Sunday 18 July 2010

When it all goes wrong.

Some time ago I read a couple of posts by Zak Avery regarding beers that are distributed by brewers despite them not being up to scratch. It has to be a tricky one for any brewer. Beer will vary from batch to batch. The precise flavour profile will be subject to variation. Large breweries making many thousands of barrels of beer a year can reduce this variation by using an arsenal of quality assurance weapons, consistent beer is the result. The smaller brewer's beer is likely to have greater variation due to the combination of consistency being traded for interest and the practical inability to apply all the techniques bigger breweries can employ.

A key activity undertaken by some of the bigger brewers, to avoid destroying beer that is out of specification, is to blend with other gyles. Clearly there is a limit to this, if a beer is so truly awful then no amount of dilution with good beer will save it, except perhaps at homeopathic rates. But still, many of the so called "off" flavours are present in all beers. Phenols, diacetyl, DMS, esters, lactic and acetic acids are probably all present in a well balanced beer. Most of the time they are below detection levels for most palates or counteracted by other compounds to simply augment the overall flavour profile. Of course in some beers these compounds are deliberately accentuated as part of the appeal of that particular beer. It is much easier for a large brewer to keep consistency and balance within limits.

Zak asks why brewers release beers that are not quite right, that fall outside what the drinker considers acceptable. I very nearly commented on his posts, as a brewer, but felt that the reply to this simple question is quite complicated. Much more complicated than I could attempt to answer with a simple blog comment. It doesn't help me in answering the question as the beer Zak cites is unknown to me. I'd love to have tried this particular beer so I could draw my own conclusions. However, I know there are many beers I love that other people just don't like, for whatever reason. Against this background I want to try and answer Zak's question from a brewers perspective.

I think I have distilled my own answer into two basic components. One is to do with the acceptability of the damaging flavour compounds and the other is a very simple financial consideration.

Firstly, the perception of flavour is very much a personal thing. Many people just don't get lambics or gueuze for instance, they would consider such beer more suitable for putting on their chips. Indeed, anyone who believes that a true lambic or wood aged beer does not contain any acetic acid1 is somewhat deluded, acetobacter is everywhere and balanced with other compounds, specifically lactic acid, gives these beers their distinctive flavour. Some people cannot cope with the levels of phenols found in some stouts2, I love them as it so happens. I'm also quite keen on tannins, which although generally considered a bad thing in beer does have some provable benefits when drinking with food and are present in many wines. I know people who adore diacetyl, which is a compound I'm reasonably sensitive to, and find objectionable in higher quantities, and Jeff Pickthall can detect it two blocks away and finds nearly any level unacceptable. It is interesting to me that many traditional British cask beers have levels of diacetyl which make them unpleasant to me.

It is apparent to me, that across the spectrum of beers available in the UK, the opinion of what is good and what is not is open to personal preference. An example of this is that I've been working hard to reduce the levels of tannins extracted from the grain husks during mashing and sparging. Although I'm convinced the effort is resulting in me producing more widely palatable beer there are at least two of my staunchest fans have commented that they are not as happy with the results.

Returning to Zak's question of why brewers release beers that are, in his view, unfit for sale. I think it comes down to a commercial judgement. Even a relatively small batch of beer can represent a significant investment, to simply destroy that beer can represent several weeks worth of bottom line profit to be lost. If, in the brewers view, the product passes his acceptability criterion for palatable beer then it will be released for sale. It might not be perfect beer and indeed I doubt many good brewers regularly brew beer that they don't feel could be improved.

There is the grey area where the beer might well be on the border line between acceptable and unacceptable. Especially in these difficult financial times the need to destroy a gyle of beer might well tip the balance between being able to continue trading or the brewery failing. The long term effect of the good name of the brewery being spoilt becomes academic if the business becomes insolvent.

It becomes more complicated with experimental beers; If a large amount of time and resources are poured into the production of a particular beer and the result is somewhat interesting, to the point that it divides opinion, then perhaps it is not wrong to release a beer for wider consideration and take any criticism as part of product development. The difficulty is knowing if the brewer, and perhaps his immediately available tasters, have called it correctly before release. Additionally there might be problems in knowing how the beer might develop in bottle before it is consumed, an almost impossible task for one off and experimental beers unless sterile chill filtering is employed.

It is important for brewers to receive feedback on their beers. This is even more important for experimental beers and I think Zak's posts and subsequent comments represents a little bit of a stand-off between discerning beer drinkers and craft brewers. It seems that beer drinkers aren't quite sure how to approach brewers and the brewers in turn are perhaps unable to field this feedback to their best advantage. Brewers are, after all, brewers and not communicators. I'm sure there will be a time when I make a beer that attracts negative reviews, indeed there are several beer enthusiasts who regularly give me constructive views for which I am very grateful and all goes into making changes to what I do.

This whole issue has been brought home to me very clearly recently when a bad batch of yeast generated impossible levels of diacetyl in two gyles of beer. Towards the end of fermentation there was a somewhat strange smell. The temperature in the brewery was quite hot at the time and although the fermenting vessels have a good temperature control I convinced myself that the yeast tide mark was drying out, warming and going off in the glorious weather we were having.

During racking I was still very unhappy with the smell of the bulk of the beer. I started to think that something had gone badly wrong. I continued to put the beer into cask, a total of around £1500 worth of beer. I put some into bottle for later considered tasting and quarantined the offending casks. A few days later I cracked open one of the bottles. Condition and clarity were very good, but sadly the butterscotch aroma was way over the top. Flavour wise I find diacetyl most unpleasant in any significant levels, the beer simply got tipped down the drain after the first sip.

This is the very first time I have ever had to consider destroying complete batches of beer, but there really was no option. £1500 of lost revenue is tough to cope with, especially as the brewing industry operates on quite tight margins. The cost of the malt, hops, energy and the notional value of my time has all come out of my cash flow and represents a set back to the engineering improvements that I really need to make to my brew kit. The beer was way out of specification and there was just no option.

On the plus side the mistake has also been quite liberating. There is a sort of self-satisfaction at preventing unacceptable beer being made available for sale. It has also taught me some important lessons for yeast handling and stock control, or rather, I should say re-reminded me.

I hope this post goes someway towards explaining the difficult decisions facing the smaller brewer when trying to get his product both profitably produced and to a standard that will protect the good name of his business. I'm not trying to make excuses, although there are many opinions as to what makes good beer and at this end of the industry I think many brewers find it difficult to sort out the many often contradictory comments. This can result in a head in the sand approach. When does balance become bland and when do extreme flavours become off flavours?

There is no doubt in my mind that the brewers that can engage in active communication in this way can look forward to improving their beers. We cannot afford to have official tasting panels, although my own small band of enthusiastic volunteer tasters are invaluable. After that I depend on feedback from further afield. It's a pleasure to hear positive comments. Equally I enjoy the nicely and tactfully put constructive points for improvement. Often I even find myself agreeing, no really, I do agree with people sometimes.

1Check out this link on acids in wine. It seems that wine buffs understand the process of fermentation a bit better than beer buffs. OK, it is true that grape juice contains significant acids not found in grain, but even so the PH of correctly brewed beer is surprisingly low.

Further indications of the acceptability of acetic acid is the fact that peracetic acid is used by many good brewers as a "terminal sterilant" as it requires no rinsing, at levels just above detection I've known experienced beer tasters to confuse this with a "Belgie" characteristic.

2I am finding the subject of the generation of such compounds intensely interesting. I originally thought that phenols were completely generated by the fermentation process. Looking at this article it would seem that they might well originate in the grain, which explains why stouts and other drinks with heavy use of darker grist are naturally more prone to having this compound in them. However, I have from time to time found it in lighter beers where in my view it doesn't belong.

It is interesting that wine making features more in the description of these flavour compounds on Wikipeadia than brewing. Further evidence that more understanding of how we can tame these various compounds is required in craft brewing. I'm trying to increase my understanding and will never profess to be an expert.


Whorst said...

I've never heard of Nottingham being a producer of diacetyl. Safale-04 will produce diacetyl, but will clean up after itself with a few days on the yeast after terminal gravity is reached. One thing to look at is how many generations are you brewing with any particular strain? As cheap as dry yeast is, I don't think I'd go more than 2, maybe 3 generations on the same yeast. It would also be beneficial to incorporate an acid wash if you're going to use it further.

Unknown said...

Montague, well I would agree that normally it doesn't leave any trace whatsoever. However, this was particularly old, past it's best before date with the added difficulty of it being stored badly. Trust me, it really did produce diacetyl, by the bucket load.

Consideration of the yeast is rapidly moving up the priority list, pitching on, acid wash, cell counts and viability using the microscope are all being actively developed with us.

Sid Boggle said...

You make some interesting points here David. This issue about communication is live in US craft brewing, where my feeling is that, by and large, brewers make more effort to reach out to and listen to their consumers. Growing that kind of dialogue here is in infancy, but it could have a great deal of benefit.

The other thing is this matter of risk appetite. As you note, regional brewers have developed methods which increase the likelihood of consistent gyles. Smaller-scale brewers have to live on the prongs of a risk matrix that sets quality control against reputational risk. I wonder if somebody like the Brewers Association has done any work on this?

Stonch said...

Dave, haven't read your blog for a few months - I see it's all changed! Hope you're well and that I'll see you next time you're in London.

Haven't got time to read your whole article but will comment anyway! As a publican I do find the inability of some micros to produce anything approaching a consistent product disappointing. Worse still is the attitude I've come across when I've called to make them aware of the issue (surely the right thing to do if you're sending back multiple firkins as ullage). It's always the distributor's fault it seems, and never the brewer's. Your point about bigger breweries being able to blend with other gyles to smooth out defects is interesting though - I can understand why that's impossible for smaller micros.

Alistair Reece said...

Just a possible solution, though not sure of the legality of it. Take said bad batch, distill it and see what happens. Alternatively get it turned into malt vinegar to sell to the local chippies!!!

Shelagh said...

Dave, this happened to us once in 2008 and also this year at around the same time, so you have my sympathy. It's heartbreaking but I'm with you all the way on the question of tipping rather than blending or - as I suspect happens a lot - sending it out as a 'special'. The first time was also the one and only time we used dried yeast, and we didn't catch it in time because we weren't used to the accelerated fermentation profile. But on both occasions the culprit was cross-contamination by wild yeast, so maybe for those of us in rural areas that's something to watch out for in the two or three weeks a year we get some sun?

ZakAvery said...

It's a tricky argument, Dave, and one that you do go some way to pulling apart and explaining.

Oddly, I don't mind a little dab of diacetyl in a brown bitter, and I believe diacetyl may have even made its way into the BJCP style guidelines (if you hold those dear), so clearly it's not always a flaw. But as you point out, you don't have the facilities to blend a batch with high diacetyl 20/80 with a good batch, and I'm impressed that you took the decision to pour it away - if only everyone had quality control, integrity and honesty like that.

I also recently had a problem with a small but very well-respected brewer having a poorly capped batch - I could prise them off with my fingers, and I have hands like a dainty lady. In the end, they replaced half the batch, after I went through 5 cases of the same beer and found I could get a hiss from about half of them. They were happy that all the problem bottles had been caught (and for the record, the ones that I could get a hiss out of with my hands were all nearly flat and partially oxidised - not a trivial problem). My take on it was that it was their name on the bottle - if they were happy with the quality, then fine, let them be judged by it. I'm fairly sure I caught all the problem bottles I had in stock - I've no idea if they recalled any others.

(Oh, and btw, your links aren't showing up with underlines (in the original post) after your revamp - it might be a style sheet setting you need to tweak). I'm using Google Chrome as a browser and can't see them)

Unknown said...

Sid "Smaller-scale brewers have to live on the prongs of a risk matrix that sets quality control against reputational risk." - great summary.

Jeff, I'm sure that intermediate wholesalers are part of the problem with cask. I have recently talked to an ex-Jennings sales rep who found that the returns from 3rd party distributed beer was much greater than their own distributed beer. The route to market for cask shouldn't be too long.

However, that's not your problem as a landlord.

Al, I can't distil, I haven't a license. Perhaps I could get malt vinegar made from it though....

Shelagh, the wild yeast issue is a possibility but I did check it with the microscope and saw no evidence. Still, as you say, it did correspond with the hot weather so you could be right.

Zak, indeed it is a complex issue and not one that we should shy away from. I have great sympathy for brewers who's labour of love does not turn out the way they intended, especially when a punt has been taken on a risky production technique. Even worse when it seems OK at the brewery door but subsequently deteriorates due to some production flaw. I guess this is perhaps part of the fun of craft beer.

Thanks for pointing out the links issues. You diagnosis is correct I believe. Will try to fix tonight.

Summer Wine Brewery said...

Excellent post Dave, for me quality control for small micros is the biggest challenge we face in our growing industry, one that i'm glad to see (you as do I) take very seriously, only wish there were more micros the same!

Intimate knowledge of the brewing process really is the key, it allows constant honing of skills and ultimately the improvement of the product.

I challenge myself every year to improve the level of control over the finished product I have, this may be reading more on a subject or an upgrade in equipment, either a good habit to get into.

StringersBeer said...

We use dry yeast largely to avoid the risk and extra work of maintaining the little beggars. Perhaps it costs more, but once you've added up your time cropping, washing and checking the stuff, I'm not convinced repitching makes sense at our scale - I guess Montague is right and a couple of generations is probably safe. But unless we're on top of our hygiene we'd be asking for an expensive muck up at some point were we to go longer than that. Of course, if you need to use a yeast that you can't get dry then you'll probably have to go the whole hog.

As far as the "supply chain" goes, for one thing, finings will fail pretty quickly if the beer is allowed to get much past 20C or so. Should distributors have temp controlled storage and vehicles? That'd be nice, but in the real world, even if our beer leaves us at 10C it's liable to get a little warmer than we'd like it to before it makes it safely into the cellar - and then there's the mechanical abuse...

Stonch said...

Dave, if bad beer's a distribution problem, why did I never have a bad cask of Landlord, in the year when I sold many casks a week of it? It comes from way up in Yorkshire! Why have I had only one bad cask of Purity Mad Goose in the the 18 months I've had that as a regular (and when that happened the head brewer called me to explain)?

I get the impression some microbreweries are so confident in their "anti-big business" standpoint that they don't think they have to produce a consistent product. That's why so many fail, and others like Purity establish market share in crucial markets - not least, London.

Lame excuses aren't worth anything in a high turnover pub when your valuable stillage space has been wasted by an amateur! I speak from experience. There are several breweries I would never order from again because of this. Customers won't buy cloudy, dodgy beer.

Unknown said...

Jeff, firstly, before discussing this further, I realise that you have to have good beer. The reason why it gets to you in a state that makes it un-saleable is not your concern. It is the brewers responsibility to find a route to market that is fit for purpose for his product. I understand this only to well. And no, it's not just a distribution problem.

Now, there are many brewers, including myself, that brew beer and rack directly into cask from the FV. The yeast count is more difficult to control, there is more for the finnings to do and if this product is transported via a diverse transport route then the beer will suffer.

I suspect TT use conditioning tanks, a moot point as to the pros and cons of this but where beer needs to have a fast turnover it is essential. It will undoubtedly improve it's robustness in trade. I wouldn't go down the 3rd party distribution route without using conditioning tanks.

But there might also be another factor at play here. Purity and TT are very well established breweries and are probably putting a lot of beer into the network and it is shifting quickly. The smaller brewery's beers might sit around an un-cooled warehouse possibly for weeks before being sold.

But, and I say this again, that is not your problem. I agree that if the beer you get is not up to scratch then you are quite right to send it back and it is the brewery's responsibility to find out where the problem lies.

Stonch said...

Not sure what you mean about TT using conditioning tanks, as I'm not a brewer. But if you're suggesting their beer arrives as an already conditioned product I have to tell you as a publican that the reverse is true: out of all the beers from scores of breweries I've sold, TT Landlord is the one that undergoes the most secondary fermentation in the cellar and needs the longest to be at its best (two days isn't enough - five isn't excessive!).

As for Purity, you say they're well established, and yet they've only been going a very few years, and have only just begun to really break into the London market. Why? Because from the outset they've understood they have no get out jail free cards on consistency, and have concentrated on getting quality beer to the point of sale.

Again, I think it comes down to microbrewers thinking their beer should be considered in a kinder fashion simply because it's the product of a small business. That doesn't wash for me as an independent publican, so why should it for people who supply me?

Unknown said...

We could go into a long discussion about why TT might need to gas off a large amount and the fact that Purity might only have been going a couple of years but are never the less quite large. But I think that is pointless.

Fundamentally I AGREE WITH YOU. Small brewers don't deserve special treatment from any publican. Sometimes we get it and it's very nice when it happens, but we should expect complains if the beer does not meet up to the customers expectations. It's simple.

StringersBeer said...

As you know Dave, abuse in the supply chain is not simply a function of distance. At the same time, some beers (better beers?) will withstand abuse better than others. For that matter, breweries which don't take QA seriously will send more bad beer into trade than those who devote time and resources to making sure it's right. But that's not just a size thing - there are a number of micros producing consistently good beer - and bigger brewers consistently producing variable quality.

This is why I'm currently writing up (for instance) our 23 step procedure for cleaning the copper.

ZakAvery said...

StringersBeer makes a good point about beers that are more robust being "better" beers - they might not be the best when optimal samples of many beers are compared, but to a drinker, the best beer is the one that tastes best (and arguably, the most consistent) at the bar.

StringersBeer said...

...and Dave makes a very good point about the likelihood that some beers will move faster through the system than others. Still, there's quite a lot of ropey beer about and some of it's from bigger brewers in their own estate - what's the excuse there?

Brewers Union Local 180 said...

A half gallon mason jar full of harvested Nottingham has been working well here for six months. Only gone six generations so far. Saves $75 per batch. No perceptiable diacetyls or off flavors yet.

Unknown said...
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Unknown said...

Interesting stuff.

Inconsistency is part of the charm of micros and you're right - the presence of some 'off' flavours can sometimes either be not a problem, or even quite nice (Steve Wellington has famously released some aged beers judged rightly to be 'off' by a Molson Coors professional tasting panel but which taste quite wonderful to wine tasters and beer drinkers at large).

It's also true that in some cases distribution and in some pubs - never the Gunmakers of course - that bad cellaring may be the problem.

But having said all that, I often get bottles of beer that I have to pour down the sink. This is not me being snobbish, the stuff simply doesn't taste like beer and is extremely unpleasant.

Sometimes some micros (and lager brewers from smaller foreign breweries) release beer that is not just not perfect, but which is simply undrinkable. Either they haven't tasted that batch, or they've said, 'that's foul, and I don't give a shit'. Neither is acceptable.

It's bad for them as well as the drinker. I understand the financial implications of junking a brew, but better that than junking your reputation long term as a competent brewer among your target audience.

Paul Bailey, legendary ex-Marston's brewer, once told me how Pedigree was getting a bad rep because they'd ramped up distribution into pubs that weren't familiar with it and weren't handling it well. He said, "If a drinker is familiar with your beer and they get a bad pint, they'll blame the pub. If they don't know your beer, they'll blame the brewer."

Tandleman said...

I agree with Jeffrey and with Pete Brown. In fact I agree several times with Pete Brown.

There are brewers that continually, presumably through incompetence, churn out undrinkable tosh. Tyson and I tend to name and shame, Tyson particularly so as he knows the scene better than me and I know it better than most! If Tyson and I compared lists and then consulted Jeff, I'd bet some our ours would be on his list.

Excuses are no good to the publican, but I'm confident Jeffrey wouldn't put undrinkable beer on his bar. Others I think are less scrupulous, preferring to let their customers find out the hard way. That is if they even bother to check it. That's disgraceful too.

The trade is so full of problems and the continual drive should be to raise standards. It is needed.

Gazza Prescott said...

Diacetyl is the spawn of satan - horrible stuff that blots out any subtleties of flavour and ruins many a good beer. I don't like any hint of it at all in any type of beer personally and think you did exactly the right thing.

One issue we've found is that, when you rack a beer, it never tastes like it will when it's finished conditining. We do the same as Dave in that we rack from FV to cask (although are looking at conditioning tanks as they're better for dry-hopping) so the beer is generally very cold, very yeasty and just tastes of bitterness... getting a fair impression of it at this stage is very difficult.

What I do find had to believe, however, is that brewers can't taste SERIOUS faults in beer at this stage - yes, it may just taste cold and bitter, but you can still pick up if it's got diacetyl, acetic or brett off-notes unless your palate is really shot. Taking a sample to try later is a very good idea.

With regards to yeast, we brew at Little Ale Cart where they re-pitch yeast from a well-known Northern regional (who also supply some other local micros) several times a week and only replace it once every few months. They never acid wash, don't own a microscope, but have never (touch wood) yet had a yeast issue. Dried yeast just isn't as robust or stable as proper wet and I'd be loathe to use it on any beer I was to brew. Saying that, wet is only any use if you can re-pitch it fresh from the FV to new brew (although LAC do keep it in a fridge for a few days sometimes with no ill effects).

Interesting post, though.

StringersBeer said...

With regards to yeast... Once rehydrated and growing happily yeast is yeast. It don't believe it remembers that it used to be dried. Any more than [regional]'s remembers that it used to be on a slant. It's only yeast. After a few hours the cells that were out of the packet are outnumbered by the ones born in your wort. If I were to get a bucketful from Blackburn and persist in repitching it without taking real care (perhaps washing) or checking viability then I would be certain to have a problem. It's not "if" it's "when". And I don't want that hanging over me.

And of course "Taking a sample to try later" is more than just a good idea - it's absolutely essential. You'll be wanting to measure gravity after conditioning for one thing. We always rack a pin as well, and we don't plan to let beer go out until we've tried it and measured it. Although I'll admidt that when we're busy we've had to.

I know of people who do pitch an approximate quantity of yeast of unknown cleanliness into a wort approximately what they were aiming at, and then send it out into trade without doing QC on the product. But I don't believe that anyone would actually recommend that. This is exactly the kind of thing that can give the whole micro sector a bad name.

Myself, I'd be happy to brew beer that's consistently good rather that occasionally brilliant and sometimes undrinkable muck.

Unknown said...

I think this is all brilliant stuff.

I hope I don't have to say this, but will anyway: I do not think it is at all acceptable that brewers release something that they know to be undrinkable tosh. I agree very much with Gazza that you can tell at racking that a beer is likely to be OK or likely to be complete crap.

Ultimately it is the brewery's responsibility to ensure that the beer gets to the drinker in a state that shows the beer off to the best. If a method of getting it to market is flawed then find a new method or make the beer in a way that makes it robust enough to cope.

As a brewer I wonder how often brewers are embarrassed by reports from pubs of problems and are genuinely sorry. In this situation, although it is of no concern to the landlord, distribution problems are given to deflect blame. Sometimes correctly and sometimes not. I don't think most breweries would seriously expect a pub to accept bad beer but most mortals who have any sense of self preservation will want to offer an explanation when the fruits of their efforts fail to impress. We should of course offer our genuine apologies and promise to do something about the problem without making excuses.

As far as the dried yeast vrs. wet yeast is concerned, although in a theoretical basis I can find no flaw in Stringers argument about dried yeast, I do know brewers who pitch on a second and third generation from dried yeast. They swear that it gets better, and I've tasted the results and agree, but they are scared to pitch on after about 3-4 generations for exactly the reasons you mention.

Equally dried yeast can produce some very excellent results. One advantage of dried yeast over a house yeast is that different strains can be used for different products. It also eliminates one potential risk area. I've had a lot of excellent beer that has been brewed with dried yeast and some tosh that has been brewed with wet yeast. Being snobby about yeast is as bad as being snobby about the provenance of CO2. It is the quality of the beer in the glass that matters.

I have a microscope and haven't yet got to the stage of pitching on. I really should do so.

But don't you think yeast is great?

One final thought, Jeffrey mentions that Landlord takes up to 5 days cellering to be drinkable but hints that a major problem for many small brewers is the speed at which the beer clears. I might be misunderstanding his slant here, but it would be interesting to understand that issue better. If a beer is great when it does clear then is it worth waiting for or should a beer automatically drop bright in 24 hours?

StringersBeer said...

Dave, I'm not surprised that some find that repitched dried yeast gets "better". it seems quite likely that when repitching we may be putting in higher numbers of more lively yeast than when using (perhaps poorly rehydrated) dry yeast. This might give us (a) a shorter lag and probably (b) less yeast growth in the FV.

(a) will reduce the exposure to (sub-critical) infection.

(b) since some flavour compounds are produced mainly in growth there's going to be some taste difference.

But if we brew one gyle with fresh dried yeast and then repitch, knowing that it'll be different, aren't we building inconsistency into our process from the start?
Do we want our yeast behaviour to change from brew to brew?

Pitching rates are potentially rather important. If you repitch with low numbers then you will almost certainly accumulate contaminants from brew to brew. Overpitching will have other effects, perhaps higher attenuation with lower diacetyl and a different ester profile.

If we don't count cells in our (repitching) slurry and don't assess viability (we'd be needing that microscope) then we don't actually know what we're doing. If we're content to keep our fingers crossed and touching wood then I suppose that's OK, but it seems strange to me that we'd carefully weigh out our malt, hops, liquor treatments, etc and then put in some yeast.

Stonch said...

Dave, I didn't say Landlord takes five days to be drinkable. I said it takes at least two to be at its best and then said in brackets that five isn't excessive. Basically, it gets better if you leave it for a few days. But it's good to go after 48 hours, usually. It drops bright in 24 hours but just because a beer's bright it doesn't mean it's ready to sell.

This chat led me to order the first casks of Landlord I've had in about a year by the way. That and a shit load of Kelham Island Pale Rider!

Jeff said...

Late to this discussion. I'm not a pro, but a homebrewer with nearly 40 years experience. Diacetyl, which I abhor, can be cleaned up by adding a portion, say 10%, of actively fermenting beer. This is the German technique called Kraeusening, but it would work for any beer. Assuming the beer is otherwise sound, I would think this would have been an option.

--Jeff Renner