Month: October 2017

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.

The Philosophy of Ordering Beer

You can tell a lot about the philosophy of a person by how that person orders a beer.

Find out which philosophy best speaks to you in:

Beer Syndicate’s Guide to…

The Philosophy of Ordering Beer

Fatalist: “It’s a logical or conceptual truth that we are powerless to do anything other than what we actually do.  Accordingly, it really doesn’t matter what I order, you’ll just end up bringing me the exact beer I was fated to have anyways.”

Fatalism

Empiricist: “Knowledge comes only from testing things with the senses, so the only way I’ll know which beer I’ll like is by experiencing each one personally. It’s best then that I order a sample of everything.”

Utilitarian: “I’ll choose the beer that leads to the most happiness for the greatest number of people.  First, I just need to assign a precise and impartial ‘happiness value’ to each beer that I might choose and then somehow predict whether the consequences of choosing that particular beer will yield the most collective happiness, assuming there is such a thing as a ‘collective happiness’.  You might want to come back to me… this may take a while.”

Platonist: “Every object or quality (like a cat or softness) in the world is merely a representation or copy of a perfect, unchanging, ideal Form that exists outside of space and time.  Therefore, I’ll have a pint of whatever you have on tap that best represents the ideal ‘Form of beer’.”

Absurdist: “Humans live with the conflicting absurdity of trying to find the meaning of our existence in a meaningless universe. As such, there are only three solutions to resolve this problem: (1) suicide, (2) belief in religion, or (3) embracing the Absurd while defiantly searching for our own individual meaning. I’m not in the mood for suicide or religion, so just bring me whichever beer you think might be the meaning of life. No pressure.”

Absurdism

Relativist: “There is no such thing as objective knowledge, truth, morality or taste.  Therefore, feel free to pour me a pint of any kind of beer as they are all relatively good according to some framework or another!”

Phenomenalist: “Physical objects do not exist in and of themselves, but are actually only logical constructions derived from perceptual properties (such as “hardness” and “roundness”) within space-time.  This means that reference to any object is fundamentally a reference to some sense-experience, as we cannot sense anything beyond the phenomenon of our experience.  Based on this, I’ll have a pint of medium bitterness, wetness, coldness, brownness, semi-sweetness, with about 10% alcohol-ness.”

Marxist: “Under capitalism, commodities are produced so that they can be exchanged for profit instead of being produced based on what is needed by society.  Wage-workers are viewed as mere instruments, valued only for their labor and exploited for their ability to generate profit for their capitalist employer, which ultimately alienates the worker from their humanity and individuality.  The workforce will only regain its freedom and humanity when the means of production are commonly owned by everyone, money no longer exists, and no profit is made.  In order to help with this transition, I’ll just go ahead and pour myself a pint, free of charge.”

Kantian: “Act as if the maxims of your action were to become a universal law of nature through your will, and that these maxims do not result in logical contradictions when we attempt to universalize them.  Personally, I’d prefer a rare barrel-aged sour beer, but if I made it a universal law that all people ought to order a rare barrel-aged sour, then not everyone would be able to have it due to scarcity, thus resulting in a logical contradiction. I ought not do that.  Instead, it seems I’m duty-bound to order whichever cheap mass-produced beer you have so that other people in the world would also be able to order it.”

Spinozist: “The universe is ‘God’, and ‘God’ is the universe, and everything exists within the universe. Extension is an attribute of God, and all material objects are simply modes of Extension. Consequently, I will have a pint of God, extended in the mode of a Pilsner, of course.”

Spinoza


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

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