Hop Amigo

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Trip to Colombia - Part 2 / 4

In my February 12, 2014 posting you may have noticed a few pictures of a small brewing operation in Colombia so I thought it would be a great continuation for this series of posts on the Colombia craft beer scene.

In my travels I was recommended a fascinating little German nook in Cajica about an hour away from Bogota called: Edelweiss Cajica. The name Edelweiss (Edelweiß) relates to a flower which is a symbol for alpinism and which represents rugged beauty and purity associated with the Alps and that literally translates to “noble-white”. As the legend goes, such a flower was offered to ask for a woman’s hand in marriage in Bavaria (southern Germany).

Given the symbolism attached to this flower and its ties with the Alps it became a well known symbol with hunters and lumberjacks who established traditions rooted in comradery and gatherings. Every sixth or seventh day they would begin their gatherings with a loud cheer “ein, zweis, gsuffa”

What an aptly named place!


The first few steps into the brew-restaurant reveals a gorgeous garden and beer patio with the restaurant’s name displayed in a big olive green sign. This was part of the restaurant was an expansion that had been done about 6 years ago since the restaurant used to be no more than a small farm house.


Our server immediately and cheerfully welcomed us into the restaurant in his traditional German lederhosen. The attention to detail to this little German nook impressed me a lot and we had not even entered the restaurant yet!

We asked for a small tour of the not-so-small restaurant and brewery which was given by our server and the cook! They showed us a beer tank specifically designed for big events labelled with the restaurants name. In many of the beer festivals I have been I have never seen such a tank so this was surprise!


I had a chance to snap a brief picture of the brewery which I have already presented to you in my February 12, 2014 posting. But I was so mesmerized at the beauty of this room I forgot to snatch a few more pictures.


As soon as you come into the restaurant you stumble upon this curious little platypus-looking little monster encased in plexi glass. I have no idea what the deal is with this but I found it amusing! Its name is the Woibbadinga and its probably related to German folklore so any comments on what it means would be greatly appreciated (there’s websites out there that talk about it, but they are in German)


First pint of the afternoon, a Dunkelweizen style beer.

I used to envy all those people that have gone to Germany for beer tasting trips or for Oktoberfest in Germany because I have never had a chance to do that myself. But I have nothing to envy anymore! People always told me German beer was different somehow; smoother, mellow, yet full of character. I never understood until this beauty hit my lips!

The beer was a deep mahogany brown color with a long-lasting 2 finger eggshell brown head. Aroma had slightly sweet bready character mixed with some bananas. Hop aroma was flowery and extremely well balanced with the ever-so-light sweetness of the malt. The taste followed the nose with a refreshing medium to full mouthfeel. This beer fit in this style category perfectly!


Since this is Colombia we decided to pair this beer with Merengon dessert offered on the menu. Merengon is a common dessert in Colombia comprised of hardened merengue and cream. Edelweiss twist on this dessert option was the addition of beer ice cream, gooseberries, strawberries and papaya which complemented the beers sweetness quite nicely. Sometimes the sweetness of this dessert can be overwhelming but the beer carbonation really helped cut through it. The strawberries acidity worked wonderfully to contrast with the sweetness of the beer.


Next up on my beer list, a Vienna Lagger!

The beer was a deep golden colour with a large white head that remained throughout. Aroma had a gentle toasty quality with very subtle flowery hops. Taste was slightly more balanced towards the sweet malt base with no significant hop bitterness. The beer was crisp but not prickly remaining extremely refreshing throughout. I totally hit the jackpot that day!

By this pint our other dishes had arrived to the table. What better way to pair this beer than with a Kartoffelpuffen (potato croquettes with apple puré) and 2 kinds of German sausage prepared on-site: Thuringer (pork sausage with herbs) and Weisswurst (calf). You can just imagine the amazing contrast between the croquettes and apple sauce with the beer!


The wonderful food and drink was pleasantly accompanied by a musician who played German classics as well as adaptations of Colombian classics. The atmosphere here was full of warmth, good vibrations and conversation!


The restaurant is wonderfully decorated in a traditional German style with 2 floors and plenty of light.


And no Colombo-German restaurant would go without shining its colours (both German and Colombian)


Strangely enough the owners decided they never wanted to commercialize their beers by bottling and selling outside the restaurant. Their goal was to bring a piece of Germany to Colombia and they have pulled this off wonderfully!

I have absolutely no doubt their beers are brewed under the purity law of 1516 (a.k.a. Reinheitsgebot) and you immediately get a sense of the craftmanship and quality that went into designing their beers.

Thank you Werner, Francina y Álvaro Wagner for this piece of German heaven in Colombia!

Stay Crafty!

Filed under Beer Sommelier craft beer beer edelweiss edelweiß colombia cajica Bogota germany flower quality craftmanship reinheitsgebot purity 1516 sausage

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Trip to Colombia - Part 1 / 4

Some of you may have noticed a delay in my blog postings, but there is a good reason for it. I had to leave my posting plans half baked and I just hate that! So in the next few weeks I’ll be playing the catch-up game (in particular my off-flavours comprehensive guide and Beer Style Guide!)

Since the beginning of the month I went back to the homeland (Bogota, Colombia) for a quick visit and just got back about a week ago. My trip was mostly due to family reasons with definite second intentions to experience the craft beer scene first hand. Boy was I pleasantly surprised!

Some of you may have read my February 12, 2014 posting where I give you a very general overview of the Colombian market. So my goal for this series of posts is to present my personal findings and comments to you!

My first visit for craft beer in Colombia: Bogota Beer Company. This particular location was in front a Centro Comercial Andino in one of Bogota’s hot spots for tourism and party scenes. This particular day was a Friday night which may not have been the best time to truly enjoy their beers so I’ll try to be gentle on my findings.


As you can see from the menu, there were many style offerings available on draught, including a Kolsch, a Honey Ale, a Red Ale, a Porter, a Witbier, an IPA, an Abbey single (Belgian ale) and a Strong Ale.

There were other style offerings such as a stout and an abbey single (Belgian Ale) offered in bottle.

When presented with so many choices, of course I am going to want to try them all! so we asked our trusty server to bring us some samples. I was immediately disappointed when the samples came in plastic cups only filed half way through (approximately 2 oz or less).

I don’t think the concept of a sampler has reached Colombia yet. I would have been totally fine paying for six glasses filed with 6oz. of each beer style available. The plastics cups did nothing for the head retention or to properly showcase the beer styles aromas and taste. After tasting I would have gladly paid for a couple more pints of the ones I liked the most. Missed opportunity anyone?


To be fair it was a busy night and I was grateful to find seats for a group of 7+ inside the pub within 20 minutes. We sat down and I immediately noticed a sign reading “Breathe freely, this is a space free of tobacco smoke”. I call shananigans on this!

The patio was crowded and filed with smokers which is fine. But leaving the pub door open for the smoke to get in made the inside of the pub feel stuffy and totally ruined the atmosphere. To me it felt just like the local watering hole and not an established craft beer giant. Oh well I had to make the best of it!


Since I was the beer geekiest, it was my responsibility to choose what we were drinking that night so I chose a 3 liter giraffe of Monserrate Roja (English Pale Ale as they call it). The server did a good job at serving the beer; good clean serves all around so a tip of the hat to you sir! But as you can see they have the horrible habit of stacking glasses which just damages the glasses and can harvest bacteria.


We ended our night early with only one pint each under our belt. For shame! I was ready for many more pints but clearly this was not our night.


The waiters/waitresses knowledge of the beer offerings was decent but could improve! They might have been new so I’m not about to lose my patience over beer. What kind of pissed me off was various servers completely ignoring my requests 5 times! I was recommended their seasonal Zipaquira Abadia (Belgian Ale) which was not available in draught so they suggested the bottle. After the 5th try of asking for the bottle I somehow ended with a lager style beer bottle which they charged as a full pint. A pint is not a bottle! (unless its a big bottle).

Again, Friday might not have been a good day to visit the one brew-pub I really wanted to have a good impression of. I guess I shall try again!


My only consolation at this point was to go out and buy the BBC beers myself to taste. So the next day I picked 4 of the most popular ones available in supermarket chains. My brief tasting notes as follows:

Candelaria Clasica (Kolsch) 8 / 10
Pale golden colour with low head retention. Light fruity aroma mixed with a slight bready sweetness. Taste had a slight citrusy undertone with low bitterness. This beer definitely stayed true to its style which is very hard to accomplish nowadays.

Cajica Honey Ale (Honey Ale) 6/10
Light golden colour with low head retention. A definite honey like aroma is present from the start mixed in with bready malts.The taste is only slightly sweeter than the nose promises. It was an interesting beer but the taste was weak and somehow artificial to me.

Monserrate Roja (Red Ale) 6/10
Light copper colour with a good 2 finger head that lingered for a bit. Some citrusy hops balanced by a caramel malt base like bread crust. It had a particular earthy character to me, a subtle bark-like or mushrooms taste. An interesting beer mixing American hops with an English malt character.

Chapinero Porter (English Porter) 9/10
Dark brown colour with a good 2 finger that laced nicely. Evident aromas of coffee and dark chocolate. Bitterness came mostly from the strong roasted malt base leaving a lasting aftertaste. This was definitely the winner for me. A precious gem found in Colombia!



Now, I might get in trouble with my Bier professor (and BBC for that matter) for the following less-than-positive words, but this needs to be said.

The following are some of the awards proudly posted in the labels of each bottle tasted:

Candelaria Clasica
World Beer Awards 2012 - World’s Best Pale Kolsch
World Beer Awards 2012 - The America’s Best Pale Kolsch

Cajica Honey Ale
World Beer Awards 2012 - The America’s Best Flavoured Honey
Monde Selection 2013 - Gold Award

Monserrate Roja
Monde Selection 2013 - Gold Award

Chapinero Porter
Copa Cervezas de America 2012
Monde Selection 2013 - Gold Award (3x times)

After tasting the most popular styles sold in stores, I do not see how BBC has earned their current status as “The biggest small brewery in Bogota”. To me it seems like they are harvesting stats and awards to post in their labels because the superior quality I was expecting was just not there!

The beer labels are also an interesting choice. Somebody must really like typeface marketing! is this a new trend? Personally I would love to see some nice label designs reflecting the truly iconic names they have chosen to name their beers. Again, missed opportunity anyone?


In conclusion, I will have to go back (preferably during the day and with someone knowledgeable who can introduce the beers).

This was a great introduction to the craft beer market in Colombia but definitely not the best. Stay tuned for this series of post!

Stay crafty!

Filed under Beer Sommelier craft beer beer Bogota Bogota Beer Company candelaria cajica monserrate chapinero colombia

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On November 25th 2013 Hansa Borg Bryggerier acquired a majority share in Nøgne Ø. Well, this is news to me!

Nøgne Ø was founded in 2002, The brewery name, Nøgne Ø, is old Danish for “Naked Isle”. It was selected from a well-known 19th century Norwegian poem called Terje Vigen by Henrik Ibsen, who worked for a time as an apprentice pharmacist in Grimstad.

The beer style is a variation from a seasonal English sweet stout. It is usually less sweet and relies on oatmeal for body and complexity.

Beer review: Havre Stout

Beer Style: 13C. Oatmeal Stout
Brewery: Nøgne Ø - Det Kompromissløse Bryggeri A/S
Serving type: Bottle
ABV:  4.50%
Overall Style Category Rating:  8 / 10

Appearance: Black topped with an egg-shell brown head
Aroma: Molasses with some sweet milk chocolate. Some definite roastiness mixed in with a hint of sweet vanilla.
Taste: Begins with dry dark roast grains turning into a sweet milk chocolate mixed with a hint of vanilla but then turns into a bark-like roastiness
Mouthfeel: full body beer with moderate carbonation; the roastiness at the end makes it feel a little harsh but remains drinkable throughout
Finish: silky smooth and rather quick finish. Definitely leaning toward the malty sweet profile yet never cloying to the palate. The bitterness comes mostly from the malts (as opposed to hops)
Overall: Low alcohol makes this an excellent session stout but a little too pricey. There are plenty other choices out there at a lower price tag with a similar profile. A great brew! 
Stay crafty!

Filed under Beer Sommelier craft beer beer havre oatmeal stout hopamigo bjcp

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Last night we had a little bit of fun in our BJCP group tasting. Our topic for the night were style categories 1 (Light Lager) and 2 (Pilsner) from the BJCP guide.

It was very interesting to compare the sub-categories in each style and note the slight differences. I was very surprised how these styles were perceived in my taste buds specially after having monster brews from all around. At the end of the night, we played around with some blind tasting and off-flavor identification which was particularly rewarding. This post in honour of our first BJCP tasting night!

Warsteiner Premium Verum is brewed in the Arnsberg Forest Nature Park outside of Warstein, North-Rhine Westphalia, Germany. Warsteiner has been a product of the Cramer family since 1753 and Germany’s largest privately owned brewery. As a German Pilsner, distinctive noble hops are immediately noticeable with a well attenuated maltiness.

Beer review: Warsteiner Brauerei

Beer Style: 2A. German Pilsner
Brewery:  Warsteiner Brauerei
Serving type: Bottle
ABV:  4.80%
Overall Style Category Rating:  9 / 10

Appearance: Light golden and translucent with creamy long-lasting head
Aroma: clean with a cereal-like profile like cheerios. Initially slightly sweet but after a while a little more like straw. Do yourself a favour and compare German vs. American hops back to back and you will immediately notice how mellow German hops can be on the nose.
Taste: slight malt sweetness with a definite grassy taste from hops (which is perfect because German pils should use noble hops)
Mouthfeel: Medium to light body with medium to high carbonation. Definitely crisp and thirst quenching.
Finish: Very refreshing with lingering gentle hops at the end.
Overall: An excellent representation of a German Pils! I have had this many times in a can before and had lost some of the subtleties in taste due to carbonation. After pouring from a bottle to a glass this particular style was showcased to me beautifully! did I tell you the beer was cold? hmm-hmm
Stay crafty!

Filed under Beer Sommelier beer craft beer warsteiner germany hopamigo hops bier pilsner lager

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Beer and Brewing Deities

While browsing the interwebs I stumbled upon an interesting list of Beer Gods and Goddesses. I was aware of a few of these but to my surprise there are over 100+ out there, all related to beer in some way!

I also found a guide that lists Gods and Goddesses called Godchecker! Kind of interesting learning where a lot of beer names and brewery names come from.

I encourage you to read up on these. Some of them are interesting, some of them are fun and then there’s the weird ones.

My favourite ones (in no discernible order):

: Sumerian Goddess of Brewing
Siduri: Sumerian Goddess of Brewing
Dumuzi: Sumerian God of Brewing


Hathor: Egyptian God of Drunkenness
Nephthys: Egyptian Goddess of Beer
Tenenit: Egyptian Goddess of Beer
Hapi: Egyptian Goddess of Barley
Neper: Egyptian God of Grain


Acan: Mayan God of Alcohol


Huitaca: Chibcha (Colombian) Goddess of Drinking, Dancing and Merry-Making


Centzon-Totochtin: The Aztec Four Hundred Drunken Rabbit Gods
Mayahuel: Goddess of Alcohol, Mother of the 400 Drunken Rabbit Gods.
Patecatl: God of healing and fertility, Father of the 400 Drunken Rabbit Gods.
Ometotchtli: Aztec King of the Centzon-Totochtin; a.k.a. “Two Rabbit”
Macuilxochitl: Aztec God of Alcoholic Beverages; a.k.a. “Five Rabbit”
Tequechmecauiani: Aztec God of Drinking
Tezcatzontecatl: Aztec Beer God


Irish / Celtic
Cluricaune: Irish Spirit or Elf. A.k.a Leprechaun
The Green Man: Celtic God or Spirit of Nature


Dionysus: Greek God of Intoxication


Gambrinus: Flemish King of Beer


Marduk: Babylonian Beer-Brewing God


Ragutiene: Slavic/Baltic Goddess of Beer
Ragutis: Slavic/Baltic God of Beer
Raugupatis: Slavic/Baltic God of Fermentation


Stay Crafty!

Filed under Beer Sommelier craft beer beer brewing god goddess

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Forgot my mouthfeel!

Is finish intended to include the same information that would be included in the “mouthfeel” section of a standard BJCP score sheet?

aaaa! I forgot my mouthfeel! Good catch sir!

To further expand on terms I want to use to simplify my reviews, the following are the most common terms that people would understand:


  • Straw, Gold, Amber, Copper, Red, Brown, Black
  • Clear, Opaque, Hazy, Clody
  • No head, Dimishing head, Lasting head, Fizzy head, Creamy head

Aroma & Taste:

  • Toast, Biscuit, Caramel, Toffee, Chocolate, Coffee, Roasty, Woody, Nutty, Smokey
  • Floral, Herbal, Grassy, Hay, Piney, Earthy, Citrusy, Peppery
  • Cloves, Spices, Berries, Sweet fruit, Dark fruit, Barnyard, Cardammon, Cillantro 


  • Creamy, Syrupy, Mouth-coating, Smooth, Silky, Velvety
  • Light body, Medium body, Full body, No carbonation


  • Dry, Wet, Boozy/Alcohol warmth, Wine-like, Spritzy/Champagne, Puckering, Astringent
  • Quick finish, Long finish, Lingering finish
  • Balance -> Malty/sweet, Hoppy/bitter, Sour, Fruity, Complex

Stay crafty!

Filed under Beer Sommelier craft beer beer review hopamigo tasting notes

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Beer Reviews - Simplify and Standardize!

Been looking at past beer reviews and noticed some inconsistencies in the way I review beers. So I will standardize and simplify my review methods going forward.

Since last thing a want to do is alienate my followers (or any reader for that matter) I will keep my reviews sweet, short and entertaining yet I will use key words used to describe beer (i.e. as little BS as possible).

Often I find huge 1-page beer reviews that I am forced to skim over and that could be cut down to a few lines. Words hurts my head.

My template will be as follows:

Intro: (History and back-ground info for my review with some nice pictures to accompany the post)

Beer review: (name of beer)

Beer Style: (very important - based on BJCP guidelines)
Serving type: (bottle for the most part)
Overall Rating:  / 10 (very important - rating is based on the particular style - a particular beer may be great BUT sometimes it may not fit the style it is marketed for - so I will qualify based on style guidelines)

Overall: (my closing remarks)
Stay crafty!

Filed under Beer Sommelier craft beer beer review

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German Ingenuity at its Best!I will take this opportunity to provide my humble review of Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier. Somehow one of the first beers that opened me up to the world of beer was missing a review! Unacceptable!
Nowadays there are so many exciting beers choices out there that we forget about the traditionally well-made beers that captured our palate with a single sip. Having a newly found appreciation for beer, this is a welcomed addition to my beer fridge, specially now that summer is around the corner. 

Beer review: Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier
Beer Style: Hefeweizen (wheat beer)Brewery: Bayerische Staatsbrauerei WeihenstephanServing type: BottleABV: 5.40%Overall Rating: 9 / 10 
Appearance: cloudy light golden with significant carbonation. Beautiful eggshell white fluffly head.Aroma: bananas mixed with an ever-so-pleasant bready profile. Very delicate and enjoyable to the nose. Some grassy / floral aromas like lemon grass and lavender.Taste: mellow banana transforming into its bready profile.Mouthfeel: significant carbonation that explodes in your mouth,  light and refreshing and keeps you coming for more.Finish: No significant bitterness from hops, yet the floral quality remains. The beer finishes into its bready profile with a very refreshing finish.
Overall: German brewers have definitely mastered this style! Unlike its American counterparts whose focus has been on hops, the Germans have achieved a wonderful balance between the floral hops and the sweet malt. Highly recommended in this style category!
Stay crafty!

German Ingenuity at its Best!

I will take this opportunity to provide my humble review of Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier. Somehow one of the first beers that opened me up to the world of beer was missing a review! Unacceptable!

Nowadays there are so many exciting beers choices out there that we forget about the traditionally well-made beers that captured our palate with a single sip. Having a newly found appreciation for beer, this is a welcomed addition to my beer fridge, specially now that summer is around the corner. 

Beer review: Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier

Beer Style: Hefeweizen (wheat beer)
Brewery: Bayerische Staatsbrauerei Weihenstephan
Serving type: Bottle
ABV: 5.40%
Overall Rating: 9 / 10 

Appearance: cloudy light golden with significant carbonation. Beautiful eggshell white fluffly head.
Aroma: bananas mixed with an ever-so-pleasant bready profile. Very delicate and enjoyable to the nose. Some grassy / floral aromas like lemon grass and lavender.
Taste: mellow banana transforming into its bready profile.
Mouthfeel: significant carbonation that explodes in your mouth,  light and refreshing and keeps you coming for more.
Finish: No significant bitterness from hops, yet the floral quality remains. The beer finishes into its bready profile with a very refreshing finish.
Overall: German brewers have definitely mastered this style! Unlike its American counterparts whose focus has been on hops, the Germans have achieved a wonderful balance between the floral hops and the sweet malt. Highly recommended in this style category!
Stay crafty!

Filed under Beer Sommelier craft beer beer germany hefeweissbier hefeweizen hefe weihenstephaner wheat

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The HopAmigo Emerges!

Just thought I would share my latest pet project: the HopAmigo logo! Still a work in process but very much alive! Eventually want to build my own site and make it proper.

Do you guys have any ideas?

***Update: forgot to give props to the homies who are helping me with the design (ooops!). Cheers to Donovan and LifewithLouis ***

Filed under Beer Sommelier craft beer beer hopamigo logo frog

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Pairing Beer and Dessert - It Just Works!

What?! You have never tried a beer and dessert pairing?! This post is to convince you to try at least one of my recommended pairings of beer with dessert. Because it just works!

How exactly would you describe a beer pairing? Well there are 3 aspect you should focus on to help you describe a beer pairing:

CONTRAST - opposite food profiles are enhanced by the pairing and expose other less apparent profiles. Contrast is as simple as ‘opposites attract’. A good example is pairing a IPA with cheesecake in which the bitterness of the IPA meets the sweetness of the cheesecake and makes the fruit profile of the cheesecake more evident. Refer to the pictures of this post (Mad Tom IPA and Strawberry cheesecake)

COMPLIMENT - In this case both food and beer share a similar flavour profile. Pretty much matching of the flavour of the beer with the flavour profile of the food (and vice versa). A good example is dark chocolate cake with a coffee stout where the roastiness of the coffee meets the bark-like quality of the dark chocolate. Another great example is a witbier and a salad in which the light citrus notes of the beer compliments the grassy profile and even the salads peppery dressing.

CUT - cleansing of the palate thanks to carbonation or ‘hopiness’ in beer. This is definitely one of the key attributes of beer. A good example is pairing a fatty or creamy cheese with a Belgian Tripel which just cuts through the fatty salty cheese. Another great example, a spicy (hot) dish like a curry with an IPA in which the carbonation will cleanse your palate of the dreaded capsaicin (stuff that makes food spicy) and even compliments the dish herbs with the hops. Try doing that with water or wine!

I present to you my top ten dessert and beer pairings (in no particular order). In some of these I have specified only the beer style for the pairing (as opposed to specific beer brand) because there are so many great choices out there:

1) IPA and Strawberry Cheesecake (or any cheesecake for that matter)
2) Barrel-aged beer and Vanilla Ice Cream (or any ice cream for that matter)
3) Aventinus (Schneider-Weisse) and Chocolate Cake
4) Belgian Stout and Apple Pie (yup, that’s right, I said “Belgian Stout”. A little hard to find, but well worth-it)
5) Brown Ale and Pecan Pie
6) Coffee Porter and Brownies (no special brownies!)
7) Wheat beer and Orange Squares
8) Lindemans Cassis in an Ice Cream Float
9) Milk (sweet) Stout and a Double Chocolate Cake
10) La Fin Du Monde (Unibroue) and Ginger Cookies

Your mission: get out there and try these. Report back. Take pictures.

Stay Crafty!

Filed under Beer Sommelier craft beer beer dessert chocolate strawberry Aventinus mad tom ipa lindeman cassis la fin du monde unibroue Schneider Weisse apple pie brownies pecan pie orange squares ginger cookie

28 notes

High Functioning: Craft Beer and Alcohol



An interesting take on a rather unfortunate elephant in the craft beer room.

This is applicable to anyone who likes good beer. Craft brewers, home brewers, or just beer geeks in general. Some of whom may not be truly honest with themselves.

You can’t deny that behind the “I drink craft beer because I enjoy the taste” mantra, there are people with alcohol issues.[…].

On a somewhat related note, what’s bothering me as well is the mantra of doing “special” for its sake. It’s like modern art all the way… I’ll always prefer a good beer instead of a special beer, and all the work I notice in brewing all kind of novel.recipes mostly fails my understanding. Beer with vaginal yeasts, maybe beard crabs or with roadkill? Nah, I don’t even care to hear about such a thing. And it’s not even because it’d be gross, but many things just don’t belong in a “beer” or in a drink for that matter. Call me ultraconservative for not doing bungee jumping either, probably I’m just not the right target for brave drinking adventures.

Spot on article!

The concept of beer education is finally starting to take a foothold in the minds of mainstream beer drinkers and is no longer a concept owned by the snobbery that used to surround the beer industry. This article makes an excellent point: “When one knows something of the history of a thing, something about its power, influence, and potential, one is (hopefully) less inclined to simply see that thing as a mere medium for intoxicant.”

Education is key for a sustainable growth and historically beer has been a social lubricant making it a very approachable topic.

I would love to see a future where education becomes synonym to increased moderation and quality in the beer industry!

Stay crafty!

Filed under Beer Sommelier beer craft beer Beer Festival education

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Off-Flavours and Aromas in Beer - Diacetyl

Diacetyl (2, 3 butanedione)



Butter, rancid butter, butterscotch, milky / creamy

Main origin:

During primary fermentation due to yeast or bacteria metabolic processes. Often, the higher the fermentation temperature, the less likely the beer will be affected by yeast producing diacetyl from primary fermentation.

Possible causes and Prevention:

  1. Cause:  Highly flocculant yeast strains do not allow time for diacetyl to absorb.
    Prevention:  Innoculate with a pure yeast strain

  2. Cause: mutant yeast strain (most likely when yeast has been harvested and re-pitched so many times, the little critters start to mutate and produce off-flavours)
    Innoculate with a pure yeast strain

  3. Cause: By-product of bacteria (bacterial contamination)
    A good sanitation regime.

  4. Cause:  Worts with high adjunct ratios of sugar, unmalted grains, grits, starches etc… tend to produce higher diacetyl
    Prevention: Use an adequate yeast strain that will absorb sufficient diacetyl depeding on your brew

  5. Cause: Early fermentation cooling and reduced contact of beer with rapidly sedimenting yeast (results in higher diacetyl levels)
    Prevention: Increase fermentation temperature to adequate levels. Pitch sufficient quantity of yeast to allow for a robust primary fermentation.

  6. Cause: Premature racking//fining/lagering
    Prevention:  Allow fermentation to fully complete and avoid over-oxygenating after fermentation.  

  7. Cause:  Long periods of wort cooling
    Prevention:  Rapidly cool wort to yeast pitching temperature before oxidation or contamination can occur (as a side note, rapid cooling will also produce a cold-break which can reduce chill-haze. Hazy beer tends to become stale sooner than non-hazy beer)

  8. Cause:  Too long an acid rest in the mash (main reason is using hard water full of minerals that causes the mash pH to be higher than the normal range of 5 to 5.5 pH)
    Prevention:  Soften the water or use dark roasted malts to balance alkaline water and achieve the proper mash pH.

Possible Treatments:

  • Perform a diacetyl rest. At the end of primary fermentation raise temperature of the beer to 12-15°C (about 55-60°F) for 24 - 48 hours before cooling it down for the lagering period. This makes the yeast more active and allows them to eat up the diacetyl before downshifting into lagering mode (source)
  • Krausen beer upon transfer to storage. Adding a small quantity of actively fermenting wort for the lagering period (source
  • Pass beer through DE filter with live yeast cells (more advanced method)
  • Add commercial diacetyl reductase enzyme (more advanced methods)

Other remarks:

Diacetyl is commonly present in many ales in various concentrations. It is acceptable in beer styles such as scotch ales, bitters, dry stouts, czhec pils and oktoberfest although it may not immediately be perceived.

This off-flavour will contribute to perception of ‘freshness’ in a beer so it is in the best interest of the brewer to remove as much as possible. In severe cases, Diacetyl will produce a slick or oily mouthfeel. The buttery aroma is enough to put-off consumers from a brand forever.

Stay Crafty!

Filed under Beer Sommelier beer craft beer diacetyl off-flavor defect butter rancid butterscotch

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Craft Beer in Colombia - The Journey Begins! (Part 1/2)

Colombia’s geographical location may not have enticed the development of beer in its earlier years, so its beer history can be attributed mainly to German immigrants dating back as early as the 1820’s. Further research into curious market reveals a rich history of Colombo-German brewers that continue to have a deep impact in the beer industry in this country. It is my intention to include a comprehensive account of breweries in Colombia at a later date to give you a better idea of the rich history of beer in this country, so this post will work on giving you an overall understanding of the beer industry in this country.

A visit to Colombia in South America would be the least expected destination for a definite craft beer lover and the last thing anyone would imagine as a budding craft beer market ready to explode. Yet, Colombia has not been immune to the craft beer revolution that has captured the imagination of young entrepreneurs and enthusiasts around the world.

Before the arrival beer drinking immigrants, other forms of fermented beverages were available in Colombia, such as “chicha”, a beverage brewed out of fermented corn, although it was not uncommon to see potatoes, pineapple, quinoa or casaba root being used as a source of fermentable sugar, or “guarapo” which is of Spaniard decent and which is made of fermented sugar cane, pineapple or Fique. Both of these beverages use spontaneous fermentation principles similar to Lambic beers in which fermentation happens thanks to natural occurring yeast. To describe the taste and texture of these beverages, both have a grainy mouthfeel, like when you eat a pear, with some deep fermented fruit taste which many people find tastes like very ripe and fermented tropical fruits (not a bad taste just different). Hygiene and tax evasion among other was the main reason why these fermented beverages fell out of favour along with the arrival of European immigrants and their drinking customs.

A quick visit to most Latin American countries yields an abundance of light lager style beers, and Colombia is no exception. Beers such as Aguila, Poker and Club Colombia - brewed by Bavaria S.A. - a subsidiary of the giant SABMiller since 2005, continue to hold a significant market share at a whooping 98% with an annual production of approximately 26.2 million hectoliters for a population of 45,558,000 (of which 64% consume primarily beer).

The remaining 2% market share is shared among craft brewers such as Bogota Beer Company BBC, which has defined itself as “La cervecería pequeña más grande de Bogotá” or “The biggest small brewery in Bogota” and which began operations 11 years ago in 2002. BBC’s owner Berny Silberwasser has managed to expand his line of British style pubs around the country and successfully expanded the distribution of their beers to major supermarkets chains owning approximately 80% of this 2% niche market. Just last August 2013 the company began expansion into a new brewery at a cost of US$14.5 million to expand their 24,000 annual hectoliters production to 40,000 hectoliters. The remaining 20% of this 2% market is mainly shared between Apostol (3,800 annual hectoliter production, began operations in 2009, founder Juan Camilo Salazar Pineda), 3 Cordilleras (3,800 annual hectoliter production, began operations in 2008, founder Juanchi Velez) and many other smaller operations with substantially less than 1,000 hectoliters annual production each.

Similar to other places in the world, the big breweries have managed to achieve economies of scales by focusing on volumes as opposed to variety in their product offerings. This has created a monotonous beer monopoly in a thirsty country ready to have its taste buds liberated. The fact a brewery like BBC can expand itself to 40,000 annual hectoliters in less than 12 years is proof that the Colombian market has become more sophisticated and globalized and is ready for all the beer world has to offer. Education and awareness will become key aspects for years to come and I hope to become a part of this.

Stay crafty!

Filed under Beer Sommelier beer craft beer Bogota Beer Company apostol 3 cordilleras sabmiller colombia germany chicha guarapo fermentation Bogota latin america

34 notes

Porter - Beer Style Guide

  • The ‘Porter’ name is thought to have originated due to its popularity with transportation workers of central London in the 18th century. These individuals were often physical labourers – the working class - such as trolley workers, train workers, dock workers etc …
  • Porter’s were considered the ‘working mans beer’ during the industrial revolution becoming the first beer style deemed a beer style because of its popularity and considered the first engineered beer to cater to the public’s taste (in line with the industrial revolution ideas of the time). It was the first beer style to be aged at the brewery and delivered ready to drink which also made it the first commercial beer style.
  • Before 1721 – the traditional Porter was simply known as a popular London beverage called ‘Three Threads’ made popular by a brewer called Ralph Hardwood – a pint of each Ale, Beer and Twopenny (strong beer). Interestingly enough, a replica of Hardwood’s popular beverage - known as ’Entire Butt’ - is credited for the modern Porter.
  • 1802 - John Feltham provided the earliest account on porters as being a blend of 3 other beer styles (at various proportions): an old ale (stale or soured ale), a new ale (brown or pale ale), a weak ale (mild ale). It was not uncommon to see combinations of up to 5 different beers.
  • 1868 – Charles Dickens provided his account of the Porter style as a brown beer made in London generally brewed in the winter and aged between 6 to 9 months. As such the beer had a tartness often perceived as sour or hardness because of aging. The solution was then to pre-blend with fresher beer to “condition it” which would impart old age characteristics in an infant brew.
  • A strong English porter may be called “Extra porter” “Double Porter” or a “Stout Porter”. Each brewery may have had a specific set of conditions to create their own version of a Porter, hence its title of first engineered beer style.
  • The Porter style also evolved out of the economics of brewing. In the past beer was left to age in the pubs cellars (as opposed to the brewer premises). Leaving beer to age takes up a lot of space and if improperly cellared it could lead to significant economic loss to pub owners. In a time when profits and cost containment were becoming increasingly important Porters changed the dynamics of brewing and distribution.
  • Summer brewing was not feasible before the industrial revolution since fermentation and lagering (storage) required specific temperatures be maintained otherwise the yeast could become too active and impart undesirable characteristics to the beer. This all changed with the coming of the industrial revolution when new technologies became available, such as refrigeration, that essentially changed the timing and manner of the brewing process.
  • In particular, brewing processes and technologies changed dramatically mainly due to the following inventions of the time:

    • Hydrometer (1770)
      • Allowed brewers to measure the yield of sugar from malt and allowed brewers to increase efficiency of sugar extraction for fermentation.
      • Before: brewers used 100% brown malt which had less fermentable sugars than pale malt.
      • After: brewers used mainly pale malt which had more fermentable sugars that translated into lower costs.
    • Thermometer (1760)
      • Allowed brewers to find optimal temperatures to extract wort (fermentable sugars) and reduce undesirable characteristics from malt and hops.
      • Since malt taxes had increased to pay for the Napoleonic war at the time the thermometer allowed for an increased brewing efficiency and saving in costs.

    • Black Patent Malt (1816)
      • 1816 English law forbade the use of ingredients other than malt and hops.
      • As pale malt was being used, the darker appearance and colours of beer that people were used to could only be achieved by adding colorants often to the detriment of consumers. Daniel Wheeler developed Black Patent malt in 1817 in response to this issue.
      • Allowed brewers to use 95% pale malt and 5% black patent malt and still achieve the darker appearance people were used. Brown malt would still be used for flavour.
  • Irish Porters were also being brewed as early as 1776 using similar methods available in England.  However, it was after 1816 many Irish Porters dropped brown malt and adopted to use of only pale and black patent malt. Porters have made a comeback during the brewing revolution of 1970’s with a wide range of flavour profiles and makes use of pale malt (as a base), black malt, crystal, chocolate, smoked brown malts among others.
  • The BJCP currently recognizes 3 Porter styles:
    • 12A - Brown Porter – malty sweetness and closest version of the traditional English porter.
    • 12 B - Robust Porter – more apparent roasty flavours and often higher ABV.
    • 12 C - Baltic Porter - fermented using lager yeast as opposed to ale yeast, mainly in Czech Republic, Russia, Poland, Ukraine where cold temperatures were more common. Characterized for its higher ABV and sweet malt profile.
  • The modern porter will range in appearance from brown to black with perfect transparency and moderate hop bitterness with a mixture of sweetness (depending on its variation). A fullness on the palate a certain sharpness without sourness or burnt flavour will also be present (again, depending on the variation). ABV will range from 4 to 7%.

I finally got this out of the way! Been meaning to post my presentation notes for this style for a while

Stay Crafty!

Filed under Beer Sommelier beer craft beer porter beer style guide bjcp hopamigo