Hi! Just a quick update to let you all know I hope to resurrect this site from the dead. I’ve spent the last 2.5 years working at a brewery here in Eugene and haven’t needed this site in the way I intended, which is great! I’ve been writing for work as well and there’s a lot of content I’d like to publish that doesn’t make sense to do at work and I’d like to use this as an outlet. Sooner or later I’ll edit the site to reflect these changes as well as cross post some writing I’ve done for work. Talk to you soon!
“Relax, and have a home brew” – Charlie Papazian
Charlie has influenced my last few months here in Oregon for the better. Moving to Oregon, particularly Eugene, has made me consider and reconsider what I do on a daily basis in my beer career. Particularly with regards to my online presence, small as it may be. As it is, I have three or four articles mostly written that haven’t been published here because they either slam the public, or critique aspects of the industry and don’t really reflect (what I believe) is my holistic approach to this industry. I’ve been writing articles that go out within my home brew club, and have been putting together some presentations for the same, but I’m not attempting to gain traffic here by publishing outlandish articles simply to play devil’s advocate.
As a result I’ve been home brewing a lot, focusing more on trying to better understand the brewing process, and less on the industry side of things. I’ve been reading and re-reading books to help me through that process. Maybe I’ll put up an article on some literature that has really helped me thus far in the near future. In the meantime, I wanted to reinforce the fact that I use Twitter and Instagram frequently to put out little snippets here and there. Feel free to follow me on Twitter – Cascade_Kid, and Instagram – Cascade.Kid
It’s been a while. Overall, this site was never meant to be a “blog” or anything specific, so I never feel the need to post without substance, but the spam-bots keep reminding me that the site exists.
The reason content has gotten derailed is that I moved from the SF Bay Area to Eugene, OR last month and I’ve had everything packed up in boxes. The BJCP photo project got slightly skewed with the recent release of the new BJCP guidelines, so I’ll be fixing those numbers and creating some more soon.
Since landing in Eugene I’ve had some awesome experiences. Most notably being invited to the Whiteaker Block Party through Ninkasi, which got us some VIP tours and access. My family and I also got to help out Agrarian Ales with their hop harvest at the end of August which was awesome! I’m heading to Corvallis tomorrow for Septembeerfest and to close out Corvallis beer week so I’m sure I’ll gather some content from that. In the meantime, breathe deep and drink well!
A few weeks ago two friends that work in the beer industry, a Sommelier and I (Certified Cicerone) decided to punish our egos. We did a semi-blind tasting of 8 different “pilsner-style” beers comparing a new wave of “craft lagers” to each other, but threw in some mass-market lagers for painful fun. We knew the group of beers we were choosing from, just not which was which. The goal initially was simply to point out differences between them. Because we knew the lineup and knew some rice/corn-based beers were in there, it quickly turned into a scenario where we wanted to try and guess which beers were which. The tasting process itself wasn’t much to speak of, but the fact that none of us guessed more than 3 out of 8 correctly taught us a lot. Here are a few things we thought of during the process:
Go With Your Gut – Though I feel like this is something that has constantly been discussed before, it bears repeating. Aromatics in beer can sometimes dissipate quickly and the assessment needs to be made without too much swirling and thinking. I second guessed myself on several of the beers I was tasting, possibly because I went back and tasted them a second or third time. After revealing the beers I went back and looked at my notes. The aroma and mouthfeel descriptions I made initially should have led me to a better conclusion than I tricked myself into believing. I ignored my palate and was “guessing”. Which leads me to my next point…
Fully Blind is Better than Semi-Blind – Knowing what beers we were tasting was detrimental. After the first pass through the glasses I found myself looking at the lineup and guessing at what flavors I should be finding. “One of these should be ‘Corny’, and one of these should be full of Acetaldehyde” etc. In the end this threw me off my notes and persuaded me to taste flavors that were not actually in the beer.
This is Actually Difficult! – This isn’t like the Certified Cicerone test where you’re trying to pick between differing styles, all of these beers were within the first two BJCP categories. If we were doing this blind and strictly trying to pull out defects or flavor descriptors, this would probably have been more straightforward and not as noteworthy. Trying to guess which beers were which from nothing but sensory memory (sometimes from a long time ago) is difficult.
Where Does Quality Reside? – This is a huge issue that I’m not going to tackle here, but if a “craft” lager doesn’t taste too dissimilar from a mass market lager, what exactly are we judging besides the label? There’s a strong case to be made that new craft brewers have a lot to learn and if we’re really judging beer quality and not the brand, a lot of the beers tasted in this panel would have been out-scored by macro beers.
We hope to do this sort of thing on a more regular basis, and as we learn, I hope to post more similar entries.
Spotted some Firestone Walker at the store and was inspired to use the rest of my flaked oats for a homebrew. 13C is the BJCP category for Oatmeal Stout and so far my beer falls within the stats.
I am using some East Kent Goldings for hopping and Maris Otter for the base malt. Unfortunately it wasn’t worth an hour of driving to get some British yeast, so I’ll use the US-05 that I’ve got.
Pretty easy to spot the missing ingredient!
In the process of studying for my Certified Cicerone® exam I started learning BJCP style guidelines the best way I knew how: By drinking them! Whether it was visiting the German beer bar down the road, or sulking out of the grocery store carrying some canned American Lite Lager, I got firsthand experience and started to get some funny shots along the way. I will continue to add to (and improve upon) this project along the way. To open it up, here’s 1A, 1B, 1C.