A Good Beer Blog

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Have you read The Unbearable Nonsense of Craft Beer - A Rant in Nine Acts by Alan and Max yet? It's out on Kindle as well as Lulu.

Maureen Ogle said this about the book: "... immensely readable, sometimes slightly surreal rumination on beer in general and craft beer in particular. Funny, witty, but most important: Smart. The beer geeks will likely get all cranky about it, but Alan and Max are the masters of cranky..."

Ron Pattinson said: "I'm in a rather odd situation. Because I appear in the book. A fictional version of me. It's a weird feeling."


Comments

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Jim -

That was me that posted it on BA. I went to a conference at UNB this past summer and discovered the great little brewery that is Picaroons. I brought back 6 bottles of their beer (Best Bitter, Dark and Stormy Night, Irish Red, Blonde, Man's Best Friend, and this one). This was my favorite of all of them, but they were all good, especially the Best Bitter and the Red.

I wish they were available in the States.

Patrick Hirlehey -

I picked one up in Sackville this summer, but I broke the cardinal rule (never buy just one). I didn't drink it until I got to Cape Breton, but I was quite impressed. I'll have to hound the relatives to pick me up some more the next trip they make to Ontario.

Timothy Cox -

Yes the beer continues to develop as they tweak and fine tune their recipes, Picaroons is the only thing to look forward to in a sea of bland at the LC.

Their Man's best friend won a bronze at the Canadian beer awards on the "second batch of the brew" It however did get a bad review in Taps Magazine but that was due to the fact that the beer tried was months old and past the prime time for drinking. Without packing their beer full of perservatives instead of flavor like the bigger hombres the beer must be consumed fresh. It sells quite well on shelves.

They also have available a nice barley wine aptly named the winter warmer.

Many purchase this out of novelty but it is a sensational brew.

Alan -

Thanks for being eyes in the ground in NB, Timothy!

Jack Clark -

As a fellow New Brunswicker, I too enjoy a fresh Picaroon’s ale every now and again. Not unlike Moncton’s Pump House brewery, they are certainly capable of producing a flavourful and quality product. This being said, I do disagree with a couple of points made by both Tim and Alan….allow me to explain.

With respect to some micros, there’s been a noticeable lack of consistency in their products that can not all be attributed to the “tweaking” of recipes or to “various interpretations” of beer styles. This points to an obvious lack of process control that ultimately shows up in the taste of the final product. I’m not sure if the control issues are related to equipment, raw materials, brewing processes, or a combination of the three. Whichever the case, a trained brewer, with his scientific knowledge of the brewing process, should easily be capable of identifying & resolving such issue. A lot of these inconsistencies in flavour are not related to recipe tweaks because they all too often come across as beer defects and not simply variations in intensity of an existing flavour note. Nothing irks me anymore than to read a beer review filled with complimentary remarks but using flavour terms that describe a defective product. Not all flavors are desirable ones in beer, and a true beer lover should know which are which.

Here are few defects that have occasionally shown up in local micros as so-called variations in the product. Diacetyl is the one I see the most often. This is naturally present in some stouts that are not end-fermented, but to see it as a variation tells me that it is probably a result of an infection by bacteria or wild yeast (ie. poor brewery hygiene). Either that or the brewer has trouble determining when the end of fermentation has occurred and doesn’t allow all the diacetyl to be reabsorbed by the yeast. Either way it results in a flavour defect. Another common flavour variation is when you’re served a very old, oxidized/stale product. This could indicate poor stock rotation by the bar, but more often is a result of poor oxygen control during the brewing, aging +/or packaging process. For those micros that pasteurize, over-pasteurization will accelerate this oxidation process. Other defects that I see far too often include things like DMS, mercaptans, raw onions, acetic, isovaleric, caprylic, sulphitic, etc. I also noticed some extreme variation within accepted flavours like esters and hop aromas. For me, consistency is a big part of quality. In as much as I’d love to see macro breweries producing more flavourful and fewer bland beers, I’d also like to see the micros focused a bit more on quality AND consistency.

Timothy Cox -

Ah just to clear up an issue and having read Jack's comments I fully agree that quality should be a large influence, but flavours will change depending on the live cell count of the yeast even when throwing in the same amount of yeast by weight. Correct me if I am wrong or enlighten that staement further.

I do know that Picaroons has been changing the hops slightly from batch to batch in order to fine tune this brew, this will have a slight affect on the flavor of this brew as this one is slightly heavier on the hops than the malt. Also the grain bill will sometimes be tweaked as well, by the micros definitely for a while as a new brew is introduced.

Not sure who said this but "consistency is not the god of beer" , however one should try to obtain consistently good!

Jack Clark -

Thank you for your comments Tim. You are absolutely correct in saying that the goal should be to obtain “consistently good”. I’ve often said that an ISO certification sounds great, but it could simply mean that a brewery can consistently make “crap”.

You are also correct in saying that the live cell count can affect flavour…BUT this is only one of many, many brewing variables that must be understood & controlled to deliver a consistently good beer. In the fermentation alone the brewer must control yeast pitch rate, yeast growth rate, wort aeration, fermentation temperatures and fermentation rate to name just a few. This happens on top of having a health yeast crop to start with.

My point was that process control starts & ends with the brewer. One has to have a good handle on the variations that are often and seasonally seen with the raw materials (malt enzymes, extract levels, yeast viability, water quality issue, macro & micro nutrients, hop alpha acids, hop oils, etc, etc) as well as having the equipment and controls to manage the temperatures, times, concentrations and processes that have to happen in order to make a great ale or lager. If you can’t measure a process variable you can’t control it. Even worse would be if you don’t know & understand the variables, you’ll never be able to control them. The art of brewing has all but disappeared and been replaced by the sciences, and it’s the understanding of these sciences combined with adequate process controls that helps make a quality beer.

Freddie Beer Drinker -

I have tried all the Picaroon brands at one time or another giving them a lot of chances to prove them self a quality brewer. It saddens me to say that this is not the case.

Their biggest problem is not the tweaking of the hops but rather the serious infections that all their beers possess. Please clean up your act guys as I’m sure your beers are great when they are clean. Until then I’ll be staying away.