Pint O’ Guinness

Ireland has a special place in my heart. I lived there for half a year and travelled back many more times after that. Therefore I decided that I’ll dedicated the next two blog posts about Irish beers. This week’s post will be about stouts with Guinness in the spotlight and next week’s will be about the real ales. If you’re in for a laugh, make sure to check the video at the end of this post as Conan O’Brien describes how every tourist feels in the brewery.

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St. James’s Gate Brewery

One of the first things that I did as tourist back then was to visit the Guinness brewery at the St. James Gate. I received the standard tour with a history lesson and some information about the basics of brewing. After being forced to make my way through the souvenir shop I finally reached the only destination I cared for when I set foot in that building and that was to pour my own pint of Guinness. I even received a certificate for pouring it perfectly (just like every other tourist that ever set foot in the brewery).

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Pint of Guinness settling

As I was about to take the so beloved first sip of my pint I noticed how the chocolate milk colour slowly settled, revealing the famous dark and rich colour of the stout.
To be honest, the first sip wasn’t all that great. I was let down by it, but I had never drank a stout before so I just blamed it on that. It took me nearly half a pint to finally be able to pinpoint the flavours and to appreciate the taste of a Guinness. Now I don’t have that problem any more, as I enjoy every single sip of a well poured Guinness.

A little fun fact about Guinness is that the lease for the beer, back in 1759, was signed by Arthur Guinness for a total of 9000 years. We won’t be running out of Guinness anytime soon.

The science behind the famous stout.

In a previous post I talked about the basic components of beer. All beers use the same basic ingredients but there is a lot of variation in those. Different types of malt, yeast, hops and even different sources of water. It all determines the flavour of the beer.

If you hold a pint of Guinness the first thing that catches your eyes is the dark brown/black colour. This is the effect of the used malt as every beer consists of a ratio of pale and dark/roasted malt. While a normal lager will only use a small amount of dark malt, Guinness and other stouts tend to use quite a bit more.

The second eye catcher is that the beer is still. In most other beers you can enjoy the whirlwinds of carbon dioxide making its way through the beer all the way to the head. With a stout you can stare as long as you want, you won’t see that effect. That’s because other type of beers are poured with CO2 on tap hence why they’re carbonated drinks. A stout however is poured with a mixture of CO2 gas and nitrogen making it an almost still drink. The stout obtains its thick and creamy properties because of this making it quite a heavy pint. That’s why it’s often called a meal in a glass.

Last but not least is the collar. With a normal beer the collar will start fading rather quickly because of the effect of oxygen in the air on the proteins holding the foam together. The typical thing about a Guinness is that the collar will stay until your glass is empty due to the composition of the proteins. The only thing that will happen if you keep your beer untouched for too long is that the collar will get a grimy-yellow colour and become stale. Though that’s a rare sight as it’s more than likely that someone will steal your pint to evade it from going stale. Wasting a Guinness is considered uncivilized.

For more information about Guinness you can visit the official site: https://www.guinness.com
If you want to learn how to pour a perfect pint of Guinness then check this video to learn the how-to from a master brewer himself.

I hope you learned something new about the famous Irish stout today. As the Irish would say, ‘Sláinte’, meaning cheers in Gaelic.

~Blanckey The Brewer

 

 

 

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A 4 billion dollar shandy

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Shandy is a beverage consisting of beer mixed with a soft drink. Whether it’s coke, sprite, fanta or something else that’s up to your personal preference. For a true beer lover this might seem like blasphemy but it isn’t all that bad. It’s a growing market as it is quite refreshing during the summer and it has a sweeter flavour; perfect for people who aren’t too fond of beer. Examples that became quite popular over the last few years in Belgium are Hoegaarden- or Maes Radler. But as the French say “des goûts et des couleurs, on ne discute pas” meaning that we can’t argue about taste and colours.

It’s only been a few weeks since beer giant AB InBev bought SAB Miller and speculations about the interests in soft drink magnate Coca-Cola already came to light. It won’t be for anytime soon as they’re still processing and refining their previous purchase but stock-market analysts expect an offer in 2020.
Even though these are all conjectures Coca-Cola is already breaking bonds with AB InBev.

With their purchase the Belgian-Brazilian beer brewer also got SAB Millers 57% share of the rights in the South-African control of the Coca-Cola production. This is the bottling process and shipment of Coca-Cola to 14 different countries in Africa and it makes a turnover of 2.6 billion euros.
What SAB Miller originally did for Coca-Cola in regards to bottling is what AB InBev does for PepsiCo in South-America and that’s where the shoe pinches. PepsiCo is Coca-Cola’s biggest concurrent and wants to avoid at all cost that one of their partners also works for the concurrent, which is quite understandable.ab-inbev-pepsi-coke_0

Coca-Cola, as the owner, has the right to buy out SAB Millers majority stake in the venture due to the change in ownership. It doesn’t happen often but this time Coca-Cola didn’t hesitate to do so with AB InBev coming into to the picture and that for a price of 4 billion dollars.

As AB InBev owns almost 30% of the world’s beer market there’s not much room for further consolidation. Which is why the speculations of the interest in the soft drink market isn’t that preposterous. Though they’ll have to brew a few more pints to get rid of their debt after the 95 billion dollar purchase.

Now for us this all is unimportant news as it has no immediate impact on our daily life. While they talk about billions I’ll just be saving up a few quid to get myself a few well deserved pints during the weekend.

See you next time, cheers!
~Blanckey The Brewer

Beer: A beautiful artistic symphony

As the week comes to its end and Monday, unfortunately, is luring around the corner a new blog post is being written just for you, to brighten up your final hours of the weekend. So sit back, relax, pour yourself a nice beer and enjoy this post about the beauty of beer, its components and the science involved.

The basics

Beer has four main components being water, malt, yeast and hops. These components have been used for centuries. The texture and flavour of the beer is mainly determined by the type of these components as each of them has a certain humidity, flavour, scent,… depending on where it’s been cultivated and under what circumstances. Of course, if you’d only use these components all beers would basically be the same. Over the past decades brewers have been adding other components such as cinnamon  or rosemary. These led to a whole new spectrum of beer flavours which we now label as ‘craft beers’. Thanks to the courage and determined brewers we can enjoy a total of 32,000 beers worldwide. I still got a long way to go to try them all.

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Malt

The malt determines the colour of the beer and undergoes a series of processes before it can be used in the beer. It has to soak, germinate and finally kilning, which is the process where it’s being dried in an oven at high temperatures. The higher the temperature the darker the malt and thus the darker the colour of the beer will be. The colour is checked on an EBC scale ( European Brewery Convention) which goes from as low as 4, like a pilsner, up to 80 equal to the colour of an imperial stout.

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Fresh hops

Hops not only create the flavour and aromas in the beer but also contribute to the stability of the foam layer and the transparency. Hops straight from the field contain approximately 80% moisture which is reduced by drying to 10%.

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Yeast

 

 

The final component, yeast, is what makes us drunk on nights out. During the fermentation process the yeast converts sugars to alcohol and carbon dioxide (the gas that makes drinks fizzy).

Crafting beer is not just a matter of throwing these ingredients together and letting it ferment. To craft a delicious beer we all enjoy takes time, precision and craftsmanship.

A little fun fact

Back in the early 19th century beer was even used as a healthy beverage. Back then people had no idea about micro-organisms such as bacteria that contaminated their drink water. During the process of brewing beer you boil the substance and thus killing off all the micro-organisms. Because of this people didn’t get sick. Even though that was ages ago they weren’t wrong. Beer is a very healthy product sometimes containing 50% of necessary proteins. Though because of the alcohol involved it can’t be labelled as a healthy product. That’s one of the reasons breweries are producing non-alcoholic beer as it can be advertised as a healthy product.

The beauty of beer

I’ve found a couple of informative videos on the web about the different kinds of beer and the whole brewing process. For anyone who is interested I’ll leave the links down below. However one video caught my attention because of its poetical view on beer. The person in question is Professor Charlie “The Pope of Foam” Bamforth from the university of California who teaches the science of malting and brewing. He talks about the beauty of brewing. How beer is much more than an alcoholic beverage that you drink to get drunk.

Hereby I will conclude this post for today as I take my last sip of a Grimbergen.
For the readers who are interested, here’s a link to a video by professor Karl Siebert about how we taste beer with all our senses: Science of beer – Cornell University

If you’d like to know more about the brewing process itself then here’s a video by the same man as in the first video, Charlie Bamforth: The Art and Science of Beer – University of California.

Cheers, see you next week!
~Blanckey The Brewer

28th of September: a day to remember

As an industrial engineer in the making the technology of brewing is one of the main attractions of my masters. On top of that I’m a beer lover, whether it’s a stout, an ale or just a normal lager I’ll definitely enjoy every sip.
As of this I will dedicate this blog to the craftsmanship of beer. So don’t worry, whether you’re a foreigner who stumbled upon my blog or you have the Belgian blood running through your veins, everyone can appreciate a good (Belgian) beer.

What’s better to kick-start my first post than with some fresh news facts. Belgians pride and joy AB InBev, the world’s largest brewery, has gotten green light to take over the world’s second largest brewery, SABMiller.

Almost 98% of the shareholders of SABMiller have given permission for the takeover with a price of 91.5 billion euros. Imagine all the beer you could buy with that money.
To ensure that AB InBev doesn’t become a monopoly on the beer market they agreed to sell a couple of beer brands as it already has 6 of the 10 most bought global beers.
With this takeover AB InBev will sell over 30% of the worlds beer volume and will also gain a big advantage in Africa which is seen as a key market for growth. After this takeover  Heineken will be the second biggest beer company with around 9.5% of the world’s beer production.

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World’s top 10 beer producers by volume, in billions of liters. Source: The Wall Street Journal

AB InBev is known for its variety of beers both on global and local scale. A few global brands that you’ll definitely know are Stella Artois, Budweiser and Corona. Some of the more localized yet still international brands are Beck’s, Hoegaarden and Leffe. As for local beers, well I don’t really need to specify this as every student in Belgium will know the beer Jupiler. It’s your best friend on a Thursday night and your worst nightmare the morning after as you lay hungover on your bed (or the floor).

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World’s most popular beer brand in every country. Scource: Vinepair

After all this writing and economics related news I will treat myself to a nice, cold beer.
Be sure to stick around for further updates as this blog will get a lot more scientific (and thus interesting).

Cheers!
~Blanckey The Brewer