Belgian Golden Strong Ale - The 6 Pack PodNov 13, 2023
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All right. Welcome to the Beer Scholar Six Pack, where we discuss six quick links, topics, or current events, mostly about beer this week. We'll be breaking the golden, the Belgian Golden Strong Ale style down. We will discuss what to do if you can't find classic versions of certain beer styles in your region, which can be an issue if you're trying to learn these.
These things for an exam or whatever, we will talk about briefly the recently released winners of the North American Guild of Beer Writer awards among many other things. So, but first the news.
Ball Corporation, the world's largest manufacturer of aluminum cans used for packaging beer, announced a 10 percent drop in volume in North and Central America, [00:02:00] in large part due to the dramatic decline in Bud Light sales. Bud light sales are down 12 percent for the year following. The conservative transphobic boycott surrounding influencer Dylan Mulvaney.
Beer sales in general continue to be soft in the U. S. So that's obviously a contributing factor. Ball's third quarter sales dropped by nearly 10 percent to just 3. 57 billion. You know, I had to, I had to throw this one in the mix because although the can business is obviously huge, I guess, I guess it had never occurred to me that in a single quarter, one company that makes aluminum cans ball would do 3.
57 billion in sales in a single quarter down 10%. So it would normally be like 4 billion, you know, quarterly. I mean, that is, that is bananas. And, uh, It's also amazing to me that [00:03:00] Bud Light Sales being down by like 12 percent would, would lead to this, um, huge drop. Anyway, I just thought that was interesting.
It's kind of trivia, but whatever. Alright, next up.
The 50, 000 square foot Oscar Blues Brewery location in Austin, Texas has closed. It is the fifth brewery to close in Austin in the last two years. The company Oscar Blues is based in Longmont, Colorado, and still has a second location in Brevard, North Carolina. Just an interesting data point, you know, I think, um, being a regional brewery these days.
Absolutely brutal. You're definitely seeing a little bit of a retreat. I think, uh, drinkers have also, uh, been a little more focused on their local, their local breweries. In the post COVID world, it seems to me. But yeah, it's just a tough time to be a regional brewery. [00:04:00] So. You know, I don't think, I don't think the beer scene in Austin is, is suffering in any great way right now, but that is, that is big news there.
Alright, next up, Brooklyn's Other Half Brewing has announced plans to create a craft beer destination inside Chicago's historic. Ramova Theater, if I'm saying that right, in the Bridgeport neighborhood. Other half representatives say they hold a deep respect for Chicago's brewing community and don't want to barge in and impede local talent.
However, because they have breweries in Philadelphia and DC already, in addition to their original New York city location, the Ramona theater folks figured that other half had the cash and the experience to pull off this big project. That's pretty exciting. Uh, if I was If I was a craft beer fan in Chicago, I'd be really stoked.
If I was a craft beer producer in Chicago, I would be a little concerned. [00:05:00] Pretty big news though. That's uh, many millions of dollars for that project for sure. Tens of millions. Alright. Next up here at Beer Scholar HQ, we've had a pretty big month. Uh, we filled the second cohort of our still quite new Advanced Cicerone Coaching Program.
That is the first training program or study material on the market for the AC level of the Cicerone program. So just like with the CBS and CC levels, Beer Scholar is the first to market with a solution for folks who want to crush the AC, but are kind of like sitting there looking at the syllabus thinking like there's a mountain.
where do I start? Um, for the CBS and CC level programs, I've begun hosting a live weekly beer style tasting rather than just the Q and a sessions I was doing. So this was like a, a new thing I announced for those programs. I've only been doing them for a couple of months. They were just these like live weekly Q and a sessions for both the CBS and the [00:06:00] CC levels.
Um, At the suggestion of some of my students, I started doing like actual beer tastings where we schedule ahead of time, what the beer is going to be folks bring them to the tasting and. The very first time we did it, it was a real hit. So, I'm definitely going to keep doing that. It was super awesome. Um, the first live weekly tasting was last week.
That was a Fest beer. Had the biggest attendance of any live Q& A session I've done for those courses. So, awesome. Since I know some of you listening will be my students. Uh, you've received emails about this and everything. But the upcoming beer styles we'll be tasting and breaking down together through the end of the year.
Are Tripel Flanders Red, Doppelbock, Barley Wine, Imperial Stout, Belgian Dark Strong Ale, and any holiday beer. It's wintertime, so, you know, we're gonna go big, keep it strong, keep it mostly dark, and, uh, you know, if you want to get [00:07:00] in on these tastings and Q& A sessions, get enrolled in a Beer Scholar course, the CC course, which also comes with the CBS course, so if you need to do them both, you can get them both done.
And finally... Other big news for, for me, at least for Beer Scholar HQ here, you're listening to the first ever Six Pack Podcast episode. My hope is to start doing these probably like every other week to start the Six Pack Newsletter. I've gotten so much positive feedback from you all about it. It's, you know, other than people passing their exams and kind of like giving me, you know, little sort of testimonials and thanking me and stuff.
The other thing that I hear the most From the general community is how much folks love the six pack newsletter. And it does have like six, you know, thousand subscribers. I mean, it's kind of amazing. I've gotten lots of great feedback from it. I will say this though, you know, it's very time consuming to create [00:08:00] it.
And I do think that a podcast version of it will provide more. Uh, kind of like value. It'll create more community. It'll reach a broader audience. So I'm really excited about this project. I think it could be really amazing. And, you know, I love being in touch with you all. So please feel free to reach out to me.
If you have any thoughts or questions about like what I do about this podcast, uh, about my Beer Scholar courses, you know, or like life, the universe. I've got all the answers, so just hit me up anytime. All right, let's talk about this week's six pack topics. All these, uh, all these sound effects and things, they're new.
Some of them are really goofy, just FYI. I kind of like that. I'm down with goofy. We'll see how it goes. I also pre recorded some ads here, so you just gotta live with that. You're gonna hear about my courses. It is what it is.[00:09:00]
If you're in the beer industry and want better paying gigs at cool companies with great cultures, better benefits, and more opportunities to really do the work you want to be doing, then you need to up your beer game. Beer Scholar is the quickest and easiest way to prep for the Cicerone exams. Everything you need to know is already organized, ready for you to learn..
Plus, you'll show up on test day knowing exactly what's on the exam. Because Beer Scholar doesn't just teach beer info. They also teach how to beat the test. Add rocket fuel to your beer career by going to thebeerscholar. com and enrolling in an online course today. All right. First up is this week's office hours segment.
All right. This is where I take a question. I've been asked by one of my listeners or beer scholar students and.
Get you an answer. This is one I [00:10:00] get asked all the time. And in this case, Dimitri T from Austin, Texas wrote in, Hi, Chris, I'm enjoying your course and getting ready for my Certified Cicerone exam. I have a question about commercial examples of beer styles I'm learning about. I live in Austin, Texas, and I'm pretty familiar with the local craft.
Beer scene, but I can't find many of the more widely recognized brands in Texas. Do you think brews from local breweries like Jester King, Live Oak, Celis, Real Ale, Zilker, and other relatively small breweries are valid commercial examples of BJCP listed beer styles? So essentially Demetri is asking, you know, What should you do if you can't find the BJCP listed commercial examples of classic styles in your local area?
This is obviously a big issue for someone who's studying for a Cicerone exam or otherwise trying to learn about classic styles And so first of all, just know that pretty much everyone faces this issue. All beer scenes are quite regional You're not alone [00:11:00] BJCP listed commercial examples of beers, especially fresh versions, right?
It's like even if you can go to the store and find Um, a bunch of say, you know, English Bitters, are they going to be fresh? Probably not, for instance, for me, uh, I just bought this, um, little box set of Samuel Smith beers that they released for the holidays because I know that they create, you know, unless this, unless the shop, like had it in storage all year and pulled it back out, they're relatively fresh.
And that's one of the. Only way is I feel like I'm gonna be guaranteed to get fresh beer from England is if it's some kind of special release like that that I know is seasonal. Um, So finding finding these beers can be a challenge but finding fresh ones that are decent examples That's that can be even harder.
So anyway, you know beware, of course that brewers label their beer however, they want right and generally do not [00:12:00] do like what we would call brewing to style Um craft beers they're often but not always but often Uh, especially in the U. S., they're much bolder than the classic versions that they're named after or labeled as.
One style I find this pretty consistent in, in the U. S. is Schwarzbeer. Almost every time I, I buy an American, a Schwarzbeer from an American, uh, brewery, you know, something labeled Schwarzbeer, it's like, it's almost like a porter more than it is. Like this crushable poolside kind of beer, which is what it is if you have like a Kostrizer from Germany.
Right. So, you know, my advice is talk to local Certified Cicerones or even, you know, higher level folks. If you can find them, you know, ask them which local breweries and beers are similar or making beer that is similar to the BJCP listed classic commercial examples. They should know because they already studied for these exams and.
Probably have [00:13:00] a pretty good beat on that. You can definitely find those folks, you know, working at top level breweries or tap rooms, or you can go to the Cicerone website and check their directory. Um, also taste local beers that claim to be classic versions and do so in a focused manner though, taste them in a focused manner while reading the BJCP guidelines, right?
Put a BJCP guidelines app on your phone and fire that up while you're. Being sort of thoughtful and focused as you try that beer. And as you're doing that note where the beer matches, what the BJCP says. And note how they're different, right? This is a, actually it was a great way to learn and study, right?
To learn these styles. So of course it's very helpful to actually have one of the, uh, listed styles in the BJCP guidelines, because those are the ones that they've called out as the most classic versions, but they can't list all of them, right? They can't [00:14:00] taste every beer in America or the world and list all of the.
The ones that kind of fit, fit the bill. Um, you kind of have to figure that out for yourself in a lot of cases. So I did write a longer blog post about this on the beer scholar. com the blog on there. If you want to dig a little deeper. So go ahead. I will stick the link in the show notes.
All right, next up. Last month I helped judge the North American Guild of Beer Writers Awards for the like fifth or sixth year in a row. And the winners were released a couple of weeks ago. The quality of writing and reportage happening in the beer space is honestly truly amazing. The winning articles and other content types, right?
They're not just awarding writers. Um, It's all worth your attention. All of that content is worth your attention. So if you're looking for some beer reading or some new [00:15:00] beer podcasts or whatever, there's just a ton of great content on the list of winners for you to check out. Uh, the winner of the best food and beer writing was Lana Svitsikova, hopefully saying that like relatively correctly.
And the title of that article is sour, salty, umami, The Ukrainian brewers transforming pickling traditions into beer. And that's a good beer hunting piece. A good beer hunting, of course, just, you know, somewhat dominant in these awards. It turns out a year after year to no one's great surprise. They do amazing work, but, uh, you know, this was just a really cool article that jumped out at me.
I obviously can't discuss too many of these articles. For the sake of of time and brevity here, but I wanted to just mention this one So you get an idea of what kind of cool stuff is winning are winning these awards So this one it's all about beers made [00:16:00] with the flavors of pickles in Ukraine and it is super interesting So these are essentially Um, Gose as a base beer, right, which is a lightly tart German ale made with a touch of salt.
Um, so it's kind of the perfect base style to work with to make pickle themed beers. And, uh, Lana Svits, Svitsinkova, I'm just, I'm doubling down, she discusses a couple different versions. Uh, one is a tomato, garlic, and dill version. Um, actually, there's a few of those. One was like sangrita themed. One's gazpacho themed.
These sound pretty delicious to me. I mean, basically, this is going to be similar to like a michelada, right? I'm, I'm guessing. She found, uh, a cucumber version, which would... In this, in this crazy kind of beer, uh, would be like the normal ish kind, I suppose. Right, because it's sort of normally what we think of as pickles.
Um, but she also found a cabbage sauerkraut version, a pico [00:17:00] de gallo version, a borscht version, and several others. So, some really interesting, uh, stuff going on in Ukraine around beers with some pickle, uh, you know, theme to them. And this was one great line from the piece. You might think that beers like these are designed as provocations, as a challenge to be met by only the most fervent of beer drinkers.
But these pickle beers... Also have an unusual ability to connect with those who don't otherwise drink beer, perhaps because their flavors are often recognizable and in some cases push the nostalgia button and that really jumped out at me. It's just so right on, you know, familiar aromas and flavors really have the ability to take you to other places in like an instant, right?
To push that nostalgia button to bring up a flood of emotion, even right in a way that our other senses just. Do not. So that's just one interesting article in a sea of the [00:18:00] NAGBW awards, the North American Guild of Beer Writer Awards this year. I highly recommend that you go check out the full list of winners.
I will link to it in the show notes. Alrighty. What is next?
All right. Welcome to the style of the week. Oh, I have a good intro for this that I want to definitely use. All right, here we go.
Let's talk about beer styles. That like robot TikTok voice makes me laugh every time. So, okay. Welcome to the style of the week. In this segment of the six pack, we taste and quickly break down a classic beer style and discuss its defining features. We talk about any special ingredients and brewing techniques used to make it.
And we learned some new sensory descriptors for it this week. We're sipping Duvel. Which is the genre defining commercial example of a Belgian Golden Strong Ale, or [00:19:00] BGSA, as I like to say. And, uh, you'll notice if you're actually watching this on, like, YouTube or something that I'm not drinking a Duvel.
And that's because it's, like, early in the morning on a weekday. But I did have one last night, and I, uh, broke this all down. So, Duvel was created by Mort Gat Brewing in Belgium. They gave, uh, it the name Duval meaning devil because it's so dangerously drinkable for an eight and a half percent ABV beer, at least this example.
And you know, many of the other BGSAs on the market are also named after the devil like You know, or something devil like, you know, Judas, Lucifer, Russian River Damnation. Those are some of the main ones. Those are the ones the BJCP guidelines list as classic examples. As well as Delirium Tremens. That's another widely available version.
Not named after a devil or the devil, but still a good name. Uh, so Duvel [00:20:00] is made in the typical manner for the style. It is... All Pilsner malt, which is the palest base malt, plus a substantial amount of sugar to keep the body light while adding lots of ethanol. So I'm not going to dig too deep here on all these little elements, but you know, alcohol or ethanol has a lower specific gravity than even water.
So if you use sugar in a beer that ferments into pure ethanol doesn't come with all that all those additional proteins and other Compounds that malted barley comes with then you know malted barley when you ferment that there's some stuff left behind that creates body in the beer But if you just use pure sugar throw some pure sugar in there, then you're gonna get a lighter body more alcohol You know causing that lighter body that perception of lighter body.
So anyway So it's made with Pilsner malt, the palest base malt, plus a substantial amount of sugar to keep the [00:21:00] body light, while adding lots of ethanol. Uh, it's going to be made with continental hops, aka European noble type of hops, such as Hallertauer, Spalt, or Tetnang, maybe Czech Saaz. Um, but, you know, and maybe not one of those exact.
Hops, right, but some sort of similar continental hops. That's what we mean when we say continental hops It's going to be fermented with a Belgian ale yeast strain that produces copious amounts of fruity esters and spicy phenols not all ale yeast makes spicy phenols right mostly only the Belgian ones and the German wheat ale ones.
So, you know, Belgian ales are typically yeast driven in their flavor profiles, right? So every sort of regional type of beer hat is driven by some other ingredient or flavor profile. Generally speaking, most Belgian ales are driven by. [00:22:00] Flavors created by yeast, which is almost like just the opposite of, of say the German lager scene, right?
That's the whole point there is for the yeast to get out of the way and let malt or hops shine. So a little bit of a different. Approach to beer making here, so it's usually going to be brewed with fairly soft brewing water, meaning that the water is not going to have a lot of minerals in it. We'll talk about why that matters shortly and no spices are added to Duval.
That's not considered traditional for the B. G. S. A. Style. So the B. J. C. P. Style guidelines say this about. BGSA as the overall impression. It is, quote, a very pale, highly attenuated, strong Belgian ale that is more fruity and hoppy than spicy. It is complex and delicate, has a dry finish, light body, and high carbonation, [00:23:00] accentuates the yeast and hop character, sparkling carbonation, and effervescent forming a rocky white head.
All right, so when talking about This beer when talking about, uh, Belgian Golden, Strong Ale and Duvel, let's just start from the top. So first up is appearance. Duval is a very, very pale gold or even straw color, which fits the SRM range in the BJCP guidelines, which is three to six degrees. SRM SRM means standard reference model, and it is a scale of light absorption.
Essentially a three SRM is straw colored. So that's, you know, just a touch of yellow. Um, but not very deeply colored at all. Whereas six would be a sort of deep gold, not quite yet leaning into amber, but, but a deep gold. And so what other elements of appearance are there, right? So color is the first thing that always jumps out.
Uh, when you're asked to [00:24:00] describe a beer's appearance, but what else is there? So Duval has what we would call brilliant clarity, meaning it's about as clear as it could possibly be. You can see right through it. There's no haziness at all. The BJCP guidelines say good clarity is okay, which would mean that there could be just the very slightest bit of haze.
Um, like a, you know, like a hardly noticeable amount, that would be fine. And, and, you know, it's the kind of thing you might only notice if you're doing some nerdy beer judgey stuff like we're doing. Um. other elements of appearance. So the foamy head color is white, right? That can, head color can range from white to tan.
Um, in this case it's white. It is huge and persistent. For Belgian Golden Strong Ales, generally speaking, it should be huge and persistent. The head and as it recedes, it becomes rocky, meaning that rather than just dissipating and disappearing or becoming like a thin, flat layer of bubbles for Belgian Golden Strong Ales like Duval, the head [00:25:00] will last a really long time and it will form these little rocky like hills and valleys.
And so that is, you know, a serious amount of very dense foam. And it's something that you often see with A lot of great Belgian ales that you don't see in a lot of other beers. Um, another thing about the head here, it leaves lacing behind in the glass. So, you know, as the head recedes and as you drink the beer, um, you're gonna see this lacing form around the inside of the glass.
And that is, of course, only gonna happen if you have a properly clean glass, or as the Cicerone program would, would call it, a beer clean glass. I don't know if they made that term up or not, actually, but I do think it's goofy as hell. It makes me smile, but it does also get the point across. So yes, beer, clean glassware, very important.
All right, let's talk about aroma. So the generic descriptors in the BJCP guidelines are quote, fruity esters, herbal hops, and peppery alcohol. They also mentioned pear. They mentioned the word perfumy. [00:26:00] If you want to be at the, you know, that Certified Cicerone or higher level of doing sensory description.
You can easily learn to do better than that. You know, those are super generic terms. So, here's a quick list of consumer friendly descriptors that I wrote down for Duval, uh, last night when I was tasting it. So, one, uncooked bread dough. Two, freshly sliced Bosc pear. Three, you know, well, let's talk about where these each come from.
So, uncooked bread dough. That's gonna be a result of the malt, right? So, this is all Pilsner malt. Uncooked bread dough is, you know, the aroma I'm getting from, from all this very pale... Pilsner base malt. Freshly sliced Basque pear. That's going to be an SF fruity ester made by the yeast produced by the yeast and You know so called so called pomme fruit esters are super common in Belgian Golden Strong Ales so we're talking about, you know, apple and pear [00:27:00] type of aromas.
So, you know, but but being evocative freshly sliced Basque pear that is a lot more evocative and interesting As a descriptor, I think then just saying palm fruit or, you know, or just pear, you know, certainly much better than saying fruity esters. Okay, moving on. Cracked black peppercorn.
Alright, so this one's interesting. I think in this case, a lot of that is coming from the yeast, right? It's a, a yeast that produces phenols. We already mentioned that. That's common in Belgian ales. Phenols are typically described as like spicy, right? In this case, I think black peppercorn. However, a lot of those continental Noble type hops also make a sort of pepper You know, black pepper kind of aroma.
So I'm going to guess that this is a bit of a combo there. Both of those things. The [00:28:00] next descriptor I have here is dried jasmine. So I get this a lot from these kinds of continental noble hops. You know, they, they, they're all different. Um, this is definitely one common aroma that I get from a lot of those hops.
You know, I'm trying to find a way to talk about. You know, floral aromas. And to me, a lot of these Noble Hop floral aromas tend to lean kind of jasmine like. That might be a little different for you. You know, give it a, give it a sniff and see what you get. Uh, next up I got Banana Liqueur. So that would be, uh, yeast, ester as well.
Um, if I was doing a technical panel here and writing technical language up, I would say, um, isoamyl acetate, right? That's the banana compound that is banana like in beer. Anyway, banana liqueur. And then I, I got, um, [00:29:00] I wrote down apricot infused vodka. I was definitely getting some kind of stone fruit, you know, apricot.
Peach, that kind of thing. And by saying infused vodka, my, my, my goal there is to communicate that there's some ethanol. I can smell that there's alcohol in here, but that's hard to describe, right? And that is what the BJCP is trying to get out when they say perfumey, but perfumey again, to me, I actually, you know, when it comes to ethanol.
Trying to describe ethanol. It's actually a real challenge. So perfumey isn't so bad, even though it comes across as quite generic. Um, I just came up with this alternate way to do it here, in this case at least, which is to say apricot infused vodka. But you could definitely, you know, perfumey. If you said like perfumy ethanol that or alcohol or something that might be okay.
Um, and then I wrote down peach cobbler because I was starting to get like whiffs of more like baked bread and [00:30:00] more, uh, you know, like as the beer is warming up a little bit of evolution of that stone fruit character. So anyway, those are the descriptors I got uncooked bread dough, freshly sliced Bosque pear, cracked black peppercorn, dried jasmine, banana liqueur, apricot infused vodka and peach cobbler.
So. Now that we've looked at the beer, we've smelled the beer. Now we're going to actually put it in our mouths and that brings taste into the mix. Right. And remember that taste only covers the five basic tastes here. You know, it's really easy to mix up all these technical terms. Flavor is different than taste.
Um, I mix these terms up all the time because you just like grew up your whole life saying like this tastes like whatever. And it's like you're not saying this tastes sweet. Usually you're saying like this tastes like, uh, you know, A banana, a sundae, or whatever. Anyway, so, in this case, you know, the five basic tastes is [00:31:00] what we're talking about when we say the word taste.
And that is sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and umami. Uh, which of these actually shows up in beer very often? Well, You know, sweet and bitter, right? That's most beers are balanced, a balance of sweetness and bitterness. Some beers have some sourness to them. All beers are acidic or, you know, on the pH scale, but that doesn't mean that they're going to have like a striking amount of sour character.
Um, as you are undoubtedly aware, there are, you know, a genre of beers that are balanced with sourness, with acidity instead of bitterness. So then you get sweet and sour, but. We're not talking about one of those beers today. And umami does make an appearance in some beer, but it is not usually a big part of the flavor profile.
And. often results from aging beers. So normally we want to drink beer fresh. Anyway, let's move on. So flavor, right, on the other hand, is a combination of taste and [00:32:00] aroma, right? So it's important to be technical when talking about aroma versus taste versus flavor. That's why I'm doing this. That's why I'm like spending a minute to say that.
Anyway, in a lot of cases, The flavor is going to largely match what you experience in a beer's aroma, right? But that's not always the case. There's usually at least some difference. So, some additional flavors I got from Duval, when I tasted it, included a touch of like Meyer lemon, right? Which is, and the reason I'm using that descriptor is because I'm trying to bring in sweetness.
So, a Meyer lemon is basically like a sweet. Kind of lemon. It's a special kind of lemon. That's kind of sweet. Uh, instead of being so like bracingly acidic. So as I'm tasting Duval, I'm getting like a little bit of citrus and sweetness and it's reminding me of Meyer lemon. So, you know, but I could get even more specific.
I could say, you know, Meyer lemon peel, right? The more specific you can be, the more evocative you want that person that you're [00:33:00] communicating with to like. Taste this beer as you describe it. And so, uh, you know, I am trying to bring in elements of taste here. So then I also got one that doesn't really bring in so much, um, uh, element of taste, but fresh baked baguette.
So that's different from that uncooked dough that I was getting in the aroma. This is more of a baked bread. So just, you know, slightly different. Um, once you've got the beer in your mouth, you're, you're experiencing all these other things uh, you're experiencing the balance.
So in this case, Belgian Golden Strong Ale, the balance definitely leans slightly bitter. The perception of the balance and the taste leaning kind of bitter, right? Because bitterness is also a taste, right? Is accentuated in the case of Belgian Golden Strong Ale by the dryness of the beer. This is a very highly attenuated beer, meaning there's very little residual sugar left in it.
The yeast has really processed most of the sugars. Mhm. And [00:34:00] so that, that leads to this beer being perceived as extremely dry. And so your perception of the bitterness for this beer is going to be kind of relatively high for a beer. That has just 22 to 35 IBUs, or bitterness units, from isomerized hop alpha acids.
That's the range that the BJCP says this beer style should have, between 22 and 35 IBUs. That's not that high, right? If this beer had more body to it, wasn't quite as bitter, had more sweetness, Um, you wouldn't perceive it to be a bitter leaning beer, potentially, right? Cause that's not a huge level of IBU.
So an important thing that we always hammer away at when we do beer education, uh, is that there's a really big difference. IBU essentially doesn't tell you anything, right? It's a balance. It's an interplay of sweetness and [00:35:00] bitterness. That's what matters. That's what creates your perception of how bitter the beer is, not the IBU count.
So, just keep that in mind whenever you're tasting beer. Alright, next up. We're talking mouthfeel. This is a physical sensation of the beer in your mouth. So, you know, we've already been bleeding into this one. We're talking about it being dry and all that. So, you know, despite being so dry though, this beer still comes across as having like a medium low body.
It doesn't come across as watery at all. iT is very crushable. This beer, it is not a sipper, right? When you are handed a beer, that's eight and a half percent alcohol. You're generally thinking this is going to be a sipper, right? This is going to be like a big stout or like a, I guess a lot of hazy IPAs these days, double, double hazy IPAs are in that range too.
And they also are mostly not sippers, right? They're pretty crushable, but that is what makes this such a dangerously drinkable style of beer is this. Is this crush ability, even [00:36:00] despite this huge alcohol content of between seven and a half to 10 and a half percent ABV, that is the range that the BJCP guidelines say the style can have seven and a half to 10 and a half percent ABV.
And yet. This beer style, Belgian Golden Strong Ale, really drinks like a poolside, kind of like summer beer, summer crusher, thanks to its light body, the very dry impression that it has, and that slightly bitter leaning balance, so it comes across as, you know, just crisp enough, and very kind of light on the palate, so the bitterness, you know, it's, it's not at all harsh, Thanks to the sort of like buffering effect, if you will, of, of brewing this beer with, and maybe that's not the right language to use here, uh, because there are technical uses for the term buffering when it comes to pH.
But anyway, the effect of this fairly soft brewing water, right? This water that it's made with doesn't have a lot of minerality, uh, to it, which would [00:37:00] generally lead to the. Hot bitterness being a little more sharp and pronounced, but because this beer is made with fairly soft water It that that hot bitterness comes across kind of softer.
It's kind of like, Famously Czech premium pale lagers or Czech pilsner's the original pilsner right Pilsner Urquel for instance Famously is made with extremely soft water and the actual amount of hops they're using to make those beers is mind blowing, considering how soft that hop character is when you're actually drinking the beer.
Um, it's a little bit true here, too, although this style is not hop driven the same, the way that Czech pale lagers are. So, In this case, you're getting this fairly soft bitterness thanks to that, , soft water. So, another mouth feel element, right? I get just the [00:38:00] slightest bit of alcohol warming in my throat from this beer.
I would never guess that this was an 8. 5 percent ABV beer in a blind tasting. If someone just handed me... A glass and said, taste this beer and tell me what you think the ABV is. I would know that, you know, I'd pick up pretty quickly that this is a Belgian Ale. I'd probably pretty quickly guess this is um, you know, a Belgian Blonde or a Belgian Triple or a Belgian Golden Strong Ale.
Or maybe I would, yeah, you know, I would, I'd probably be able to get it, narrow it down to some of those like, you know, pale Belgian Ales. But I would not, I don't think ever. Guess that this was an eight and a half percent alcohol beer because it's not boozy and it drinks so easy. It's it's just got the slightest bit of alcohol warming when I when I drink a lot of eight and a half percent ABV beers I find them to be quite throat warming in this one Not so much.
So they're doing a very very good job of managing this fermentation those peppery phenols from the yeast [00:39:00] Also add to the perception of dryness here. And so one other thing that would do that, that's like a really big deal and an important property of almost all beers. I don't know, uh, if I should pause and let you guess what it is, that's probably long enough.
I'm talking about carbonation. So Belgian Golden Strong Ale, this style in Duvel, this particular beer, very, very highly carbonated so much so that they don't keg Duvel, uh, because If they just sold a keg of Duval to your average bar and they tried to hook it up to their draft system, it wouldn't be in balance with the settings of their draft system.
It's so highly carbonated and highly pressurized that it just wouldn't be in balance with the settings of a normal draft system without some adjustments. And, you know, honestly, those adjustments are not difficult to do if it's a well set up draft system that has secondary regulators, but you know, The truth of the matter is most taprooms don't have a single person on staff who knows how to manage a draft system or even necessarily to [00:40:00] clean it.
That's another good reason to get your Cicerone certification, so you can learn these like draft system basics. Um, my understanding is Duval... I'm pretty sure Duval makes actually a special version or more GATT makes a special version of Duval just for, uh, just for kegging.
And I believe it's a, got a lower ABV and is less carbonated. So anyway. That's pretty much the important stuff for Belgian Golden Strong Ale. Let's do a quick style comparison. Uh, Belgian Golden Strong Ale is most similar, if you were going to say, what beer is this most similar to? It would be most similar to a Belgian Triple.
So, Belgian Triple, think Chimay, the one with the white label. Probably the one most of us are familiar with. These are both strong, pale Belgian beers, with that Belgian yeast character and that use of a bunch of sugar to keep their bodies light and make them more crushable. So what's the difference? The difference is that Belgian Golden [00:41:00] Strong Ale is even more crushable because it's, it's made to be paler in color, lighter in body, crisper in its balance, and drier than the typical triple.
So Belgian Golden Strong Ale tends to be a little more hop focused in both flavor and balance, a little crisper, a little higher perceived bitterness. It also tends to focus more on Ester development from the yeast rather than phenol development, so more fruity than it is spicy. Uh, whereas a triple kind of tends to lean a little more spicy.
So very similar beers, but the Belgian Golden Strong Ale is the more dangerously crushable of the two. And that is it for the style of the week. I think that's going to be... Potentially every week, our by far longest segment of the six pack. Next, I saw a new anime show on Netflix the other day. It's called Captain Laser Hawk, a Blood Dragon Remix.[00:42:00]
And if that name alone doesn't make you immediately want to stream it. Go watch the trailer, which is linked in the show description. It is full of surprise plot twists, frog, ninja assassins, and a lot of very creative art, seriously, like some episodes of it are clearly done by like completely different artists with different tools.
I mean, it's really, it's really, the art of it is amazing. I had, I took a pot gummy and I watched the entire series in a single evening. It's only like six episodes or something like that. So yeah, 10 out of 10 would recommend it's a good one. If you like anime and, uh, you know, like violent video game type stuff, which I think pretty, pretty much fits the bill.
All right, next.
Beer reporter legend John Hall also a friend of mine. So build him up there He is he is a beer reporter legend John Hall. He interviewed another legend Randy Mosher for an [00:43:00] all about beer podcast. It is titled Randy Mosher talks about your tasting brain So you are probably aware of Randy Mosher. He wrote the best sort of what I call You know intro to beer type book on the market.
It's called tasting beer You almost certainly know about it. He's got a handful of other books out there as well. I believe I've read probably all of them and they're great. Really great. Uh, he's got a new one on the way, hoping to be released next year. It's called your tasting brain, how it works and how to use it.
It's going to be all about sensory science, which is something the beer industry and. You know, people, general audience, I think really, really need to know more about. There is just like not a perfect book out there about sensory science for beer geeks and Cicerone types. So until Randy Mosher's, your tasting brain book drops this great all about beer podcast is going to have to do.
Yeah. So one of the fun things [00:44:00] Randy and John discuss is something that I've also thought a lot about, which is. Uh, that some of the so called off flavors were taught to identify Cicerones in which we're told, you know, are bad, kind of like as a rule, like buttery diacetyl I'm thinking of here in particular.
Well, buttery flavor, right? Surprise, surprise, it's not despised by the general public. And in some cases, it can be used purposely to make a beer more pastry like by adding a touch of buttery flavor, you know, to a stout. You might get, like, a bit of a pastry thing. And I'm not talking about, like, big sweet pastry stouts.
I'm just talking about... You know, generally adding a little butter flavor to, to any kind of beer can give you this like buttered bread kind of impression, right? Dr. Bill Simpson, the founder of Aroxa, which is the company that makes the flavor spikes people train with to learn sensory analysis. You know, like if you're doing a Cicerone exam, you buy those little Aroxa kits.
I mean, there's other companies that do it too, like Siebel. And you use those to learn like what diacetyl tastes like, what acetaldehyde [00:45:00] tastes like, all these other things, right? Well... He's the founder of rock. So they make these spikes. He's a scientist. He's a complete bad ass. I took a week long sensory course with him that he led in Chicago, just like a month or so ago, and he is definitely a data guy.
This guy's been tracking, you know, he's got his own tasting team. He does this work for a living, right? He's got his own tasting team. He keeps all kinds of data. He also is very familiar with all the, , all the articles, scientific articles out there about this stuff. And he says that according to research, the general public has shown a statistical preference for beers with diacetyl in them as opposed to ones lacking it.
So that's certainly very interesting stuff. Um, I think, uh, you know, it just strikes me as immediately. Kind of true and obvious, right? Like you, you have these expectations. So first of all, like aroma and flavor, these are highly suggestible things, right? Like when you're sitting across from someone and they say, you [00:46:00] know, I get freshly sliced Bosque pear from this Duval, you're drinking the Duval too.
You're, you're, you're almost always going to be like, Oh yeah, I kind of get that. I get, I get that too. Right. I mean, super suggestible. So if you've been told for like years that. , diacetyl is bad, butter flavor is bad, and oh, there's a few styles where like a little bit's acceptable or whatever, but otherwise it's generally just bad, then you're going to always identify it as some kind of mistaken brewing or some kind of quality issue.
It doesn't always have to be, right? It could be a decision the brewer's making purposely. Anyway, if you are interested in sensory science, I highly recommend that you pick up a new book by Advanced Cicerone Maggie, Maggie, Mandy Naglich called How to Taste, A Guide to Discovering Flavor and Savoring Life.
It is a great book. I'm reading it now. I feel like just the first few chapters have been really eye opening in terms of [00:47:00] understanding how we sense, smell, and taste. So, yeah, great book. I recommend you give that podcast a listen. I recommend you pick up... Mandy Naglich's how to taste. They are both linked in the show notes.
All right, next up. This is number six of the six pack the Lithuanian basketball team. They were the bronze medal winners at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona They accepted their medals wearing Grateful Dead tie dye shorts and t shirts That's true. The US dream team that year consisting of you know, all the greatest NBA players Ever, you know, like, you know, Michael Jordan, the whole gang surprisingly won gold that year, Croatia won silver and the Lithuanians defeated their previous.
Colonial masters, the Russians to take third. So [00:48:00] pretty, pretty big deal there. So here's more though. Independent, but broke Lithuania emerged from the fallen heap of the communist empire with no money to support a national basketball team. The 1992 Olympics in Barcelona were looming and players were desperate to make the trip.
. It was then that this Lithuanian guy and the warrior's assistant coach went on a grassroots fundraiser in the Bay area. That's San Francisco area and Oakland. They caught a break when some local sports writer wrote a piece about their plight in the San Francisco Chronicle, that article caught the eyes of.
The Grateful Dead's public relations manager who showed it to the band members and Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir, and the others took immediate sympathy for the cause of the Lithuanian basketball team. They, you know, are all about celebrating freedom. So they cut a big check. To help [00:49:00] the Lithuanian team go to the Olympics in Barth, Barthelona, let's call it Barthelona, cut them a large check so they could go to Barth, Barthelona and had their designer send a box of tie dyed t shirts in red, yellow, and green, the Lithuanian national colors, and on the shirts was an image of a skeleton dunking a basketball.
I think that's just an amazing story from 40 years ago, you know, and somehow, right, Russia still trying to retake their old empire. Making lives miserable for millions. That's not really the note I want to end on, but you know, we mentioned Ukraine and, uh, that story is just an amazing one about the Lithuanian team.
You should check out the show notes and go see, follow the link about this piece and see the picture of this basketball team accepting. They're metal all wearing tie dye. It's amazing.
[00:50:00] Okay, folks, that is season one, episode one of the Beer Scholar six pack pod. If you enjoyed it, please subscribe and give it a thumbs up. Five stars, a positive glowing review, whatever. It's only gonna get better from here, right? This is the first episode. My vision for the six pack is to find a co host to bounce these headlines back and forth with.
Someone who will add a little dynamism to the conversation. And who can help me find cool content to discuss every week. Uh, I would, you know, love to keep doing these like, uh, fairly quick breakdowns of classic beer styles every week. It's one of the six items covered. You know, having and discussing beers together, learning new sensory language to describe aroma and flavor.
These seem like topics everybody is into. Um, I also want to do an office hour segment as one of the six items I discuss every week. So, if you have a question for me about pretty much anything, please fire up your phone's [00:51:00] voice recorder. Record your question and then just email that audio file to me at chris.
at thebeerscholar. com and I will play your question on air and then answer it. I think that would be super fun. So yeah, keep the question kind of tight, but use the voice recorder, the voice memo thing on your phone. It's super easy. Alright folks, thanks so much for listening. Your support really means the world to me.
This is the first Beerscholar six pack pod. I'm gonna play you one more whoosh. One more little ad, and then some outro music. Alright, thanks for hanging out, y'all! Hey, Chris here, founder of Beer Scholar. Back in 2014, I released the first ever study material on the market for the Certified Cicerone exams because I had been in your shoes.
I was looking at that skimpy [00:52:00] syllabus, and I was frustrated trying to figure out exactly what to study and what depth of knowledge I needed to know everything to. And also, just what's even on this test? What does it look like? So, after muddling my way through and passing the exam, I wanted to make sure that you didn't have to struggle like I did.
Within a year of releasing my first study material for the Certified Cicerone exam, the pass rate jumped by nearly 20%. And yet, the pass rate for the Certified Cicerone exam is lower. Then the pass rate of the bar exam. For lawyers in every state in the US there is a simple reason everyone who takes the bar exam and enrolls in a prep course beforehand.
My prep courses for the Cicerone exams are so effective that I offer every student in my certified and advanced courses a. Become a certified or advanced cone or your money back guarantee. That may sound a little crazy, but that's how confident I am that I can help you easily crush your exam. Whether you wanna learn all about beer because you're passionate [00:53:00] about it, or you just want to add rocket fuel to your beer career, beer scholar can help you achieve your goals.
Go to the beer scholar.com and get enrolled today.