Thursday, November 29, 2007

Validation for The Sober Brewer

A couple of posts back I went on a tirade about the nonsensical beer judging we have encountered at the Great American Beer Festival. After each year's festivities are concluded and awards are handed out, the Brewer's Association sends us the judge's notes on the beers that we entered into the competition. These notes are supposed to help us brewers find out where our beer is in relation to what they are looking for. The feedback includes comments on the beer's Color and Appearance, Aroma, Bitterness, Alcohol, Style, Flavor and Aftertaste, Balance and Drinkability, Technical Quality and Carbonation. I thought you would be interested in some of the weird, almost schizophrenic comments that we received. Mind you, these are only from this year's judging, the past years' comments have been just as goofy.

First of all, let's look at the Oktoberfest. One judge says "lacks biscuit character in flavor" while another judge said "Biscuity" in flavor and "Biscuity and Toasty" in Balance. Strange, there would be a 180 degree disagreement, and what's with the overuse of the biscuity term? Did they both eat at Chick-Fil-A that morning? Another aside about the Oktoberfest, we sent it to another competition and again, no awards from the beer judges but it won the people's choice award...can you say Validation.

Next, let's look at the Anvil Steam, one of our all time favorites her a BBC. The general consensus of the judges was that it was a very good beer, only a little too much hop aroma. That's fine I can live with that, and since it was consistent among all the judges, it makes sense. But I do have one problem, and this happens all the time with these judges. On the bitterness section it read "Maybe to[sic] high." What's this "maybe," either it's too high, too low, or right on. "maybe" if you didn't have a spine made of linguine you could "maybe" give someone a straight answer, unless of course "maybe" you have no idea what you are talking about.

Moving on to the RIP VanWinkle Bourbon Barrel Aged Russian Imperial Porter. When entering a barrel-aged beer we have to specify first, what the base beer is, (Russian Imperial Porter) and secondly, what the beer was aged in, (Pappy VanWinkle American Oak Bourbon Barrels). So it must of came as quite a surprise to one particular judge who wrote "Almost has a bourbon Quality." Well duh. The same judge also had one of my favorite contradictions. On Flavor he writes "Very Woody" and on the very next line under Balance it read "Wood doesn't come through." I hope this guy finds some professional help for his split personality.

Finally we reach the Pilsner, and this is the one that validates my previous post about flawed beers doing better in competition. During the festival itself Cameron and I detected a high amount of hydrogen sulfide in both the aroma and flavor of the Pilsner. We determined that it was probably a function of autolysing yeast since the defect was not present in our filtered beer back here in Louisville. We were disappointed with what we sent and figured that the Pilsner certainly would be torn apart in the judging. Quite the contrary, this was the one beer of ours that went on to the medal round, just missing being awarded. But what held it back illustrates another weird judging comment. The judge wrote, "Well made beer, lacks some of the subtleties of a classic Pilsner." That's great Mr. to elaborate on what exactly those subtleties are? I guess not.

As you can see this "feedback" we get from the GABF is as useless as the medals we receive. As long as you, the customer is satisfied, so are we. Besides, I'm fairly certain you know more about beer than some of these jokers.

never trust The Sober Brewer
Jerry Gnagy

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Holiday Food and Beer

Tired of looking like a nancy-boy, having to buy a Rose' to go with your Turkey dinner. This year try pairing your holiday foods with beer. The Brewer's Association has came up with some good suggestions.

Holiday Foods and Beer

After Thanksgiving, make sure you come to our junk food and beer pairing event on Mon. Nov. 26 at 7PM. For $12 you get eight half pints of BBC and Cumberland Brews beers, matched with our favorite junk foods. Email me at for reservations.

never trust The Sober Brewer
Jerry Gnagy

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Ghosts in the Brewery

It has recently been brought to my attention that we may not be alone in the brewery. Strange forces are causing apparitions that I want you to see, so that if something happens to me (disappearance, stigmata, hangnail) those of you that are left can call in an exorcist.

It started with Cameron noticing a strange face in some crud on our hand wash sink.

If you look carefully you will see the face of Albert Einstein. Does this mean anything? Is the spirit of Einstein watching us wash our hands? Or does it mean we should clean the sink area better. I don't know.

Next I noticed a face staring back at me when I was having a cup of coffee. Check it out.

If that is not a face smiling and winking at me then I must be going crazy.

And finally, the most striking paranormal experience happened when a bag of grain mysteriously fell over, dumping its contents. If you look closely you might be able to make out some letters spelling something.

This is really creepy.

never trust The Sober Brewer
Jerry Gnagy

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Beer: The Liquid Defibrillator

For those that didn't know, our good friend and colleague Mark Allgeier from Cumberland Brews, recently had an unfortunate episode. An uneasy feeling and shortness of breath led him to drive to the emergency room where it turns out he had a heart attack. Apparently, his heart stopped for about two minutes but started up again after a few jolts, bringing him back to life. Mark has been know to have a few beers from time to time and so I began to wonder what kind of effect beer has on a person's heart. It turns out that there is a wealth of information about how beer HELPS the heart.

In Science Daily it is reported that a group of Israeli researchers conducted studies on a group of men with coronary artery disease. They found that drinking one beer per day for a month produced changes in blood chemistry that are associated with reduced risk of heart attack. Specifically beer's high polyphenol content helps decrease "bad" cholesterol and increases "good" cholesterol, it also increased antioxidant levels and decreases levels and activity of fibrinogen, a clot-producing protein.

Some would argue that all alcoholic beverages have the same anti-clotting ability so it's not the beer that helps the heart, it's the alcohol. Well that may be true, but another study says that beer goes above and beyond in its beneficial impact on coronary heart disease. The study, by and Innsbruck Medical University team found that beer blocks "interferon-gamma-induced chemical processes." More specifically, beer offers an anti-inflammatory effect by blocking the interferon-gamma which inhibits the production of neopterin and the degradation of tryptophan by suppressing T-cell response. All right, I don't know what any of this really means but it sounds awesome. But the most interesting part of the study was the the same effects were present in alcohol-free beers, implying that it was the beer itself, not the alcohol that produced the benefits.

So what does this mean to us? Well maybe instead of going to the hospital Mark should have chugged a beer. Possibly, instead of the electric shock paddles they should have an emergency beer bong. And finally, from now on CPR won't be cardiopulmonary resuscitation but Can of Pabst's blue Ribbon.

never trust The Sober Brewer
Jerry Gnagy