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Poster:nerdwerds
Date:2011-06-25 04:35
Subject:
Security:Public

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history-archaeology/The-Beer-Archaeologist.html

A fascinating article about ancient beer recipes being brewed today.

1 comment | post a comment



Poster:arcata1
Date:2010-02-21 12:11
Subject:
Security:Public

An interesting beer journal:

http://otakudensdram.livejournal.com/

2 comments | post a comment



Poster:halleyscomet
Date:2009-10-22 09:57
Subject:Jumping Yeast
Security:Public


These are the kinds of sights I miss out on by using opaque plastic buckets for my primary fermentation!

3 comments | post a comment



Poster:thaen
Date:2009-09-26 16:12
Subject:(please vote!) My entry for the OR “cuisinternship”
Security:Public

Originally published at GeekBeer. Please leave any comments there.

My entry for the contest.

I generally wouldn’t do something like this, but I made this video (in about 45 minutes) as an entry for the Oregon Bounty Cusinternship contest, and I’d really like to get at least something out of the deal. If you could view the video and rate it (highly, preferably), that would be beyond awesome.

I already posted this to twitter.com/geekbeer, so thanks if you’ve already voted.

History of beer podcast and graphic, Redhook footage, Pumpkin Pie Homebrew recipe, and other podcast funtimes are forthcoming — Tom’s just still out of town and my wrists have been killing me lately. Surgery soon. Hopefully it helps.





Poster:thaen
Date:2009-09-21 18:47
Subject:How PBR Came Back
Security:Public

Originally published at GeekBeer. Please leave any comments there.

http://www.nytimes.com/2003/06/22/magazine/the-marketing-of-no-marketing.html

I love it: Beer company is dying because its product isn’t any different from the major brands and they’re too poor to spend anything on marketing. Because they’re too poor to spend anything on marketing, hipsters that don’t like marketing jump on the brand. Brand recognizes the demand, starts subvertising to this market segment. It works, and the people who didn’t like marketing start to like it because it fits their groove.

I think I’ll keep drinking beer because I like it, not because it’s part of my social network.





Poster:thaen
Date:2009-09-21 18:47
Subject:How PBR Came Back
Security:Public

Originally published at GeekBeer. Please leave any comments there.

http://www.nytimes.com/2003/06/22/magazine/the-marketing-of-no-marketing.html

I love it: Beer company is dying because its product isn’t any different from the major brands and they’re too poor to spend anything on marketing. Because they’re too poor to spend anything on marketing, hipsters that don’t like marketing jump on the brand. Brand recognizes the demand, starts subvertising to this market segment. It works, and the people who didn’t like marketing start to like it because it fits their groove.

I think I’ll keep drinking beer because I like it, not because it’s part of my social network.





Poster:thaen
Date:2009-09-17 16:08
Subject:Kegheads
Security:Public

Originally published at GeekBeer. Please leave any comments there.

http://www.kegheads.com/

You know, because, we, you know, like brewing.





Poster:thaen
Date:2009-09-16 18:38
Subject:On Dogfish Head, Uber Tavern, and Bartender Etiquette
Security:Public

Originally published at GeekBeer. Please leave any comments there.

Yesterday, a friend and I were at Uber Tavern getting our tri-weekly keg for work. We buy premium kegs every 3 weeks like clockwork and have been buying exclusively from Uber for about 6 months. (What does “premium” mean? Our last keg was the Allagash White and weighed in at $260.)

So yesterday, the bartender wheels out our keg and we decide to stay and sip on schooners of the Southern Tier Oak Aged Unearthly. I’d never had it on tap and I’m in the mood for an IPA.

I also notice that they have the Dogfish Head Punkin’ on tap. I’ve had two bottles of this and hated it, but I’m willing to give it another go because I love pumpkin beers and… well… some part of me still wants to give Dogfish another chance.

On Dogfish Head

Dogfish Head, or DFH as it’s known, brews a staggering number of different beers. They have 8 in their “all the time” lineup and another dozen or more in their “seasonal” selections.

I’ve had many of them, and I don’t think I’ve enjoyed more than 10% of their offerings. Of their year-round beers, I’ve had the 60 minute IPA, the 90 minute, the Midas Touch, the Palo Santo, and Raison d’Etre. The Midas is the only one of the bunch that I would think about drinking again — it’s a B+ beer. The rest are, at best, C+ brews.

I’ve also had the Red and White, the 120, the Black and Blue, the India Brown Ale, the Punkin’, and the Chicory Stout. For my dollar, none are worth having again. A good friend also says that the Fort might be the worst beer he’s ever had.

But I figured I should at least taste the Punkin’ on tap, as I said. And I did. And it wasn’t any better than the bottle. A list of complaints I have with the Punkin’:

  • The pumpkin character is nil. The spice character is nonexistent. I don’t know what they’re doing to completely kill the flavors of these ingredients, but it’s working.
  • The beer isn’t interesting. It starts bubbly and malty like a standard Amber Ale and finishes with hot alcohols like a shitty homebrew.
  • The hot alcohols. What. The. Shit. This beer finishes spicy from what I think is hot fermentation. It’s just bad.
  • The mouthfeel is unfit for the style and the gravity, making the beer seem watery.
It probably goes without saying that I won’t be giving DFH much more of my money.

Now before you say, “But what about World Wide Stout? And Sah’tea? Or Aprihop?”, I’m going to say two things. First, that this experience is — like all experiences — is my own, and second, that every brewery has a few good beers. The measure of a brewery is not its best beer. The measure of a brewery is the ability to pick up literally anything they brew and have it be great.

Out of the… beers DFH has released, only a handful are worth drinking.

When Avery comes out with something new, I try it. It’s not always blow-your-socks-off amazing, but it’s always good. The same is true of Stone, Allagash, Russian River, Deschutes, Full Sail, and hell, even Redhook. All these breweries make beers that I don’t like, but the consistent quality of their releases is good enough that I keep coming back. Out of the three dozen beers DFH has released, only a handful are worth drinking. That’s not the mark of a good brewery. That’s the mark of a lucky brewer.

That I’m hesitant rather than excited when someone hands me a new DFH brew says a lot.

On Uber Tavern and Bartender Etiquette

Uber is a great little spot on Highway 99 (”Aurora”) in Seattle. It’s in a weird place, but their beer selection is fantastic. It’s a bar and a beer store, and you can walk out with bottles and kegs as you see fit. We’ve been going there for 6 months or so, spending about $300/month on average on kegs and maybe $70 a month on beer. We’re not big spenders, but we’ve developed a relationship with them.

Yesterday we walked in and the bartender, a young Asian kid whose name we don’t know (yet), wheeled out our keg. We asked for pints of the Oak Aged Unearthly and started chatting with him about beer, as we usually do with whoever happens to be pouring when we’re there.

As I tasted the Punkin’, before my OAU came, I commented that the Punkin’ on tap was still bad, and that I didn’t think I’d be buying any more DFH beers — that I was pretty much done with them.

The bartender spouted what I’ve come to recognize as the typical party line: “Have you tried the Worldwide Stout or the 120 Minute IPA? They’re great. I love Dogfish Head.”

I sighed, not really wanting to get into it, but a little affronted that he didn’t assume that two guys who had just ordered a keg of Ninkasi Total Domination IPA and were drinking the Oak Aged Unearthly at 4:00 in the afternoon might have actually gone their whole lives without having the 120 minute IPA, so I said simply, “The 120 is crap. The hop character is awful and the cloying sweetness is worse than a bad barleywine.”

Then we got into it. Or at least, the bartender did. He became extremely condescending.

Then we got into it. Or at least, the bartender did. He became extremely condescending, using language and tone that implied that we were like two 16 year olds whose only prior beer experience was stealing 40s from their parents. He commented on how “everyone in the Northwest just wants more hops” and how he could “tell what kind of beer drinkers we were by what we were drinking” at the moment. He claimed that Northwest IPAs weren’t good IPAs because of the strong hop character. He went off on Seattle drinkers in general. It was a sight.

My friend and I let him continue his tirade for a while, occasionally interjecting something to try to diffuse him, but mostly just stunned that a bartender would talk to customers like this.

Don’t get me wrong: I’ve been in a lot of arguments and disagreements about beer. But most people seem to understand that beer appreciation is incredibly subjective and at the end of the day, everyone orders a pint and moves on. No one is out to put anyone down, everyone uses language that offers respect and appreciation for all sides of the argument. Let’s be honest here: It’s just beer!

But this guy, this bartender, seemed intent on losing his tip. It was pretty impressive the way he managed to simultaneously talk over us and dismiss our opinions as uninformed. My favourite part was when he said that there was only “one brewery where [he] would drink everything they made, and it [was]n’t American.” The amount of condescension in his tone and those words is worthy of a degree of respect, almost, since it must have taken some degree of skill to perfect.

It was pretty impressive the way he managed to… dismiss our opinions as uninformed.

Like I said, I’m all about a good beer-pinion row, but this wasn’t a discussion. It was this bartender — the guy we were paying more than $200 for kegs and beer — claiming that because we were drinking the Oak Aged Unearthly, we were unfit to comment on the quality of beer in general. If it weren’t so odd and infuriating, it would have been funny.

I think we’ll be getting our next kegs from somewhere else. Sorry, Uber. One bad apple and all.





Poster:thaen
Date:2009-09-16 18:38
Subject:On Dogfish Head, Uber Tavern, and Bartender Etiquette
Security:Public

Originally published at GeekBeer. Please leave any comments there.

Yesterday, a friend and I were at Uber Tavern getting our tri-weekly keg for work. We buy premium kegs every 3 weeks like clockwork and have been buying exclusively from Uber for about 6 months. (What does “premium” mean? Our last keg was the Allagash White and weighed in at $260.)

So yesterday, the bartender wheels out our keg and we decide to stay and sip on schooners of the Southern Tier Oak Aged Unearthly. I’d never had it on tap and I’m in the mood for an IPA.

I also notice that they have the Dogfish Head Punkin’ on tap. I’ve had two bottles of this and hated it, but I’m willing to give it another go because I love pumpkin beers and… well… some part of me still wants to give Dogfish another chance.

On Dogfish Head

Dogfish Head, or DFH as it’s known, brews a staggering number of different beers. They have 8 in their “all the time” lineup and another dozen or more in their “seasonal” selections.

I’ve had many of them, and I don’t think I’ve enjoyed more than 10% of their offerings. Of their year-round beers, I’ve had the 60 minute IPA, the 90 minute, the Midas Touch, the Palo Santo, and Raison d’Etre. The Midas is the only one of the bunch that I would think about drinking again — it’s a B+ beer. The rest are, at best, C+ brews.

I’ve also had the Red and White, the 120, the Black and Blue, the India Brown Ale, the Punkin’, and the Chicory Stout. For my dollar, none are worth having again. A good friend also says that the Fort might be the worst beer he’s ever had.

But I figured I should at least taste the Punkin’ on tap, as I said. And I did. And it wasn’t any better than the bottle. A list of complaints I have with the Punkin’:

  • The pumpkin character is nil. The spice character is nonexistent. I don’t know what they’re doing to completely kill the flavors of these ingredients, but it’s working.
  • The beer isn’t interesting. It starts bubbly and malty like a standard Amber Ale and finishes with hot alcohols like a shitty homebrew.
  • The hot alcohols. What. The. Shit. This beer finishes spicy from what I think is hot fermentation. It’s just bad.
  • The mouthfeel is unfit for the style and the gravity, making the beer seem watery.
It probably goes without saying that I won’t be giving DFH much more of my money.

Now before you say, “But what about World Wide Stout? And Sah’tea? Or Aprihop?”, I’m going to say two things. First, that this experience is — like all experiences — is my own, and second, that every brewery has a few good beers. The measure of a brewery is not its best beer. The measure of a brewery is the ability to pick up literally anything they brew and have it be great.

Out of the… beers DFH has released, only a handful are worth drinking.

When Avery comes out with something new, I try it. It’s not always blow-your-socks-off amazing, but it’s always good. The same is true of Stone, Allagash, Russian River, Deschutes, Full Sail, and hell, even Redhook. All these breweries make beers that I don’t like, but the consistent quality of their releases is good enough that I keep coming back. Out of the three dozen beers DFH has released, only a handful are worth drinking. That’s not the mark of a good brewery. That’s the mark of a lucky brewer.

That I’m hesitant rather than excited when someone hands me a new DFH brew says a lot.

On Uber Tavern and Bartender Etiquette

Uber is a great little spot on Highway 99 (”Aurora”) in Seattle. It’s in a weird place, but their beer selection is fantastic. It’s a bar and a beer store, and you can walk out with bottles and kegs as you see fit. We’ve been going there for 6 months or so, spending about $300/month on average on kegs and maybe $70 a month on beer. We’re not big spenders, but we’ve developed a relationship with them.

Yesterday we walked in and the bartender, a young Asian kid whose name we don’t know (yet), wheeled out our keg. We asked for pints of the Oak Aged Unearthly and started chatting with him about beer, as we usually do with whoever happens to be pouring when we’re there.

As I tasted the Punkin’, before my OAU came, I commented that the Punkin’ on tap was still bad, and that I didn’t think I’d be buying any more DFH beers — that I was pretty much done with them.

The bartender spouted what I’ve come to recognize as the typical party line: “Have you tried the Worldwide Stout or the 120 Minute IPA? They’re great. I love Dogfish Head.”

I sighed, not really wanting to get into it, but a little affronted that he didn’t assume that two guys who had just ordered a keg of Ninkasi Total Domination IPA and were drinking the Oak Aged Unearthly at 4:00 in the afternoon might have actually gone their whole lives without having the 120 minute IPA, so I said simply, “The 120 is crap. The hop character is awful and the cloying sweetness is worse than a bad barleywine.”

Then we got into it. Or at least, the bartender did. He became extremely condescending.

Then we got into it. Or at least, the bartender did. He became extremely condescending, using language and tone that implied that we were like two 16 year olds whose only prior beer experience was stealing 40s from their parents. He commented on how “everyone in the Northwest just wants more hops” and how he could “tell what kind of beer drinkers we were by what we were drinking” at the moment. He claimed that Northwest IPAs weren’t good IPAs because of the strong hop character. He went off on Seattle drinkers in general. It was a sight.

My friend and I let him continue his tirade for a while, occasionally interjecting something to try to diffuse him, but mostly just stunned that a bartender would talk to customers like this.

Don’t get me wrong: I’ve been in a lot of arguments and disagreements about beer. But most people seem to understand that beer appreciation is incredibly subjective and at the end of the day, everyone orders a pint and moves on. No one is out to put anyone down, everyone uses language that offers respect and appreciation for all sides of the argument. Let’s be honest here: It’s just beer!

But this guy, this bartender, seemed intent on losing his tip. It was pretty impressive the way he managed to simultaneously talk over us and dismiss our opinions as uninformed. My favourite part was when he said that there was only “one brewery where [he] would drink everything they made, and it [was]n’t American.” The amount of condescension in his tone and those words is worthy of a degree of respect, almost, since it must have taken some degree of skill to perfect.

It was pretty impressive the way he managed to… dismiss out opinions as uninformed.

Like I said, I’m all about a good beer-pinion row, but this wasn’t a discussion. It was this bartender — the guy we were paying more than $200 for kegs and beer — claiming that because we were drinking the Oak Aged Unearthly, we were unfit to comment on the quality of beer in general. If it weren’t so odd and infuriating, it would have been funny.

I think we’ll be getting our next kegs from somewhere else. Sorry, Uber. One bad apple and all.





Poster:thaen
Date:2009-09-07 15:26
Subject:podcast delays, etc
Security:Public

Originally published at GeekBeer. Please leave any comments there.

As I’ve said before, I don’t generally enjoy reading blogs that explain why there’s no content. In this case, however, we have footage from Redhook and a commitment to someone other than ourselves to get it up. I also have an interview from Professor Rorabaugh that I need to edit.

This post is just to say that podcast-related activities and my photoshopping new graphics have been put on hold temporarily. Tom is out of town for a month on a whirlwind tour of the country (”wow” is really all I can say about that), and my repetitive-stress injured wrists have been giving me a hell of a time lately. (Incindentally, I undergo surgery for said problem very soon. Hopefully that will help.)

In any case, for those of you wondering where the hell the podcast is or why I can’t seem to make a deadline, there you go.

Things in the works for the interested:

  1. Typographical mashup on the history of beer since Prohibition in the US
  2. Interview with Professor Rorabaugh of the University of Washington on the history of beer since the temperance movement in the 1830s
  3. Redhook footage
  4. Several podcasts, including the Blind Tasting
  5. Much, much more.





Poster:thaen
Date:2009-09-04 08:24
Subject:Best Beer in America (graphic)
Security:Public

Originally published at GeekBeer. Please leave any comments there.

(I didn’t make this.)

Thought I’d share this if you hadn’t seen it posted around the blogosphere already. I saw this on Cool Infographics, so that’s where I’ll point you first. It’s a chart of beer medals in the US, all high-color and fancy. Yum. I think he could have done something more interesting and more easily parsable than the small medals that decorate each state, but hey, it’s pretty.





Poster:thaen
Date:2009-08-24 20:50
Subject:Updated “Beer Flavors” graphic: visual introduction to a beer
Security:Public

Originally published at GeekBeer. Please leave any comments there.

I run the keg at work. I needed a way to inform people at work of the general character of a beer without explaining to them everything there is to know about it. This is what I came up with, based loosely on Michelob’s graphic that’s on the side of their “craft” products.

I don’t think “body” and “malt” mean much to the average beer drinker, and “color” doesn’t mean anything to the flavor of a beer, but yeast is a dominant flavor component of many styles, and “sessionability” is important at work where many folks have to drive home after they drink.

Anyway, here’s the most recent version:
allagash white
Yes, we have the Allagash White at work. It’s a good job.





Poster:thaen
Date:2009-08-20 17:00
Subject:The Difference between Stout and Porter (Part 3)
Security:Public

Originally published at GeekBeer. Please leave any comments there.

Modern Investigation


porter_vs_stout
(Thought I’d post this again, just because it took so long to make.)

This endeavor will be ongoing (mostly because it gives me an excuse to drink), but I’ll go over a few examples here. Remember our central question: Historically, stouts were a heavier version of porters, but basically the same recipes otherwise. Is that still the case?

I’ll be comparing stout and porter offerings from the same brewery, and then I’ll do a small comparison across the board. These aren’t cherry-picked to show anything particular; they are chosen because the brewery in question produces both a stout and a porter and provides enough information about the beers to compare them effectively.

Deschutes Obsidian Stout and Black Butte Porter

Deschutes Brewing is based in Bend, Oregon and makes these two brews for a Northwest audience. The Black Butte Porter is listed as an example of a Robust Porter in the BJCP guidelines, and I can attest to the bitterness and roasty/toasty characters that qualify it for this categorization. The listed 30 IBU rating, 5.2% ABV, and dark color are all appropriate for the style.

The Obsidian Stout is also listed in the BJCP guidelines as a typical American stout. The pronounced hop character, 6.4% ABV, and dry, roasted finish from the roasted barley are indicative of this style. Again, the listed 50 IBU and sizable head are appropriate for the style.

The Obsidian Stout can in no way be called a heavier version of the Black Butte Porter.

The Obsidian Stout can in no way be called a heavier version of the Black Butte Porter. The hop character, higher bitterness, more heavily roasted character, dry finish, head retention, and chocolate notes in the stout all distinguish it from Deschutes’ porter. These characteristics require modified hop bill, grain bill, and likely different fermentation and/or mash schedules from the porter.

These examples from Deschutes seem to discount the statement that a stout is a stronger porter, particularly due to the roasted character and dry finish of the stout.

Avery Brewing’s New World Porter, Out of Bounds Stout, and Czar Imperial Stout

Avery hits it out of the park with most of their beer, but I’ll admit that I’ve never had the New World Porter or the Out of Bounds Stout. I’ll try to go over these beers based on the information available online from Avery and in reviews.

The New World Porter is 6.7% ABV, 45 IBU, contains no unmalted barley, and for a twist is dry hopped. This clearly places it in the spirit of the Robust Porter, though at 6.7% it’s a tad high to be there. This decreased BU:GU ratio would probably qualify it to be a Foreign Extra Stout or an American Stout if it contained a stronger roasted flavor. Most online reviewers don’t mention a strong roasted flavor, and the lack of roasted barley in the recipe indicate that such flavor is probably absent. It should probably be categorized as a stout due to alcohol content and bitterness, though clearly Avery considers it a porter.

This is an interesting case, since the higher alcohol content would qualify it for inclusion as a stout (thereby supporting the “stout is a stronger porter” argument) if not for the “roasted” character that the style guidelines emphasize for stouts.

The Out of Bounds stout is listed as an example of an American Stout in the style guidelines, but interestingly is milder in many ways than the beer Avery calls a porter. OOBS is 51 IBU — very similar to the NWP — but is only 5.1% ABV. This heavier bitterness places it firmly in the American Stout section of the style guidelines, and the use of roasted barley gives it a heavy roasted flavor that most online reviewers mention.

Clearly Avery distinguishes their year-round stout from their seasonal porter with one major change: the presence of a significant roast flavor from roasted barley.

Avery’s Russian Imperial Stout, The Czar, is a hefty 11% ABV and 60IBU. It does not employ roasted barley at all and describes no roasted flavor. Its complexity is described as having molasses and dark fruit notes. A lighter version of the Czar would likely have a much lighter body, mouthfeel, and bitterness, and would likely fit well as a brown porter. The BU:GU ratio is in line with that of a lighter, English-style porter. The Czar is probably accurately described as a “heavy porter,” given that the overall flavor profile for it is very similar to that of a porter.

The Czar might accurately be called a heavy porter… the OOB Stout is by no means a heavy porter.

Overall, Avery’s offerings seem to point toward a similar conclusion that Deschutes’ did, albeit with less confidence. The Czar is undoubtedly significantly different from a brown porter in terms of complexity, hop character, and general malt bill, but the flavor profile is very similar to a Brown Porter. The Czar might accurately be called a heavy porter. The Out of Bounds Stout would be a solid Robust Porter if not for the presence of the roasted barley, and the NWP almost fits the guidelines for an American Stout as it stands today. It does seem clear that the OOB Stout is by no means a heavy porter - it fits square in the category of Porter at its current ABV and reported mouthfeel.

The amount of bleed between these styles is significant, but enough changes exist between the beers that its hard to draw conclusions here. The presence of roasted barley is a significant differentiator for Avery’s lower-alcohol offerings, but the Czar doesn’t include it at all. Besides roasted flavors, the differences between these beers and their closest style cousins is a matter of subtle malt changes and degrees.

Sierra Nevada Porter and Stout

Sierra Nevada is another big-name craft brewery that offers both a porter and a stout. Both are rated fairly highly, and based purely on the descriptions, they are the most traditional examples that I will examine today.

The Porter is 5.6% ABV while the stout is 5.8%. The final gravity of the stout indicates a heavier mouthfeel, and the tasting notes online indicate a higher bitterness. Again, the tasting notes for the porter do not indicate roasted flavors while those for the stout do. The Sierra Nevada Stout could be accurately described as a heavier version of some type of Porter, but with a roasted barley flavor. This is clearly a departure from the Stouts of old, but is closer to that tradition than the other beers I’ve looked at here.

What does this mean?

I’ll try to summarize. I’ll presume that you’re at a bar, trying to decide between a stout and a porter.

A porter is generally milder than a stout. If you’re feeling a dark beer but don’t want to venture into 10%+ ABV territory, or even 8%+, you can generally order a porter without any concerns. There are some exceptions here. The presence of the robust porter style guideline, and brewers’ innovations, mean that one brewer’s porter might be another brewer’s stout, and vice versa.

Comparing stouts and porters … across different brewers is usually not useful…

Comparing stouts and porters in terms of overall malt or hop presence and overall mouthfeel and ABV across different brewers is usually not useful in comparing two beers. If you see a stout and a porter on the menu and both are from the same brewery, you can probably always be sure that the porter is milder in every way. Again, there are exceptions to this rule. Indeed, for Avery, even comparing stouts and porters from the same brewery doesn’t give you any idea about how heavy they might be!

The porter style is definitely far more constrained than the stout style, so if you’re not feeling adventurous, or if you’re feeling like something a bit more mild but still dark, you can order a porter and be sure that it’s not off the beaten path for the most part. Stouts have no real “upper bound” on what they might actually be once they are in front of you, so porters are a good choice when you want something that is assuredly drinkable.

Stouts are generally more bitter than porters. Anything labeled American Stout (or, for the most part, anything labeled Stout from an American brewery), or anything labeled Russian Imperial Stout, will likely have a hefty bitterness. Similarly, anything labeled Sweet Stout, or advertised as a traditional Brown Porter, will likely be sweeter than other dark beers. It’s usually a safe assumption that porters will be maltier than stouts.

In the modern day, it seems three things distinguish stouts from porters in general.

  1. Stouts typically have a roasted barley character not found in most porters.
  2. Stouts are more bitter than porters and have a higher ABV — they are “bigger” than porters.
  3. Stouts have no real upper bound on what they might be.
Of course, all rules are made to be broken, and many examples of these styles don’t follow these guidelines.

Whatever you think of this debate, enjoy your dark beers with friends and a smile. Cheers!





Poster:thaen
Date:2009-08-20 17:00
Subject:The Difference between Stout and Porter (Part 3)
Security:Public

Originally published at GeekBeer. Please leave any comments there.

Modern Investigation


porter_vs_stout
(Thought I’d post this again, just because it took so long to make.)

This endeavor will be ongoing (mostly because it gives me an excuse to drink), but I’ll go over a few examples here. Remember our central question: Historically, stouts were a heavier version of porters, but basically the same recipes otherwise. Is that still the case?

I’ll be comparing stout and porter offerings from the same brewery, and then I’ll do a small comparison across the board. These aren’t cherry-picked to show anything particular; they are chosen because the brewery in question produces both a stout and a porter and provides enough information about the beers to compare them effectively.

Deschutes Obsidian Stout and Black Butte Porter

Deschutes Brewing is based in Bend, Oregon and makes these two brews for a Northwest audience. The Black Butte Porter is listed as an example of a Robust Porter in the BJCP guidelines, and I can attest to the bitterness and roasty/toasty characters that qualify it for this categorization. The listed 30 IBU rating, 5.2% ABV, and dark color are all appropriate for the style.

The Obsidian Stout is also listed in the BJCP guidelines as a typical American stout. The pronounced hop character, 6.4% ABV, and dry, roasted finish from the roasted barley are indicative of this style. Again, the listed 50 IBU and sizable head are appropriate for the style.

The Obsidian Stout can in no way be called a heavier version of the Black Butte Porter.

The Obsidian Stout can in no way be called a heavier version of the Black Butte Porter. The hop character, higher bitterness, more heavily roasted character, dry finish, head retention, and chocolate notes in the stout all distinguish it from Deschutes’ porter. These characteristics require modified hop bill, grain bill, and likely different fermentation and/or mash schedules from the porter.

These examples from Deschutes seem to discount the statement that a stout is a stronger porter, particularly due to the roasted character and dry finish of the stout.

Avery Brewing’s New World Porter, Out of Bounds Stout, and Czar Imperial Stout

Avery hits it out of the park with most of their beer, but I’ll admit that I’ve never had the New World Porter or the Out of Bounds Stout. I’ll try to go over these beers based on the information available online from Avery and in reviews.

The New World Porter is 6.7% ABV, 45 IBU, contains no unmalted barley, and for a twist is dry hopped. This clearly places it in the spirit of the Robust Porter, though at 6.7% it’s a tad high to be there. This decreased BU:GU ratio would probably qualify it to be a Foreign Extra Stout or an American Stout if it contained a stronger roasted flavor. Most online reviewers don’t mention a strong roasted flavor, and the lack of roasted barley in the recipe indicate that such flavor is probably absent. It should probably be categorized as a stout due to alcohol content and bitterness, though clearly Avery considers it a porter.

This is an interesting case, since the higher alcohol content would qualify it for inclusion as a stout (thereby supporting the “stout is a stronger porter” argument) if not for the “roasted” character that the style guidelines emphasize for stouts.

The Out of Bounds stout is listed as an example of an American Stout in the style guidelines, but interestingly is milder in many ways than the beer Avery calls a porter. OOBS is 51 IBU — very similar to the NWP — but is only 5.1% ABV. This heavier bitterness places it firmly in the American Stout section of the style guidelines, and the use of roasted barley gives it a heavy roasted flavor that most online reviewers mention.

Clearly Avery distinguishes their year-round stout from their seasonal porter with one major change: the presence of a significant roast flavor from roasted barley.

Avery’s Russian Imperial Stout, The Czar, is a hefty 11% ABV and 60IBU. It does not employ roasted barley at all and describes no roasted flavor. Its complexity is described as having molasses and dark fruit notes. A lighter version of the Czar would likely have a much lighter body, mouthfeel, and bitterness, and would likely fit well as a brown porter. The BU:GU ratio is in line with that of a lighter, English-style porter. The Czar is probably accurately described as a “heavy porter,” given that the overall flavor profile for it is very similar to that of a porter.

The Czar might accurately be called a heavy porter… the OOB Stout is by no means a heavy porter.

Overall, Avery’s offerings seem to point toward a similar conclusion that Deschutes’ did, albeit with less confidence. The Czar is undoubtedly significantly different from a brown porter in terms of complexity, hop character, and general malt bill, but the flavor profile is very similar to a Brown Porter. The Czar might accurately be called a heavy porter. The Out of Bounds Stout would be a solid Robust Porter if not for the presence of the roasted barley, and the NWP almost fits the guidelines for an American Stout as it stands today. It does seem clear that the OOB Stout is by no means a heavy porter - it fits square in the category of Porter at its current ABV and reported mouthfeel.

The amount of bleed between these styles is significant, but enough changes exist between the beers that its hard to draw conclusions here. The presence of roasted barley is a significant differentiator for Avery’s lower-alcohol offerings, but the Czar doesn’t include it at all. Besides roasted flavors, the differences between these beers and their closest style cousins is a matter of subtle malt changes and degrees.

Sierra Nevada Porter and Stout

Sierra Nevada is another big-name craft brewery that offers both a porter and a stout. Both are rated fairly highly, and based purely on the descriptions, they are the most traditional examples that I will examine today.

The Porter is 5.6% ABV while the stout is 5.8%. The final gravity of the stout indicates a heavier mouthfeel, and the tasting notes online indicate a higher bitterness. Again, the tasting notes for the porter do not indicate roasted flavors while those for the stout do. The Sierra Nevada Stout could be accurately described as a heavier version of some type of Porter, but with a roasted barley flavor. This is clearly a departure from the Stouts of old, but is closer to that tradition than the other beers I’ve looked at here.

What does this mean?

I’ll try to summarize. I’ll presume that you’re at a bar, trying to decide between a stout and a porter.

A porter is generally milder than a stout. If you’re feeling a dark beer but don’t want to venture into 10%+ ABV territory, or even 8%+, you can generally order a porter without any concerns. There are some exceptions here. The presence of the robust porter style guideline, and brewers’ innovations, mean that one brewer’s porter might be another brewer’s stout, and vice versa.

Comparing stouts and porters … across different brewers is usually not useful…

Comparing stouts and porters in terms of overall malt or hop presence and overall mouthfeel and ABV across different brewers is usually not useful in comparing two beers. If you see a stout and a porter on the menu and both are from the same brewery, you can probably always be sure that the porter is milder in every way. Again, there are exceptions to this rule. Indeed, for Avery, even comparing stouts and porters from the same brewery doesn’t give you any idea about how heavy they might be!

The porter style is definitely far more constrained than the stout style, so if you’re not feeling adventurous, or if you’re feeling like something a bit more mild but still dark, you can order a porter and be sure that it’s not off the beaten path for the most part. Stouts have no real “upper bound” on what they might actually be once they are in front of you, so porters are a good choice when you want something that is assuredly drinkable.

Stouts are generally more bitter than porters. Anything labeled American Stout (or, for the most part, anything labeled Stout from an American brewery), or anything labeled Russian Imperial Stout, will likely have a hefty bitterness. Similarly, anything labeled Sweet Stout, or advertised as a traditional Brown Porter, will likely be sweeter than other dark beers. It’s usually a safe assumption that porters will be maltier than stouts.

In the modern day, it seems three things distinguish stouts from porters in general.

  1. Stouts typically have a roasted barley character not found in most porters.
  2. Stouts are more bitter than porters and have a higher ABV — they are “bigger” than porters.
  3. Stouts have no real upper bound on what they might be.
Of course, all rules are made to be broken, and many examples of these styles don’t follow these guidelines.

Whatever you think of this debate, enjoy your dark beers with friends and smile. Cheers!





Poster:thaen
Date:2009-08-20 12:28
Subject:Salmon River Brewpub - McCall, ID
Security:Public

Originally published at GeekBeer. Please leave any comments there.

My wife and I took a road trip around Washington, Oregon, and Idaho to visit family and take our new puppy around to visit family. On the way, we visited three very local brewpubs. A brewpub tour is definitely in order.

I only had my iPhone with me at the time. Sorry for the picture quality.

I was tipped off to the existence of the Salmon River Brewpub in McCall, Idaho by my cousin, whose friends Matt and Ellen Gantz opened it less than a year ago.

McCall is not a large town. Nearly everything worth seeing is visible from the main drag of the city… except, apparently, for this Brewpub. Despite being in a hotel a mere half a block from this place, my wife and I had to look up the address on Google in order to find it. It’s just off the main drag (N 3rd St) on Colorado, has no advertising on the main road, and the sign is hard to see even while walking to it along Colorado.

Salmon River Brewing frontWhen we finally found it on Colorado street, it was homey and inviting. The large A-frame building had indoor seating, a long bar, and opened to a deck and back yard used for live music (though there was none playing while we were there). We were cordially told that we were welcome to come eat with our puppy in the back of the building, at the hefty rustic picnic benches located there, which we were more than happy with. We sat down with menus and a smile.

salmon river brewpub sushi bar

The menu is two-sided, and the sides could hardly be more different. One side is all about barbeque cooked on their giant industrial grill: ribs, brats, and chicken wings. The other side, believe it or not, is sushi.

salmon river brewpub bratsThis isn’t just a seat-yourself joint, it’s also an order-yourself joint. You belly up to the bar and order what you want, and they bring it out to you. We kept it simple and skipped the sushi. I ordered a taster platter ($1 per taste), and the wife and I shared the two-brat plate with one of both kinds of brats on the menu (spicy Volcano and smoked bacon). The brats were pretty fantastic — probably the best such sausages I’ve ever had on a bun — and the onions came thick. The chips were a bit much (read: oily) in the summer sun at noon, but I’m sure in the evening they’d be a welcome side.

salmon river brewpub sampler

The beer was equally good for the most part. The Udaho Gold was probably meant to be a blonde or something around there. It was a great unfiltered ale with mellow hops, clean pale malts, and a fantastic body for the style. I would have easily drunk a pint of this beer. The PFD Pale was a lightly hopped pale ale, extremely well crafted and clean finishing. The body was a bit heavy for the style, but I like to err that way rather than the other. The hops were a great citrus and pine, probably Cascade. This was a drinkable pale with a great flavor.

The Sweep Boat Stout was the star of the show. Sweet and toasty with lightly roasted flavors, a drinkable mouthfeel, and a good hop background that left a clean, dry palette. Blind, I might have called this a porter, but it was excellent.

Both the IPA and Double IPA had issues. First, the IPA wasn’t all that hoppy, with flavors that were very similar to the Pale. Both IPAs suffered from a stale, muddled hop flavor that I didn’t notice in the Pale. This could have been the age of the beer, improper storage, old hops, overly carbonate water, or something else, but the hops in these brews didn’t pop in the way that I’ve come to expect from Northwest IPAs.

I didn’t have a chance (or the audio equipment) to get an interview with the owners. Maybe next time.

The whole place was wicked: Sushi bar at a brewpub has got to be nearly one-of-a-kind in the US, a giant BBQ in the back, live music, a backyard that probably hosts a wicked party, good food, and a few amazing beers means this is a place I have to recommend.





Poster:thaen
Date:2009-08-13 17:00
Subject:The Difference between Porter and Stout (Part 2, now with 100% more Infographic!)
Security:Public

Originally published at GeekBeer. Please leave any comments there.

Style guidelines

All things change over time. Historically, stout might have been a type of porter, but that might not be true today.

One reference for change in beer tradition is the existing Style Guidelines. These guidelines are not important because they define a particular historical style, but because they attempt to both exemplify historical standards and capture modern innovation in a single stroke. They are intensely debated precisely because they attempt to coalesce a modern understanding of beer with a historical one.

The style guidelines for stout and porter seem to imply at least a few distinctions between stout and porter that make it hard to call stout a type of porter in the modern age.

I feel obligated to go over the style guidelines in some depth, mostly because they are the basis of so much of our modern understanding and expectation of beer. I don’t share Ronald’s view that the BJCP is rubbish because they don’t cite sources — if they cited sources, it would be much more difficult for the guidelines to be living documents. I’ll leave the rest of that discussion for another day.

For now, let’s start with an exploration of the BJCP guidelines. Here’s porter, and here’s stout.

My original intent was to run over the various commonality between Porter and Stout and perhaps highlight some of the differences that the BJCP makes clear. As I did this, I found myself wanting a visual reference of the various components of these beers. I broke open Photoshop and made this:

porter_vs_stout

(Available at desktop resolution for a 23″ monitor, 1900×1200, from my Flickr stream.)

It should be noted that “lighter” obviously doesn’t mean “light” for this series of beers, but “sweet” most certainly means that — sweet stout can be cloying for some drinkers due to the presence of lactose, an unfermentable sugar. Other items of note that are clear from examining this and reading the BJCP guidelines follow:

  • Every stout recommends the use of unmalted grains, particularly roasted barley.

    Every stout recommends the use of unmalted grains, particularly roasted barley, but the only porter that allows this use is the robust porter, and the guidelines state that this is merely an optional addition, not an integral part of the style. The online recipes I found confirm that the presence of roasted barley in porter is fairly random.

  • The grain bills for stouts seem to contain a lower percentage of pale malt than the grain bills for porters, with the exception of traditional Brown Porter recipes. Stouts tend to contain more adjuncts, chocolate, wheat, oatmeal, and caramel malts than their porter brethren.
  • Most of this data reflects the ancestry of these beers according to Pattinson’s historical observation that Stouts were heavy Porters: Stouts mostly have higher bitterness levels, higher or similar alcohol content, darker color, and heavier mouthfeel, but maintain similar overall malt and hop bills, producing similar overall impressions of the final product. There are some outliers, but in general, a brown porter with extra pale malt might easily be a dry stout, a sweet stout (with lactose added), or an American stout. Similarly, a robust porter with a higher gravity looks very much like a Foreign Extra Stout or an American Stout. Baltic Porter is the only real outlier with it’s relatively low BU:GU ratio and lack of unmalted grains.
  • One man’s robust porter might be another man’s American stout.

    There is an incredible amount of variance within a given style that isn’t well represented in this graphic. I tried to represent IBU levels with gradients, but ABV range was more difficult, and range of ingredient levels seemed impossible. I’ll examine this more in the next section when we look at modern porters and stouts and my impressions of them, but for now, it’s worthwhile to say that one man’s robust porter might be another man’s American stout.

  • The styles that we refer to as stout and porter, as a whole, are extremely diverse, and there is a lot of bleed between the two. I’ll get into this more when I investigate specific beers. For now, it is enough to mention that some porters will qualify as stouts (particularly dry robust porters with small amounts of roasted barley in the recipe), and some stouts will qualify as porters. Additionally, there are many beers that are clearly not porters according to the style guidelines, but are definitely stouts, and vice versa.

The style guidelines for stout and porter seem to imply at least a few distinctions between stout and porter that make it hard to call stout a type of porter in the modern age. The ubiquitous presence of unmalted grains in stouts, their generally higher gravity ranges, reduced pale malt presence, and the higher average bitterness and mouthfeel of stouts all imply that calling a porter a type of stout is at worst confusing and at best meaningless to the modern drinker.

Designing a porter recipe and making it into a stout recipe is no longer a matter of simply taking first-runnings off the wort and fermenting that, increasing the total grain bill of the recipe, or reducing the amount of wort extracted from a given grain bill. Crafting a style-fitting stout recipe requires much different attention to malt bill and hop profile than crafting a style-fitting Porter recipe. As such, I think it is safe to say that the style guidelines define stouts and porters differently, and it is not sufficient or useful to qualify one as a type of the other.

Read part 1, a brief summary of the historical differences between stout and porter.





Poster:thaen
Date:2009-08-13 17:00
Subject:The Difference between Porter and Stout (Part 2, now with 100% more Infographic!)
Security:Public

Originally published at GeekBeer. Please leave any comments there.

Style guidelines

All things change over time. Historically, stout might have been a type of porter, but that might not be true today.

One reference for change in beer tradition is the existing Style Guidelines. These guidelines are not important because they define a particular historical style, but because they attempt to both exemplify historical standards and capture modern innovation in a single stroke. They are intensely debated precisely because they attempt to coalesce a modern understanding of beer with a historical one.

The style guidelines for stout and porter seem to imply at least a few distinctions between stout and porter that make it hard to call stout a type of porter in the modern age.

I feel obligated to go over the style guidelines in some depth, mostly because they are the basis of so much of our modern understanding and expectation of beer. I don’t share Ronald’s view that the BJCP is rubbish because they don’t cite sources — if they cited sources, it would be much more difficult for the guidelines to be living documents. I’ll leave the rest of that discussion for another day.

For now, let’s start with an exploration of the BJCP guidelines. Here’s porter, and here’s stout.

My original intent was to run over the various commonality between Porter and Stout and perhaps highlight some of the differences that the BJCP makes clear. As I did this, I found myself wanting a visual reference of the various components of these beers. I broke open Photoshop and made this:

porter_vs_stout

(Available at desktop resolution for a 23″ monitor, 1900×1200, from my Flickr stream.)

It should be noted that “lighter” obviously doesn’t mean “light” for this series of beers, but “sweet” most certainly means that — sweet stout can be cloying for some drinkers due to the presence of lactose, an unfermentable sugar. Other items of note that are clear from examining this and reading the BJCP guidelines follow:

  • Every stout recommends the use of unmalted grains, particularly roasted barley.

    Every stout recommends the use of unmalted grains, particularly roasted barley, but the only porter that allows this use is the robust porter, and the guidelines state that this is merely an optional addition, not an integral part of the style. The online recipes I found confirm that the presence of roasted barley in porter is fairly random.

  • The grain bills for stouts seem to contain a lower percentage of pale malt than the grain bills for porters, with the exception of traditional Brown Porter recipes. Stouts tend to contain more adjuncts, chocolate, wheat, oatmeal, and caramel malts than their porter brethren.
  • Most of this data reflects the ancestry of these beers according to Pattinson’s historical observation that Stouts were heavy Porters: Stouts mostly have higher bitterness levels, higher or similar alcohol content, darker color, and heavier mouthfeel, but maintain similar overall malt and hop bills, producing similar overall impressions of the final product. There are some outliers, but in general, a brown porter with extra pale malt might easily be a dry stout, a sweet stout (with lactose added), or an American stout. Similarly, a robust porter with a higher gravity looks very much like a Foreign Extra Stout or an American Stout. Baltic Porter is the only real outlier with it’s relatively low BU:GU ratio and lack of unmalted grains.
  • One man’s robust porter might be another man’s American stout.

    There is an incredible amount of variance within a given style that isn’t well represented in this graphic. I tried to represent IBU levels with gradients, but ABV range was more difficult, and range of ingredient levels seemed impossible. I’ll examine this more in the next section when we look at modern porters and stouts and my impressions of them, but for now, it’s worthwhile to say that one man’s robust porter might be another man’s American stout.

  • The styles that we refer to as stout and porter, as a whole, are extremely diverse, and there is a lot of bleed between the two. I’ll get into this more when I investigate specific beers. For now, it is enough to mention that some porters will qualify as stouts (particularly dry robust porters with small amounts of roasted barley in the recipe), and some stouts will qualify as porters. Additionally, there are many beers that are clearly not porters according to the style guidelines, but are definitely stouts, and vice versa.

The style guidelines for stout and porter seem to imply at least a few distinctions between stout and porter that make it hard to call stout a type of porter in the modern age. The ubiquitous presence of unmalted grains in stouts, their generally higher gravity ranges, reduced pale malt presence, and the higher average bitterness and mouthfeel of stouts all imply that calling a porter a type of stout is at worst confusing and at best meaningless to the modern drinker.

Designing a porter recipe and making it into a stout recipe is no longer a matter of simply taking first-runnings off the wort and fermenting that, increasing the total grain bill of the recipe, or reducing the amount of wort extracted from a given grain bill. Crafting a style-fitting stout recipe requires much different attention to malt bill and hop profile than crafting a style-fitting Porter recipe. As such, I think it is safe to say that the style guidelines define stouts and porters differently, and it is not sufficient or useful to qualify one as a type of the other.





Poster:thaen
Date:2009-08-13 13:14
Subject:This seems appropriate
Security:Public

Originally published at GeekBeer. Please leave any comments there.





Poster:thaen
Date:2009-08-11 14:46
Subject:I am a liar
Security:Public

Originally published at GeekBeer. Please leave any comments there.

No podcast yersterday, and probably not today either. Life, as they say, has intervened.

I will however pass along this striking bit of news: Thanks, in part, to the current recession, Bud Lite is suffering through their first annual sales decline in their 27 year history. This is interesting for a number of reasons, the biggest of which is that, up until this point, sales of commercial beers have been remaining steady, if not actually growing thanks to the slump in the craft beer market (beer geeks don’t stop drinking beer, they just stop drinking good beer as the wallet gets lighter).

Bud is of course attempting a counter attack with a new line of advertising, touting Bud Lites “Drinkability”, which seems to be about as mindless as Coors pitching itself on the fact that it’s “Cold” or Miller pointing out that they triple hop their beers, all of which, from a consumers point of view are about as informative as a steak being labeled “Carb Free”.

If you want to talk about a beer company that’s doing something right in its advertising, I suggest you take a look over at Heineken USA’s ads for Dos Equis. There series of ads for “The Most Interesting Man in the World” are actually responsible for a 17% gain in sales during a period of time where imported beer sales actually dropped around 11%. Here is ad ad campaign that has 58,000 facebook fans. Which makes it obvious that people don’t want beer that is cold or refreshing, they want beer that is cool enough to be occasionally imbibed by a crazy old man who wrestles sharks.





Poster:halleyscomet
Date:2009-08-10 16:37
Subject:Beet Wine
Security:Public
Mood: thirsty

An e-mail conversation with my father may have just added beet wine to the fall's brewing schedule.

Have YOU ever made beet wine? If so, do you have a favorite recipe? What other vegetable wines have folks here made and how did they turn out?

(x-posted to a few brewing LJs)

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