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The Homebrew Quiz

Welcome to the #1 Homebrew Quiz Online
By D.J. PANDER

The Homebrew Quiz

Last time we tested your Beer IQ with THE BEER QUIZThis time, we’re challenging your home brewing knowledge with The Homebrew Quiz. Do you think you know homebrewing better than anyone else? If so, you’ve come to the right place. 

Just like before, there are three levels to this quiz: Normal, Challenging, and Hard.

It’s recommended that you begin with Normal , and then proceed from there, however all three levels are provided below.

Sit back, relax, crack open a cold one and put on your thinking cap. We wish you the best of luck. 

NORMAL

CHALLENGING

HARD

[We’d like to offer special thanks to Daniel J. Leonard for his collaboration and technical assistance on this project.]


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Hi, I’m D.J. Pander.  I like beer.  I also blog.

20 American-Made German Pilseners Reviewed and Ranked | BeerSyndicate

American-Made German Pilseners

Most of the beer drinking world is familiar with German Pilsener, or “Pils” as it’s commonly referred to in Germany.  And whether we’re talking about Warsteiner, Bitburger, St. Pauli Girl, Radeberger, König Pilsener, Paulaner Premium Pils, or any other popular Pils from any of the well-known German breweries, all good examples of German Pilseners have something in common.

They’re light-bodied, gold-colored— usually with excellent clarity— crisp, clean, well-carbonated and finish dry.  The best examples exhibit a lightly grainy-sweet malt character which is never dominated by big bold hops.  Sure, hops are there, but they’re primarily used for their bittering properties and not to showcase any of the intense citrusy, piney, tropical fruit, grapefruit notes you often find in some hopped-up American brews.

And while German Pils may not be the most exciting of beer styles, it’s hard not to appreciate the refreshing and delicate balance of a very well-crafted example.

Of course you don’t have to be located in Germany in order to brew a world-class German-style Pils.  In fact, some of the world’s best Pils (such as Trumer Pils of Austria) are brewed outside of Germany, so it was only a matter of time until a growing number of American craft brewers jumped into the game.

Judging CriteriaIf It Looks Like a Pils, Smells Like a Pils, and Tastes Like a Pils…

For this beer review, a panel of predominately BJCP beer judges take a quick look at some of the German-style Pilseners brewed in the good ol’ U.S. of A. to see how ‘Merican craft brewers fare at brewing this bitter, but refreshingly modest German classic.

And while we love a good Czech Pilsner or even an avant-garde interpretation of a classic beer style, what we’re searching for here is a beer that’s clearly identifiable as a traditional German-style Pils.

We’re looking for a beer that if you closed your eyes and simply smelled and tasted it, there’d be little doubt that you’re drinking a German-style Pilsener.

Fair warning:  We fully acknowledge that American-made German Pils is a rather specific and limited category considering most craft breweries produce ales and not the more time/cost-intensive lagers. (Although, we see a trend in the growth of American-made craft Pilsener/Lager style beers in the near term.)

We also humbly acknowledge that this list is further limited due to the highly regional nature of beer distribution.  In short, this is simply a list of 20 American-made German Pils we could get our hands on, not EVERY American-made German Pils on the market.  Lastly, just because a beer didn’t rank very high, doesn’t mean it was bad.  In fact # 20 was quite enjoyable, but just wasn’t terribly representative of a traditional German Pils.  And the competition was fierce, with many beers differing by less than half a point out of 100 after scores were averaged.

And now, on with the show…

20 American-Made German Pilseners Reviewed and Ranked

 

THE CRAFT BEER QUIZ: How Well Do You Know Your Craft?

The Craft Beer Quiz

First we tested your Beer IQ with THE BEER QUIZ.

Next we put homebrewers to the test with THE HOMEBREW QUIZ.

And now we come to the end.

A final challenge to craft beer fans everywhere where we pose the question:

How well do you know your craft? 

Find out with THE CRAFT BEER QUIZ.

Just like before, there are three levels to The Craft Beer Quiz: Normal, Challenging, and Hard.

It’s recommended that you warm up with the Normal Craft Beer Quiz, and then proceed from there.

Good luck.

THE CRAFT BEER QUIZ (NORMAL)

THE CRAFT BEER QUIZ (CHALLENGING)

THE CRAFT BEER QUIZ (HARD)

[Special thanks to Daniel J. Leonard for his collaboration and technical assistance on this project.]


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Hi, I’m D.J. Pander.  I like beer.  I also blog.

Waiter, There’s Cat Pee in My Beer

Cat and Beer

Have you ever sniffed a beer and could swear you detected that unmistakably pungent aroma of cat pee?

How about butter?  Or maybe you’ve tasted something metallic in your beer half-expecting to find a rusty penny resting at the bottom of the glass?

The good news is commercial brewers aren’t actually adding butter, pennies, or cat pee into your beer.

Not yet anyways.

The other good news is that you’re not crazy.

As a matter of fact, “buttery”, “metallic”, and “catty” (a.k.a. “cat pee”) are all well-established adjectives used in evaluating beer, and all of these beer descriptors originally appeared on research chemist Dr. Morten Meilgaard’s Beer Flavor Wheel back in the late 1970s.

Meilgaard Beer Flavor Wheel

Meilgaard Wheel of Beer Descriptors

But the truth is, the more that you’re exposed to all the variety that craft beer has to offer, the more aromas and flavors you’ll come across that don’t necessarily fit neatly into Meilgaard’s wheel.

And it’s precisely at these times when you have to rely on your own sensory experience of things you’ve encountered outside the world of beer to help you better describe and relate to what’s going on with your beer.  Arguably, the more experience you have smelling and tasting different things coupled with the ability to recall such sense data, the better beer evaluator you’d be.

With that in mind, here are some of my favorite beer descriptors that people have used when talking about characteristics found in beer.

Some of these beer descriptors might sound a bit unusual at first, but I’m sure at one time “cat pee” did too. [By the way, the cat pee aroma is typically associated with particular hop varieties used in brewing the beer, reportedly Citra, Simcoe, and Nelson Sauvin.]

Fruit Loops: Sometimes it pays to know your breakfast cereals.  Trying to describe the aroma of Leinenkugel’s Sunset Wheat is one of those times.  In some beers, you might run into a character of Grape Nuts, Wheat Chex, Rice Krispies, Honey Smacks, Kix, Apple Jacks, Raisin Bran, or Corn Flakes, but the aroma of Sunset Wheat is without a doubt Fruit Loops.

Fruit Loops

Saladito: Yes, the character of this salted dried plum “candy” popular in Mexico, but invented in China, can be found now and again in beer profiles.  The last time I encountered it as a flavor component was in a 2013 bottle of Samuel Adams’ Utopias (although not nearly as salty as a saladito).  Other flavor notables for that bottle were Madeira, tamarind, port, barrel, vanilla, cherry, dates, prunes, raisins, molasses, mincemeat, and at 27% ABV, of course alcohol.  You might also find a bit of saladito in the flavor of a Fullers ESB.

Saladito Beer

Cream Soda: Although more often a color descriptor than a typical aroma or flavor element, Innis And Gunn’s Oak Aged Beer displays a cream soda character quite well in the aroma along with butter cookies and a hint of butterscotch.  You might’ve also picked up some cream soda in George Killian’s Irish Red or in Leinenkugel’s 1888.

Canned Asparagus: Probably not an aroma or flavor component the brewer is shooting for, but it’s out there.  Back in July of 2007, Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing’s India Pale Ale exhibited this rather unique character in both the aroma and flavor.  It’s been a while since then, so maybe the asparagus factor in that beer is a thing of the past.

Purple Crayon: Rare, but the semi-sweet, waxy, faintly papery aroma of Crayola purple crayon came up in Phoenix Ale Brewery’s version of a Bière de Garde called Keeper! (Get it… Bière de Garde means “Beer for Keeping”.  Yep.)   You might also sense a bit of purple crayon in Mammoth Brewing Company’s Double Nut Brown.

Purple Crayon

Candy Corn: Being familiar with a variety of candy will come in handy when describing beer.  Notes of Pixy Stix, Smarties, Jolly Ranchers, Sweet Tarts, Wax Lips, and Juicy Fruit gum have all come up depending on the beer.  Candy Corn in particular can be detected in the aroma of Newcastle’s Bombshell along with notes of butter squash and buttered Triscuit or Saltine Crackers.  A hint of candy corn appeared as a flavor component in a bottle of Celis Grand Cru.

Candy Corn

Tootsie Roll: Speaking of candy, the character of Tootsie Roll also pops up from time to time in beer.  You might be able to pick it out in the aroma of Alba Scots Pine Ale (Williams Brothers Brewing), Moylan’s Celts Golden Ale, New Belgium’s 1554, or Leffe Brune.  Some people have noticed Tootsie Roll in the flavor of Southern Tier’s Phin and Matt’s Extraordinary Ale.

Tootsie Rolls

Hair in a Drain: Unless you suffer from trichophagia (the compulsive desire to eat hair), you probably don’t find the aroma of hair in your beer all too desirable.  Depending on the beer, you might detect the more tolerable wet hair or “hair salon” scent, or the more intense permed hair or hot hair in a curling iron character in the nose.  I won’t point out any specific commercial offenders of the hairy variety (often American wheat beers), but you’ll know it when you smell it.

Hair in a Drain

Chocolate Pudding Skin: You know that thin layer that forms on the top of chocolate pudding after a while?  That’s pudding skin and it’s noticeable in some chocolaty types of beer including Boulder’s Shake Chocolate Porter, or in the flavor of Shock Top’s Chocolate Wheat which also displayed a watery Yoo-hoo character— think chocolate milk where the milk was substituted out for water, like Swiss Miss or Ovaltine plus water.

Dry Dog Food:  A Brazilian friend of mine came up with this quasi K9 analog of “cat pee” beer descriptor at her very first beer tasting event, so I can’t take credit for it, but it was spot-on when she pointed it out.  The beer in question that evoked this seemingly impolite descriptor was from a batch of Trader Joe’s 2014 Josephs Brau Winter Brew (Doppelbock).  Other people picked out brown sugar coated Spam, pine wood, paper mache, and hints of Disaronno.  Give it a try; see if you get a whiff of Kibbles ‘n Bits.

Have you come across any interesting beer descriptors over the course of your beer adventures?  Feel free to add a few in the comment section below!

Cheers!


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Want to read more beer inspired thoughts?  Come back any time, friend us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter:

Or feel free to drop me a line at: dan@beersyndicate.com

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

How to Effectively Attack the Craft Beer Movement: A Heads Up to Craft Beer

So you wanna take some wind out of the sails of the craft beer movement, huh Big Beer?

Well, before I tell you how to do that, let’s talk about what you don’t do by using the following example as a case study.

ANHEUSER-BOTCH: A PRICEY LESSON IN WHAT NOT TO DO

In an epic display of advertising gaffery during the 2015 Super Bowl, Anheuser-Busch (AB) aired an $8 million, 60-second commercial which simultaneously managed to insult both craft beer culture and Budweiser’s dwindling customer base by suggesting that the former over-thinks beer, thereby implying that the latter is too, what’s the right word, stupid to be critical about how something tastes. (Link to original ad here.)

In fact, Anheuser is banking that its customers are so dumb as to be completely ignorant that the double-talking mega brewery has been snapping up craft breweries over the last several years in an if-you-can’t-beat-‘em,-buy-‘em business strategy in order to cash in on the craft beer movement, a movement that has steadily been eating away at Budweiser’s shrinking profit margins.

Luckily for AB, not everyone saw their $8 million backfiring blunder— only about 120 million people.

Seriously, AB, if you wanted to know how to take the craft beer movement down a peg, you could have just asked me— and it’s not by pitching a MACRO-VS-MICRO change of perception ploy.

Last time I checked, not too many people were rooting for Monsanto to crush organic farmers. [Yes, that was a subtle nod to Genetically Modified rice being found in Budweiser beer.]

THE ART OF BEER WAR

Sun Tzu, the attributed author of the famed Chinese military treaties The Art of War, said “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.”

If we apply the above principle to Budweiser’s recent shot at craft beer, we might chalk one big point up to craft beer for simply stepping out of the way while Bud proceeded to shoot itself squarely in the foot.

It makes you wonder if the crack advertising team at Budweiser that put together their cliché-ridden anti-craft ad even knew AB owned craft breweries— which of course recalls another Sun Tzu classic:

If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.

So how can Big Beer use Sun Tzu’s principles to their advantage?

First, take a cue from Sun Tzu and Know Thyself.

If you’re saying that you’re embracing craft beer, then embrace craft beer.  In AB’s case, sending a mixed message to its audience about how the brewing giant is both anti and pro craft beer makes Anheuser sound confused at best, and patronizing or hypocritical at worst.  At this point, quite a bit of damage control would need to be done before the public are going to “trust” that AB is into craft beer for the sake of craft beer, and not just as part of their corporate strategy to make up for their steadily declining sales of Budweiser.

Craft Beer Growth Compared to Budweiser

[Chart from the Wall Street Journal; November 23, 2014.]

Or maybe Anheuser is right, and its customer base, like the company, is just too oblivious to notice or care that they’re perceived as dumb-dumbs. I can see the next Bud slogan already: Budweiser-A Beer for Idiots. Because it Takes One to Know One.

Next, understand your enemy (or competition) and use their weakness to your advantage.

At present, I see two areas where Big Beer could exploit the craft beer movement to their own financial benefit:

  1. Overproduction and vague definition of IPA.
  2. Ineffective definition of “craft beer”.

And the best part about these problems (at least as far as Big Beer is concerned), is that the craft beer industry is creating them all by itself!

Of course craft beer enthusiasts probably already see why these two issues are problematic for the craft beer movement, but let’s spell it out.

THE WITTGENSTEIN EFFECT

To paraphrase Ludwig Wittgenstein, the most influential philosopher of the 20th century, the meaning of a word is determined by its use.

So what does this have to do with “IPA” and “craft beer”?

Well, because of the runaway popularity of IPA within the craft beer market over the last 10+ years, the style has become to a large degree representative of craft beer— the poster child of craft beer, if you will.  And because most craft brewers are more than happy to feed into (and profit from) craft beer fans’ insatiable obsession with IPA-anything, the frenzy cycle continues.

Simply slap the letters “IPA” on a tap or bottle, and we will almost mindlessly buy, buy, buy— a fact that Big Beer is getting wise to.

But here’s the rub: the more IPA that is produced both in volume and variety by craft breweries, the greater the likelihood that people may come to use the term “craft beer” to mean “IPA”.  In other words, if the meaning of a word (or term) is determined by its use, and people use the term “craft beer” to mean “IPA”, then “craft beer” will mean “IPA”.

Therefore, if “craft beer” comes to mean “IPA”, then Big Beer does not directly need to use the term “craft beer” in its marketing in order to convey and capitalize from the intended meaning of craft beer.

Now, it might sound crazy that a general term like “craft beer” could come to mean a specific style of beer like “IPA”, but then again a similar thing happened with the word “corn”.

Originally, the term “corn” referred to any type of grain including wheat, oats, etc.  In other words, “corn” was once a general term like the term “craft beer” is today.  But because of the abundance and popularity of “maize” in the U.S., Americans began to call a specific type of grain (maize) “corn”.  And because of the global influence of the U.S., most of the rest of the English-speaking world does now too.

But even if “craft beer” doesn’t come to mean “IPA” in some broad sense as “corn” came to mean “maize”, there is nevertheless such a remarkably strong association between IPA and craft beer, that IPA basically implies craft beer.

And this tacit implication is all Big Beer needs.  But it gets even better… for Big Beer that is.

THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK

The other problem with IPA, as beer writer Don Russell points out, is that because of all of the divergent permutations of the style, IPA no longer means just India pale ale.  There is DIPA, IPL, IPX, White IPA, Red IPA, Black IPA, Session IPA, single-hop IPA, bitter IPA, fruity IPA, Mango Ginger IPA… you get the idea.

So why not a Bud Light IPA?

As Russell explains:

“What might’ve been a sacrilege just a year ago seems inevitable today. And when it happens, craft beer will have only itself to blame, as Anheuser-Busch Inbev laughs all the way to the bank.”

Unfortunately for craft beer, AB In-Bev won’t be the only one crashing the party.

By this point, you can probably already guess what Big Beer’s next move is.  Well, you don’t really have to guess because it’s already happening.

Big Beer is appropriating the term “IPA” (and its strong connotation of craft beer) and creating mass-produced non-craft beer and profiting from the good name and added value that the craft beer movement has toiled to create.

Ballantine IPA anyone?  Yep, Pabst Brewing Company, the same group that brought you Schlitz, Old Milwaukee, and Colt 45, is stepping into the IPA market.  I know what you’re thinking: it must taste horrible.  Well, the good folks at BeerAdvocate (a popular beer ranking website) don’t seem to think so!  Rated an 87 (Very Good) by the general populous, and 91 (Outstanding) by “The Bros”, it looks like Big Beer is nailing it!

If that doesn’t send chills down craft beer’s spine, how about Anheuser-Busch’s take on the hoppy style with their very own Demon’s Hop Yard IPA— rated a 94 by “The Bros” on BeerAdvocate!!!  Granted, AB probably jumped the gun with their IPA offering and therefore stopped brewing it back in 2006, but now almost a decade later, the time is all but ripe for that demon to possess the beer market once again.

And remember, Big Beer isn’t just after well-informed craft beer drinkers who might know the difference between craft and crafty, yet only represent 7.8% of the overall beer market .  No, Big Beer is also after the other 92.2% of the market which includes those who couldn’t tell you that Shock Top or Blue Moon isn’t craft beer, and those who may be aware of craft beer, but only want to stick their toes in the shallow end of the flavor pool.

For the Budweiser brand in particular, its message is that the current craft beer scene is just too extreme with their peach pumpkin weirdo concoctions.  Budweiser though?  Budweiser is safe.  Familiar.  You don’t have to be a know-it-all beer snob to enjoy our product.   Sure we’ll do an IPA, but it will be an approachable IPA with superior drinkability.  Something we all can enjoy without having to have a PhD in craft beer to understand.  Budweiser: The Craft Beer for Everyone.

At this point in the story, rebel craft beer is in trouble.  Lando has already sold out his friends, C3PO is in pieces, and Han Solo is frozen in carbonite.

There’s just one last piece of bad news before the credits roll.

The very definition of “craft beer” is ineffective.  Search your feelings.  You know it to be true…

Leave you to ponder this until next time I must.  (Sorry.  Had to.)

Cheers for now—and may the craft be with you.


Like this blartical?  Well, thanks- you’re far too kind.  

Tweet-worthy?  That would be very kind of you

Want to read more beer inspired thoughts?  Come back any time, friend us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter:

Or feel free to drop me a line at: dan@beersyndicate.com

Hi, I’m Dan: Beer Editor for BeerSyndicate.com, Beer and Drinking Blogger, Gold Medal-Winning Homebrewer, Beer Reviewer, AHA Member, Beer Judge, Beer Traveler, and Shameless Beer Promoter with a background in Philosophy and Business.

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