2K.  You dodged a bullet in 2012 with the Aztec calendar thingy.  Any day now, the Large Hadron Collider might do us in with an accidentally spawned Earth-swallowing black hole, assuming a Homo-(sapien)-phobic A.I. doesn’t pull the plug on us first.  And of course it’s only a matter of time before we hit DEFCON 1 with North Korea, Iran or New Jersey.

The bottom line is that sooner or later, your luck is gonna run out.

But BeerSyndicate’s got your back.  At least when it comes to picking a beer that will survive the first seven years of the nuclear winter.

Doomsday Six Pack

Nuclear Winter is Coming…

For this review, we reached back into the depths of the beer fridge and pulled out three beers that time forgot.  Three beers that somehow rather remarkably held up seven years past their bottling date.

What’s even more surprising is that none of the beers in question are particularly well-suited for aging unlike a cellar-friendly Gueuze or a big boozy such-and-such.  Perhaps it was the refrigeration that slowed the aging process while canning fended off much of the dreaded effects of beer-degrading oxygen and light.

Or maybe the traditional low hopping rates of the beer styles sampled actually helped with the perceived preservation of the beers since hop character and bitterness are typically the first things to fade.  As hop character diminishes, the perceived sweetness of a beer increases conversely.  Being as how these beers are only mildly hopped to begin with, not only would any pronounced hop character be inappropriate, any increased perception of sweetness due to hop degradation may actually benefit the beer somewhat.

Regardless of how, these beers largely avoided the telltale characteristics of inappropriately aged beer that leave a once crisp balanced brew tasting often like squash, cardboard and sweet apple juice.

Rickard’s White.

Full disclosure: Rickard’s White is not a craft beer.  It’s brewed by Molson Coors of Canada, and according to Molson, the recipe is based on the American-made Blue Moon recipe, but uses different ingredients. Unlike Blue Moon however, Molson makes no attempt to hide the fact that Rickard’s White is not craft (the Molson brand is displayed right on the can plain for the world to see).  Also displayed on the can is the bottling date code of “F260” (translation “Feb. 26, 2010”), which according to Molson marks the start of the beer’s 110-day lifespan.  Needless to say, this beer has exceeded that 110-day window by a bit.  In any case, “ageability” likely has nothing to do with whether a given beer is marco or micro brewed, not that you’d be terribly picky in a post-apocalyptic wasteland.

The Gist:  While we can’t tell you how well a Blue Moon might fare after seven years in the can, we can tell you that Rickard’s White was surprisingly still identifiable as a Witbier— lightly fruity with pleasant notes of coriander in the aroma and flavor.  As is, the beer scored a 75/100.

Rickard's WhiteDescription: Rickard’s White pours a thick finger of dense fluffy off-white head that dissipates in about 30 seconds, revealing a hazy golden honey colored body with a fair amount of the expected age-derived “floaties”. Yes, even after all these years, trace amounts of lovely coriander are still detectable in the aroma especially as the beer warms.  Other aromatics include guava, blueberry yogurt, Juicy Fruit gum, papaya, Apple Jacks and ‘Asian honeydew snow smoothie‘ with the only aged character being that of spent tea bag. Flavor-wise, subtle coriander is cut with a citrus tang, Sprite, a hint of guava, light malt, baking powder and alcohol. Medium carbonation, medium-low body.  The beer finishes with an aftertaste of mild seltzer water and a touch of popsicle stick.

What are “floaties”?  Floaties (also known as floaters or “snowflakes”) are little chunks of coagulated protein that have fallen out of the solution of the liquid beer as a result of aging, and are typically darker in color in darker colored beers.  Floaties can develop and become noticeable in as little as two years depending on the particular beer style and storage conditions (floaties will appear sooner in unrefrigerated beer).

Beer "floaties", floaters or snowflakes.

Beer “floaties”, floaters or snowflakes.

To be clear (no pun intended), floaties are not the same thing as yeast sediment which is normal in bottle-conditioned beers of any age.  Yeast tends to be smooth and dense and gives beer a cloudy appearance when aggressively disturbed as when rolling a bottle of bottle-conditioned Hefeweizen or swirling the bottle during the pour. Floaties, on the other hand, are bread crumb-sized clumps of protein and if present are easily disturbed like the white particles (“snowflakes”) in a snow globe.  Even beers that are appropriate for aging like Gueuze and Flanders Red will very likely develop floaties over time.  Floaties don’t taste like much of anything and are fine to drink, but can sometimes be left behind in the bottle if poured carefully.

KLB Raspberry Wheat.

The Gist: After more than half a decade in the can, raspberry is still detectable in the aroma and flavor of KLB Raspberry Wheat. Despite an aroma of Raspberry Schweppes Ginger Ale suggesting a possible sugar bomb in the taste, the beer is actually on the dry side, more similar to a light-bodied raspberry seltzer than a raspberry soda pop. [4.5% ABV.]

KLB Raspberry WheatDescription: Pours about a pinky of quickly fading eggshell white head with plenty of frog eyes (bubbles) and some lacing over a hazy medium amber body.  The aroma is reminiscent of Raspberry Schweppes, pomegranate, Martinelli’s sparkling apple cider, and La Vie De La Vosgienne raspberry bon bon candy.  Flavor: raspberry seltzer, mild alcohol, light acidity, raspberry seeds, honeysuckle, strawberry apple juice, effervescent medium carbonation with a hint of vanilla leave behind an aftertaste of wheat husk, light bitterness and raspberry lip gloss in this light-bodied brew.  Score: 77.5/100

Rickard’s Dark.

The Gist: A mild flavored 4.8% ABV dark ale with subtle notes of coco powder and walnuts balanced by a light tanginess.

Rickard's DarkDescription: A self-described English Porter brewed with maple syrup, Rickard’s Dark pours a nearly clear brown with garnet highlights and develops a finger of dense tan head that slowly fades over 30 seconds leaving some lace behind in the glass. The aroma is an interesting mix of raisin, coco powder, dried malt and slightly under-baked wheat bread with hints of balsamic vinegar, tamarind, faint alcohol, dried cranberry, brown sugar, chocolate wafer cookie, walnut, watery coffee, dry autumn leaves and spent Lipton tea bag.  The flavor is mild-mannered and relatively clean with notes of light coco powder, walnut shell, and dusty stick with a medium-low sweetness balanced by a light tanginess, finishing with elements of dry stick and grape skin.  Medium carbonation, medium-low body.  Score: 75/100.

Thus concludes Beer Syndicate’s Bunker Beer Review.

So the next time you’re out stocking up on Nuka-Cola, RadAway, and Blamco Mac & Cheese, remember to pick up a 100 pack of any of these canned beers to help get you through the nuclear winter season.

[All beers were evaluated solely by BJCP beer judges.  In addition, two other seven-year-old canned Canadian beers were sample, namely Amsterdam Nut Brown Ale and Muskoka Hefe-Weissbier, but these did not hold up as well as the others listed above.]


Hi, I’m Dan: Co-Founder and Beer Editor for BeerSyndicate.com, Beer and Drinking Writer, BJCP Beer Judge, Gold Medal-Winning Homebrewer, Beer Reviewer, AHA Member, Beer Traveler, and Shameless Beer Promoter.

[BeerSyndicate.com did not receive any compensation from any party to review these beers.]

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén