Back in May, Slate published an article decrying the trend in craft beers to be overly hoppy (at least according to the tastes of the author). The next day, a rebuttal was crafted (pun intended) and posted the the Bear Flavored beer blog. The main point of contention in the counterpoint article is that more hops does not always mean more bitterness. Additionally, even if some beers were highly bitter, then why complain if some people enjoy them?
How the West Coast-Style IPA Conquered the World - by Erin Mosbaugh, First We Feast:
"While many notable beers emerged from this scene—Ballast Point Sculpin, Alesmith IPA—few had the influence of Green Flash's flagship West Coast IPA. By trademarking the term in 2011 and emblazoning it across bottles in giant letters, the brewery effectively codified the regionality of the style and made it instantly recognizable to drinkers across the country (and beyond). Eagle Rock Brewery's Jeremy Raub explains, 'Green Flash West Coast IPA was a really over-the-top double IPA, which was the brewery's way to say, 'This is how we do it on the West Coast.' It was just over 8% ABV, resinous, and hoppy. It had more malt body, and it was 'dank,' as people like to call it."[more inside]
"Here’s an understatement for you: 2014 was a great year for beer. Seriously, it’s hard to put into words just how awesome American craft beer was this year. IPAs got sessionable, then they got fresh-hopped, breweries collaborated like hip hop moguls, older (let’s call them classic?) breweries reinvented themselves with ambitious experiments while young breweries helped push the envelope of style and taste…there were hundreds, probably thousands of new beers hitting the shelves and taps all year long, challenging our palates and expectations day after day. It’s an exciting time to be alive."
As a taster, it’s important to know that compared with sour or salty, bitterness is slow to affect our palates. The first two are very simple chemical phenomena and require only the simplest of cellular mechanisms to fire off their signals to the brain. Bitterness, like sweetness and umami, requires an intermediate molecule, something called a G-coupled protein. It takes a little longer to do its thing, and this time dimension of tasting is something that you always need to pay attention to.
"Tasting notes: As a resident of the Pacific Northwest, I'm accustomed to IPAs so hoppy that they attempt to kick your teeth out on the first sip, and keep on fighting for the rest of the drink. In contrast, the Icky IPA is refreshingly crisp with a sly nudge of hops underlain with a tongue-twist of citrus. This is a pale ale to sip and savour, not a masochistic endurance contest with barely-concealed whimpering winces. Apparently I'm not the only one who appreciates the relative gentleness of this IPA: the Icky is their best-selling beer." [more inside]
"With over 200 breweries, Oregon is often considered the craft beer capital of America. Beer geeks and casual drinkers across the country can also thank the state’s farmers for their brews: hops, the essential ingredient that gives beer its bitter flavor, is a rare crop throughout the U.S. but not in Oregon. Last year, Oregon State University established the Oregon Hops & Brewing Archives (OHBA), the first archive in the U.S., dedicated to preserving and telling the intertwined story of hop and beer production and the craft brewing movement. They're posting materials from their collection to Tumblr, Flickr and Zotero.
Growing up in the San Fernando Valley among divorced parents, Grossman developed the characteristics of a proto-entrepreneur–inventiveness bordering on larceny. He stole the motor out of a neighbor’s lawn mower to build a go-kart, used a rudimentary plastic explosives recipe to blow up every mailbox on the block and dropped homemade stink bombs in his junior high. The day before his 12th birthday he was caught shoplifting a small bag of circuit board clips from the local RadioShack. Then he started channeling his creative urges toward photography, bike repair and (pre-legal drinking age) distilling. His first batch used a gallon jug of Welch’s grape juice he hid in the closet. Forbes profiles 'The King Of Craft Beer', Sierra Nevada's Ken Grossman.
Even in the grips of the Great Recession, one industry's profits are bubbling up, pouring forth, and experiencing growth in market share, dollars spent, and profit: craft beer! [more inside]
Beer Calculus is a freely available homebrewing recipe generator, which allows you to easily create, save and share your own beer recipe(s). The calculator includes hundreds of malt, hop and yeast varieties, adjuncts and other ingredients, different mash processes, and fermentation and storage variables, and can toggle between US and metric units. Also, if you associate your recipe with a BJCP-recognized style, the calculator will give you guidance regarding your recipe's adherence to the style's guidelines. Homebrewers, have at it!
Is the hopocalypse upon us? Hops are an essential ingredient in beer (even dictated by law in Germany). But recent shortages and rising worldwide demand (pdf) have many craft brewers, hops dealers and homebrewers worried. How can you cope? Maybe it's time to try some gruit or mead.
Mmmm, beeeer: ratebeer.com The World's Worst Beers, Best Beers - 2007, find the top beers by category or region. Emphasis on craft brews. (See also the previously mentioned BeerAdvocate.com) Happy Friday, everyone!
Randall the Enamel Animal is an organoleptic hop transducer module. Click on the links, they're about beer!