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"A Craft Chemist Making Over Big Beer"

Discussion in 'Beer News' started by TheBeerAlmanac, Jan 29, 2013.

  1. Crusader

    Crusader Savant (345) Sweden Feb 4, 2011

    AB Inbev producing a good tasting helles lager or a CAP as suggested by JackHorzempa certainly seems like a natural fit. Branding-wise it probably works better for an old lager brewery with a German heritage to brew German lager beer styles than "anglo-saxon" ales (albeit with an American "craft/y twist").

    One would think that a tasty pale lager or CAP from a single big brewer could easily capture one million barrels in sales, if it was done right and was a credible product tastewise. Quite a few craft breweries seem to be moving in on pilsner-brewing, but the CAP-style is one where AB Inbev could have a first-mover advantage of sorts which would help against perceptions that it's jumping on a bandwaggon. They could emphasize the American heritage of the style in the marketing (whilst backing it up with flavor) in a way which would fit nicely into the larger Budweiser brand family. It would probably provide ample opportunity for story telling about the German immigrants coming to America and bringing lager beer with them etc., giving the brand and beer the background which seems to be important for the big breweries but which can also be hard to accomplish (with big name brands suffering from commoditization and indifference from consumers).

    I think such a product would need to state its points of differentiation on the label, back or front, giving specs such as wort strenght, IBUs and malt/adjunct/hop varieties used, to further bring home the point to the consumer that this is something different, it's not Budweiser with a different label. A pilsner brewed with pilsner malt, corn, German/Continental hop varieties which are named and with an IBU rating around 30 or slightly north of that (I'm guessing there are examples of early 20th century/late 19th century American pilsners which would have had a bitterness close to that). That's a description for a beer I'd try without hesitation.
     
    JackHorzempa likes this.
  2. I doubt that AB would ever brew an IPA. Selling at least 1,000,000,000 barrels of an IPA is not going to happen. If you added up the sales of the top 5 selling IPAs it would be a lot less than 1,000,000,000 barrels.
     
  3. Sorry, I have to correct myself since I can't edit the above; the hard and soft resins were classified based on their solubility in hexane, not ethanol. Even though it's not used much anymore, I didn't want to leave incorrect information up there. The hard resins are apparently oxidation products of the soft resins. I guess there's a reason we don't use that terminology anymore; it really doesn't describe anything useful from a brewing standpoint.
     
    JackHorzempa likes this.

  4. Don't forget about this little diddy. The only reason I remember it is because I have the corresponding glassware...

    http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/29/31995
     
  5. Just wanted to say I appreciate your willingness to participate here. No doubt, you realize you're in the minority by defending your employer but you do it anyways. And I won't presume you came here to represent AB, only that you're a beer guy that wants to talk beer.

    It seems pretty simple to me: AB has the capability to make craft beer, but impressing the increasing minority makes little business sense versus capturing the decreasing majority. Producing a hop ridden IPA or viscous imperial stout requires a lot more ingredients and a lot more money, and if it doesn't result in a particular quota then it's not going to be looked upon favorably by shareholders, regardless if interests are changing in favor of craft, albeit slowly. AB has no monetary or intrinsic obligation to venture into the craft market, and even though they've made the occasional foray in the past, it was tepid in that they were forced to suit two dichotomized parties. I'll disagree with your query that true craft enthusiasts wouldn't partake in a craft invention from AB; they have the resources, if they wanted to be successful in the craft market I don't think it would be an issue. But I get your sentiment and as much as I'd love to see a juggernaut like AB use their resources to create something truly remarkable, a big (BIG) business is required to play by a different set of rules that small brewers aren't privy to. Maybe Goose Island and other acquisitions were always a way to let the real beer geeks at AB let off steam without having to produce prototypically required results. Or maybe it's just insurance against a swelling, competing market.
     
  6. rlcoffey

    rlcoffey Savant (490) Kentucky Apr 20, 2004

    Considering the entire US beer market is ony about 200,000,000 barrels, I doubt 1 billion will be sold in any brand any time soon.
     
    BrettHead, dar482, fields336 and 2 others like this.
  7. lol sorry 3 to many zeros
     
  8. I think you've captured the points and summed it up perfectly.
     
    bozodogbreath likes this.
  9. So, in an article published on March 13, 2013 Pat McGaulley is quoted as saying:

    “The days have to be gone where we sit around the office picking new beers,” said Pat McGauley, ABI’s vice president of innovation. “It has to have a story and historically, we haven’t done that so well.”

    Our philosophy has to be long term and there needs to be consistent investment in what we are putting out,” McGauley said. “We are no longer one-and-done. Obviously we need to continue building long-term brands.”

    In your opinion, what is the future of AB? Is it making more alcoholic beverages like Ras-ber-Rita or is to make beers that have a story which will result in beer being made for the long term?

    Permit me to opine on the –rita beverages. In 5-10 years those particular beverages will go the way of Zima. Maybe over those 5-10 years accounting practices will allow it to be stated those beverages have made money (profit?) for AB InBev but I am confident that applying the description of “long term” to those things will not be appropriate (just my opinion).

    Cheers!

    P.S. At the risk of being called a pain in the neck I still am very interested in knowing what volume Ziegenbock is produced on an annual basis
     
  10. rlcoffey

    rlcoffey Savant (490) Kentucky Apr 20, 2004

    This is what I dont get about the million barrel threshhold. It makes sense for the *-rita type "beers". But, using the IPA example, the idea isnt to sell 1 million barrels in 2014, but to sell 5 million barrels in 2024. I guess, in some sense, they are showing that kind of patience with Goose Island. At least for now.

    I dont think the "next" Bud or Bud Light is coming around. There wont be any single beer 20 years from now with that large a percentage of the market. A long term play cant go for that.
     
  11. The reduction of the bitterness of A-B's Budweiser over the decades is rather well documented. Brewing consultant Joe Owades, who even worked for Anheuser-Busch in late '60s-early 70's, claimed Bud went from 20 IBUs in the late '40s, to 17 in '70s and then 14 in the '80s. Alcoholic Beverage Testing News claims today's Budweiser tests at having 7-8 IBUs.

    And, in the somewhat infamous 2006 Wall Street Journal article/interview with August Busch III "After Making Beer Ever Lighter, Anheuser Faces a New Palate" unnamed "former brewmasters" claim that A-B "... quietly tinkered with its formula to make the beer less bitter and pungent..., a byproduct of the company's desire to create a beer for the Everyman."

    Ogle's Ambitious Brew (researched in part at A-B's St. Louis corporate library) claimed the oriiginal A-B Budweiser recipe used 1.25 -1.50 lbs. of Saaz per barrel. Granted, and as noted above, without the specs of those mid-19th century hops, it's hard to determine actual bitterness.

    A-B's Budweiser was perhaps the most famous US beer that promoted it's use of rice as an adjunct (understandable, given that it was long the best selling brand), but it was hardly unique. The industry as a whole, in the years immediately before and after Prohibition (when A-B's market share was under 5%) used rice at a rate of about 1/3-1/4 as much as corn. For instance, 10.1 lbs/bbl of corn and corn products vs. 2.7 lbs/bbl of rice in 1915 or 7.5 lbs/bbl of corn and corn products vs. 3.1 lbs/bbl of rice in 1935. (Granted, the comparison leaves out the use of sugar/syrups, some corn-based).

    In the 1950-70s, Rheingold and Coors Banquet used rice, Utica Club Lager, and Rolling Rock both used rice and corn, Hampden in MA advertised of using rice "milled in Belgium", etc. Schlitz even boasted of being able to brew their flagship with either corn or rice, depending on crop/market conditions.

    Well, as long as those records stayed internal, since arch rival Schlitz probably had a trademark on the phrase...;)
    [​IMG]
     
    JackHorzempa likes this.
  12. Kyrojack

    Kyrojack Savant (420) Indiana Oct 9, 2012

    This thread is way long so this might have been said. It seems like a gimmick to me almost. I know they don't want to give any "trade secrets" away, but it seemed like the same old shit with some type of fruit or spice added.

    Also on a personal note, I wouldn't claim responsibility for Platinum....
     
  13. Jeff, the IBU was not defined/agreed upon until 1968 (ASBC standard Beer-23). I took note on the table there was a footnote of:

    “++ Original data in isohumulones; though a matter of some debate, we assume a 1:1 ratio between isohumulone and IBU values.”

    The above footnote was applied to three beers. The fourth beer (Trommer's White Label) listed 28 IBUs without the ++ footnote.

    Do you understand how the value of 28 IBUs was ‘determined’ for Trommer's White Label?

    Do you have an opinion on how valid the assumption of “we assume a 1:1 ratio between isohumulone and IBU values” is?

    Cheers!

    Jack
     
  14. I don't know all of the particulars for Trommers IBU, and the author got it from the late George Fix, so that source is no longer with us.

    The IBU was agreed upon in 1968, between the EBC and ASBC. They each had methods to measure iso-humulone since about 1955 or so, according to John Palmer.
    http://byo.com/stories/item/199-behind-the-ibu-advanced-brewing
     

  15. I know for a fact (both from personally doing hundreds of measurements of both IBUs and ppm iso-alpha and from looking at other people's data) that isohumulone does not correlate 1:1 with IBU - IBU will always be higher. In very light beers, such as some adjunct lagers, it comes close to a 1:1 correlation. The darker/hoppier a beer gets, the worse the correlation gets. Also, perhaps even more pertinent to lagers made in the 40's/50's, the older and more oxidized the hops are before brewing, the worse the correlation will be (IBUs will read high but the ppm iso-alpha will be much lower). Throw in barrel aging and the IBU measurement becomes even more skewed.

    The reason for this is that the IBU assay will record everything that's absorbing light at 275 nm. Iso-alpha acids absorb UV light very strongly at this wavelength, but other things found in beer will also absorb to some degree at the same wavelength. These include some malt melanoidins, other hop compounds, oxidation products, and tannins/polyphenols from malt, hops, or even aging barrels. Some of these can affect perceived bitterness and some cannot. I've seen an empirically generated graph of IBU vs ppm iso-alpha acids and, depending on the beer, the correlation ranged anywhere from 1.05 to 1.5. Of course, this isn't really a big problem if we all understand what the number really means and that all 40 IBU beers aren't equally as bitter.

    There has been some discussion about modernizing the method; the ASBC has been trialing a new method called the SBU that more closely correlates to actual iso-alpha concentration but allows brewery labs to still use a spectrophotometer (otherwise to directly measure iso-alpha one would need to use a very expensive high performance liquid chromatography machine which a lot of breweries don't have). They ran into some problems with brewery to brewery variability because the assay is a little more complicated, so I don't know if it will ever be released as an official method.

    Also, Jack, I'm still trying to find that Ziegenbock number for you ;)
     
    Crusader and JackHorzempa like this.
  16. BlindSalimander

    BlindSalimander Savant (250) Texas Aug 16, 2010

    Great thread guys! Very interesting.
     
  17. Stevedore

    Stevedore Champion (855) Wisconsin Nov 16, 2012

    I have nothing useful to add to the thread except to note that it has been an incredibly interesting read over the last day or two. Thanks to all for the education and piquing my interest!
     
    ksullnh and bozodogbreath like this.
  18. Peter, thank you for taking to time to construct that post.

    You stated:

    · “… isohumulone does not correlate 1:1 with IBU - IBU will always be higher.”

    · “ …depending on the beer, the correlation ranged anywhere from 1.05 to 1.5.”

    Based upon the above information I am presuming that the IBU values for the three beers mentioned in the Jankowski article should be:

    · Piels Real Draft: 25.2 – 36 IBUs

    · Reingold Extra Gold: 30.5 – 43.5 IBUs

    · Schaeffer:25.4 – 36.3 IBUs

    Does the above ‘translation’ appear reasonable to you?

    I probably should not mention this but it turns out that I have direct experience with Piels Real Draft of the 60’s. Piels Real Draft was my father’s beer of choice during the 60’s and 70’s. He would buy it by the case in 16 ounce returnable bottles. When I was very little, and my mother was out of sight, my father would offer me swigs of Piels Real Draft from the bottle. I gotta tell you, those big heavy duty bottles (with beer in it) were a heavy lift but I developed my arm muscles drinking that beer. Surprisingly I did not find that beer to be too bitter; maybe that is why I enjoy hoppy beers today.

    If you can find out the Ziegenbock volume numbers I would appreciate knowing that information.

    Cheers!

    Jack
     

  19. Given the beer styles in question, I would presume they would fall on the low end of the correlation scale; 1.05-1.1 IBU:iso-alpha acids. It's pure speculation, of course, but I would think it would be more like:
    • Piels: 25.2-26.4 IBU
    • Reingold: 30.5-32 IBU
    • Schaeffer: 25.4-26.6 IBU
    Honestly, those beers sound really, really good. For me personally, I like it when a pilsner or lager comes in right around 24-28 IBUs. Crisp, but not overpowering or overshadowing bitterness. Complementary. I would love to be able to try those beers exactly as they were made back then, but I think that is impossible. This part of the article made me sad:



    There's something special about a house yeast that's been in use for a while and has adapted well to its terroir. It becomes the soul of the beer. Losing that yeast meant losing something they would never get back, as evidenced by the flavor change indicated in the article. That's really too bad.
     
    bozodogbreath and JackHorzempa like this.
  20. “A new yeast strain was introduced, but many loyal drinkers were dissatisfied with the product. Trommer's closed its doors in 1951…”

    Yup, loyal beer drinkers do not like it when their beer is changed. Schlitz Brewing Company ‘learned’ this lesson in the late 60s into the 70’s:http://beeradvocate.com/community/t...le-ale-who-remembers.4912/page-3#post-1449698

    Cheers!
     
  21. MYJELLOMISFIT

    MYJELLOMISFIT Initiate (0) Colorado Jan 14, 2007

    Answer: AC Golden [Coors] - Hidden Barrel Collection. Yes. They would.
     
    jtmartino likes this.
  22. jtmartino

    jtmartino Savant (470) California Dec 11, 2010

    I want to follow-up on this statement since I discussed this with one of the brewers at Deschutes recently. You were right in that at the retail front, craft beer is more profitable ounce-per-ounce than low end beer due to the markup coming out of the brewery and from the distributor. But to manufacture, BMC is far cheaper to make.

    While craft beer is more profitable per oz., more people drink BMC so it's a far more profitable industry than craft beer. Back to the economies of scale thing - BMC is a billion-dollar industry for each company. Craft beer is much, much smaller. As that changes over time, you will see more BMC-branded "craft" beers.

    And as supported by the recent comments in this thread (and simple common sense,) BMC has the talent and technology to make excellent craft beer. But it won't sell as much as easy-drinking low-flavor AAL, so there's very little point to focus on different styles right now.
     
  23. Either the date or (more likely based on the original cited source) the brand name of the Piels beer in the linked chart is incorrect. Piels Real Draft was a creation of the mid-60s, one of the many "real draft" non-pasteurized canned (and, later, bottled) beers made possible through the Millipore microfiltering/sterile fill technique. In the '50s, Piels flagship was called Piels Light Beer.

    Piels Real Draft was probably the most successful beer of its type, especially in the northeast, and certainly one of the longest-lived - still around as a Pabst-owned, Miller brewed product. But, incongruously, it's now labeled "Pasteurized" even tho' MillerCoors facilities obviously have the ability to package "real draft/non-pasteurized" beer (i.e., Coors Banquet, and Miller Genuine Draft) - perhaps its too expensive for Pabst?

    Also, Piels (by then owned by the multi-plant Associated Brewing Co.) closed their Brooklyn brewery in '73 and Schaefer was brewing Piels under contract for the mid-Atlantic market. When Piels folded entirely by closing its Wilimansett, MA brewery a couple of years later, the Piels brand was taken over by Schaefer and used as their discount brand, something Stroh continued when they bought Schaefer and it's Allentown, PA brewery. So, its likely the Piels beers of the 60s and 70s were very different than the original Piels-brewed and owned beers.
     
    hopfenunmaltz likes this.
  24. They would probably come up with something similar to Bud Light. Having lots of money comes with great responsibility. They have a responsibility to please a very large crowd of people, which equates to making Bud Light.
     
    jtmartino likes this.
  25. You have to take into account that there were no bittering hops in the late 19th century (unless you count cluster), so the "aroma" hops, which I guess would have been just "hops" back then, were used for all additions. It seems very reasonable to me that some old breweries took a long time to switch to high-alpha bittering hops in their established beers, once those hops had hit the market.
     
  26. “there were no bittering hops in the late 19th century (unless you count cluster)”

    As I have stated in my posts I am indeed ‘counting’ Cluster. Cluster hops were the dominant hops in the US. Cluster hops are perfectly suited for bittering: they have high alpha acids and they do not have the flavor/aroma essential oils that are present in Noble Hops. Also, for the US breweries Cluster was much cheaper than the imported Noble Hops.

    Cluster hops were exported to the UK in the late 1800s for the purposes of bittering the British beers.

    It does not make sense to me that the US breweries would utilize expensive Noble hops for the purposes of bittering additions when they had lots of cheap Cluster hops that suit that purpose perfectly.

    Cheers!
     

  27. I don't think you could make the blanket statement that "US breweries would utilize expensive Noble hops for the purposes of bittering additions"; I think it was fairly unique to AB. From what I've read (especially from earlier posts in this thread about domestic lagers and pilsners in the early 20th century) it does look like Cluster was the dominant bittering hop.

    Based on what I've been told (I wasn't with the company at the time), there were a lot of things done by Anheuser-Busch in the pre-InBev-merger days that didn't necessarily make perfect financial sense. They were done out of tradition (which August Busch III was a very big proponent of) and because of a perceived quality difference. The use of Willamette and Noble hops at all stages of the Budweiser brewing process was one of those things. In fact, the packaging on Budweiser includes the wording:

    That was an accurate statement for many decades, and it was a point of pride for the Busch family (something they were particularly proud of when Schlitz imploded trying to cut ingredient costs and aging times way down during the 70's). The fact that the rice often costs more than barley malt combined with the hop bill and long aging times meant that Budweiser really was an expensive beer to make. Now days, it's easy to find a craft beer or barrel aged beer that costs more on an ounce per ounce basis, so the statement doesn't ring as true as it once did. I'd wager a decent amount of money it's still true when talking about AALs, however.
     
    JackHorzempa likes this.
  28. Did a macro brew abuse you as a chiild? why so angry and insulting toward something that has nothing to do with you? this is beer after all, its just one opinion vs another.
     

  29. From a financial standpoint, I get what you are saying, but many brewers are very particular about the quality of bitterness that they achieve from early boil hops. Lots of brewers today think cluster provides a coarse, rough bitterness, so it wouldn't surprise me if brewers decades ago felt the same way and thought that it was worth the extra cost to get "better" hops.
     
  30. There are a number of breweries that still use lowere alpha hops for bittering. TImothy Taylor Landlord is said to be bittered with EKG and Styrian Goldings. Last I heard PU was still all Saaz. Some of the German beers are using extracts these days.
     
  31. I use Cluster hops as a bittering hop (principally in my CAP beers but other beers as well). I personally do not notice any “coarseness” or “roughness” in the beers that I make with Cluster hops used for bittering.

    Needless to say but people have varying palates. I am sure that the US brewers of the late 1800s and early 1900s had varying palates as well. Despite the palates of the brewers, I would guess that the brewery owners would have a big ‘vote’ on how their beers were made. You save a lot of money by using Cluster for bittering: it has higher alpha acids so you can use less of it and the price per lb. was less than imported Noble Hops.

    On a separate, but I believe related, note: British brewers of the 1800s had a fair amount of ‘prejudice’ concerning American (Cluster) hops. They were viewed in a non-positive manner but yet they used them to bitter their beers. British brewers were pragmatic in their brewing just like I am sure many American brewers were during that time.

    Below is an extract from The Edinburgh Review in 1862:

    “American hops may also be discussed in a few words. Like American grapes, they derive coarse, rank flavors and smell from the soil in which they grow ….”

    I wonder if the above was written by a British hop farmer!?!;)

    Cheers!
     
  32. FWIW, below is what Hopunion publishes on their data sheet for Cluster hops:

    “General Trade Perception: An excellent general purpose hop with medium and well-balanced bittering potential and no undesirable aroma properties.”

    Cheers!
     
  33. It's not just opinion when you're dealing with quality. Making a beer out of cheap fillers is cheapness, not just a "different style."
     
  34. ohiobeer29

    ohiobeer29 Savant (465) Ohio Feb 2, 2013

    I'm all for it let big beer put out crap.I'm happy with the smaller breweries and supporting them to each their own
     
  35. Welp, after browsing through BA for a few years (mostly just beer reviews) and always being thoroughly intrigued by threads such as this, I've decided to join the gang. I really do enjoy reading the BMC bashing threads to an extent, agree with some and get a good laugh out of the truly ass hat beer snobs, bear in mind its just those ones that are way, way out there i consider a 'snob'. My checks are direct deposit from AB wholesaler. Also I'll add I do drink tons of delicious craft beer from any brewery, which i don't feel bad about because none come from MC *drum roll*. I also just love craft beer. Im in the sales side of things and not some big wig sitting in an office but am in management, so deal directly with a lot of the things mentioned here. Just want to throw my .02, with isn't worth much, just my...been in the "trenches" for some time now opinion. Mr. Wolfe nailed about everything possible in his original post so i wont regurgitate it. So i will probably quote a few responses and give some insight into what I can about things. I'm sure I'll come under attack, and wont have answers to some inquires, but at the end of the day, this money making machine of a corporation keeps my family and I fed and a roof over our heads.

    This is very on point statement, you nailed it for the most part. Go to any independently owned account, unless its a bottle shop or craft exclusive account, basically a general corner liquor store and BMC products is what pays their bills. Their margins are minimal, but the volume it pushes generates more profit than most craft beers. Sure, you can bink $2 or $3 profit off a single X brand 6 pack but in most cases, you'll sell 2-5 cases a week of this SKU. On the high end, you just made a $60 profit in a week on this craft brand. Same account has an ABI domestic at 12.99 they're making about $1.60 profit per 18(There is lower people marking it up .70) and pulling through a 100+ of these 18 packs week in and week out, they're profiting double or triple those craft beers. Then you throw in they have a higher margin on another BMC SKU and roll with a blended margin, they balance out to being more favorable. Sort of a "slow dimes or fast nickels" approach to their business.
     
  36. I am not a fan of platinum myself, but when you roll out the most successful brand launch in 7 years and crack top 40 in IRI data the first month, someone made a good choice. Again, its not being marketed to the majority of BA members. That doesnt mean anything for the quality of the beer, but it was a success
     
  37. This is the biggest question I have for people. I'm kind of on the fence about this and how it could go, not on a sales or barrels sold standpoint. Here's how i could see it unfolding:

    1- They/you use the resources, technology, science, and everything ABI has at their dispose to make an incredible mind blowing beer. Something better then either pliny or heady topper. A true world class beer that blew most of the top beers out of the water. I'm sure there would people actually recognize it and admit, "wow this is effing amazing." But also, there would be some like many on the boards who'd shun their nose at it, do to it being big beer and an ABI product.

    2-They make a mediocre IPA style beer, even by BA standards. The local BMC drinker is inclined to try it because "Budweiser made this new IPA, I'll try it" mentality. Planting the seed of craft beer in their heads and they trade up to world renowned beers and get away from the ABI product. Obviously the IPA's intent would to be take sales/shares from craft breweries but it may get younger customers to stop drinking Bud, BL and similiar so would be a shot in the foot. Bud light pays the bills
     
  38. rgordon

    rgordon Savant (370) North Carolina Apr 26, 2012

    Well, they did have that Bud Light Platinum breakthrough. At least they got that going for them (said Carl).
     
  39. Platinum was a huge success because it was new and had a massive marketing budget. My guess is in a couple years it will be gone and replaced by a new product in the same way the Golden Wheat and American Ale have been replaced by Platinum and Black Crown
     

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