Session 117: look to the future

This month, beermeansbusiness.com is hosting session 117 of Beer Blogging Friday.

The Session 117 Announcement: More, more, more…

The aim is for bloggers to paint the following:

“The final picture of Beer Future will be based on what you think we will see MORE of”

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I’ve channelled my inner clairvoyant to look into the future of beer, breweries and pubs. For me, the stress on ripeness or freshness is a phenomenon which is proliferating in the food world and it’s spreading tendrils into the beer market too. Here it manifests itself in various ways – here are three of them:

1: Cloudwater Brew Co. Here’s an edited section from Cloudwater Brewery’s blog. It was about how they distribute their popular DIPAs:

Brewery Fresh – Promoting Cold Chain Distribution

“the biggest advantage to releasing a greater proportion DIPA, our hoppiest beer, direct from the brewery immediately after packaging is that you’ll be able to buy beer that hasn’t been above 5ºC.  After the end of fermentation our beers are crash chilled to 0ºC in FV, before being packaged as close to 0ºC from our brite tanks, and being transferred into our sub 5ºC cold store immediately after the packaging run finishes. Warmth and heat kill hoppiness (and other volatile flavour compounds) in beer, ageing and degrading it many times faster than when it’s held at a low and stable temperature”  

(……..)
 

“we’re going to do our bit to reflect what our peers and friends in the US do to get beer to their customers in the best shape possible.  From the East Coast to the West Coast, and from some of the largest craft breweries to the smallest neighbourhood micros, hoppy beer in the US enjoys more care through cold chain distribution and direct consumption at the breweries themselves than we currently afford hoppy beer here in the UK.”

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Cloud water thus depend on their customers (meaning retailers) to have the facilities to actually keep their beer under a certain temperature. Cellar cool won’t do anymore. The trade’s gone a long way from spiling, venting and tapping.

2: Green hopping

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this year’s green-hopped beer by Red Squirrel

With cask ale, a new old trend is becoming popular: fresh/wet/green hopped beers. These are ales where the hops have been taken from the bine, straight to a brewer and brewed within the fastest time possible – often within twelve hours. This was more of a regional event and obviously can only be a seasonal one. But for festivals around the end of September, these beers are beginning to appear on beer lists across the country – not just their Kent heartland. Because the hop flowers haven’t been freeze-dried, some of the oils that would’ve been lost through ageing and drying are still seeping when they get tossed in before or after the boil. It’s hard to regulate flavour and each batch is basically a leap in the dark. In my experience, these oils can produce lemony, vinous, citrus or chlorophyll-like tastes. Sometimes they’re zinging, sometimes they’re undetectable.

3: A simple Tweet by Brew By Numbers in Bermondsey:

Brew By Numbers @BrewByNumbers Oct 26

Our hoppy beers will now have pack dates on tap badges for draught and front-of-label for bottles. #DrinkFresh! –> http://www.brewbynumbers.com/drink-fresh/

The brewery is going to indicate when the beer was made both on the bottles (and I’m sure very soon – cans) and the actual point of sale on tap.

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Oddly enough, I recently Tweeted that I’d like to see a timer put on pump clips to show when a cask came on to avoid drinking a glass of balsamic vinegar. In its key keg equivalent, Brew By Numbers is doing just that!

Alec Latham @LathamAlec Aug 13
Here’s an idea – let’s make it law that all cask pump clips are fitted with a timer. This way you can see how long ago the cask was tapped

Often when I go into a pub and scan the row of beer engines, the tender will raise his/her hand above the hand pumps and let it land palm-down on one of the heads. “this went on twenty minutes ago and it’s going quickly”. This is a tribute to freshness and cask at its best as well as a good line to part me from my cash. Something just-breached is definitely a draw.

To summarise, I believe the stress on freshness will become more acute over the next few years. More and more of the beer will be kept from degrading technologically (Cloudwater), by an actual race from the harvest to the brewery, the drinkers will experience beer made using ingredients virtually still clinging to the bine (green hopping) and freshness will be maintained procedurally by serving to the customer as soon as possible (Brew By Numbers).

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  1. The Session #117: Roundup – What The Future Holds More Of – Beer Means Business

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