A Good Beer Blog


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."


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Ron Pattinson -

"they had to rethink both the brewing and malting process, so they could create a strong, all-malt beer that was not overly sweet, cloying or heavy"

Assuming it's top-fermented, why not just use sugar?

Brian Tarver -

Can't use sugar because they're sticking to Reinheitsgebot limits.

Here's an interesting tidbit from mediapost.com that was forwarded to me: "According to the brewers, Infinium is the first new beer in more than 100 years to be created under “Reinheitsgebot,” the German purity law that requires all beer to be brewed using only four ingredients: malt, hops, water and yeast." I'm hoping that was a misunderstanding by the blogger, and not an actual claim by the brewery.

Jess -

Here's Koch's explanation from a recent Modern Brewery Age interview:

"This took three years, and a lot of dead ends, and a lot of trial and error, using some of the best brewing professors in the world and their graduates. But at the end of the day, it turned out to be a very simple concept, that proved to work out. It originated with the idea that there is a white space within the Reinheitsgebot. And that white space is in the high alcohol area. No one in Germany has ever made a high alcohol beer that isn't really rich and syrupy, like a dopplebock. Germanic high alcohol beers are thick, malty and sweet. Because in all these centuries of brewing, no brewer has ever been able to get the fermentability of the malt over the mid-60s, up to 69. Those numbers refer to Real Degree of Fermentation (RDF). Those are where the RDFs have topped out. So if you are going to make something with 10% alcohol, you'll have a lot of non-fermented sugars, dextrines, in the beer. It will be sweet and thick.

My vision was a champagne-like beer. A beer over 10% alcohol that was still dry, and lighter on the palate. And of course, you can't do that with today's brewing techniques. Because it would be too cloying. The only way to do it is to step outside the Reinheitsgebot, and use enzymes, or adjuncts, corn syrup, or fructose, or whatever. But no one has ever done it just with grain. That was the challenge. And that's what we worked on. I wanted a beer that would be somewhere between a champagne and a dessert wine, and Samuel Adams Noble Pils, and still adhere to the Reinheitsgebot. So we had to find a way to ferment grain to unheard-of levels, using the grain itself, and that's what the patent covers. Basically, rethinking the malting process and its objectives. And deconstructing the brewing process and putting it together in a different way.

The insight that got us there was very simple—make this with all-grain, because grain doesn't store energy, and grain contains all the enzymes you need to break down carbohydrates. Many enzymes are destroyed in the malting process, because they are subjected to heat. But if you think about what grain is designed to do, undergo conversion at soil temperatures over several weeks…Anyway we found this crazy maltster in Quebec, and worked with him on a redesign of the malting process, doing it more slowly at cooler temperatures to preserve the enzymes in the malt. The idea was how to break it down, while maximizing the fermentability.

Where do you replicate soil conditions in a brewery? 60 degrees Fahrenheit for weeks? The fermenters! So we turned the fermenters into mash vessels. The idea came to us. “Let's do it in the fermenter!” Take the enzyme rich liquid out of the mash tun, and put it in the fermenter for a couple of weeks. That gives you 80% fermentability, a cool temperature mash for a couple of weeks. The whole thing involved a deconstruction of the brewing process, and creating a new paradigm."

The methode champenoise and bottling is being done at what Koch refers to only as "a winery in Hammondsport, New York" and which appears, based on the address, to be "Pleasant Valley Winery" maker of "Great Western Champagne" and other brands. http://www.pleasantvalleywine.com/index.html (Not the first time BBC used a winery as a contractor, they did the same for Triple Bock, of course).

Alan -

But that is all fine and good - actually it is a bit depressing given the whole technical dead end aspect of it - but where does it get you? It may well be a deconstruction of brewing but there is no new paradigm, just tricks and techniques that may or may not make a better beer. Note the reference to a patent. Last time I saw that was Labatt Maximum Ice. And we all know how that worked out.

As I say, I will be happy to have a bottle if the price is reasonable. If it isn't or the beer is not earth shattering, how is this different from those who seek to, say, balloon around the world?

Ron Pattinson -

Brian Tarver, sugar IS allowed in the Reinheitsgebot for top-fermenting beers. I'm not surprised you hadn't heard of that. The Germans generally keep pretty quiet about it.

Alan -

Funny the patent lawyers didn't mention that to Mr. Koch.

Alan -

"Infinium, ladies and gentlemen, bombed...unlike anything I've ever tried before. It just doesn't taste very good."