My day with Beer part 1

October 10, 2009

Today I went to 99 Bottles of Beer: Global Brewing Traditions 2500 B.C. – Present at the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology on the UC Berkeley Campus.

There was a Workshop, a Symposium and a Curator lead tour of the new exhibit…. oh and there was a LOT of beer to taste.

This is post number 1 – so I’m just going to type up my notes from the Workshop.  Other posts to follow.

Now unfortunately I didn’t get the name of the gentleman from the 21st Amendment Brewery who presented the workshop but that’s just about all I didn’t get down.

Here’s my bad picture of the very nice speaker…

21st Amendment Workshop

These are the notes from the blackboards:

beer blackboards

Water To You – Beer’s Journey

Brewery (4 weeks to 6 months):

* Ingredients – water, malted barley, hops, yeast

* Ferment, condition, package (12 oz or 16oz cans etc; 12oz, 22oz, regular caps or cork and cage bottles; 15.5, 13.2, 7.75, 6 barrel kegs)

Shipping (1 day to 3 weeks): trucks, rail, ships

Distributor (2 weeks?):

*Inventory – 2 weeks of beer on the floor

*Sales – several brands to sell

— Off Sale – Local Stores

–On Sale – Restaurants and Pubs

Beer Arrives at Local Store (Hopefully)

*Beer in the back room of the store

*Beer gets stocked to the shelf

*You buy the beer

HOME FREE – We enjoy the beer with friends and family

###Beer is Mother Natures Social Lubricant###

End of the blackboard notes … on with the lecture.

Before you take your seat, you want to grab a beer.  ((Yes there was drinking before, during and after the lecture.))

Share a pint, share a story, agree, disagree, but do it face to face over a beer.

Beer is more friendly than wine or spirits.

Glass vs Can (well the differences between glass and can would be a 5 minute talk so let’s talk about the life of beer.

Life of Beer –

4 ingredients are the base of all beers.

Fermentation and Conditioning can take from 3 weeks to 6 months depending on the type of beer.  Ale takes 3-6 weeks and Lager takes 6 weeks to as long as a year.

Package & Ship the beer – depending on where it goes it could take anywhere from 1 day to 4 weeks to get to its destination.  Beer is barged to Alaska and then flown or dog sledded to the distributor / final destination.  It’s all about getting to the distributor.

During packaging you have to think about what might happen to the beer during shipping and mitigate the risks.  Refrigerators can be turned off by unscrupulous shippers so monitoring is a good idea.  You do not want the beer to get hot.  And the swaying of trains can mess with the packaging AND the beer.

Once it gets to the Distributor the beer is pretty safe.  They keep everything very climate controlled but it does sit and wait to be sold.

On – Sale is the term for places were there is on premise drinking like restaurants, pubs, arenas etc.

Off – Sale is the term for places that sell beer for you to take with you / home.

Sales person is shared by little, medium and huge breweries.

Distributors don’t work on consignment, they BUY the beer.

21st Amendment sells 60% of their beer off sale and 40% on sale.  But it’s different from brewery to brewery.

The 21st Amendment brand is not tied to the can, the can is tied to the brand.  The 21st Amendment brad celebrates the right to be original, like packaging craft beer in a can.

Small breweries are in a big growth pattern.  This causes a crowded portfolio for the distributor.

Local Store: Stocking and Buying

Most people are better with a beer or two.

Beer is typically not high in alcohol.

Beer is a working man’s drink that can be enjoyed by all.

Packaging – bottles travel as well as kegs.  Draft is more sensitive and not as resilient because it’s not filtered.

Glasses should not be chilled.

In Pennsylvania you must by a case of beer at a time… you can’t just buy a six-pack.

When beer goes off, the hops are the first thing to go.  That’s interesting because hops are a preservative and antimicrobial.  So the beer will still be beer and you can drink it but it will loose the bright green taste that good, hoppy beer has.

IPA can NOT be aged.  Should be drunk immediately.

Malt forward beer (like 8% Imperial Stout) is hardier and can travel very well.

21st Amendment’s Hell or High Watermellon Ale is a dry wheat beer with a subtle watermelon finish.  Watermelon is added at the end of the first fermentation and goes on into the second fermentation.

Packaging – cans, bottle and kegs

Cans transport well and do not have light struck issues.  You can ship more per truckload (about twice as much as bottles because of the size and weight issues).

Brown glass has 75% light filtration and green glass has 40% light filtration, clear glass has none.  Cardboard six pack holders also offer light filtration.  Sam Adams holders are about an inch higher than other beers and Sierra Nevada has a shorter bottle that is more covered by the holder.

Bottles are sexy and they market very well.

Cork & Cage – looks cool and with thicker glass can hold higher levels of carbonation (CO2).

If you drink a can and a bottle immediately after bottling you shouldn’t be able to tell the difference.

Beer clean glasses… no one does it.  ((And no one in the event explains what that means.))

Dates on Beer: packaged, best by, Julian, etc…

What is the best by date for beer?  How long is it good?

21st Amendment uses Julian dating to tell when the beer went into the can.

But remember the date isn’t going to matter if the beer has been left in the heat or hasn’t been stored properly.

Craft Brewers love what they do and so they care about dates but might not have the equipment to date everything.

Plastic bottles … are they the future?  Who knows… no one is currently using them for beer that anyone knows.

Cans were slow in coming to Craft Brewing because it cost so much / the minimum order was huge.  But recently the makers of cans have realized that there is a market for their goods if they lower the minimum order.  5 Craft Breweries used cans last year, this year it’s 52.

We end with quotes…

Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy. – Ben Franklin

There are better things in life than beer but beer makes up for not having them. -Terry Pratchett



4 Responses to “My day with Beer part 1”

  1. Clara Says:

    So what goes wrong when the beer gets too warm during storage or shipping?

  2. Robert Says:

    Thanks very much for your notes. I wasn’t able to make it the workshop part of the event, because I was at Dimond Oaktoberfest in my neighborhood, but now I feel like I was practically there.

    Beer is sold in plastic bottles at major sporting events, but then again, the brands sold that way aren’t going to get much worse tasting than how they started out.

    There’s some very good info on the effect of light on beer at The paper provides absorption amounts at key wavelengths, as high energy (short wavelength) light is more damaging. I was wondering if blue bottles would be better, but his tests show they are even worse than green. He also gives data for incandescent bulbs, fluorescent bulbs and sunlight.

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