Pictures from the 2014 Northern California Homebrewers Festival

The Northern California Homebrewers Festival is organized by the Northern California Homebrewers Organization.

Once a year at the time of the Autumnal Equinox, homebrewers from all over Northern California make the trek to the little town of Dobbins and call Lake Francis their home for two days. Here they proudly fly the colors of their homebrew clubs and eagerly share well-crafted homebrew, rivaling some of the best known craft breweries.

The theme this year was Go West Young brewer. Next year’s theme is Prohibition.

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Click here  to see the pictures posted by Malt Konocti Mashers, aka Lake County Homebrewers, on their Facebook page.

 

Food Babe learns the controversial ingredient in Budweiser’s beer

Vani Hari, the Food Babe, demands answers readily available

English: American und Tchech Budweiser in Tray

Budweiser lists ingredients right on the bottle folks: “Hops, Rice, and Best Barley Malt”! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Vani Hari, the self-proclaimed Food Babe has a petition asking demanding that “Anheuser-Busch and Miller Coors, America’s largest beer brands to disclose their full set of ingredients online for all consumers to see.” Apparently, listing the ingredients on the beer’s label where everyone can see it is not enough, it should be online. Go ahead; look at the label. It says: “Hops, Rice, and Best Barley Malt“! Aha! They didn’t list water! I knew they were hiding something! Coors, on the other hand, only lists “100% Rocky Mountain Water” on the can.

Online, Anheuser-Busch goes on to list the water and yeast (apparently, Hari’s investigation did not include actual research or fact checking or she could not get by the age-gates for the breweries’ websites). While the yeasts, hops, barley, rice, and water are all proprietary for these breweries (yes, even water tastes different due to different chemicals/minerals in it–water in different areas is different) the basics are the same. Crushed grain (usually just barley but sometimes, wheat, rice, or corn may be added) is soaked in hot water (between 140F and 158F) for a period of time (about 20 to 60 minutes) and then the liquid is run off to be boiled. After the liquid (called wort) has boiled it is cooled and yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) are “pitched” into the wort. The yeast eat the sugars and excrete alcohol and carbon dioxide (CO2) until they run out of sugars to eat. That’s it.

English: A Clydesdale horse owned and maintain...

English: A Clydesdale horse owned and maintained by Anheuser-Busch at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, VA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

With their ingredients listed on their websites and for Budweiser on its cans, Hari’s demands were first answered by silence. As Hank Campbell, founder of Science 2.0 points out:

[Hari] uses the science illiteracy of the nutritionist segment to full effect and conspiratorially declares that [her targets] must be hiding something if they refuse to answer her uninformed questions about ingredients.

You will notice she has gone after BMC (Budweiser Miller Coors) because, of course, they are corporations and only corporations have something to hide. It is common knowledge, after all, that smaller brewers use only the finest, purest, highest quality ingredients for their artisanal malt beverages. That logic is, of course, the pure, high quality horse manure.

Because as Maureen Ogle notes this sort of tactic has been used before:

Well over a century ago…supporters of “temperance” and alcohol prohibition launched a campaign to eliminate “adulterated” beer from the marketplace…[one particular group] demanded that the nation’s brewers reveal the use of all their ingredients and sent brewers a questionnaire aimed at rooting out the truth. On the list of alleged ingredients were corn, rice, glucose, ‘grape sugar,’ molasses, and potato and corn starch. Other groups claimed brewers used acids in their beer…Eventually, of course, the prohibitionists, who never met a fear they weren’t willing to exploit, managed to make prohibition the law of the land — with, shall we say, disastrous results.

The Brewers Association, which represents the smaller craft brewers in the United States has been silent on this issue. Whether they think that they are exempt from the Food Babes of the world or they think “The enemy of my enemy is my friend,” or something else entirely, I do not know. Either way, it is a dangerously naive strategy.

Smart Takes

The New Yellow Journalism By Jay Brooks
Beware the Dangers of [Profit-Driven] Dumbassery by Maureen Ogle
Beer McCarthyism – The Food Babe Goes After Breweries Again by Hank Campbell
What’s In YOUR Beer? Or, The Dangers of Dumbassery by Maureen Ogle
Beer Wars: The Calumny of The Food Babe by Tom Cizauskas (anyone who use “calumny” in a title has to be giving a smart take)

 

Calling All “Beer Geeks” Geeks

The humble little Batch-22 blog was contacted by (apparently) David Page, President of Page Productions. He produces Beergeeks.tv hosted by Michael Ferguson. He says it is “the first nationally syndicated show celebrating the world of craft beer.”

Page goes on to say:

As great as the show is (we’ve just been nominated for an Emmy as Outstanding Culinary Program up against the big boys like Bobby Flay and Anthony Bourdain), generating revenue to produce the series remains a struggle. We are committed to shooting season two and are trying to fund the shooting of one episode through Kickstarter. Which means we need to get the word out (and quickly, since we are on a 30 day Kickstarter deadline).

It would be a great help if you could please pass the word along to anyone and everyone you know — through your blogs, email lists, websites, any way you can help us reach as many beer lovers as possible. Please direct everyone to our Kickstarter site via this web address: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/71568375/emmy-nominated-beer-geeks-television-series-season

By doing this, you can be a big part of helping us continue to get the word out about the great craft beer community. And we appreciate the assistance very, very much.

I think I can kick loose a few coins. I’ve not seen Beer Geeks before but it looks like something I will have to see.

Disclosure: 1. David Page gave me permission to quote from his email. 2. Neither I nor the blog received any compensation from David Page or Page Productions.

 

Another BrewZaster: Feedback Edition

 

I thought it might be fun to share the tasting notes on two of our beers.An Unexpected IPA. It was supposed to be an American Pale Ale.

Last month two of Flogthis Brewing’s home brewed beers were judged as part of the Battle of the Brews home brew competition. We here at Flogthis Brewing want to thank the Sonoma Beercrats for the home brew portion of this event.

The two beers were part of a split batch of our House Pale Ale (recipe here); one batch was pitched with Safale S-05 yeast and dry-hopped with Australian Galaxy hops, and the other with Safale S-33 yeast. The beers were entered as a Pale Ale (BJCP Category 10A) and a Blonde Ale (BJCP Category 6B) respectively. Given the hopping schedule, the Blonde category was a bit of a stretch, but the S-33 yeast does eat a bit of the bitterness.

The Pale took Second Place.

Here is the feedback the beers received from the two sets of judges:

Judge #1 – 10A American Pale Ale entry 45

Aroma                                                                      9/12

Nice hoppy aroma, citrus, floral, piney-good array of American aromas.

Appearance                                                           2/3

Clear, good Golden-Amber color, moderate head falls quickly.

Flavor                                  13/20

Good hop flavor supports aroma. Crisp, refreshing. Good bitterness, not overdone. Malt flavor is a bit neutral; more like a blonde ale.

Mouthfeel                           3/5

Well carbonated, medium-full mouth feel. A bit astringent.

Overall impression                                 8/10

A very nice example of the style. A little more richness from the malt would better support the well-chosen hop profile, maybe a touch of caramel malts?

Total                                                                                                 33/50

Stylistic Accuracy

Classic Example _ _ _ _ _ Not to Style

Technical Merit

Flawless _ _ _ _ _ Not to Style

Intangibles

Wonderful _ _ _ _ _ Lifeless

 

Judge #2 – 10A American Pale Ale entry 45

Aroma                                              8/12

Has hop and malt aromas. light bready aromas from the malt, but distinctly missing the hallmark hop character of an APA. No diacetyl or DMS. Some hops come through as it warms up.

Appearance                                   2/3

Very clean gold color with off-white head that quickly subsides to a thin foamy film.

Flavor                                              13/20

Light vegetal flavor (DMS?) Comes through over the malt flavor. Strong hop bitterness but surprisingly less hop flavor. Malt comes through with bread and crackers. Slightly sour character too. Maybe from grain hull tannins?

Mouthfeel                                                   3/5

Medium light body, a little light on the carbonation and some astringent dryness in the finish.

Overall impression                                 7/10

I see where this beer is going but it seems too bitter, and without enough aroma and flavor. Also there is a little sour/astringency that distracts from the overall character. But, with lesser bittering and more hop flavor/aroma this would be right on track.

Total                                                                                     33/50

Stylistic Accuracy

Classic Example _ _ _ x _ Not to Style

Technical Merit

Flawless _ _ _ _ _ Not to Style

Intangibles

Wonderful _ _ _ x _ Lifeless

 

Judge #3 – 6 B blonde ale entry 46

Aroma                                                                      8/12

Hop-dominated aroma, yet light overall. Vinous, grapefruit-rind, orange-rind combo. Lighter fruits like melon, peach appear. Light malt graininess, no off aromas.

Appearance                                                           3/3

Clear, golden, SRM ~ 5. Thick, long-lasting head and fine white bubbles. Looks great.

Flavor                                  12/20

Balanced flavors of hops and malt, though pushing the upper “west coast” and of the blonde style on hop flavor and bitterness. Appropriate fermentation, no off flavors. Aftertaste.

Mouthfeel                           4/5

Medium body, high carbonation, some astringency. Light warmth from alcohol.

Overall impression                                 6/10

This is a “West Coast” blonde. Although I prefer a less intense blonde with hoppiness, this is mostly to style. My biggest criticism is the lingering bitterness. As this should be an entry-level craft beer, the lingering bitterness reduces over all drinkability.

Total                                                                                                 33/50

Stylistic Accuracy

Classic Example _ x _ _ _ Not to Style

Technical Merit

Flawless _ x _ _ _ Not to Style

Intangibles

Wonderful _ x _ _ _ Lifeless

Judge #4 – 6 B blonde ale entry 46

Aroma                                              7/12

citrus and peach hop aromas-medium, some grainy malt in background, light esters-OK for style

Appearance                                   3/3

deep gold-like copper, clear, light phase, persistent white head

Flavor                                               11/20

light, clean malt flavor, some slight graininess-wheat? Medium hop flavor-American, moderate bitterness

Mouthfeel                                                   3/5

Medium-light body, medium-high carbonation, some alcohol warmth-not to style

Overall impression                                 6/10

This blonde ale is close to crossing the line to pale ale territory. The hop bitterness and alcohol are too high for a blonde ale. The fermentation and execution otherwise is fine; lower your malt and hop bitterness.

Total                                                                                     30/50

Stylistic Accuracy

Classic Example _ _ _ x _ Not to Style

Technical Merit

Flawless _ x _ _ _ Not to Style

Intangibles

Wonderful _ _ x _ _ Lifeless

 

 

 

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This Week in BrewZasters: Latest batch of house pale unveiled

A short month ago we here at Flogthis Brewing brewed up our flagship pale ale recipe (available here, and here, the recipe, not the beer). Since the only way to tell if a change works is to keep everything else constant and judge against a previous batch, this last batch had 1 ounce of Sinamar added to the 10 gallon batch. I like how it looks and it doesn’t have that syrupy characteristic that I associate with caramel/crystal malt.

Our ribbon-winning House Pale Ale.

Our award-winning (a 2nd place ribbon from a regional event is an award, right?) House Pale Ale.

The first thing you notice is the color which is a golden amber with a white-ish head that stays for several minutes. The aroma has citrus, pine, floral scents. The first sips reveals a bitterness that is balanced with a bready malt flavor though there may be a hint of astringency in the aftertaste. I’ve been putting gypsum in the mash, which gives a better yield and makes the bitterness shine. Should I cut back on gypsum? Should I add some crystal/caramel malt? Should I cut back on my bittering hops? Or should I mash at 156F (68.9C) to give more body (but may give it that syrupy taste)? I can do only one of these, if I do more then I would not know which worked, or worse yet, which did not work.

Brewers Association loathes FDA’s proposal‏

Aside

…with good reason.

Mashing grains within a mesh grain bag

Under a proposed FDA rule, any brewery‘s spent grain could not be used as animal feed unless it were “treated.”

As I noted last Friday under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), the FDA has proposed onerous regulations to severely limit  use of spent grain for animal feed. Because grain used in the brewing process is frequently donated or sold at low cost to farmers for animal feed, the FDA proposal would affect hundreds of brewers across the country. The Brewers Association issued the following statement on the FDA animal feed proposal:

The current rule proposal represents an unwarranted burden for all brewers. Many of the more than 2,700 small and independent craft breweries that operate throughout the United States provide spent grain to local farms for use as animal feed. The proposed FDA rules on animal feed could lead to significantly increased costs and disruption in the handling of spent grain. Brewers of all sizes must either adhere to new processes, testing requirements, recordkeeping and other regulatory requirements or send their spent grain to landfills, wasting a reliable food source for farm animals and triggering a significant economic and environmental cost.

Absent evidence that breweries’ spent grains as currently handled cause any hazards to animals or humans, the proposed rules create new and onerous burdens for brewers and for farmers who may no longer receive spent grain and will have to purchase additional feed. Farmers also appreciate the ‘wet’ grains from breweries because it helps provide hydration for the animals.

Brewers’ grains have been used as cattle feed for centuries, and the practice is generally considered safe. We ask the FDA to conduct a risk assessment of the use of spent brewers’ grain by farmers prior to imposing expensive new regulations and controls.

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FDA’s Rx for Brewers: Head>Desk>Hit>Repeat.

Your federal tax dollars at work.

Slide1
Protecting innocent farmers and their livestock from the dangers lurking in…wait for it…spent grains.

 

“Breweries would be required to dry and package spent grain before it could be given or sold to farmers to use as feed.” -According to at Reason.com.”

 

All made possible due to:

The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), the most sweeping reform of our food safety laws in more than 70 years, [which] was signed into law by President Obama on January 4, 2011. It aims to ensure the U.S. food supply is safe by shifting the focus from responding to contamination to preventing it. – FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) website

Well obviously some busybody at FDA got a wild hair and came up with the, “FSMA Proposed Rule to Establish Current Good Manufacturing Practice and Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls for Food for Animals.” yes as unbelievable as it sounds the FDA has decided that a practice that has been going on for three or four decades could be dangerous, mon dieu! Heaven forbid! Furthermore, I don’t feel that if this went through I would be any safer. In fact, after seeing this proposed regulation I’m in danger of losing my lunch.

I could be wrong, after all I have been wrong before, but this strikes me as first rate bureaucrat-shit-crazy.  It’s a big fucking deal, to paraphrase VP Joe Biden.

Consider, Shipyard, Maine’s largest brewer. It produces 400-600 tons of spent grain per week during times of peak production.

This may be worth writing to your Congresscritter and expressing your disappointment in how your tax dollars or being spent.

Further reading:

FDA moves to stop sharing between beer makers and farmers
http://reason.com/blog/2014/03/28/fda-new-rules-on-spent-grains-for-farms

A rule change proposed by the FDA could jeopardize a relationship between farmers and brewers.
http://portland.wcsh6.com/news/news/1165073-rule-change-proposed-fda-could-jeopardize-relationship-between-farmers-and-brewers

FDA rules make it nearly impossible for beer makers to give their grain to farmers for feed
http://boingboing.net/2014/03/28/fda-rules-make-it-nearly-impos.html

Sustainable Uses of Spent Grain
http://www.craftbeer.com/craft-beer-muses/sustainable-uses-of-spent-grain

FSMA Proposed Rule to Establish Current Good Manufacturing Practice and Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls for Food for Animals
http://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/FSMA/ucm366510.htmwho

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