Sunday, April 30, 2006

the malt experiment

Things are hectic around here. I'm finished with speciation, but still need to finish my presenation for pop gen on Tuesday, grade my student's projects and final (take home, short answer/essay) exams, continue doing the FDIBS conference stuff, plan my experiments for the summer, and get my fishing stuff together before I head home this Friday. My brother, my father and myself are going fishing in central PA. My dad will be with us for three days on Penns Creek, Fishing Creek and maybe Little Juniata then my brother and I will head up into the north country and hit Slate Run, Cedar Run, and maybe Kettle Creek and their tribs for another couple days. We'll be camping out which will rule. My bacon grease deep fried trout plan may actually come to pass on this trip. Anyway, been busy here and will continue to be busy for some time.


BUT, yesterday Ryan and I finally managed to get together to complete the final stage of our bitters malt experiment (and taste a couple other beers as well). A couple months ago we brewed four batches of ordinary bitter using the same recipe but varying the malt type. Another member of our homebrew club also brewed one up using American 6-row malt. The malts Ryan and I used were: Briess (American) 2-row, Munton's Maris Otter (premium English malt), Crisp Maris Otter (premium, floor malted, English malt), and Simpson's Golden Promise (a Scottish distiller's malt).

The recipe was as follows (for 5 gallons):

7lbs malt of choice (mash at 1.3qts/lb at 152 degrees F for one hour)

90 minute boil

1.5oz Fuggles (4%AA) at 60 minutes
1oz " at 20min
0.5oz at 1min

500ml 48hour White Lab's 002 English Ale starter

Ferment 66-68 degrees F.

All ended up right around 4.5% abv.

We finally tasted them yesterday and they were all pretty good. Ryan's wife Dar set up a blind tasting for us which was awesome.

You can already see the variation in color and head retention, and the head retention does not map onto serving type. Two of the beers were bottled from a keg with a counter pressure filler and two were served straight from tap and one from a bottle conditioned bottle. But the ones on the left were counter pressure filled! Wild huh?

We tasted them blind then guessed what was what. I thought the 6-row and the Briess American 2-row were the easiest to pick out. I also got the Crisp Maris Otter right but mixed up the Golden Promise and Munton's Maris Otter. Honestly, it was tough to distinguish the Crisp, Munton's, and Golden Promise.

CRIST MARIS OTTER (FG = 1.007) darkest- ok head retention- nice nose, hint of diacetyl- pleasant sweetish malt- just a hint of fermentation character- fairly mellow malt flavor- bitter finish, quite bitter, a touch grainy in the finish too- light mouthfeel- low carbonation- not much in way of malt flavors- minimal malt in the nose and palate but pleasant

AMERICAN 6-ROW (FG??) lightest- clightly better head than 1 but quite big after poured into my tasting glass- huge grainy nose- just a whisper of fermentation character- but mostly sharp, husky, grainy character- very astringent palate, super astringent- zero malt flavor- tastes dryer than one (althought knowing the numbers now that seems unlikely)- thinner mouthfeel- bitter finish combined with the astringency makes for an unpleasant finish- husky, grainy palate

MUNTON'S MARIS OTTER (FG = 1.010) similar color to 1, very bad head but lots of gas coming out of solution- nice nose- big fruit- strawberry- nice sweet, bready character- better than 1- almost citrusy like dry hopped?- nice mellow palate- about same mouthfeel and bitterness as 1- more caramel in the finish- nice round finish pricked up with decent carbonation- higher carb than 1- definitely finished bitter though and maybe just a touch astringent

AMERICAN 2-ROW (FG = 1.009) lightest, best head- clingy lace- pale yellow color in my glass- hops in the nose- some fermentation character in the nose but minimal- minerally nose? lemon in the nose? very little malt on the palate- super clean and crisp flavor- quite bitter but not astringent in the finish- very clean bitterness- citrusy hops- dominated by the hops- most bitter so far- light, dry mouthfeel- good, clean, bitter beer

GOLDEN PROMISE (FG = 1.011) similar color to 2- second best head, clingy- beautiful color- honey gold- HUGE nose- bready, doughy, very doughy, a little soapy?- floral? (Dar said peaches and I think that's right)- significant fermentation character- most mellow and smooth of the palates- nice smooth round malt flavors- lowest perceived bitterness- biggest mouthfeel- very nice bready/doughy palate- very mellow, very nice- finishes the smoothest of the bunch

I think the American 2-row and the Golden Promise were my favorites. We were all very surprised at how big the differences were between the beers. We were worried that it would be difficult to differentiate them, but they were all definitely unique. The 6-row was probably bad not only because it was brewed with 6-row (a cheap malt used by the macros) but also because of brewing techniques. Ryan and I brew pretty consistent batches and we aren't really familiar with the brewing techniques of the guy who brewed the 6-row.

Our eyes were bigger than our stomachs. We wanted to try all those beers in the picture above, but when 1am rolled around I was beat and had to call it a night. I'm bummed we didn't get to try the 2004 Kuhnhenn raspberry Eisbock and the Heavyweight barley wine and Sticke Alt...another day, another day.

VICTORY SAISON, bottled 4/1/2005- massive carbonation- huge bubbles EXPLODE out of solution- head faded quickly in my Duvel tulip glass- nice big nose- cotton candy- bananas- big bananas- touch spicy- really palel yellow- hint of gold/orange colors- super clean palate- very dry- super clean- not astringent at all- finishes very easy- really straightforward palate- maybe a touch of citrusy character-= I'm impressed with the smoothness of this beer but I'm afraid it came at the cost of character.

Jolly Pumpkin is an awesome "artisan" Belgian brewery in Dexter MI that now bottles only in 750ml bottles. The bottles we tried were from Jolly Pumpkin's very first batches of beer and they were done in 12oz bottles with the 750ml on the label scratched out and 12oz penned in. These beers have changed a lot since back in the day. I was not impressed with these first batches. I've had both kinds of beer since then and they are much better now.

JOLLY PUMPKIN LUCIERNAGA huge bitter orange peel in teh nose- weird, intense spicing- coriander? fairly dark color- deep orange- burnt copper- musty smelling? weird smells- white wine? really weird palate- huge orange peels again- dryish- quite tart- touch astringent- high carbonation- actually really tart and kind of sour- no Brettanomyces- aged 18 months in oak (wine?) barrels- tastes stronger than the 6.5%abv on the label- ethanol on breath

JOLLY PUMPKIN LA ROJA (7.5% abv?) very little carbonation- nice deep burnt red color- not persistant head at all- huge rotten oranges in the nose- over ripe oranges- quite tart taste- very tart- maybe a hint of bourbon- supposedly aged in bourbon barrels but it doesn't come through like I think it would or like it has in other batches I've tasted- very tart, dry finish- very alcoholic tasting, on breath- tiny little bit of caramel maybe and a hint of chocolate?- thin mouthfeel- ton of orange- very dry- very tart- hot alcohol- spicy in the finish


Sunday, April 23, 2006

a good saturday

Yesterday was a good day, mostly. It was the opening day of the IU Sailing center and it was also the 10th annual Taste of Helmsburg Real Ale Festival. I left the house around noon and went to Lake Lemon. It was really windy and the winds were variable. The winds are almost always variable on Lake Lemon and pretty much any other small, inland lake I imagine, but because they were so strong yesterday it made for an interesting time sailing.

I'm not much of a sailer. I certainly still learning. I had several really good "rides" yesterday, where the wind gusts for half a minute or so and you're in the right place at the right time and the boat goes way up on edge and you have to hike your ass out over the other side of the boat and you feel the wind, the water in your face, and all the points on the boat that are under extreme duress. I'm a really big dude, so I can really make the boat work hard for its money, so to speak. There are really 4 forces that operate on a sailboat (at least that I perceive, I'm sure there are more and maybe different ones, but this isn't a sailing lesson goddammit and I really have no idea what I'm talking about anyway).

There is the force of the wind against the sail, and when you're sailing perpindicular to a strong wind this is very strong, particularly on the little Lasers I sail a lot. The sail is very big, and the boat is very small. Anyway, this force is really strong when you're sailing perpindicular to the wind because your sail is almost perpindicular to the wind and therefore the wind wants to push you over.

But you lean out of the boat into the wind to counteract this force. These two forces, in a sense, concentrate the force of the wind into boat and cause it to move.

Now a simple round hulled boat would probably just spin around and not go in one direction very long, but sailboats have keels and rudders, or in the case of a small boat like a laser, they have daggerboards, which are removable keels, they are 4 foot by 1 foot by 1 inch heavy pieces of wood (weighted?) that extend into the water below the hull. This and the rudder ensure that the motion "put into" the boat by the wind and by the leaning back make the boat go in a straight line, and of course, by turning the rudder you can change the direction of the straight line, so to speak.

Anyway, the bottom line is that in very strong wind when you're really up on edge and you're hiked way out over the side of the boat, you really become aware of all the extreme pressure that is in the boat. There needs to be a very fine balance of the forces you manipulate to get a "good ride". And every one of the things you can manipulate fights back.

The rudder wants to be torn out of your hand. It wants to steer you into the wind so that it doesn't have to fight so hard agains the water. It sucks when it is torn out of your hand. It could definitely throw you out of the boat.

The line attached to the boom which holds the mainsail wants to be ripped out of your hand because it doesn't want to fight so hard against the wind. If you let it go it could simply flap in the breeze, translating little of its energy to the boat.

If you don't hike out over the side of the boat the hull will thank you and promptly place the sail in the water so that it cannot drive the hull anymore.

Enough of that nonsense, here are some pictures.

This is two people sailing the Thistle, one of the niceer boats at the sailing center apparently. Also, I probably shouldn't sail it because if you tip it, it swamps, and you have to swim back to shore or get rescued and then get the boat with a motor boat. They are hiked out a good bit. CLICK FOR BIGGER (it's so big it's the man).

These are some of the keel boats that I don't sail. They are pretty much impossible to tip though, at least on Lake Lemon. CLICK FOR BIGGER.

These boats are really cool. They take three people to sail them apparently. I would love to see them sailed some day.

From sailing it was only 10 miles into the woods and Marvin's house for the 10th Annual taste of Helmsburg Real Ale Festival. The other homebrew club in Bloomington (St. Gambrinus Benevolence Society) don't do much except get together and drink beer (lots of good homebrew) and eat food and just hang out with each other. They're all pretty good friends with each other and have been doing the club thing for a long time, at least 10 years. Anyway, once a year they have a "meeting" at Marvin's house where the theme is cask ale.

A guy from Indy brings his beer engine and a keg of cask conditioned beer. Marvin brews all his beer in oak barrels and will often keg them in barrels too. They have a little valve they can use to swtich which beer is being dispensed from the hand pump so about the first pump's worth is a blend which isn't bad or can be quickly poured down the drain.

Marvin made an ordinary bitter (as he called it) which was really good. Just over 4% abv, it had a perfect level of condition, just a whisper of carbonation, a very light body and wonderful English yeast character in the nose and on the palate. It was fruity and bready and just a touch minerally. All EKG hops contributed a light, fresh, earthy tone and a hint of bitterness.

Paul's IPA wasn't quite as good, but it wasn't bad. I think it was young. All C hops and a decent amount of crystal or some other specialty malt. It weighed in at 7.6% abv and had a good bit of carbonation in it and was rather cloudy. It had a rough fermentation character which clashed with the agressive c-hop bitterness. But I had two glasses. I bet if he gave it another month it would be better.

Marvin also had a great stout on regular tap that was really exquisite. It was really light and subtle. Enough of a roasted and chocolate thing to make it a stout but a very light body, clean palate and easy to drink.

There was also a couple bombers of decent homebrewed brown ale and a several varieties of Belgian dubbels and trippels: two bottled dubbels that were awesome, a bottled trippel and a growlered trippel.

There were also several vintage bottles of bought beer. I saw at least a very old bottle of Kasteel's Trippel, a 1996 Gale's Prize Old Ale and the 1998 Fuller's Vintage Ale. The Fullers was awesome. Huge, very smooth malt flavors. One of the smoothest beers I've ever had. I've had the 1996 Gales and have another bottle of it but unfortunately I didn't get to try the old trippel.

Here are some pictures.

The vintage beers.

Marvin presiding over the beer engine.

One of Marvin's barrels. He works for IU Press and is kind of a printer-press-ophile if there is such a thing.

I got home around 8pm from Marvin's. 4 hours there. Lots of beer. I was tired, a little hung over and didn't feel like going to Paco's birthday party so I didn't. But I should have because Brian said it was a great time.

Drink more cask conditioned beer.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

natural selection

click it for a bigger picture.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

I can taste summer

Summer is rapidly approaching and I can sense it. There is a certain change of pace in the school routine that occurs about 10 days before the the end of the semester and this is it. No pop gen on Thursday. Class next week is just to watch presentations. I have to give mine May 2nd. The last speciation class is just presentations too. I have to turn mine in April 28th. No problem. Me and reinforcement in sticklebacks are like this. Oh. You can't see me cross my fingers.

I only have to give two more lectures and more importantly, I only have to write two more lectures. Writing and giving NEW lectures is pretty much the worst part about being a graduate student, and, I imagine, a professor. I can't wait until next semester when I just have to dust off my old notes, reread the readings and walk into class. So much easier. So much less stressful.

The beer class is going ok. I've recently discovered some great new sources that I will definitely incorporate into next years class (ok, a couple new lectures, it won't kill me). I found perhaps the ultimate book not only for a couple lectures in class, but for fending off the rabid know-nothing beer dorks on and those you meet in actual real life. That are constantly citing figures that are suspect at best. They found them through a google search from some other beer dork's homepage.

Anyway, the book that I will carry proudly wherever I may trod is called The US Brewing Industry: Data and Economic Analysis. Written by Victor and Carol Tremblay, published by MIT press in 2005. I'm not sure when the library received it because I did another brief bibliographic survey early last fall and it didn't turn up.

Anyway, it has got all the numbers I want.

Yesterday, I lectured from a paper by Anita McGahan about the development of the American Brewing Oligopoly from immediately post-repeal to 1958. During this time the market share of the top 20 brewers increased from 35% to 68%. This was the beginning of the development of our current brewing industry, dominated by "the big three", Anheuser-Busch, Miller and Coors. I knew that their market share has dramatically increased since 1958, but I was having trouble finding all the relevant numbers. But search no more.

Get this, Anhheuser-Busch's (AB) market share in 1950 was 5.83%. At the time, there were several breweries competing actively for the number one spot. Milwaukee's Schlitz was number one with a 6.08% market share. Ballantine from Newark NJ had a 5.22% market share, Pabst 4.9% etc. But after a steady march of progress in the 1950s, AB pulled decisively away from the pack in 1958 and 1959. By 1960 its market share was 9.56% with Schlitz running a distant second at 6.42%. AB has continued to lead all domestic brewers up to the present day. Both Miller and Schlitz made a serious run at AB in the 1970s when the latter climbed steadily and rapidly through 17%, the low 20s, and ultimately settling at 27.06% market share in 1979. Miller accomplished a meteoric expansion when they moved from 8.55% in 1975 to 20.96% in 1979. Poor Schlitz peaked in 1975 at 15.48%.

What are the numbers today? Well, the latest figures Tremblay and Tremblay have are from 2002:

AB- 55.1%
Miller- 21.47%
Coors- 12.28%

Now this is before the Coors-Molson merger, so I'm not sure how that affected these numbers, but I'm pretty syre Coors-Molson is still in third place. Also, Miller merged with a Brazilian and a South African company to form SABmiller I think after 2002, but I'm pretty sure that didn't allow them to take AB out. (turns out this happened in 2002, so the numbers above are accurate to this)

Talk about Oligopoly?

The reason why the American brewing industry developed an oligopoly, according to McGahan, was because the economy of scale that was developed through new brewing technologies in the first half of the 20th century made the most profitably breweries the ones that could brew 1 million barrels (bbl) or more. The barrel is the standard brewer's volume measure and equals 31 gallons. For example, Coors brews about 23 million bbl/year these days.

With this massive increase (from 100,000 bbl/year) in the amount of beer being brewed and in conjunction with technological improvements in bottling, shipping and refrigeration, the only option for these large brewers was to expand into other markets. This led to a flurry of aquisitions and new brewery construction in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s and continued at a slower pace until the present day. For example Strohs was purchased in a messy several way deal in 1999 by Miller, Pabst, and Yuengling.

Once there was no new markets to expand into, the intensity of advertising increased dramatically, ultimately resulting in the beer ad industry we're all so familiar with today.

I think I'll blog about a specific brewery next time.

McGahan, Anita M. 1991. "Emergence of the National Brewing Oligopoly: Competition in the American Market, 1933-1958." Business History Review 65, no.2: 229-284.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

R Kelly's Hip Hopera

Not the plucky Irish kid, but his namesake, the actual R Kelly.

If you ever have the chance to watch "Trapped in the Closet", I highly suggest you watch it. It's pretty funny.

So is this:

(from Mike Pell)

Reasons Why Beer Is Better Than Jesus
1. You don't have to wait 2000+ years for a second beer.
2. You can prove you have a beer.
3. If you've devoted your life to beer, there are groups to help you stop.
4. When you have a beer, you don't knock on people's doors trying to give it away.

You ever notice how when you hang out with other graduate students who study more or less the same thing you do that all you end up talking about is academia? It's pretty great. Yaniv, Saul, Stephanie and myself spent several hours on Yaniv's porch saturday night drinking, smoking, and talking about intradepartmental politics, grants, sexual selection, worm breeding, python breeding, Israeli compounds and the Jewish gang. It was pretty sweet. I guess it's not all academia.

It was a tough life in Tahoe
A no go, a no show
A hideaway bed in a hideaway room in a hideaway house in the sierra nevada

Aluminum ladder across the divide
a mile wide
a mile wide
a mile wide in the narrowest place and our ladder was only 12 feet

But ahead we pressed and behind us we looked

took a crook

mallard duck! I exclaimed at the top of my lungs

bellow below between both battlements
before baron barge barage began
belittle burrowing barrow beyond
basically backward ball bat beat best

Sunday, April 09, 2006


Rocketboom has a good idea: they provide several video clips, you make your own movie.

I went a little crazy.

Thanks to Method Man, Biggie Smalls, and, of course, Rocketboom.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

the triumphant return of the saturday morning ramble

Mike's a cool guy. He studied with Stuart Glennan at Butler and we shot the shit about mechanism for a little while but mainly we had a hand-size contest with Catherine and Emily and Brian and clearly I won because I have huge feet but Mike won the foot size contest no problem because he wears a size 15 shoe AND claims that his big toe loooks like an astronaut. Yes, an astronaut. I thought that was one of the funniest things I had ever heard, ah the things that happen outside the Video Saloon at 1:30am. I need to do a lot of work today because I'm a huge slacker. I have absolutely zero time management skills and tend to procrastinate really badly so what ends up happening is that on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and about half of Thursday I do work non-stop for classes and teaching and reading groups etc. etc. and get pretty much 5 hours of sleep a night and then I do very little the rest of the week which is #1 really unhealthy physically and psychologically, believe you me, and #2 is really bad for my work because I rush things and I also tend to not work on my own research which is really important but I just don't understand how you're supposed to be doing research while you're taking hard classes, teaching a lecture and doing all that other crap a graduate student has to do. And I know the professor's favorite saying: graduate school is a cake walk compared to professorship. I've heard that from pretty much every professor I've ever complained to and I heard it on Thursday from Mike Wade. Shit.

I need to get my what not in order and down buckle books the hit, that's for riz-eal yo.

Natural Selection here I come.

Also, before I get my what not in order, down buckle books the hit, I have two pieces of exciting news:

Daniel Hank's account of our trip to Raven Fork was posted a while back.

And Michael John Kelly, aka the pluckiest kid I know, has finally purchased his "sports car", an Audi S4. Must be nice to make a ton of money. Watch a video about the S4 here.

This is his car. Looks regular eh? Well, it's not.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

I love biology

I am on such a biology kick these days. I can't get enough of it. Pop gen was good today. Started talking about 2-locus models. They're cool and Mike Wade got so excited talking about dung beetle maternal effects norms of reaction. It was awesome.

Speciation class was also really good today. Prof. Rieseberg was out of town so Daniel Ortiz-Barrientos, one of Rieseberg's post docs, gave the lecture and led discussion. Daniel is a pretty big stud in the speciation field. He just returned from giving the keynote address at this year's Drosophila meeting, only the second (or 3rd?) evolutionary biologist to give the talk. I guess each year the conference asks for nominations for best dissertation related to Drosophila work and the winner gets to give the keynote address. I think that's actually a really cool idea. I'm not sure it would work in philosophy though.

Anyway, he kind of mentioned class should end 40 minutes early, so everybody quit talking at pretty much exactly 3:40 (class is over at 4:20). One of the other post docs that sits in on the class jumped up, stumbled through an empty chair, and walked out while everybody else was kinda sittin' around for a minute. Then we all left. It was funny.

But Daniel reviewed the Coyne and Orr chapter on reinforcement and gave us his opinions on things. I am really fascinated with reinforcement. I had never really learned much about it until this class (ignored it for my master's work because the yeast didn't have sex) and I'm realizing the interesting conceptual continuity it has with sympatric speciation and ecological character displacement. I don't know why I'm so fascinated with these things, but they just really intrigue me. The continuity with Darwin's's good stuff. This is actually a great example of a problem that Darwin posed and dealt with extensively that is still an issue in today's biology.

I'm always trying to think of ways to argue that the Darwinian revolution was actually a scientific revolution (a controversial position in today's HPS climate). One of the ways to do that, so says I, is to show that Darwin made a clear break (still need to work out what this is) with his contemporaries and that he established a coherent set of research problems that have influenced, nay, formed the conceptual foundation of modern evolutionary biology.

Sure, there's that whole genetics thing, but I'm not sure how much that matters. For instance, I argued that Darwin had the general idea of how hybrid sterility could evolve, the one that is pretty much accepted today as the Dobzhansky-Muller model. And it should be enough that this is still an issue today. Darwin invented this issue. I think I could also make the case that the problems Darwin posed about speciation are still hotly debated and that his own answers are strikingly similar to some modern ones, genetics notwithstanding.

Eh. Or not. I have to finish my qualifying paper.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

I made a new movie and I call it...


click the stinks to watch it: