The BJCP

I can’t believe it wasn’t until just the other day that I’d heard of the BJCP – the Beer Judge Certification Program. The Beer Judge Certification Program states their purpose very clearly on their site: ” The purpose of the Beer Judge Certification Program is to promote beer literacy and the appreciation of real beer, and to recognize beer tasting and evaluation skills. Founded in 1985, we certify and rank beer judges through an examination and monitoring process.”
While I’m not quite ready to become a certified beer judge, I do find their site incredibly informative and helpful! They have a great style-guide that explains what one should look for in aroma, flavor, appearance, everything! Make sure you check out their site. Maybe you’ll be a judge someday yourself!

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UFO Solved

Well, I just solved a lot of my mysteries. When I went and checked out Beer Advocate’s entry about Harpoon’s UFO, I realized that it’s technically an American Pale Wheat Ale, not your standard German Hefeweizen, despite its name. Beer Advocate notes that in the American Pale Wheat Ale, “German Weizen flavors and aromas of banana esters and clove-like phenols will not be found.” Doh! well, therein lies the mystery. I was looking for those spice and fruits. What would we do with out you Beer Advocate?

A Classic Breakfast Beer

oatmeal1.jpgBeer for breakfast? Eh, well, it is St. Patrick’s day after all. Well, today’s choice, Goose Island Oatmeal Stout, is a beer I’d have for breakfast any day. Before we delve into this beer, a little about the oatmeal stout –

Oatmeal stout is a beer brewed with a small amount of oats added during the brewing process. Today’s examples don’t use much (usually less than 5%), but many centuries ago, beers were brewed with a lot of oats. This resulted in a pretty bitter stout. So much so that the style died out in the early 20th century. Despite dying out, according to Wikipedia, it was a Charles Finkel who found interest in the style when reading about it in Michael Jackson’s 1977 book The World Guide To Beer. Apparently, Mr. Finkel commissioned Samuel Smith to revive the style. Since then, many breweries have revived the oatmeal stout style.
Today’s Oatmeal Stouts are medium to full body stouts that are incredibly smooth and slighty sweet. This Goose Island Oatmeal Stout is a great example.

Appearance – This beer pours really dark. While I saw many other reviews where tasters saw little to no head, I found that mine poured with a nice big, fluffy one inch head that was a light caramely brown.
Aroma – A lot of fragrance for a stout. I’m catching the heavy smell of sweet oats, grain, or straw. Even a slight roasted peanut kind of smell. A mild scent of coffee and chocolate also lingers. I detect a very faint grassy scent of hops, as well as a barely-there earthy smell, possibly from the yeast.
Flavor: Very slightly bitter up front. I taste that kind of bitter coffee taste up front. More like a sweet espresso taste. But mostly this beer tastes like smooth toasted oats. Almost like when you brown oatmeal in the bottom of the pot. Yum!
Mouthfeel – This is a medium to full body beer that’s nice and smooth. I hesitate to say creamy, because while it was smooth, I didn’t find it overwhelmingly filling. I barely sense the carbonation, but there’s that light astringent finish to it that characterizes many stouts.
Overall, I applaud Goose Island for this great beer. Their oatmeal stout is flavorful, easy to drink, and not too filling or sweet.

The Facts:
ABV: 5%
ABW: 4%
IBUs: 30
SRM: 80

The IPA

Before tasting lots of IPAs let’s get to the bottom of exactly what an IPA is. The India Pale Ale is simply a standard Pale Ale with a higher hop and alcoholipajourney.jpg content, thus higher hop flavor and aroma. It all goes back to England in the early 1700s and a good friend of mine, George Hodgson of the Bow Brewery.
You see, many of the British had gotten quite comfy in India once the British East India Company established itself in the early 1700’s, but one thing was missing. Beer of course! These British-at-heart were craving a natural thing that any man craves. The only problem was, by the time ships brought beer from England, all the way around Africa and the Cape of Good Hope and back up to India, time and temperature had spoiled this sensitive beverage.
Eventually, George Hodgson thought to increase the amount of hops and alcohol in a pale ale. In doing so, the he did 2 things:
1 – The alcohol protected the beer from becoming overcome by unsavory microbes.
2 – The hops prevented the growth of bacteria that soured the beer.
He also found that higher carbonation levels and high attenuation (the addition of sugar during the boil and at casking) helped to preserve the flavor over the long voyage. Eventually when other brewers began to copy Hodgson’s formula, they began to use high-sulfate water as well, which gave the beer a clearer, crisper taste. As we all know, Gerge hit a slam dunk with this formula. Finally, our beer-loving brethren in India could enjoy a nice cold one.
The IPA was king in India for decades, as the first brewery in Asia didn’t start rolling out barrels until the 1820’s, and the style somewhat faded from history. Thanks be to the beer gods that Microbrewers today have come to appreciate all of the amazing flavors that those hops contributed. Nowadays, the IPA is a well-loved style. While somewhat changed from the original style used in the 1700’s because of aging and tastes, the most common American IPA is created with even more bitter flavor to exaggerate the taste. Hey we love to exaggerate here in the US of A!

Get Your BS at BS!

jumbotassels1.jpgOK, put on your thinkin’ cap. Welcome to BS! This —> could be you. Getting your BS at BSU (Beer School University). Look at how proud and distinguished you’ll look, your brain just BURSTING with beer-related knowledge. Yeah… I feel the tingling too…
You see… I’ve officially declared next week IPA week. In order to kick this off, not only are we going to compare and contrast and review a lot of different India Pale Ales, but we’re going to find out what the IPA is, how it came about, and all kinds of good stuff. So check in next week. I promise it won’t be a snooze!