Drunken Speculation

MR | First Edition, November 2014

eyeball plantLast week on Drunken Speculation, I took a couple of weeks off because of a lack of internet access but I did write a piece a few weeks ago about crazy people in beer.

To the Tweet(s) of the Week!

One of a billion tweets about that cover of the New Yorker. I don’t grok why it was so important that everyone seemed to lose their minds over it. Extricating myself from the beer scene for a few weeks and doing something else (e.g. binge drinking on macro lager, spirits and even a touch of wine, amongst other less liver-punishing activities) feels like a bit of perspective has been bestowed upon me: mostly the observation that it’s all so weird. That there’s group of people so obsessed by beer that any depiction in the wider media sends them into a spin. I don’t get it but I suspect you guys need to put the phones down and go get some sunshine.

Then again, I had a sip of Kaiju! IPA on Friday night and started to remember what it’s all about.

Here’s the highlights/less hysterical rantings from last week-ish:

Brulosophy – The Impact of Expectation on Perception

Since I began conducting these exBEERiments, I’ve always wondered the extent to which a taster’s expectation of difference impacts their perception of the beers. I use a triangle test for data collection, which is a type of discrimination testing used for sensory evaluation that involves a taster receiving 3 portions of beer with 1 being different than the others, then they’re asked to identify the different one. The actual difference between the samples is limited to a single variable, so the perceptible difference can be pretty subtle. Statistically speaking, it’s assumed 1/3 of tasters would randomly guess the correct beer, thus findings aren’t interpreted as significant unless a good portion of tasters correctly choose the different beer (about 66% for our purposes). Interestingly, the majority of exBEERiment results have not yielded significant results, suggesting the variables I’ve tested don’t seem to have a huge impact. Many readers of these results have expressed interest in another type of test, one containing a slight element of deception, an exBEERiment I’ve been curious to perform for awhile.

Brewed, Crude and Bitter – Black Hops Brewing: The Least Covert Operation in History

It’s hard for me to write anything about Black Hops Brewing without my face dissolving into a half-snarl half-smile.  Sort of like a Gotham’s Two Face type scenario without the horrible facial disfigurement (arguably) and homicidal tendencies (mostly).  My insane jealousy comes from seeing three seemingly nice dudes live out my dream with alarming rapidity and without the common decency to even invite me along for the ride.  I know they’ve never met me but that’s hardly any excuse now is it?  How very dare they?

I might have a glass of beer – Narziss slams the state of German brewing

A slight acidification of the mash before brewing has many advantages and has therefore become widespread practice, said Narziss, but this has also meant convergence of flavour.

The development over the last 50 years has been toward ever more similar, more and more neutral beers. Distinctive house flavours from esters, higher alcohols, resins have been reduced, and the use of high-alpha bittering hops and hop extracts have robbed beer of the complexity that the other components of hops give it. Narziss finished by challenging the assembled brewmasters to return to beers of character, with a proper three-addition hopping schedule; to experiment with different hopping techniques and new varieties.

All About Beer – Making Sense of Anheuser-Busch Buying 10 Barrel Brewing

The United States currently enjoys a crisply delineated market visible even on supermarket shelves: on one side is beer sold in large packages of tin cans with German names on the labels, and on the other, bottles of “craft beer” with whimsical titles and art. Some people hold the view (strongly encouraged by smaller breweries) that one category of beer is made lovingly by hand while other beer is synthesized in industrial vats, presumably by robots. The truth? Beer is beer. Except for a few relatively small differences in production methods (Google “high gravity brewing” and “mash filter” for more), all beer is made the same way, and even beer made in small batches is automated to the extent the brewer can afford.

And another documenting the hysteria around the sellout.

Let Me Tell You About Beer – Brewing Industry, We Really Need To Talk

Firstly, it says to me – and a lot of the men who have commented on this on Twitter – that JW Lees considers men to be a bunch of infants who can’t go to the pub, or stay for another pint, unless they’ve got an ‘excuse’…

Secondly, it puts women firmly back in the ‘her indoors’ mould; chained to the kitchen sink and fuming over their layabout husbands out spending the housekeeping…

But there’s something that I found even more repugnant than the sexism of the campaign… yep, you read that right.

Pete Brown – Let Their Be Beer? Let’s start again

The target audience for this ad is people like my wife’s friends who still think I’m eccentric for being a beer writer, who smile indulgently and ask if I’ve ever thought of writing a ‘proper’ book, and who always, always choose wine – because That’s What You Do. I can imagine then watching this ad, then asking hesitantly, “So… what beer DO you think I might like with my Chow Mein?”*

And another documenting the response within the blogosphere.

Beervana – Brussels Beer Challenge

Over the weekend, Leuven, Belgium was the site of the 3rd annual Brussels Beer Challenge (which is like having the New York City Beer Challenge in Hoboken, but let’s not go down that rabbit hole).  It’s Belgium’s answer to the World Beer Cup–similar in structure, but slightly more Belgiany.  There’s an international panel of judges, but the majority come from Belgium (21%), The Netherlands (15%), UK (11%), and Italy (10%).  Only 5% came from the US.  I don’t know what affect that had, but the results look a lot less like they do at the American-hosted version.

Other highlights were:

Anything I missed?

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