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Friday, January 18, 2019

New Beer Friday, The Beauty of Beards Edition (January 18)

With Steve out of town, we're taking the opportunity this week to repost one of our favorite Buzz pieces — an explanation from now-retired advice columnist (Hey Kevin) regarding the evolutionary reasons so many professional brewers wear beards. Enjoy!

Darwin's Beard
Q: Hey Kevin, Like many obsessed homebrewers, I aspire to become a professional brewer one day. Just one thing worries me: my beard sucks. It’s patchy at best and sorry in general. It seems like a lot of pro brewers wear beards. What are my chances of succeeding in the beer world if I can’t grow a sweet face-coat?

—Chuck in Bay City

A: It depends, Chuck. How are you at adapting? Conventional thinking has it that brewers grow beards in order to identify each other in large groups of people. Recently scientists have uncovered evidence suggesting something else is at work. Evolution.

Have you ever seen a bloodhound close up? If not, Google it. The distinctive wrinkly face and folds of skin have a very important job to do — they trap scent from the environment and direct it toward the bloodhound’s greatest tool. Its nose.

Though the professional brewer is tracking neither rabbits nor convicts on the run, his face full of whiskers functions in much the same way, trapping scent in the thousands of empty pockets created by the confluence of individual beard hairs. It’s these pockets wherein aromas and even flavors are stored for future reference.

When a brewer scratches his beard, it’s not because his face itches. It’s because he’s working on a new IPA recipe. Said scratching prompts the release of microscopic chemical compounds which are directed toward the brewer’s nostrils and up into his brain where they are combined to recreate, or rather pre-create the beer that will eventually find its way into your pint glass.

Research has shown that different flavor and aroma compounds are stored in different subsections of the beard. For example, notes of caramel sweetness are found in the left sideburn while the distinctive grapefruit quality of certain hops is common to the extreme right quadrant of the mustache. Interestingly, the entire “goatee zone” appears to be a scent-neutral locale, storing different compounds at different times, depending on the season. 

It’s important to note that there are successful brewers who do not have any facial hair at all, particularly women but also many men in the industry. Researchers believe (and I agree) that these brewers have necessarily experienced positive biological mutations elsewhere. Studies show, for instance, that members of the beardless population typically score better in the Barron-Shaw Taste-Memory test. Armed with the pronounced ability to remember taste, it would seem the beardless have little reason to store a database of flavor on or near their faces. 

So, the question is ultimately one for you, Chuck. If you can’t grow a beard, in what way can you evolve? 

Hope this helps. 

Kevin

New and Returning Beer

  • Abita Mardi Gras, $1.89/12oz - "Mardi Gras Bock is the first of our seasonal brews. Abita Mardi Gras Bock is brewed with pale, pilsner and caramel malts and German Perle hops. Our bock is similar to German maibocks with its rich malt flavor and full body. A perfect choice during Carnival season in New Orleans. Gruyére, Emmental and Swiss are nice cheese choices with Bock. Great with roasted beef or pork. Try it with Mexican food, too" (source).
  • Atwater Voodoo Vator, $3.19/12oz - "VooDoo Vator Dopplebock tempers the sweetness of caramel malt with the crisp, more nutty flavor of Munich malt. Despite the depth of color, burnt flavors are not present. Traditional extended lagering makes the VooDoo Vator deceptively smooth though high in alcohol. Be warned" (source).
  • Bell's Flamingo Fruit Fight, $2.19/16oz - "The name “Larry’s Latest” is a nod to the spirit of innovation and experimentation that Larry started in 1985 and continues within the brewery to this day. Our latest Tart Fruit Ale is brewed with passionfruit and lime zest, resulting in a tart blend of tropical, citrus flavors and aromas" (source).
  • Bell's Hopslam Mini Keg, $37.99/5L - "Starting with six different hop varietals added to the brew kettle & culminating with a massive dry-hop addition of Simcoe hops, Bell's Hopslam Ale possesses the most complex hopping schedule in the Bell's repertoire" (source).
  • Boulevard Bou Lou, $4.69/16oz - "Drawing inspiration from the ingredients and flavors that Tech melded in his original cocktail invention, Bou Lou starts with a wheat beer base that’s enhanced by additions of juicy pineapple and tropical coconut. At 5.5% ABV and bursting with fruit flavor, these 16oz cans are ready to be enjoyed at a show, a party, or wherever you need a refreshing beer that reps KC to the fullest" (source).
  • Boulevard Chocolate Ale, $4.69/12oz - "Smooth layers of dark chocolate intertwine with threads of caramel, vanilla, and nutty malt as the flavor warms and rounds to a bittersweet finish" (source).
  • Detroit Garage Project Test Drive PJDIPA, $4.49/16oz - "Pineapple Jalapeño DRIPA collaboration with Wolf Moon Mixers" (source).
  • Lagunitas Daytime, $1.89/12oz - "The beer in this can has achieved what we all hope for ourselves; to be made new again. There is freedom in burning down the house of expectations and it confers an undeniable lightness to being. We didn't invent these truths; they invented us" (source).
  • Revolution A Little Crazy, $2.09/12oz - "A Pilsner malt base provides a nice toasty flavor with hints of caramel and enough fermentable sugar to make this a rather substantial beer. The Belgian-Style Pale Ale is brewed with Magnum, Cascade and Citra hops in the brewhouse and then dryhopped with a blend of Citra and Cascade. This drives home the aromas of fresh citrus rind to make this a very drinkable and extremely aromatic beer" (source).
  • Roak Blow Your Face Out, $3.59/12oz - "A double IPA loaded with Mosaic and Chinook hops" (source).
  • Shorts Not Unofficial, $2.19/12oz - "Not Unofficial is a dry-hopped India Pale Ale brewed with mango and guava in collaboration with Lagunitas Brewing Company. Golden in color and slightly hazy, this beer has huge aromas of juicy tropical fruit. Medium bodied this beer leads with flavors of mango and guava before finishing with dank hoppiness" (source).
  • Sierra Nevada Bigfoot, $2.49/12oz - "Bigfoot is a beast of a beer, brimming with bold flavors of bittersweet malt and heaps of aggressive whole-cone Pacific Northwest hops. First introduced in the winter of 1983, Bigfoot is a cult-classic beer brewed in the barleywine style, meaning a strong, robust, bruiser of a beer with the refined intensity of a wine. Bigfoot is prized by beer collectors for its supreme cellarability. Under the proper conditions, it can age like a fine wine, developing new flavors and character as it matures in the bottle. Each new release or “expedition” is vintage dated. Collect your own and see the flavors develop and progress" (source).
  • Sierra Nevada Resilience, $1.79/12oz - "When the Camp Fire started in the hills above our Chico brewery on November 8, 2018, it soon became the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California history. The fire burned more than 153,000 acres, killed at least 85 people, and destroyed more than 13,000 homes. Many of our employees and community members were severely impacted by this tragic event. In the days following the fire, we announced plans to brew Resilience Butte County Proud IPA, a fundraiser beer for Camp Fire relief. We committed to brewing the beer and donating 100% of the sales to the Sierra Nevada Camp Fire Relief Fund, aimed at long-term community rebuilding support. And we asked every brewery in the country to do it with us. We sent out the “bat signal” calling our friends in the industry, asking our suppliers to donate ingredients, asking other breweries (our competitors) to donate their time and labor costs, and asking our wholesalers and retailers to carry the beer for free. It was a big ask, and we never could have anticipated the response. More than 1,400 breweries signed up to brew Resilience. Our suppliers donated ingredients to every brewery nationwide. Wholesalers and retailers agreed to carry the beer and donate every dollar they received. All of them agreed to do this for free to benefit people they had never met. In all, Resilience Butte County Proud IPA should hit the market in mid-late December more than 17,000 barrels—or 4.2 million pints—strong. Every dollar Sierra Nevada receives will go to those impacted by the Camp Fire. Thank you to the brewing community. Thank you to our suppliers. Thank you to our wholesalers and retailers. And thank you to every single customer who is helping us rebuild our Butte County community—one pint at a time" (source).
  • Ska Euphoria, $2.09/12oz - "This seasonal beer is brewed in the DIY spirit along with our friends from Venture Snowboards. We brew Euphoria with them, and they make a Euphoria snowboard with us. We call it a Ska/Venture venture. Both make winter better, and both are hand-crafted in the mighty San Juans" (source).
  • Ska Modus Hoperandi, $2.19/12oz - "Strong citrus aromas followed by pine rise from the glass. As it moves across your tongue... bitterness... following close behind is a melding of citrus and pine with light caramel sweetness" (source).
  • Ska Modus Mandarina, $2.19/12oz - "A unique twist on Modus Hoperandi, this citrus IPA is dry-hopped with a generous portion of Mandarina Bavaria hops and brewed with sweet orange peels" (source).
  • Ska Moral Panic, $2.19/12oz - "A wealth of Galaxy and Citra hops added post-boil give this Brut IPA low actual bitterness and big tropical flavor. Fruity and citrus notes abound in this smooth and refreshing, Champagne-like brew. Moral Panic Brut IPA is well carbonated and spritz; drinks easy and finished dry" (source).
  • Ska Pinstripe Red, $2.09/12oz - "The balance of this beer is what has made it our flagship. The hops simply meld with the caramel malts into a nice sessionable ale. This beer is brilliantly clear and is a beautiful copper penny color" (source).
  • Ska Rue B Soho, $2.09/12oz - "If where you want to go is beer heaven. At first, your nose is treated to the aroma of bright and crisp citrus. Then your tongue is tickled by the carbonation that delivers flavors of tart and light grapefruit juice. Lightly acidulated, Rue B. Soho is a refreshing lager brewed with Cascade hops and grapefruit" (source).
  • Ska Sour Apple Gose, $2.19/12oz - "Tastes like you’re sipping on a crisp apple juice with a bright tartness that’s refreshing, not drying" (source).

Video of the Week | A Rising Tide


Stories from the Michigan's Brewers Guild.

Cheers!

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