Category Archives: Craft Beer Drinking

07-12-02

Beer Glass Comparison

If you are new to craft beer you may have heard that the type of glass you drink from has an impact on the flavor and aroma of a beer. Sam Adams has a commercial out about the glass they developed specifically for their beers that help concentrate aromas and highlight flavors. The question is does the glass you drink from actually impact the beer you are drinking?

07-12-01

If you have been a reader of this site for any period of time you will see that I generally drink all of my beer out of two styles of glass a Spiegelau Stemmed Pilsner and a Spiegelau Lager Glass (don’t worry the links are not commission linked).I used the Stemmed Pilsner for IPAs, high alcohol beers, and Belgians. The Lager glass gets everything else. I have dozens of traditional pint glasses but I don’t use them for beer drinking. Spiegelau has recently come out with an IPA glass, which you will begin seeing on this site, and it made me want to do an experiment.

To begin with I got a glass of the four types mentioned above and lined them up. I then got two of the same beers and split them among the glasses. I think took some notes about smell and taste. You can see the results for each of the glasses below. One note, the beer I used is a balanced IPA that has a good amount of hops along with a great malt body.

07-12-02

Traditional Pint Glass

Smell: You can tell this beer has hops but they seem a bit muted or aged. The hops are not bright. There is also some malt odors in there mainly bread and biscuit.

Taste: As with the nose, the hops seems a bit muted. Not clear hop flavor but I would edge on a slight grapefruit going to pine. The malt is round and is a bit stronger than the hops.

Lager Glass

Smell: Grapefruit and piney hops with a good helping of malt character. Slight caramel with bread.

Taste: Good hop kick with the flavors that the nose promised. Malt is crisp and full. Lots of good bread, biscuit, and caramel.

Stemmed Pilsner

Smell: Concentrated hops right off the bat. Malt comes in a bit later with some caramels and bread.

Taste: Bright but balanced hops. Grapefruit hops that flow in to a pine flavor. Crisp hop ending note. Malt is balanced and has some great caramels and bread flavors.

IPA

Smell: Smell matches that of the stemmed pilsner.

Taste: Taste matches the stemmed pilsner

Conclusions

As you can see the aroma and flavor of this beer changed greatly depending on the glass that it was in. The pint glass really muted the flavors and made this beer seem less interesting and fresh than what it was. The lager glass was nice but the hops was not nearly as bright as the other stemmed pilsner or the IPA glass. The stemmed pilsner and IPA were about the same for me. The only difference I found was that the IPA kept the beer smelling fresher for a longer period of time.

Thoughts on beer stores

I was recently watching a special on CNBC about Costco. I have no business watching CNBC as my money is not tied to the stock market and the only thing of value that I own is a car, but I’m really interested in business for some reason. CNBC does a great job of finding successful businesses and showing the story of how they became successful. I eat this stuff up as someone who wants to open their own brewpub one day. Usually I like seeing how a unique, but good idea can become a great success story, but still have major hurtles to overcome. Call it the American Spirit, but I dig it.

While watching the Costco special they had a 10-15 minute section about wine sold at Costco. Apparently Costco offers around 200 different types of wine at their stores while local liquor stores generally stock 2-3 times that amount. Wine is a big part of their profit margin and makes up about a tenth of their business. The reasoning behind carrying a smaller selection is to not overwhelm the consumer and help them find a solution quickly. It also helps the consumer discover new brands and styles more easily. It’s an interesting take on business that Costco also applies to all of their departments.

It really made me think about the local beer store that I visit. They have an outstanding selection of beer with 400 or so “normal” beers and a rotating seasonal selection of about 50. Some would call me lucky (and believe me I’m lucky), but when I think about it through the Costco lens it doesn’t make sense. How many IPAs does a beer store need to offer to keep people happy? IPAs are particularly bothersome because with more selection comes an increased chance of beer sitting for longer. IPAs lose a lot if they sit unrefrigerated for too long.

As a craft beer nerd I love going into my store and finding new beers to try, but someone new into craft beer may actually be turned off by the intense selection. Now my store is really good about asking if you need help, but I don’t know if that applies everywhere. Surprisingly the demographics of Costco and craft beer drinkers is interchangeable. So that leads to the question is less selection of craft beer a good or bad thing?

Personally, I want more selection as I love having more choice. I think that most craft beer people would agree with me as well. Would you rather have a smaller selection, say 200 different beers, with the promise that they are fresher and better rotated?

American Craft Beer Week 2012

If you were not aware, today was the start of American Craft Beer Week. This is the seventh year of the week and there are thousands of events in all 50 states scheduled. Check out CraftBeer.com for all of the events.

Speaking of CraftBeer.com they have a great craft beer quiz to take in celebration of this week. I scored an 80% FYI. Are you doing anything for the week? Personally, I don’t have any big plans but I am hoping to brew at some points. I kind of wish that they week had a bit more of the weekend, i.e Sunday. I know that I have been slacking on review these past two weeks but I will rectify that situation later this week with a bunch of new reviews. Thanks as always for visiting the site and let me know if you have anything fun planned for ACBW.

Enough bourbon and barrel aging

A little under two years ago I wrote about some trends in craft beer that I was noticing. You can read the full thing here, but the skinny of it is that oak aged and sour beers were making a mark in the craft beer world. I still think that the trend that I talked about then is true now, but there seems to be a bigger emphasis on “big” beers and frankly, I’m tired of it.

I do dig the occasional bourbon aged imperial stout, but they are becoming a dime a dozen. They aren’t special anymore and they ones that I have had range from decent to poor. Consumers seem to be getting caught up in these “special” release beers and I’m not sure that it is having a positive effect on the craft beer industry. I’ve fallen victim to this type of ploy as well, but I’m learning to shy away from it.

How many 10% bourbon aged imperial stouts can one drink and how different can they all really be? I’m getting tired of big and bold, I would prefer smaller beers with more delicate flavors. There is something to be said for a solid 5% beer. I think it shows a level of skill in brewing that a 10% stout just doesn’t showcase. As any homebrewer which style of beer is easiest to make consistently. I bet stout would be the number one answer.

Hopefully this trend starts to calm down and we can return to more “normal” beers. There is still plenty of room for experimentation, but the bourbon and barrel aging has run its course. Am I alone in this?

Craft beer bottle sizes

On of my favorite beer blogs to read for interesting insights, The Mad Fermentationist, recently posted a pretty good rant about craft beer bottle sizes. You can read the full rant here, but a snapshot of the rant reveals two things:

  1. Why do craft breweries insist on putting big beers in large bottles?
  2. Why do large bottle cost more per oz than a smaller bottle? Shouldn’t be less?

I think The Mad Fermentationist did a great job at looking at the second point closely, but the first point really irks me with craft beer. It annoys me greatly that a lot of the wonderful big beers that can be had only come in 22 oz or 750 ml bottles. I don’t understand the idea of making big bottles of big beer. Shouldn’t higher ABV’s push the size of the bottle down not up?

I find it irresponsible to a point to put the high alcohol beers in larger volume containers. Beer isn’t like wine, it can’t stay fresh once opened. When you commit to opening a big bottle, you commit to drinking the whole thing. I’m not generally one who has a bunch of people over to share bottles with, when I drink, I do it at home with my wife and my dog. My wife isn’t a huge fan of big beers so it usually is up to me to knock out the large majority of a bottle of beer. There are times when a giant bottle of beer is just too much, but I can’t justify pouring some out or letting it go flat. I paid for the beer, I’m going to drink it.

Judging by the responses to the original post, I’m not alone in my thoughts. In some cases, I would actually be happy getting a 7 oz “pony” of a big beer than even a 12 oz bottle. In the homebrew world, big beers equal more production costs. I would be fine with paying 12 oz bottle prices for a 7 oz bottle of big beer. I doubt this would ever happen (with the exception of Rogue Ales who does a number of beers in 7 oz bottles) but I would love to see this come about.

While I know I’m not alone in my thoughts, am I being too picky or do I (we) have a legitimate grip here?