Yeasty Beers

The next event of the Twin Cities Perfect Pint Beer Club!

Yeasty BeersWhen: Friday, May 15, 2009
Cost: $20
You must be a member of the club to attend. Go to the Twin Cities Perfect Pint Beer Club to sign up and RSVP.

It is said that brewers make wort (unfermented beer), but yeast makes beer. Yeast ferments the sugars from the malt to create alcohol and carbon dioxide. In the process it also produces by-products that influence taste and aroma. The brewer’s real job is to create the best possible environment for happy yeast to multiply and prosper. When this happens, the result is a range of yeast derived flavors and aromas that run the gamut from fruity, to spicy, to barnyard and wet leather (good things, trust me). With thousands of strains of brewer’s yeast to choose from the flavor possibilities are almost endless.

For this meetup we will focus on yeast. We’ll wander among the Weizens with their clove/banana notes and haze of suspended yeast. We’ll “bring it” with the Belgians and their signature yeasty funk. Finally, we’ll slip into the sours from the fruity Flanders Red to the mind-bending, mouth-puckering depth of Lambic and Gueuze.

This is the third in a series of three meetups in which we will explore the main ingredients in beer, malt, hops, and yeast. At each session we will taste beers that highlight one ingredient over the others to develop a better understanding the flavor and aromatic contributions of each ingredient.

Hoppy Beer Night

A recap of the April meeting of the Twin Cities Perfect Pint Beer Club

On April 10th, the Twin Cities Perfect Pint Beer Club gathered again, this time to delve into the world of hoppy beers. Ten club members gathered at Jeff’s apartment on the fringes of downtown Minneapolis to get their bitter on. This event was the second of three monthly events exploring the main ingredients of beer, malt, hops, and yeast. If last month’s Malty Beers event was about the meat and potatoes of beer, this month’s event was all about the spice. As Perfect Pint’s resident CiceroneTM I guided the group through a selection of beers intended to showcase the full range of hop experience from no hops to over-the-top hops with several stops in between.

At last month’s event, the group had been pestering me about bringing one of my own homebrewed beers to taste. I acquiesced, pouring my own pre-prohibition American lager as the welcome beer. This is beer the beer your grandfather or great grandfather might have enjoyed. Full flavored with a grainy/corny malt profile, it is assertively hopped with native Cluster hops with their distinctive “catty” or “marijuana -like” flavor and aroma. Maybe they were just being nice, but many claimed this beer as a standout of the night.

From this historic beer style we moved on to another even more ancient, a 13th Century Gruit Bier from Weihenstephan and the Doemens Institute in Germany. As hops are a relatively recent addition to the brewer’s toolbox, it seemed to me appropriate to begin an exploration of hops with a sample of what beer might have been like before hops. This herb-bittered and wild fermented wheat based beer reveals complex menthol, citrus, and herbal flavors with just a hint of wild yeast funkiness. It received a mixed review from the group with one club regular commenting, “I didn’t say I liked it, but it does taste how I thought it would taste.”
Wells Bombardier

From there we entered a more familiar realm with Well’s Bombardier English Pale Ale. Exhibiting the typical English caramel malt and hay-like English hops with a bite of bitterness at the front, this beer was a favorite of those who do not tend toward the hoppy beers. Next we jumped the Channel to the continent to taste the European Noble hops, starting with the original light colored lager Pilsner Urquell. Because it comes in green bottles and is typically skunked by the time it arrives here in stores, many people don’t fully appreciate the beauty of this beer. Look for the cans to get the full rich malt and perfumy Saaz hop character that makes this a world class beer. The Düsseldorf Altbier style was represented by the regional pick of the month Headless Man Amber Ale from Tyranena Brewing in Lake Mills, Wisconsin. This was another good one for the non-hop-lovers with a rich caramel and toast malt balancing the peppery spiciness of the German hops; bitter and hoppy, but not over the top.

The big and bracing flavors of American hops were represented by four beers, Cane & Ebel from Two Cane & EbelBrothers, New Dog Town Pale Ale from Lagunitas, Three Floyds Dreadnaught Double IPA, and Old Horizontal Barleywine from Victory Brewing Company. These beers represented American hoppy styles of different intensities and flavors, from the bitter but balanced Cane & Able to the super-intense Dreadnaught, and from the grapefruit citrus of Old Horizontal to the straight-up Christmas tree pine character of the New Dog Town Pale Ale.

Like Malty Beer Night where I had malt samples on hand for tasting, for this event I had examples of English, Continental, and American hops on hand for smelling. Attendees were able to smell and taste the beer and compare that experience to the raw ingredient. Overall the event was great fun, with a good amount of education thrown in. I will say one thing for this group. We can go through some beer. Once again, there was not a drop of beer left at the end of the night.

Next up is Yeast!

Malty Beer Night

Saturday, March 21st was Firkin Fest at the Happy Gnome. For those of us wanting to enjoy good beer and good company without the hype and crowd of a festival, there was Malty Beer Night with the Twin Cities Perfect Pint Beer Club. Seven people gathered at the home of fellow club member Kevin Butler to chew on cheese, munch on malt, and best of all drink a lot of great malt forward beers. This was the first of three monthly meetings that will explore the flavor contributions of beer’s three main ingredients, malt, hops, and yeast. April is hop month for any interested hopheads out there.

The night started with Fuller’s ESB. Chosen to show a balanced representation of all three ingredients, this Ayinger Altbairisch Dunkelbeer starts with a sharp bitterness and herbal hop that quickly gives way to luscious caramel/toffee malt with a good dose of yeast derived fruit. It was a favorite for the night. From there it was on to an assortment of full-on malt focused beers, starting with Weihenstephaner Munich Helles. Like an under-hopped pilsner, this beer features clean bready malt with moderate bitterness and a background of spicy continental hops. This was followed by another southern German lager, Ayinger Altbairisch Dunkel showcasing deep toasty bread crust malt. Another crowd pleaser, we emptied these bottles early.

Three Feet DeepThe next beers brought us closer to home with a local and a regional pick. A growler of Hope and King Scotch Ale from Town Hall Brewery in Minneapolis introduced the rich, nutty sweetness of caramel malt with just a hint of roast. This growler didn’t last long either. For real roast malt character we had Three Feet Deep smoked stout from Furthermore Beer in Wisconsin. This is a somewhat sweet dry stout with nice coffee and chocolate flavors and a subtle smoke from the use of peat smoked malt. While this was one of my favorites for the night, others found the smoke to be too intense. Oh well, more for me.

At this point, we moved into the realm of big beers starting with Celebrator Doppelbock. Rich, toasty, caramel flavors meld with malt derived, raisiny, dark fruit notes and a pleasantly warming alcohol to make this another winner for the event. Or maybe it was the added bonus of the little plastic goat that comes withHebrew Rejewvenator every bottle. Next was Rejewvenator, a doppelbock/Belgian dubbel hybrid brewed with fig juice from Shmaltz Brewing/Hebrew Beer. The group was split on this one as some found the figs to be too intense. We closed the night with Back Burner Barleywine from Southern Tier. This was the only beer of the night that I had not already tried. The description on the bottle and on the Southern Tier website led me to expect a big, malt-forward, English style barleywine. Unfortunately (for the event, not for the beer) the bitterness was too intense and the hop flavor was decidedly American. While it was a tasty beer, it wasn’t quite the malty sweet English barleywine that I was going for.

One thing at this event that all found helpful was having examples of brewers malt on hand to chew on and compare to the flavors in the beers. There were six malts to taste including two base malts, pilsner and Munich, as well as English and American caramel malts, Belgian Special B toasted malt, and English chocolate malt to represent the dark roasted malts. Some of us decided, myself included, that a little bit of Munich malt would be a great addition to breakfast cereal. All in all, good company and good beer made for a good time. The next Twin Cities Perfect Pint Beer Club will be on April 10th. Hoppy Beers is the theme. Come check us out.