Beer podcast episode 2

There's nothing like a cold beer. In this episode we talk about:

01:20 — What I am drinking

05:20 — Beware of the last bottle of beer

06:50 — SABMiller in Africa

09:10 — The nanny state goes wild

11:41 — Sydney beer festival

14:54 — Barley and malting

14:54 — Your questions answered

Welcome to another edition of Ask The Beer Guy. This is your host Jon Griffin, “The Beer Drinking Professor.”

Welcome to Episode Number Two of the Ask the Beer Guy podcast. I’m your humble host, Professor Jon Griffin, The Beer Guy. I teach at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, the Beers Class. I welcome you if it’s your first time and if it’s your second time, I hope you enjoy this just as well.

What we're going to talk about this week is the usual. I’m going to discuss some news. I have a couple of funny articles, a couple of serious articles. I talk about barley in the “geek” session, so you can understand how barley and malting affect your beer. I talk about what I’ve been drinking, and I'll give you a hint. It has a Las Vegas connection and it relates to Uinta Brewing Company. That’s your quiz of the day - find out what in Las Vegas in the beer world relates to Uinta brewing? If you already know the answer and you don’t have to look it up, you're cheating. If you don’t, please look up Uinta, and you can also look up Tenaya Creek Brewery.

What I am drinking

As usual, we’ll talk about the obligatory what I’m drinking as I recorded this podcast, because as you know, this is education. I’m not just drinking for recreation here. I am trying to inform the masses about the glories of beer. Anyways, today I decided to pick up the Seasonal Pack from Uinta Brewing, which is based out of Salt Lake City. It actually has a Las Vegas connection, and I’ll let you figure that out. If you want to do a little trivia, find out who in Las Vegas used to be a brewer at Uinta.

Anyways, I’m drinking the Wyld, and that is one of the organic series. I have to be honest with you. Most of the time I’m not a big fan of organic beers. Don’t ask me why, they tend to have a more watery mouth feel, and that is just not as good. I don’t know why that is, but the Uinta folks seemed to have taken this to a new level. This was part of a pack that’s for sale right now. They have a Pale Ale, a Summer Ale and their Black Lager. Right now I’m drinking Wyld, which is the extra pale ale. Certified organic, everything about Uinta. It’s a great brewery. They’re completely green. You should read about them. Go to, I believe that’s their website.

Let’s talk a little about this beer. It’s kind of a cross to me between a British-style pale ale and an American-style pale ale. It’s got a lot of citrusy hop, especially in the aroma, and a little bit in the flavor. I get a lot of grapefruit. I’m not sure what hops they're using. I’m assuming they're Cascade or one of the new hybrids based on that. It’s still got enough malt in it that it reminds me a little bit of a British pale. It’s definitely more on the American side hop-wise, but definitely has some British roots to it.

I noticed that a lot of people that are reviewing this beer talk about it, saying it fades to a malty finish. To me, it does not. To me it’s pretty much balanced to the hop side for a good reason. It’s not over-hopped, but it’s got the malt backbone, like I say, to hold it up, but it definitely finishes with a dry hoppiness, as opposed to a dry, yeasty fermentation.

If you know about that, you’ll know what I’m talking about. If not, you need to drink a lot of beer and you’ll start to notice the difference. There’s German dry, like German lagers which are basically fermented out, very little sugar left in it, and that’s from the yeast that they use. This is more of a herbal dry from the dry hopping. Dry hopping, if you’re not sure what that means, it basically is after the beer is fermented, they’ll transfer into another serving … another vessel, anyway, and they'll put hops inside it so it’s not fermenting with the hops. You basically get mostly the aroma out of it, although there’s some studies now that are showing you do get a little bit of bitterness in flavor. The main reason for dry hopping is to get that huge hop aroma. In this case, it’s definitely citrusy with a little bit of pine on it.

As far as this beer, I’d definitely … American pale ales, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is probably my favorite. It’s actually one of my desert island beers, which I’m going to get to next week. We’ll talk about my desert island beers. Just as a preview, that’s number three on my top three desert island beers, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. I honestly would say that if there wasn't any Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Wyld would be up there. It’s definitely a nice beer in the 40s out of 50. Not many flaws that I can taste, and every beer pretty much has some kind of flaw. I won’t go into what I taste here. It’s a great beer. I highly recommend it. That’s about it for as far as what I’m drinking today. If you have any comments, please let me know if you like or don’t like this beer.

Don't drink the last beer!

On to the strange news and beer news. We'll start with the strange and funny first.

I can across an article in the New York Daily News about a Tennessee father who stabbed his son twice over a beer. Not just any beer, the last beer. Can you imagine? You're drinking with your friends or your parents, or whatever. There’s one beer left, and you decide to start fighting for it. In the end, both of them go to jail. Only in Tennessee, probably only in the U.S. would something like this happen. Well, not really, I’m sure it happens all over the world. There are morons everywhere.

What happened was this guy named Timothy Crabtree and his son, Brandon, they got into a fight. They were drinking all night. There was one beer left, and his son decided to start tackling him and wrestling with him to see who gets the last beer. The father said that the only way he could get his son off of him was to grab the kitchen knife that was on the table and he stabbed him in his leg twice. Then when his son realized he got stabbed, he had his brother drive him to the hospital.

Both the guys had scratches on their face. The father was charged with aggravated domestic assault, which is a felony, and his son was charged with misdemeanor domestic assault. That goes to show you. If you're going to drink all night, make sure you have more beer than you can possibly drink. They were both free on bond, so don't worry. They're probably out drinking until their arraignment dates.

SABMiller in Africa

If you listened last week, you know I had a little bit about SABMiller and their African brewing operations. Here's a story about SABMiller doubling their African beer operations.

They decided to expand its African beer brand, Chibuku, into 10 different countries across the African continent. That’s an opaque beer based on a traditional African recipe that used maize, or corn as we would call it, and/or sorghum depending on local taste. The interesting thing about this is the way Chibuku is made.

It’s sold in one liter cartons. It’s a low alcohol beer, but it ferments in the package. The alcohol strength really depends. It’s a 0.5 percent ABV on day one, up to 4 percent on day five. The shelf life on it’s really short. It’s got to be brewed and consumed locally so it will never be exported, at least in the form that it’s presently at.

The one nice thing about this is they’re investing $16 million, or they did invest $16 million over the last 18 months, and it’s created 1,500 jobs indirectly between the supply and the distribution.

You know, "Big Beer", we often complain about it. We say that they're crummy, they’re bad for business, but in reality they do create a lot of jobs. They, in some cases, are somewhat innovative in some of the products that they can sell, even if they're not making a ton of money on them because they've got other products that will actually pay for those.

If I'm ever in Africa I guess I’ll try one out. Because of its short shelf life, SABMiller decided to actually create a variant, a new variety of this beer that’s a 3.5 percent alcohol by volume. It’s sold in PET packaging, or plastic bottles. It’s lightly carbonated, but it’s pasteurized. That means it’s actually shelf stable, which means it can be distributed more than just locally, and it’s also filtered. It’s closer to a clear beer. It has been brewed locally on a small commercial basis in Zambia for the past year. They've just commissioned a larger plant, which is also going to mean more jobs. If you happen to be in Africa, or are going to Africa and you try one out, let me know what you think about it.

The nanny state goes wild

Okay, let’s go on to the nanny state has gone wild. There’s a new recall for beer tap handles. Who would have ever thought a beer tap handle would be recalled, other than if you live in California, New York or any of the other nanny states where you can’t buy a large drink, and you can’t smoke anywhere even in private. Even though I don’t smoke, I don’t believe in that. Next they're going to say you can’t even drink in the privacy of your own home. Who knows, but anyways, there’s a ceramic beer tap handle recall.

They say it can break during normal use, and it poses a laceration hazard to consumers. Okay, so you crank on that thing and you pull down on it so hard, the thing breaks in half. Okay, I’ve never seen a ceramic beer tap handle that broke. Maybe it’s possible, I don't know. It sounds like more nanny state BS to me, and I confirmed that because the details say that there’s 24,000 units out there. They're made by Tap Handles, Inc. and Made in China’s engraved on it, in case you happen to have one. The thing that makes me wonder about the nanny state, incidents and injuries are none.

In other words, there’s never been a reported case of one breaking. There’s never been a report of an injury, but in their infinite wisdom there is now a recall, so some poor sap has to send their handle back because the inspector’s going to walk in and tell them you are no longer allowed to have that, and then deal with all that BS. Anyways, I'll give you the specifics on it, in case you happen to be one of those that doesn’t know how to use a tap handle and just cranks on the thing till it breaks. You need to go to, and get some more information. By the way, they were never sold to the public. They were only sold to breweries, so the chances of you having one, unless you're a brewer at a brewery, are pretty slim. They were sold from November 2002 until May of 2006.

If you happen to think your ceramic handle’s in one of those, it’s illegal to sell it, and it’s probably illegal to buy it. Do yourself a favor and get a new one. It kind of reminds me of How Rogue brewing had to get rid of some of their glassware, because it had an American flag on it. Some idiot decided that they had to turn them in because, oh my God, there’s an American flag that’s being used for commercial purposes. What about all those lapel pins the senators wear? For me, that’s the government idiocy of the week news.

Sydney beer festival

For all my Australian friends, and those of you that are going to be in Australia for some reason in the next week or so, Sydney Craft Beer Week is coming. I've been to Sydney, back in 1988, and believe me, the beer scene’s a lot better now than it was when I was there. We had Toohey's, 4X, Fosters, Victoria Bitters, or VB, and some other stuff. There was not much of a beer scene, just like in most of the world there wasn’t. Now that’s all changed, and the Director, Joel Connolly said, “Beer, itself, is a lot more interesting than people give it credit for.” I have to agree 100%.

For all you wine drinkers, well I’m sorry to say, beer’s much more complex and pairs with food a lot better. I still have an ongoing bet with students in my class to find a food that you can’t pair a beer with that you can pair a wine with. I can certainly find some foods that don't go well with wine and certainly do go well with beer. One episode we'll get into that. There’s my controversy for the day.

Anyways, if you happen to be in Sydney from the 20th to the 28th, make sure you check out the Sydney Beer Craft Week that’s going on. I'll l give you a little info on it as well. There’s a lot of free events, but there’s some top picks, like Food Flight. It’s $104.00 U.S., but you get eight beers with five courses of food. That’s on October 24th.

There’s a beer, cheese and chocolate event where local chocolatiers … that’s some nice local chocolate ... the dark chocolate cup filled with barrel aged bourbon stout. Try filling a nice chocolate cup with wine. I guess it would work with Port, but believe me a barrel-aged bourbon stout’s going to be a lot better. Once the beer’s done you can eat the cup. That’s $82.00 U.S.

For the ladies, since they like what we call “chick beers,” the technical term in the brewing world, there’s Barley’s Angels, that’s a life drawing class and craft beer class hosted by the Beer Diva. There’s craft beer and nude dudes. That ought to be interesting, not for me personally, but for you ladies that want to check it out. I'm sure that that’s going to be very interesting.

There’s also the Hair of The Dog Beer Breakfast that will be at 10:00 a.m. on October 20th, hosted by a troop of beer jesters, called the Beermen TV. That’s at the Union, wherever that is. They’ll also have one of New Zealand’s best, and actually one of the world’s best brewers, Luke Nicholas from, Epic Brewing, he’s going to be there. He'll be at a few events, but the Epic Ale Stars, for $42.00 is going to be on October 24th.

The Murray’s Hoptoberfest Dinner is the selection of the event coordinator for the best thing to go to. There'll be favorite Australian breweries and their beers, and it’s always amazing, on October 25th, $92.00.

Hopefully somebody can go there and let me know what it’s like. If you have a lot of money and want to fly me down there, I’ll be happy to be your beer companion for a week and tell you everything you need to know about beer, and probably things you don't want to know.

Barley and malting

We'll talk about the ingredient barley, now. Barley’s very important to most modern beers, because barley has enzymes and some other special characteristics that other grains don’t have. If you remember last week, we talked about the four ingredients in most modern beer. That was hops, yeast, water and barley. Of course, you can have wheat beers and rye beers and rice added, but those are usually adjuncts. Barely is needed to convert the complex sugars into simple sugars.

But before barley can really be used, and there’s a lot of different varieties - that’s not that important unless you want to really become a beer “geek” - before they can be converted into the sugar that the yeast eat they have to go through a process called malting. Without the malting process the yeast would not be able to ferment the beverage easily. Probably bacteria would take over because the yeast is trying too hard to eat these complex sugars, and the fermentation would be probably pretty bad, maybe undrinkable.

Malting, essentially imitates nature by activating enzymes, which degrade the protein and starch. In a simple form, the way malting begins is barley’s brought in from the farmer to a malt house. Then the barley kernels, also called barley corns in Europe, are soaked or steeped in cold water that’s less than 55 degrees Fahrenheit. A few things determine how long the barley is steeped, but generally the process is done in two or three days. What the steeping does is it softens the kernel and prepares the barley for germination.

Another use for steeping, it also dissolves any water soluble substances which lead to off flavors, maybe fertilizer or just dust and all those other things. The germination then takes place over three or four days. It’s finally stopped when the acrospire, that looks like a rootlet … just exiting the seed head. This is called 100% converted malt. It’s important for full enzyme reactions to have occurred. The enzymes are what release the complex carbohydrates, or allow those to be degraded along with the proteins.

Historically, all malt was not fully converted, so other brewing techniques were needed. That’s called mashing and there’s different styles of mashing. Pretty much all modern malt is 100% converted, which means you don't have to do these other steps and the brewing process is a lot shorter. Once the barley’s fully converted the germination process is artificially stopped by applying heat to it. This is called kilning.

Kilning is very important for the formation of different malt characters. Without kilning malt would all have basically the same basic characteristics of aroma and flavor. If you know about Maillard’s reaction and how toast … that’s a good example, toast. Plain bread tastes one way, but once you toast it the sugars have a reaction and that creates a different flavor profile.

It’s the same thing with kilning. By doing different times and different temperatures we get different flavor profiles, anywhere from the dark chocolaty or coffee malts to the milder brown malts that are more caramelly flavored or the biscuity flavored malts and even the other malts that are less and less sweet but they have other characteristics like toast - depending on if it’s lightly toasted or dark toast - that’s an easy way to recognize that.

We basically talk about two types of malt in the brewing world, base malts and specialty malts. Your base malts can be 100% of the beer. It would be like a lighter malt, usually, Pilsner malt, Pale Ale malt. You might even have some, Vienna or Munich malts, which are used in Munich lagers or Vienna lagers. Generally, they're very light colored malts. They might have a little bit of brown color to them.

The specialty malts, on the other hand can have just a very tiny bit, up to maybe 10-15% at the high end, 20%. Those are what give the characters of sweetness, chocolate, coffee, like I talked about. That’s the main thing you need to know about malt. I have more articles on that gets into more detail if you’re interested in learning the different characteristics. Hopefully that answers some questions about what malt does in the beer.

Your questions answered

A final little piece that I’m going to start adding, is some questions that people have sent me. Today we've got two questions that I’m going to answer. I actually have five, but in case nobody sends me any, I’m going to just do two right now! These questions were sent and the first one asks about “What is krausening?”

The answer to that is basically krausen is the active, the very active part of the fermentation. In Germany, traditional German brewing you never added CO2. It wasn’t allowed to add anything that wasn't in the Reinheitsgebot and that was the natural part of the beer.

They would take the beer, that was in what was called high krausening, and that’s the foamy white stuff that appears at the top. They'd save some of that beer and put it in a separate receptacle to actual carbonate the beer at a later time.

Krausen is just the fermentation, the part that you can see, which is usually the white or the white with brown that almost looks like the whipped cream on top of a meringue. That’s all krausening is. Krausening in German terms is using highly active fermented beer to add carbonation to your beer that’s already done. They would brew enough batches that it would actually be a cycle where you would take the krausen from the current brewing beer and add it to the beer that was ready to be put in a bottle or a keg, or whatever.

The second question is, “In terms of color, is there a unit used to measure and distinguish the many variations of colors and beers?” The answer is yes.

There’s actually a couple of scales. EBC is the European Brewing Convention, the European version of color, and SRM is the American version. The scale that most brewers talk about is called Lovibond. That’s a scale that goes from white, which is zero up to, I believe it’s 1,000, and that’s pitch black, so anywhere in the scale in between. There are some examples of lovibond on some websites. I’ll put a link to that in this webcast as well as if I can find something I can actually add onto mine, I’ll add it. That’s the main scale. You’ll see two different things, lovibond and SRM.

Although they can’t really be used interchangeably, they kind of are in a lot of ways. Lovibond is usually used for the malt color, so you’ll see degrees L, which is the color. SRM, or EBC is the color of the final beer. Just look at the resources if you're on, and you’ll find all the links to this podcast there. If you’re listening on iTunes make sure you go to, look up Episode Two in Podcasts, and I’ll have the links for all the resources including the news.

Thank you for listening to this episode, and have a good week.

Show notes

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