The 6 Pack Pod: Old Ale + Black Friday Deal + Lots of HeadlinesNov 18, 2023
6 Pack Pod - S1E2 - Old Ale
Chris Cohen: [00:00:00] All righty. Welcome to the Beers Scholar Six Pack, where we discuss six quick links, topics, or current events, mostly about beer. This is episode two I guess it could be like season one, episode two, it's not like we're going to talk about like some guy who murdered someone this season.
Next season, we're going to talk about some other murder. Beers evolve and change, but I don't know if we need to go season by season. I don't know. Anyway, it's season one, episode two, I'm your host Chris Cohen. I have gotten a lot of new followers lately. I'll quickly introduce myself.
I'm one of about 170 Advanced Cicerones in the world. If you're like, WTF is a Cicerone. It's essentially like a Somm that is certified by the court of master Sommeliers, but for beer and certified by the Cicerone certification program. [00:01:00] I'm also a National ranked BJCP beer judge. I've judged some prestigious beer competitions, including the Great American Beer Festival in Denver for the last few years.
I co founded the San Francisco Home Brewers Guild. I've been doing beer education work since 2014. And until about a year ago, I owned a top craft beer joint in San Francisco called Old Devil Moon. I am also an attorney, uh, though I haven't been practicing for a while because. I am also the founder and full time employee of Beer Scholar.
So there you have it. Thank you so much for joining me. All right, so this week we're going to be tasting and breaking down the Old Ale style. You ever even hear of that one? Maybe not. It's rare, but it's on the Certified Cicerone syllabus, so you gotta know it. And we are going to talk about THC infused beverages.
I got a whole bunch of headlines for you. Yeah, got a lot of good stuff. Fun stuff. You're gonna learn about oxidation and aging beer. cAuse we're gonna talk about Old [00:02:00] Ale. It's a big part of the shtick. Alright. Let's do this. Alright. Number one. These days, , THC infused beverages, pretty easy to get in most U.
S. states, or a lot of U. S. states anyway. You just go down to the local dispensary , or the pot shop down the block, and , get your gummies, get your weed, whatever. But it's about to get a whole lot easier for those of us in some of the more progressive states in the U. S. Total Wine, the huge U.
S. booze retail chain, is testing out carrying THC infused beverages at their Minnesota stores. They're even featuring them in big end caps at the end of aisles to, provide extra visibility to consumers. In Illinois, a boutique Chicagoland craft beer distributor is now offering THC beverages as well.
And, overall, this is just a huge step for these companies to be taking, right? Considering that THC is still illegal, [00:03:00] according to the federal government. However, the THC in these beverages that they're selling is of the hemp derived THC variety, which appears to be potentially fully legal, according to some language, in the 2018...
What is commonly referred to as the farm bill. So I guess these companies are essentially comfortable enough with the risk. To sell THC products and they're willing to take that risk, obviously because of the potential upside, the profits that are up for grabs here are potentially gigantic gigantic for distributors, gigantic for retailers, and they will be massive for breweries that get into the pot infused beverage business and end up being, one of the top sellers.
This sector of the drinks business is bound to absolutely explode and everybody in the business knows this. This giant tidal wave is coming. A lot of them have been doing it already working on it or doing like those hot waters that are like some of them even use like pot terpenes and [00:04:00] stuff like that.
So yeah, it's just really exciting. I think every brewery is going to take a shot at this. You're going to see. You're just gonna see these things showing up everywhere. They're gonna explode. Every single brewery is gonna do it. It's exciting. It's interesting. It's gonna be really fun to watch it play out.
There are gonna be some winners and some losers for sure. Obviously, the dispensaries already carry these things, right? So there's some players. Already out there, what brand is going to win the battle here? It's, if you go to the grocery store and you see some craft beer brand that you already know and love, and they've got a THC beverage, you might be more inclined to grab that one than some, brand you've never heard of.
That is the kind that is for sale at the dispensary down the street. Anyway, really interesting stuff. I partake on occasion myself, so I'm excited about this. All right. Next. All right. This bit of news is from right here at Beer Scholar HQ. I've got a Black [00:05:00] Friday deal for you on my course for the Certified Cicerone exam.
I'm not going to throw any ads in on this episode because I've just got this Black Friday deal for you. It's pretty sick, actually. So this will be the best deal of the year for sure. I'm never going to sell my Certified Cicerone course for less than this, like ever. It's your opportunity to get enrolled for a bit of a steal.
The deal is only going to be available to those of you who listen to the six pack or get my six pack email. I'm not going to put this on my website for the whole world to see. So for those who don't know, my level two Certified Cicerone course it includes, for one, access to my full level one Certified Beer Server course.
So in case you need to knock that out too, you can do that. It's included. My level two CC course includes video lessons that track the entire CC syllabus. So you're like totally organized. You just go right down the syllabus. You can learn everything you need to know at the exact correct depth of knowledge.
It comes with excellent flashcard decks in [00:06:00] a special app. So you can prep anywhere and very easily learn all of the beer style info you need to know. You get a bunch of quizzes and practice tests. So like, you know, you're going to pass the real thing before you even really log in to take it is the point there.
There's a little online community space where you can connect any time with me. If you have any questions, we do weekly live beer style tastings and Q and A sessions where, you know, if a bunch of us get together and hang out for an hour or two we, I've always picked a beer like a month or two in advance.
for, all of these sessions and you show up with your beer or, I provide alternatives as people, sometimes people struggle to find the exact beers and we taste them together and we break down the style. We learn really good descriptors. It's fun. It's super cool. People learn, I think quite a bit.
I've had a great response to that. So you get your beer style knowledge dialed in, you get your tasting abilities ramped up. You also get my, I would like to say very excellent. Become a Certified Cicerone, your money back guarantee. So [00:07:00] yeah, you heard that, right? I don't know. Crazy.
If you enroll in my CC course and you do the work and you still don't pass the CC exam, I will literally give you your money back. There are more details on that guarantee on my website if you would like to check that out. But the point is, that is how confident I am that my CC course will prep you for the exam and you will crush it.
You get other stuff when you enroll, like the Easy Blind Tasting Proctor Guide among other little like bonuses, but I think you get the picture. It's a killer program. It is basically the cheat code for crushing the Certified Cicerone exam. The regular price for my Beer Scholar course for the Certified Cicerone exam is 798.
But for those folks who simply opt in on my website and check out The free video workshop I created a couple months ago titled how to crush the Certified Cicerone exam without wasting a minute of your precious study time. Those folks get a special offer by email after they opt in to watch that.
That's an offer that's only good for five days. And that offer is that they can enroll in the CC course for just 497 bucks, so it's a [00:08:00] huge discount. However, for Black Friday I am offering, again, the best deal I will ever offer for the course. If you use the code BLACKFRIDAY6PACK You can enroll in the CC course today for just 397, which is a full 50 percent off the normal price.
So that discount code is Black Friday Six Pack It's good from now until the end of the day on Sunday, November 26th Again, that is a Black Friday Six Pack. And so if you're just listening to the audio or, even watching the video, I suppose it's a discount code, right? So it's all caps. There are no spaces.
The words black and Friday are words. And then it's the number six and then the word pack. So black Friday, six pack, and that'll get you the fantastic beer 397 bucks, which is fully 50 percent off the normal price. The best price you'll ever see. That I promise you if you still need to do level, the level one CBS test [00:09:00] too, that course is included.
So you can knock them both out. So I hope some of you will take advantage of that. I hope I see you in the course. I hope to taste some beers with you on zoom during the live weekly tastings. And that's it. So go to my website, get the CC course, Black Friday Six Pack. I'll see you there for that. All right, next up.
Number three, this is our Beer of the Week. Oh, I get to play the little beer of the week jingle. I guess we'll call it a jingle.
Let's talk about beer style. Let's talk about beer styles. All right, so this week we are breaking down the Old Ale style. This is probably a beer style you've never really even heard of unless you're studying for the Certified Cicerone exam or the BJCP Judging exam, but once we dig in you'll recognize it It is indeed on the syllabus for the Certified Cicerone exam So it's one you have to know even though it's very obscure and you are frankly Unlikely to be asked to write an [00:10:00] essay about it But it's almost it's like a twofer because when you learn about the style you're also learning about British Strong Ale.
You're also learning a bunch about oxidation and aging of beer. It's a fun one. Old Ale is BJCP style number 17B. It is listed under the Strong British Ale category. The other beers in that category include the very closely related 17A British Strong Ale, as well as the somewhat less related Scottish Wee Heavy and English Barley Wine.
Those are the beers in that category. And some of them are very closely related. aLl right, let's dig down on old ale. Let's see. Oh, I wanted to mention that. So when you hear English strong ale, you're probably like where's imperial stout or something, some of these other strong English beers.
Why wouldn't they be listed there? All the things in this category, like the connection between them, is that they're all big strong English ales, but none of them [00:11:00] have roasty flavors. They don't really feature roasty flavors. So there's not going to be any burnt flavors from roasted specialty malt.
You're not going to find beers in this category that have lots of like coffee or espresso or dark, cacao flavors. So Imperial Stout, other porters, other stouts, those are all going to be in different categories. So yeah, we're talking strong English ales that are malty, but not roasty.
All right. So the BJCP's overall impression for Old Ale is that it is a quote, stronger than average English ale. A lot of English ales are pretty low ABV compared to like modern craft beer anyway. So Old Ale is a stronger than average English ale, though usually not as strong or rich as an English barley wine.
So But, usually malty. Warming, so it's got some, enough alcohol in it to be a little bit mouth warming, a little bit throat warming. Shows positive [00:12:00] maturation effects of a well kept aged beer. Now, the real key here is that last sentence about showing the positive maturation effects of a properly aged beer.
And you're probably thinking then that, presumably there's a style that this beer would be, a different style that it would be if it were fresh and not aged. And you would be correct. Old Ale is essentially a well aged version of either the aforementioned closely related British Strong Ale Or if it's really strong, if it's like at the top of the power level of a, of an old ale, it can be a it can basically be like an aged barley wine.
oLd ale is essentially a well aged version of one of those aforementioned styles. English barley wine is also on the certified Cicerone syllabus, so maybe it's almost like you're getting a threefer here. British strong ale though, that doesn't show up until the advanced Cicerone level syllabus, which is a little weird because...
Old Ale is based mostly on British Strong Ale, but I think it's on the syllabus. I think Old Ale is on the [00:13:00] syllabus because, frankly, the program wants you to learn about oxidation and aging. That's what we're going to talk about. Yeah, old L is cool. It's just like this key to several other styles and like techniques maturation techniques.
So anyway, let's talk vital stats, old L's ABV range 5. 5 to 9 percent ABV. So that's a very similar range to the ABV range for. British strong ale, which is five and a half to 8 percent ABV. So old ale can go one point higher, which is something that can happen when you're aging a beer, especially if you're doing so with any kind of microbes like birtanomyces yeast that are continuing to chew on sugars in that aging beer.
But that can even happen if you just bottle condition the beer, right? Maybe over time those yeast in there are going to slowly chew up some more of the sugar. So that older beer. Might have an extra point of ABV to it. So that really makes a lot of sense. And it's one of the many connections we're going to see between these two styles.
[00:14:00] So the the ABV range for English barley wine, that one starts at 8 percent ABV. So you can see that English barley wine and Old Ale, they really only overlap in strength a little bit, right? Old Ale goes up to 9 percent ABV English barley wine starts at 8 percent ABV. So a really strong Old Ale, the strongest of the Old Ales can be kind of like.
An aged barley wine, but most of them are basically just British strong ales. Old Ales ABV range 5. 5 percent to 9 percent ABV is a huge range. That's a very wide range, right? It goes from a fairly sessionable beer, frankly, all the way up to a massive barley wine level sipper. So that's one clue right away that you're in a bit of a catch all beer category, right?
And if one of the primary elements for a style is going to be aging, showing the effects of aging that's a catch all category, right? There's a pretty wide , breadth of beers that can fit into this style as long as they're [00:15:00] nicely aged.
So let's talk let's talk appearance. The SRM or color range for Old Ale is 10 to 22 SRM. Again, a massive range. So 10 is like a deep amber and 22 is pretty much like a dark brown beer that is often so dark that it is opaque. So you can't even see through it. You often can't see through beers that dark.
And so that is a massive range. Like we're talking about amber, but clear, all the way up to like so dark brown you can barely, you can't see through it. The BJCP says deep amber to a very dark reddish brown color, but most are fairly dark. Age and oxidation may darken the beer further.
That is a fact that oxidation does often result in the beer becoming slightly darker over time, and the BJCP reflects this, because the SRM range for the British Strong Ale is 10 to 20. Old Ale can go a couple points higher. It's 10 to 22 SRM. If you have the darkest British Old Ale and then you age it for a year and it gets a little darker, maybe it [00:16:00] ends up being 22 SRM Old Ale.
YEah, once again, we're seeing that Old Ale looks a whole lot like an aged British Strong Ale. To finish out that appearance piece, The BJCP says that Oldale has a quote, moderate to low cream or light tan colored head, and that head retention is average to poor. Poor head retention in a beer is usually considered a problem, right?
Generally speaking, you don't want poor head retention in a beer. That usually... Indicates something's wrong. Of course there are some beers that have much bigger, fluffier heads. Lots of Belgian styles are known for having like huge, rocky heads. And a lot of English styles, some of them are known for not having giant heads.
Especially real ales, like Cascales. But but still, to say that it's basically like poor head retention, that usually is considered a problem. But, for long aged beers, it's actually pretty common to see poor head retention. And that's because... Some of the proteins in the beer come out of [00:17:00] solution or break down over time.
Those proteins are a part of the net that kind of form head also can give the beer body. So sometimes these beers will come across as slightly thinner after they age, especially if there's both some protein breakdown. And then also you have microbes still in there chewing things away.
Ethanol being lower gravity than water. If you add another point of ABV, plus you have some proteins breaking down, stuff like that, the beer can actually end up coming across a little thinner over time. Some of these effects of aging we're talking about, it's getting darker, the head retention's getting worse, the body might be a little thinner.
Okay, let's see here. Again pretty common to see poor head retention in aged beer. And indeed, yes, the British strong ale style, it says average head retention. So once again, old ale is given this permission to be old, basically, which makes a lot of sense.
British strong ale, average head retention. Old ale can be poor to [00:18:00] average. Okay. Let's talk about aroma and flavor. For aroma, the BJCP guidelines say, quote, malty sweet with fruity esters, often with a complex blend of dried fruit, vinous, caramel, molasses, toffee, light treacle is a dark sugar, like molasses.
Some alcohol and nutty oxidative notes are acceptable, akin to those found in sherry, port, or Madeira. Hop aroma is not usually present . Let's talk about aroma a little bit here. Dried fruit. Super common to encounter these kind of like fruitcake like Dark dried fruit flavors in these beers in these deeply amber or copper or brown ales That are also higher alcohol, especially with a little age on them You start to get a lot of that dried fruit character prune, raisin, fruitcake figgy pudding, that kind of stuff.
You get a lot of these dark sugars, right? Toffee, [00:19:00] treacle, caramel, molasses, these are all dark sugars. And you're going to get those flavors from these specialty malts that are going to be used to make this beer. All beers, of course, are mostly made with a base malt. So it's probably going to be, these beers are probably going to be made with Pale Malt, it's called, which is slightly darker than Pilsner Malt.
Pale Malt is a lot of English beers are made with Pale Malt as a base. Some of the best ones are made with Maris Otter, which provides a a little bit more malt character. Just hard to, breadier, more malt character. A lot of legit Maris Otter is floor malted, so it's, it's got a little more character and it's not maybe as efficient to use as some of the stuff from the big guys that are not floor malted, but it provides a lot more malt flavor.
Anyway, that's not even going to be the flavor that really pops in these beers. It's going to be the specialty malts that are added to, [00:20:00] to give them color and flavor. And, these beers are going to be made with darker malts. They're going to be made with some caramel malts or crystal malts.
Maybe even some handfuls of chocolate malt, maybe even a little handful of something roasty. It can't be a roasty beer, but it can have a little touch, right? A little touch of cocoa, a little touch of chocolate, something like that would be fine. But it's not going to feature roastiness. But all of these specialty malts are going to result in this beer having...
All those flavors that we mentioned. Vinous is an interesting one. I was told by a commenter on YouTube that I said it wrong. I think in the very last episode, I think I said Venus. Apparently, uh, that is incorrect. I had to, I looked it up. The commenter was correct, so thank you. And thanks for not being very mean about it.
Although it was like, the comment was basically, It's not Venus as in the same sounding word starting with a P. Which I won't say because I think I would get like tag tagged as explicit if I did that for this [00:21:00] podcast. Anyway, it's Vinus. And Vinus is usually used to refer to alcohol. Like an, you're smelling some like perfumey alcohol.
That's Vinus. Let's see, so it mentioned alcohol specifically, it mentioned a nutty oxidative notes. I never really think of oxidation as particularly nutty, but depending on what kind of malts you use, you can certainly have nutty flavors in these beers. The oxidative notes they're talking about here, we're going to talk about that a lot more because we're going to dig into oxidation shortly.
But Sherry, Port Madeira, those are great descriptors for these oxidation flavors. It says hop aroma not usually present. That's Absolutely true of these beers. And as you age beers, and we're going to talk about oxidation shortly, and what happens when you start aging beers. One of the first things that happens is hop flavor and aroma just dissipates and just becomes lower.
And the British Strong Ale style, it says, these beers can have some hop character. They can be a little bit hoppier. [00:22:00] Then, Old Ale, because once you age the beer, once again, you're going to have these changes related to aging. Okay. For flavor, the BJCP says, Quote,
Balance is often sweet, but may be somewhat bitter. The impression of bitterness often depends on the amount of aging. Moderate to high fruity esters, dried fruit, vinous, the finish may vary from dry to sweet. Extended aging may contribute oxidative flavors of sherry port or Madeira. A lot of times the flavor will deliver what the aroma promises.
In this case, of course, they're using a lot of the same language to describe flavor, but there's some different stuff here. Flavor is different than aroma, obviously, because you're bringing taste in, right? Taste being the... Sweet, sour, bitter, umami all those all those like primary tastes.
So now you're doing basically taste plus aroma and then that's how you get flavor. [00:23:00] So here when we're talking about flavor let's see what's different about the flavor than the aroma. So they mentioned light chocolate or roast flavor here as optional, should never be prominent. So we've beat that to beat on that quite a bit.
So you're not going to get a ton of that kind of roasty stuff in the nose. You might get a little bit in the flavor balance is often sweet, but maybe somewhat bitter. That right there tells you like, boom, this style is, it's just got huge variability. It's a bit of a catch all style, right? Because there aren't many styles out there where it's like, it could be sweet or it could be bitter.
That's usually like the hallmark of a style is its balance. One of the hallmarks of a style. And in this case, it can be sweet or bitter, which is, unusual and just shows how much variety you can get here. The impression of bitterness often depends on the amount of aging.
As I mentioned, bitterness comes down over time. We're gonna talk about that some [00:24:00] more. Moderate to high fruity esters, dried fruit, vinous, so again, hitting on that kind of like fruit cake, dark dried fruit, raisin, prune fig, that kind of stuff. The finish may vary from dry to sweet. Again huge breadth there.
Extended aging, oxidative flavors. Alright, so this is where we should talk about the effects of properly cellaring a beer for an extended period of time. Notice that I said properly cellaring, because properly is the key word here. Tossing bottles in your closet or pantry for months or years is generally not going to qualify as proper, okay?
So if you've ever popped an old beer and it tasted stale, like wet cardboard or paper, that's a beer that was improperly stored and probably for... much too long, right? And sometimes you'll buy a beer straight from the bottle shop and it'll be like that because, they stored it in some back room for a year or something, who knows?
It's super frustrating when that happens. This is one of the reasons I, [00:25:00] especially for beers like IPAs or any hop forward beer. I just about won't even buy any beer that doesn't have a on it because I just assume that it's going to be oxidized and bad.
If it doesn't have a bottle on date or a packaging date on it, that is fairly recent, then I'm not going to buy it. And that's why that these companies don't put a date on there because. I guess they, they think that most people won't care or won't check at all and they're just going to sell them anyway, or they put these like codes on there that you can't even decode without going on the internet to figure it out.
I just don't buy those beers. If you're like a big brewery and you do that, that's par for the course. If you're like a small craft brewery and you're like not putting actual packaging dates on your beer, I don't know. I think I said this in the, I think I said this in the first episode too.
I'm probably going to say this in every episode. If you don't put packaging dates on your beer, F off. Like it's just, [00:26:00] you're just, it's what do you think of your customers? Anyway. All right. I'll stop. Generally speaking, if you're going to age a beer.
You want to age it in a dark place. You don't want it to become light struck. You want to age it in a dark place that ideally has a fairly consistent temperature in the cellar temperature range. Do you know what that means? You're probably thinking right now something that's actually more like room temperature.
Cellar temperature is cold. The proper cellar temperature range is considered to be anywhere between about 40 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit or four to 12. degrees Celsius, 55 degrees Fahrenheit, 12 degrees Celsius is almost like universally considered to be about as high a cellar temp as you want for long aging things, room temperature, which is not a good temperature for beer storage is considered, something like 68 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit or 20 to 25 degrees Celsius.
So that's much too warm. And obviously there's a lot of space there between the top of cellar temperature [00:27:00] being around 55. F all the way up to the bottom of what, what is considered room temperature at 68 F. Generally speaking, room temperature, much too warm. Why does it matter? Chemical reactions, essentially straight, straight up, oxidation, it's a chemical reaction, just about any chemical reaction.
If you add more energy to it in the form of like high temperatures, they just happen faster and with less control. And so we're trying to keep these age related changes that are going to happen to these beers. We want to keep them slow and controlled and Hey, I guess you could age a beer super fast if you just like.
Basically pasteurize it, and guess what? Beer that's pasteurized shows these effects immediately. beCause you're superheating the beer, even if it's only for 30 seconds or a minute. Actually these compounds that are formed during oxidation, many of them will form in pasteurized beer immediately.
That's an interesting little fact there. Obviously, by the way, I'm [00:28:00] not saying if anyone who pasteurizes their beer is selling like oxidized beer or something all the time, I'm just saying that some of these compounds form pretty quickly. Pasteurized beer generally does not come across as fresh, even the minute it comes out of the brewery.
That's just a fact. It lasts longer on the shelf, uh, but it's never as good as a fresh, fresh unpasteurized beer, generally speaking is, the general opinion, I would say. All right, HEre's a line straight from. the Cicerone syllabus. This one's even on the CBS Level 1 syllabus.
Quote, beer should not be allowed to reach temperatures in excess of 77 Fahrenheit or 25 Celsius as these conditions lead to rapid flavor degradation. Alright 77 degrees Fahrenheit. You're getting up towards 80. These are like summertime temperatures. So yes, of course, this is much too warm for beer, rapid flavor degradation.
I don't know. You want to see what oxidation is like really rapidly, put a beer out in some hot place for a [00:29:00] couple of weeks and then try it. Anyway, keep in mind that the vast majority of beer. The vast, vast, like 99. 9999 percent of beer is best consumed fresh from the brewery, like as fresh as possible, okay?
You can't just age any beer and expect to get good results, right? Hot forward beers will often taste a bit off after, just three months, even if they are well stored, right? Those kind of beers can just be garbage after a couple weeks if they're stored in some warm back room at the corner store, right?
That's why I don't buy those ones that don't have a date on them, because I don't know... I don't know how they've been stored. I don't know anything about it. But I'm not going to like just trust that, my corner store total wine or whoever is actually getting these beers and like putting them in a cellar temp or refrigerated space.
Anyway, um, hop forward beers, just no, pretty much never age those. You typically only want to store very strong ales, often darker beers [00:30:00] do best. High alcohol. Dark, those tend to age the best, or if the beer is a mixed fermentation sour ale, like a goose, those also store very well. Those can store for years.
All right, now, we need to discuss what's going on when you store beer what's actually happening to that beer? Okay, for the most part, aging results in oxidation, and all beer Oxidizes slowly over time, but it happens much faster if the beer is not refrigerated or if it's stored warm and that's again because of the Speeding up of these chemical reactions due to this extra energy input the high temperature This is why it's so critical that beers are cold chained It's called cold chained all the way from the brewery to the consumer if possible, right?
So you can see yeah, we're talking about old ale, but I really want to just get into this freshness issue because it's literally what You know, makes the difference between a mediocre beer and an amazing beer a lot of the times, right? This is why people love their local breweries,[00:31:00] because the beer they're getting from them is so fresh It literally just tastes better than a beer.
That's not as fresh even if both of them when they were fresh the other one might have tasted better. Who knows the fresher beer is almost always gonna win so Cold chaining is when you keep the beer cold All the way from the brewery to the consumer. So it goes to the wholesaler on a refrigerated truck at the wholesaler, which is a distributor.
It sits in a refrigerated warehouse. When it gets purchased, someone in the warehouse puts it on a refrigerated truck and it gets driven to the bottle shop. The bottle shop receives it. They put it in a fridge. You go to the store, you buy that beer from the fridge. It has. Been refrigerated all the way from the brewery to your hand.
That's a cold chain. And that is by far the best way to do beer
That's especially important for hot [00:32:00] focus beers It's so painful to walk into bottle shops and see all these beers like sitting warm on the shelf I don't know every time I do it and even like bottle shops I love like ones I'll mention on this show right? They're great. I love them.
They're my favorite ones. I go to them But damn. You walk in and sometimes I just look around. I'm like, what are you, you got all these like IPAs on the shelf here, like warm. Like I know. Maybe these ones aren't the trendiest ones that are moving off the shelves really fast, but that's why it's even more important to keep 'em cold anyway, I don't know.
Anyway it's very important to store beer properly. Let's talk about oxidation. So it starts as reduced top character. We mentioned that you put a beer in proper storage, or maybe improper, and it happens really fast. First thing that happens, hop character starts falling off. Aroma, flavor, starts falling off.
Even bitterness starts to fall off. Next, the beer will experience what we call malt shift. It will develop more [00:33:00] of these sweet, flavors that you will perceive as, As sweet as making you think of sweetness, right? And I say perceive because it doesn't actually mean the beer is sweet. If it tastes like things that remind you of sweet, right?
The beer can taste like honey. It can taste like caramel. It can taste like toffee. That doesn't mean that it is actually sweet, right? It could have those flavors could have flavors that make you think of those things and actually be balanced better. That is possible. And this is the difference between taste and flavor.
So just keep that in mind. sO malt shift, this beer will start to develop more of these flavors of like sweet things like honey, caramel, toffee, these kinds of things. And of course, the fact that the hop character is falling off as well, that makes those sweet malt flavors really, it like helps those flavors start to really take over.
So you've got the hops falling off, you've got the malt shift happening. Next. You're going to start to perceive these sherry like or port like oxidation flavors. And [00:34:00] we use those words because those are these fortified, aged wines for which oxidation is like one of their primary flavors in sherry.
You often hear sherry. I don't think, I don't hear too often like beer judges or just beer geeks saying like port or Madeira. And I think actually the only reason is that People are less familiar with the flavors of those fortified wines. I think sherry like is just the most common accepted thing that you hear people say to describe oxidation, but I would challenge you go out and buy some port and some Madeira and some sherry and see how they're different.
Because the more evocative you can be in your description the better. Those are the, those are these wines, they're fortified with a little extra alcohol and then they're aged in casks for like ridiculously long times and they just oxidize completely and they become sherry like, right? And so when you encounter those same [00:35:00] flavors in beer, we obviously describe them as sherry like there as well.
And, it bears repeating constantly, like With aroma and flavor, you always have to describe them in terms of some other similar aroma or flavor that you are hoping that you're the listener is will understand it's that it's some flavor they will know, right? If I say this beer is malty, that's just such a general term.
It's meaningless. If I say, This beer has flavors of flan with a thin layer of caramel on top. You understand that I mean caramel. You understand, I'm probably saying like a little bit of vanilla, these kinds of things. You always have to do that with aroma and flavor.
It's just, there is, it's subjective in the sense that you have to describe it via, vis a vis other, other aromas and flavors. Just a strange thing about aroma and flavor. The only way to explain it, someone else is to just compare it.
FInally if the beer is aged too long, [00:36:00] right? So now you've got these sherry like flavors, but if the beer is aged more, if it's aged beyond that, then oxidation will result will result in this, in these. These flavors and aromas described as papery or wet cardboard like, which is real weird, right?
But it's basically stale. If you've ever had a beer where you were just like, this beer is stale. That's trans 2 noninol. That's what the compound is called. Generally speaking, people think of, oxidation resulting eventually in the formation of trans tunonanol. The way trans tunonanol actually forms in beer is a little more complex than that.
Essentially, if you age a beer too long, oxidation results in trans tunonanol, which is described as papery, or wet cardboard, or like stale. That's obviously really bad, once you're getting those kind of flavors. The beers really becomes, it really becomes disappointing. And I can tell you from experience, I probably have several beers like this, in my, [00:37:00] cellar.
I put air quotes there because, I don't have a cellar temperature cellar. My stuff's in the closet too. And I definitely have pulled things out of there that I've saved for a couple of years that are like these super Special rare beers and I'm like bringing them to the bottle share and it's like, oh great.
It's just an oxidized mess I wish I had just had it when it was fresh, right? It's really risky to do this kind of aging. Oxidation it results from beer interacting with oxygen Obviously, right but also from like other oxidative compounds right compounds that include some oxygen and some of these oxidative compounds, they come about during the hot side of the brewing process, like in the mash and in the boil, and then can make it through to the final beer, attached to other compounds in the beer, like proteins, that they can then later decouple from as the beer ages and these compounds break down. That is actually how trans 2 nonanol comes about in beer. That is something that a lot of people don't know, because it's the more complex. [00:38:00] But uh, other, other oxidation um, oxygen and oxidative compounds come from the cold side of brewing, during dry hopping or during packaging, if you're, as a home brewer, you would be like you don't want to slosh the beer around too much at that point.
Cause you don't want to get a bunch of oxygen in there. As a pro kind of the same thing, you don't want to expose that, yeah. to oxygen at all. Same with packaging. When you're packaging, you want to be super careful. You're obviously purging all your bottles.
You're capping on foam, all that kind of stuff. And uh, when the beer is stored, those compounds do begin to affect the flavor of the beer over time, no matter what, there's nothing. That can be done to prevent this completely from happening. And the warmer the beer is, the faster those processes occur.
So these days, commercial beer producers, they really do have the technology to package beer with almost no dissolved oxygen in it. And I think for a really long time, the idea of like D O they call it, right? Dissolved oxygen was like the primary driver of all this stuff. [00:39:00] And certainly you want to avoid.
Dissolve the oxygen in your beer, but oxidation still occurs due to oxidative compounds in the beer that are unavoidable. So for the vast majority of beer, oxidation will lead to rapid staling due to flavor changes and the production of the off flavor that you will be tested on during a Certified Cicerone tasting exam, which is trans phenomenal.
AKA T2N. And like I mentioned, you know, it's described as stale, wet cardboard like, papery. Fun fact though, I kind of mentioned this, but I want to, I want to beat on it. Contrary to popular belief, T2N is actually formed on the hot side of brewing. In the wort. And it makes it through to the final beer because it binds itself to proteins.
And over time, it decouples from those proteins and becomes flavor active. So it's all there in the beer. It doesn't actually form because of oxidation, aging. It doesn't form. It's already there is the point it just is able to decouple from these other compounds and become [00:40:00] flavor active.
So it's already in the beer. All the, even this fresh beers already have it in them. You just can't taste it because it's bound up with other compounds. Okay, now we've talked a lot about aging beer and oxidation. And these are the things that I think it's, this is why you want to learn about Oldale because of these topics.
But let's return to the BJCP guidelines and check out a few more key lines. About this beer. So in the comments section of the BJCP, they write, Strength and character vary widely. The predominant defining quality for the style is the impression of age, which can manifest itself in different ways. They say, complexity, oxidation, leather, vinous qualities, etc.
Many of these qualities are otherwise false. But, if the resulting character of the beer is pleasantly drinkable and complex, then those characteristics are acceptable. I'm still reading from the BJCP here. In no way should those allowable characteristics be interpreted as [00:41:00] making an undrinkably off flavored beer as somehow in style.
So again, oxidation can be great for a while, right? But eventually it will go sideways on you, so don't age those beers forever. A year of, I'm, this is just like personal advice right now. A year of aging is usually plenty, especially if you aren't storing the beer at proper cellar temps. So, you know, You get that special beer that you think is one that you should age cause it's like a barley wine or imperial stout or something like that.
I, you know, honestly don't age it for more than a year. Nothing's precious. Just drink it. There's always going to be, this has taken me, I'm a bit of a hoarder, I guess a hoarder. And like I have all these old beers. I have beers from like the nineties right now in my house and That's crazy, right? Like why?
Why did I do that? I don't know. It's taken me a really long time to just come to this place where I'm like, you know what? There's always new beers. I'm a member of multiple clubs. I have access to all kinds of great beer. I'm going to bottle shares all the time. [00:42:00] The bottle shop has tons of great beer now and basically every brewery is making like all these special beers all the time now.
It's not like they're rare. So I don't know why I do that at all. But I have gotten to where I don't save beers like I used to. I just drink them right away. So a year of aging is usually going to be plenty. You're going to notice change. You're going to notice Sherry like effects, especially if you aren't storing the beer at proper cellar temps.
But let's talk a little bit about the history of the style because it's super interesting. So back in the day, no refrigeration. Obviously you had to like you think drink beer fresh these days is important. Imagine, in an era when they didn't understand microbiology, they didn't have sanitation, they didn't have refrigeration, they didn't have stainless steel, right?
They didn't have, canisters of CO2. It's pretty bonkers, right? So back in the day, yeah. You had to drink the beer fresh or it just went bad. Generally [00:43:00] speaking. There was no oxygen freeway to package beer, right? Packaging beer was mostly meant we're talking about England here UK countries, England packaging beer around the world, but definitely in England, it mostly meant putting that beer in casks for delivery to public houses where it was served.
And. If you were going to make a beer with the intent of aging it a brewer knew they had to do certain things to help it age gracefully that it would have a much better chance of aging gracefully if they did certain things. One was making it very strong. Another was making it dark. And that wasn't a big challenge because pale malts back in the day were not super common until fairly recently.
They didn't even have the instruments to to make pale malt easily and without risk. And they also didn't really understand that pale malt was way more efficient to brew with, right? Today, all beers made with a base malt that contains enough enzymes to convert all of its own sugars.
And then anything else that's thrown in is called a [00:44:00] specialty malt. But back in the day, they used to make beers with just like all brown malt, right? And it was very inefficient. So they had to use more malt to get the same amount of sugar. So a lot of beers were brown, that's the origin of the Porter style.
It's just like people were drinking brown beer and Porter was the world's most popular style. And I mentioned Porter because some really strong non roasty porters maybe almost would come across like a British strong ale or an old ale with some age. So anyway, let's not get confused there. But there was no oxygen free way to package beer, right?
You were putting it in a cask and you were going to make it strong. You were going to make it dark and one thing that could be counted on, more or less, if a beer was going to be aged a long time back in the day in like a, a wooden cask, is not only that it would slowly oxidize in someone's cellar, but that it would likely continue to slowly ferment in its wooden cask due to the activity of various bacteria, as well as birtanomyces you're going to get some lactobacillus action, some [00:45:00] lactic acid, you're going to get some acetobacter action, Acetic acid or, vinegar you maybe get some pediococcus action.
I'm going to get some Brettanomyces action. So Bertanomyces is a yeast. It's not your normal brewer's yeast. It's also not necessarily a wild yeast, although you hear people say that, but a lot of it's like straight out of a lab. But anyway, what does Brettanomyces mean? The actual word in Latin literally translates to British fungus.
Brett was first observed and named in Great Britain. Not only because that's where a lot of the science was developed in the early days, but because it was chewing away. At these old ales. So a lot of the early research on microbiology was driven by a desire to understand beer making, frankly.
And so when Von Leeuwenhoek or whoever it was looked at all these uh, all these bugs under a microscope, they were getting them out of beer half the time. So that was an important element [00:46:00] of historical old ale. At that time, these beers were called, there was no BJCP there was just what people called things, basically, and these beers were more common than they are now, right?
You hear old ale, you're like, what the hell is that? But back in the day, these were called stock ales, or they were referred to as vatted ales, V A T T E D, and what vatted meant was that it was aged, basically, and usually a bit sour, and oxidized, so these stock or vatted ales, They were the forerunners to modern Old Ale, and they were often used as blending beers.
They were blended with fresh beer for drinkers, sometimes right at the bar. So these fresh beers they were back in the day in England referred to as milds, mild beers or running beer. And that is also the predecessor there of today's mild ale from England. You had milds, which were fresh.
You had these stock ales, which were not. You could get them blended in any kind of proportion that you [00:47:00] wanted. At the bar, the stock ales were like the fine ale, right? They were obviously, they took a long time to make. There was some risk involved because they could go bad. They were expensive, right?
Probably most of the time you got a little bit of that in. You're in a beer that was mostly the mild, but with some of that stock ale in there um, Really, really cool though. I love the idea that you could go to a bar and say I want a 50 50 mix or I want, whatever and just pay a different price for that.
That's so fricking cool. These beers were delivered in cast. The fresh ones were delivered in casks that were still fermenting and the cellar men at that bar had to actually have real skills and talents to manage a cellar full of beers that were you know, still fermenting, ranging all the way from still fermenting to, you know, almost being gone.
And it was like a daily job to take care of all this beer. Really cool. And and the barman could do different blends like live for you. And that was considered pretty [00:48:00] normal. So another fun fact that These old stock ales, these like funky ones, these sour ones, they actually influenced the creation of modern sour Belgian ales, like Oud Bruin and Flanders Red.
So literally a Belgian brewer who was in England experienced these vatted old ales and took what he learned about making them and went back to Belgium and started doing it there. And that's said to be the origin of those, you know, Oud Bruin, Flanders Red kind of styles. So as you've noticed though, at least in this latest kind of most up to date BJCP style guidelines, there's nothing in there about Old Ale being sour or having like barnyard, like phenols from Britannomyces activity, nothing like that.
So, They do mention leathery at one point in the flavor profile. I was wondering if that was like a leftover reference to these historical vatted Old Ales. And actually, the BJCP, even if you go back to like 2016, it talks about these being sour. I don't really know why they changed it to not include like, the possibility of them being vatted.
I think it's just [00:49:00] because they're, that's so rare. It's so rare. Anyway, you're probably wondering how to get your hands on one of these beers to try. They're basically very difficult to find. So here's, here are the ones that BJCP lists Avery old jubilation. That one's of course made in the United States, Berlina, old ale, green King, strong Suffolk ale, Marston, old Roger, and fixin.
Oh wow. I got, that's hilarious. I'm getting, I just got like a. Ridiculous camera effect. I'll change that later. Thanks Mac OS update for all those balloons. Okay. And finally, Theakson Old Peculiar. So most of these are small batch beers made in England. So they're going to be very difficult to find elsewhere.
However, as we've learned, we can essentially make an old ale ourselves, right? By properly aging a British strong ale. So let's look at the BJCP commercial examples for British Strong Ale. And they are. [00:50:00] Fuller's 1845, Harvey's Elizabethan Ale, that one is, whoa, oh my god, we're getting thumbs up, we're getting fireworks, I feel like maybe I should do something about this.
I can't use my hands without setting off fireworks. Okay, there, I turned off reactions. Alright, that was fun. Maybe I should start incorporating those. Anyway, okay. Let's get back to business here. Strong ales. Fuller's 1845 Harvey's Elizabethan Ale, super weird. That beer, I've had that once. My buddy Scott brought it over to my house.
Super interesting. So weird. And it was a very aged version. So it probably would have fallen under the Old Ale category. J. W. Lee's. A lot of us have heard of them. Of that beer maker, but Moonraker J. W. Lee's Moonraker, which I don't think I've ever seen. McEwen's Champion. McEwen's mostly known for their We Heavy and Scottish Owls.
But they have one called Champion, which is an old owl. Or uh, sorry, a British Strong Owl. And then there's [00:51:00] Samuel Smith's Winter Welcome, which is probably one of the easiest ones to find here. And Shepherd Neam, 1698, if I said that correctly. And some of these aren't too difficult to find. I have a Sam Smith.
of winter welcome right here. This is a 6 percent ABV British strong ale. I know this one is pretty fresh. I'll hold it up the camera so you can get a look at it there. You've probably seen this before. It's a, it tends to be one of those beers that kind of sits on the shelf. All these Sam Smith beers tend to sit on the shelf in the United States which is really unfortunate.
They, I don't think they put the dates on there, but it's, it's generally hard to find. imported beer in the United States that's not oxidized because they have to ship them over here. And then they're not big sellers, so they don't get kept in the fridge, stuff like that. But this Sam Smith Winter Welcome is a 6 percent ABV British Strong Ale.
I know this one's pretty fresh because I picked it up in a holiday box. It was a holiday box of Sam Smith beers that included an English tulip [00:52:00] pint glass. This glass right here, this is called an English tulip. It would be very much appropriate to any of these kind of uh, English ales that are, I would say, a bit of sessionable, 6 percent beer here, right?
This is a relatively sessionable beer. This isn't like some big barley wine sipper. And that box set, it also came with The uh, uh, Sam Smith IPA, an English IPA, a very difficult beer to find fresh, but I know it's fresh ish because it came in this holiday pack that was made for this year. That's why I bought it.
I highly recommend if you see something like that, and it's seasonal. You know that beer is going to be good? Grab it, because that might be one of the few opportunities you have to grab fresh, English beers in the United States. But this would also apply, I don't know if some American craft breweries are sending holiday packs over to England, you should grab them.
Grab them while they're fresh. So anyway I also uh, grabbed this Old Ale. I think this actually would qualify as an old ale from Machine House Brewing [00:53:00] out of Seattle, Washington. Machine House is one of the best producers of English ales in the United States. There are only so many really top flight producers of English ale here in the United States and Machine House is easily one of them.
This is their 10th anniversary vintage ale. I'll hold it up to the camera there. Yeah, look at that. Real nice. I have not made it to the Machine House space yet. Unfortunately, but I very much would like to. It's in Seattle. So it's not like it's right around the corner. It's on my to do list.
Absolutely. I love English ales. They're not that common in the U. S. Machine house. They package a lot of stuff in cask. They do all kinds of cask ales. Super cool. And we do see some of it here in Portland. So if you're in the anywhere in the Pacific Northwest, absolutely look out for machine house.
It says on this bottle it's already got about eight months of age on it since being bottled. It is a fairly dark 7. 4 percent ABV English ale. It says on the side, drink fresh or age for [00:54:00] years to come. I would suggest You don't do it for years to come, maybe a year to come.
It also says best served at cellar temperature, so they're down with the cellar temp. It's really true that these darker, stronger beers, they don't need to be served at the same super low temps as like pale, crisp pilsners, right? Serving these somewhat darker beers these malt focused beers that are, amber, brown, that kind of stuff.
Really they do well at cellar temp, a little bit warmer the warmer the beer is, the more bubbles are going to come out of solution, right? A carbon dioxide and with that carbon dioxide comes lots of aromatic compounds, bubbles popping in the head are what throw aroma up into the air and it can make those aroma compounds can make physical contact with your sensors.
That's what needs to happen. So when you, you, yeah. It's always funny to think about, right? When you smell dog poo or something, there's like literal dog poo molecules flavor, active molecules, making [00:55:00] contact with your sensors physically. Just keep that in mind whenever you smell something you don't like you are in physical contact with it.
Anyway, a little bit of warmth in the beer also provides a perception of fullness and body that just works really well with these rich malt profiles of these beers. Whereas if you're drinking like a. Chris Pilsner, you might, want to cold. You want to Chris, but it's summer or maybe you're hot.
I don't know. Whatever. Anyway, it's a mouthfeel thing. It's a mouthfeel thing. I think this beer, I think this machine house beer strong enough that it might do really well to be sipped from like a snifter where you have full contact with the glass. This is a snifter glass. It is recommended for strong ales like barley wines and imperial stouts and stuff like that.
And one of the reasons is that it makes full contact with your hands so you're getting a little bit of warmth going on. So if you pull that thing out of the fridge and put it in there. You will warm it up quickly. This is another really cool glass. I really like this one private press. I use that for barley wines, private press [00:56:00] branded.
And then this is my flex glass right here. I think these kinds of beers are also really nice and kind of wine, like glasses, right? Also you can make full contact. Although the stem is meant for you to avoid full contact, but you can do it either way. If you recognize this glass, you know, this is a bit of a flex is real old school.
SARAs Sante Adairius Rustic Ale Cellar Club glass. That's probably more than you ever wanted to know about British strong out about old ale. About the effects of aging beer and about oxidation. That took way longer than I thought it would to talk about. I usually want to keep this show at an hour.
I actually want to keep it below an hour. So that's, this is a huge conversation here about Old Ale and oxidation and beer aging and British Strong Ale. I've got a little more though. This is the Beer Scholar 6 pack pod. Let's do this. Alright, next, let's look at some headlines.
All right, craft beer and brewing magazine, or should I say. com now? I don't know.[00:57:00] Craft beer and brewing. You're probably familiar with it. Great website. Lots of great articles. They just announced the launch of a sister publication, Craft Spirits and Distilling.
If you're into liquor, it seems like something you might want to check out. Alright, next. Boston Beer Company, aka Sam Adams, released Utopias a few days ago. Utopias is released only once every two years. It is a monster beer. The 2023 edition clocks in at 28 percent ABV. You probably won't even recognize this as beer if you get it because it's still.
It is not carbonated. It is still. It really does drink more like liquor than like beer. It is just fermented though. It is not distilled. So it is in fact a beer. Getting a beer up to these ridiculous ABV levels requires using a variety of extremely alcohol tolerant yeast strains including some that are used to make champagne and a variety of others.
This. This uh, beer, Utopia, is barrel aged for years in a variety of used liquor barrels. [00:58:00] And it is blended to make the final product. So it comes in this very cool, you've probably seen this before. It comes in this very cool 25 ounce bottle shaped like a brewing kettle. This year's it's this year it's gold.
I think it's been gold most of the time. I think there were certain years when it was black or maybe silver, but super cool. It's almost worth. buying just for the bottle. UTopias is not legal to sell in 15 different U. S. States because of the high ABV. If you can find a bottle out there and they're not impossible to find but expect to pay somewhere.
I think they're, I think Sam Adams, Boston Beers suggested retail price is 240. When I search around online, I see them for anywhere from 300 to 400, which is bonkers. Okay. I've tried this. I've tried this beer a few times and You know, it's great, but I remember talking with my friends back in like, I don't know, 2012 or something and being like, maybe it was early, maybe it was 2008 being like, Oh my God, they want a hundred dollars a bottle for [00:59:00] this.
That's ridiculous. Now it's 400 bucks. Anyway, the flavor is very much focused on that dark dried fruit stuff. Kind of Like some of those stuff we talked about with the old nail. And I think that's appropriate to talk about this. Utopia is right after talking about old nail uh, because. You're going to get a lot of this like holiday fruitcake, raisin, prune, a lot of very serious sherry vibes from oxidation in utopias.
And it definitely leans quite sweet, but it is balanced by the massive amount of alcohol in it. It's definitely got that throat warming, mouth warming level of alcohol. That warming, of course, is just a physical mouthfeel thing. But all that alcohol also lends that utopia is a, a vinous quality or as I used to say, a venous quality.
Definitely a sipper. All right, next, here are some events happening that you may want to get in on. If you live in Cincinnati, Ohio, this Saturday, tomorrow, November 18th, Rheingeist, your big brewery is hosting its annual [01:00:00] inked festival where you can go enjoy some of their beer and get a tattoo. Check out their website for deets.
Sounds hella sketchy to me, but I am often down to make bad decisions. I don't know. What do I know? For stout lovers in the Pacific Northwest of the United States, tickets for the Festival of Dark Arts at Fort George Brewing in Astoria go on sale at sunrise on Black Friday, so that's a week out.
Obviously, you should buy my course for the Certified Cicerone exam, not tickets to the Festival of the Dark Arts. But, if you... If you want to buy both, you should it's a really fun festival. I've been ridiculous amount of stouts from all over the United States. Lots of barrel age goodies lots of rare stuff, lots of live music, entertainment, pleasure in Astoria, which is awesome.
Love that town. All right. Registration for the world beer cup is now open through December 7th. That's the brewers associations, big competition. Other than the great American beer festival, it's the other most prestigious competition, the world beer cup. Great American Beer [01:01:00] Festival is just for American brewers.
World Beer Cup is for global brewers. And uh, the Craft Brewers Conference is also being held in Las Vegas next year on April 21st through the 24th, which is when the World Beer Cup is happening. So if you're a brewery and you want to get some beers entered in the World Beer Cup, go register now. Next.
Here in Portland, Oregon, legendary brewer, John Harris, who was responsible back in the day for developing some of the excellent beers that you probably would recognize from the likes of Deschutes and Full Sail announced that he was selling his 10 year old brewery Ecliptic to great frontier holdings, which is a company that was recently formed by the merger of Ninkasi Brewing and the Wings and Arrow brand portfolio, which consists in part of a bunch of like hard tea and seltzer brands.
And so I just wanted to mention that cause I know folks in Portland are definitely sad to see Ecliptic going away. We're going to miss the Moon Room and the Ecliptic brewing spots. [01:02:00] All right. We're getting near the end here. You may have heard that a few months ago, Modelo Especial became the best selling beer in the United States in terms of dollars spent knocking the former King Bud Light from the throne.
Over the last five years, Constellations, four Mexican import beers, Modelo, Corona, Pacifico, and Victoria, and their little branded spinoffs, have seen increased sales of 8. 3 percent in the United States. Those four families of beer brands now represent fully 22 percent of U. S. dollars spent on beer at stores.
That is bonkers. Okay Constellation is the company that owns all those. Mexican import beers, they're just sky, they're just, hockey sticking right now. And at the same time, sales of the eight major brand families from ABI, including Bud Light, Budweiser, Natural Light, Natty Light is what we should call it, Bush Light, and others have fallen by 5.
5 percent and now represent about 35 percent of all dollars spent on beer at stores in the United [01:03:00] States. ABI obviously this is largely because of the Bud Light transphobic, blah, blah, blah, blah thing, but it's crazy, oh my gosh, it's insane, the numbers that are really interesting here is that like, ABI has lost a bunch of market share and they're still selling a 35 percent of all beers sold at stores in America are ABI beers and 22 percent are constellation.
I mean at some point it's just like what's even left. It's crazy. All right. Anyway I don't know. I'm just fascinated by these like billions of dollars that are just coming and going for these companies. All right. Anyway, I kind of want to continue some thoughts on the previous news about those constellation brands.
Cause one thing that's super interesting about constellations, enormous recent growth is that it's also changing the wholesaler landscape in the United States, right? So in theory, wholesale distributors these legally mandated middlemen of the U S three tier system for alcohol [01:04:00] sales beer producers, importers, they can only legally sell their beer to wholesalers.
For the most part, those are the distributors. And then those distributors sell it to retail outlets, whether it's a bottle shop or tap room. And of course, as we all know, there are lots of exceptions. For like smaller craft breweries where they can like self distribute and stuff like that. These rules are different in every state in the United States.
It's it's crazy. I don't know, someone from Europe might be shocked to know that there is actually not national laws on this necessarily. It's like state by state. And that is a product of ending Prohibition back in the day and the way that. Some of the states were like down to agree to end Prohibition was that they were like we might want to have different rules.
We might want to be more strict. And so the Fed was like, fine. Yeah, you do you um, it used to be though. Let me just say another thing, generally speaking, the whole point, one of the points of having this three tier system is to avoid the tied house system that did exist in England, where like the [01:05:00] breweries also owned the pubs and the distributors.
So it was just this vertical integration that is impossible in the United States. So the idea was to keep all these companies separated. That obviously hasn't played out because these companies are. Extremely wealthy and politically connected. A lot of big breweries have been able to buy out distributors.
Whether directly or not. Anyway, all right, that, that's why, this is one of the major beefs that craft beer has always had with doing business in America. Is we have to have our beer distributed, but these distributors are basically run by Bud or Molson Coors or whatever. It used to be that a distributor was either a Bud House.
And was part of the so called red network, or it was a Molson Coors house, a member of the so called blue network, or they were like some small operation that was associated with some smaller brands and you would call them like a boutique distributor. But and one thing to know, if you're like not from the United States, you might not know, but like. [01:06:00] once a beer brand signs on with a distributor for being distributed in whatever region, it's like a marriage, but much more difficult to get out of. You can't just get divorced. It's like really hard to break away from a distributor. The distributors never want to let a beer brand go because why would they?
It's like a, it's almost like a trap. Once you sign with a distributor, you are like trapped. Even if the distributor doesn't do a damn thing for you, if they practically trick you into signing with them and then they do nothing to help sell your beer, you can't just be like, Hey, you're not doing your job!
It just doesn't work that way. Because of Constellation's growth, though, they've essentially created this fourth powerhouse distributor in the United States called Reyes Beer Division. It is becoming known as the Gold Network, and this has, of course, led to lots of lawsuits as Constellation brands are trying to do what I just said, was talking about, and terminate their distribution rights with wholesalers, distributors that are aligned with ABI or Molson Coors or whatever.
Because they want to be distributed by a distributor who [01:07:00] will actually focus on selling their beer, which is... Ray is cause Ray is in con constellation are now basically like, you know, hand in glove working together, which is basically how it used to be for ABI and the red network and Wilson cores and the blue network.
This whole story just makes the point that the three tier system in the United States is incredibly broken in terms of like, if the goal is actually to keep ownership separated. It's just completely impossible. The influence, if... If a distributor has ABI and then a bunch of other brands, like obviously ABI is going to represent like 90 percent of their sales.
You can't really expect them to put the same amount of effort into selling like your craft brand. It's just, it's frustrating for craft beer makers. So anyway, talking about distribution, seems pretty boring, but this is just an interesting story. Constellation brands are trying to terminate distribution rights with all these other distributors so that they can become sold by Reyes and you don't hear a [01:08:00] ton about distribution unless you're in the business and have to deal with distributors and there's not much sexy about distributing beer, right?
It sounds like it could be a, an exciting business until you realize it's really mostly just logistics. You know, It's like getting the beer from here to there in a refrigerated vehicle, hopefully. And from my experience having owned a retailer, or And, just dealing with beer businesses and seen in the scene forever.
No one really loves dealing with distributors. It's like well established. The big brewing companies have used their influence over distributors that carried their products to keep craft beer growth lower. Because obviously craft beer has to be distributed by someone too. And typically it's by distributors for whom those craft brands represent only a very small percentage of their sales.
So they're not getting a lot of attention. Also like more work for them to sell, your weird craft brand that people are less familiar with. It's a lot easier for them to walk in and be like, Hey, I got Bud Miller and cores. You've heard of them, people buy them, which ones do you want?
So as [01:09:00] constellation has grown so powerful though, they're now somewhat ironically in a weird way, able to pressure ABI and Molson Coors aligned distributors, as well as major retail accounts in similar ways that ABI and Molson core distributors. used to do to the craft beer sector. They would go into retailers and be like, Hey, we want the end caps.
We want better placement, yada, yada, yada. And they would do it. Of course obviously it always comes down to the money. If the retailers are like, oh yeah, the stuff sells, then that's what they're going to do. So when constellation now is saying, Hey, look, our cells are hockey sticking and nobody's buying Bud Light because they like marketed with a trans influencer, then it's boom, they just go, the retailers go for a lot of the big retailers go for it. So anyway, the Constellation brands. They're jumping ship to Reyes and Constellation is making other rules for their distribute for other distributors saying like you're not allowed to share data about the sales of Constellation brand beers with those other big brewing companies.
Totally makes sense, right? [01:10:00] Because ABI and Molson Coors can use that data to form strategies against them and stuff like that. The. Constellation and Reyes are making sure their beers are featured at retailers more prominently. They're getting into big music festivals and stuff like that.
These are the kind of things that craft beer dreams about. We want this. And it's very difficult to pull off because of the competition. Constellation and Reyes are making it happen though. I just complete, I'm just, I just continue to be completely blown away by the effect of that transphobic backlash against Bud Light and ABI and how it has altered the landscape so quickly.
I don't know for sure. But honestly, it seems like perhaps one of the most successful product boycotts I've ever heard of. I don't know. I can't think of any other super effective ones. It's not like, you know, people stopped eating at Chick fil A because Chick fil A is like, Uh, funding like anti gay politics and stuff, right?
You know a variety of companies that do evil shit and you still like basically use them [01:11:00] a lot. A lot of, you know, this, this is just amazing though. Cause like ABI didn't even do anything evil and they're just getting punished. What a world. Anyway, according to the Brewers Association. In 2022, small and independent brewer share of the US beer market by volume is 13.2%, but accounts for 20, almost 25% of the dollars.
That's so interesting. So craft beer is so much more expensive than those other beers that even though craft beer only owns 13% of the market, they account for almost 25% of the money of the $115 billion annual US beer market. Good Lord. All right, folks, that's episode two of the beer scholar six pack pod.
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