"Biscuit" flavor note: the Southern breakfast kind, the English tea-dipping kind or something else?

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by BrownNut, May 3, 2012.

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  1. BrownNut

    BrownNut Devotee (423) Jul 11, 2011 Florida

    When I read you guys' tasting reviews, I often see the biscuit flavor note mentioned. I'm in the South and biscuit means only one thing, that fluffy, salty, floury baked breakfast good that you either put butter and jelly on or slather in sausage gravy. I've never tasted that in a beer. I know the Brits call their cookies biscuits, but I'm not sure I've ever quite tasted that in a beer either. And if it's the cookie kind of biscuit we're talking about, it seems complicated, because there are lots of different tasting varieties of cookie. So if it's that, what kind of cookie are we talking about? Shortbread? Digestives? Rich tea? Snickerdoodle? Whatever the generic base of chocolate chip cookies is before you put in the chocolate chips?
  2. dbol

    dbol Initiate (0) Aug 19, 2007 California
    Beer Trader

    to me it's a yeasty, bread like flavor.
  3. Bitterbill

    Bitterbill Poo-Bah (5,075) Sep 14, 2002 Wyoming
    Supporter Beer Trader

    Yep, for me, and the OP should try New Belgium Fat Tire..
    libbey and hopsbreath like this.
  4. Chaz

    Chaz Poo-Bah (1,587) Feb 3, 2002 Minnesota
    Beer Trader

    For me it's somewhere between Elwood Blues' favorite ("Dry white toast") and a fresh saltine -- at least when it comes to a clean, crisp lager; a different sort of biscuit applies in terms of ale :wink:
  5. BrownNut

    BrownNut Devotee (423) Jul 11, 2011 Florida

    Well I've tasted yeasty in beers and I've tasted bready in beers, but haven't thought of biscuit in those situations. Are you picturing the southern breakfast kind when you note biscuit flavor or just an amorphous cloud of flavors that carries that title?
  6. BrownNut

    BrownNut Devotee (423) Jul 11, 2011 Florida

    Aw maaan, I tried that once and fell right asleep from boredom. Maybe somebody will spot me a single.
    Aexoonge likes this.
  7. Bitterbill

    Bitterbill Poo-Bah (5,075) Sep 14, 2002 Wyoming
    Supporter Beer Trader

    It's the big seller for New Belgium and gives them the opportunity to experiment.

    Yeah, on draught at bars or in the bottle, it is a pretty boring brew overall. At New Belgium, it has a nice nutty character that, it seems, is the first to "go" once it leaves the brewery. Tis a shame..
  8. UCLABrewN84

    UCLABrewN84 Poo-Bah (12,165) Mar 18, 2010 California

    I have tasted this before.
  9. sunkistxsudafed

    sunkistxsudafed Initiate (0) Apr 30, 2010 New Mexico

    to the OP, try Sam Adams' Winter Lager. This is the closest i have had to the southern definition of biscuit, IMO.
  10. PDXHops

    PDXHops Initiate (0) Nov 19, 2008 South Carolina

  11. harrymel

    harrymel Initiate (0) Dec 15, 2010 Washington

    "saltine cracker" from PDX's link. But more like, sans salt. It's like your biscuit, but dry (no gravy) and dry (air dried). Not really floury or salty, just baked.
  12. PDXHops

    PDXHops Initiate (0) Nov 19, 2008 South Carolina

    Great description.
  13. 5thOhio

    5thOhio Zealot (500) May 13, 2007 South Carolina

    Shows how silly these taste descriptors can get.

    According to the respondents, "buscuit" means like bread but not bread, like a Southern biscuit without the salt or flour taste (meaning what? only the butter & baking powder?) or maybe like a cracker, so why isn't it called "saltine-without-the-salt"?

    My favorite descriptors from both beer & wine geeks are "oak" and "leather." So when was the last time you sucked on a piece of oak or leather to know what they taste like?
  14. leedorham

    leedorham Crusader (701) Apr 27, 2006 Washington

    To me, it belongs more as a mouthfeel descriptor than a flavor descriptor. It's more of a texture. Dry, bready, flour texture.
  15. Aexoonge

    Aexoonge Initiate (0) Mar 2, 2012 California

    To me this is a buttery bread/flour flavor. I love Harpoon IPA because I get a lot of this flavor in the malt.

    CHEERS! :grinning:
  16. BrownNut

    BrownNut Devotee (423) Jul 11, 2011 Florida

    A-haaaaa. I hadn't realized there was such a thing as biscuit malt. So when people note a biscuit flavor, they may not be saying, "This tastes like a biscuit," they may be saying, "This tastes like biscuit malt," which they may happen to know is used in a given beer. That's easier to process.

    So I guess what I've got to do then is to learn to tease this particular malt flavor away from the broader malt category and from other specific similar malt notes.
  17. Nugganooch

    Nugganooch Meyvn (1,445) Jan 13, 2011 California
    Beer Trader

    You say you have tasted bready in beers? That seems complicated, because there are lots of different tasting varieties of bread. What kind of bread are we talking about? Is it white or wheat? A French baguette? Sourdough? Rye? Is it a bagel or muffin?

    Now to really blow your mind...Biscuit IS a type of bread.

    Point is I think a lot of us just use these terms as a general descriptor of that nutty grain and yeasty combo flavor profile found in many beers. No need to complicate things :grinning:
  18. FosterJM

    FosterJM Poo-Bah (2,602) Nov 16, 2009 California
    Beer Trader

    Well if you read some reviews of Wookey Jack, Rye on Rye, Nelson. People will describe the Rye.

    Most people will try to tell you how THEY view the flavor. Either a cracker or a bready dough or something else.

  19. tjensen3618

    tjensen3618 Initiate (0) Mar 23, 2008 California

    I have no idea if it actually tastes like any of the aforementioned Southern or English biscuits; but if I use the biscuit taste descriptor, it's definitely the malt flavor that is heavily featured in Fat Tire.
  20. BrownNut

    BrownNut Devotee (423) Jul 11, 2011 Florida

    If only you had shown up sooner with your revelations from the bakery world, this pointless exploration of things that interest me could have been avoided.
  21. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (1,902) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    Taste and smell are very closely related senses. You walk into Wilson's and you know what leather smells like, so you can probably guess on the flavor.

    Oak is the same way, except that it's easier to gauge the flavor because so many beverages are stored in Oak. If you've ever tasted an oak aged Chardonnay next to one that was aged in stainless steel, you know that character well.
    libbey and drtth like this.
  22. Nugganooch

    Nugganooch Meyvn (1,445) Jan 13, 2011 California
    Beer Trader

    Yes I would agree in those instances the reviewer is siting a more specific characteristic of the brew rather than the generalized term "bready".

    EDIT: Reply to FosterJM
  23. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,259) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    Umm... circa late summer, nineteen somethingty-something, playing for FELDBAUM'S LIQUORS and moved to right field 'cause my sidearm curveball wasn't breaking and I hit two guys in row (but they're supposed to TRY to avoid it!). A left-hander's Rawlings, IIRC.
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  24. Nugganooch

    Nugganooch Meyvn (1,445) Jan 13, 2011 California
    Beer Trader

    HAHA I happen to have been a baker in my past life. Sorry I was late Mr. Nut
  25. quirkzoo

    quirkzoo Initiate (0) Jul 7, 2011 Colorado

    When I use the term "biscuit" as a flavor descriptor I mean something like the digestive biscuit that you list in the OP. Very bready, just slightly sweet and usually on the dryer side, as opposed to a caramel maltiness where I don't get any breadiness, much more sweetness and is not dry at all.
    Zimbo likes this.
  26. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (1,902) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    This is how I use the descriptor too -- softly sweet, not as sweet as caramel. On the opposite side, I don't usually use it when a beer is bready and dry -- maybe it's because I equate it with the English definition of "biscuit."
  27. Longstaff

    Longstaff Initiate (0) May 23, 2002 Massachusetts

    I thought SA Spring Lager (especially on draft) was also loaded with bicuity flavor.

    Also I though SN Torpedo in a can had it too - which is a departure from what I experience in bottles, which is more caramel
  28. crossovert

    crossovert Initiate (0) Mar 29, 2009 Illinois

    The flavor of oak is very easy to pick out, whether you have put an oak chip in your mouth or not. "Leathery" is a bit ambiguous, as is band aids or horseblanket, people apparently use these words when the taste smells like one of these things so to speak.
    drtth likes this.
  29. hopsbreath

    hopsbreath Initiate (0) Aug 28, 2009 Oregon

    Growing up in the south and eating/making my fair share of biscuits (the salty savory kind not to be confused with the denser sweet NC version), I've used the descriptor in beer once I 'got it'. Southern biscuits don't use yeast of any kind but do use a shit ton of baking soda /powder. That often shows up as an aftertaste in a biscuit. Taste some baking soda by itself and try to pick that out in a biscuit. Then try a Fat Tire to see if you can pick out that same baking soda/dry grain after taste. To me that's the definition of biscuit. It's often associated with Marris Otter malt as well so keep your eyes peeled for a beer that uses it as the base malt.
  30. maltmaster420

    maltmaster420 Aspirant (290) Aug 17, 2005 Oregon
    Beer Trader

    You know those biscuits that come in a tube? If you leave them in the oven for even a minute longer than you're supposed to they end up with a slight char on the edges. That "slightly burnt biscuit" flavor is what I"m reminded of when drinking something like Fat Tire or any other beer with a high proportion of biscuit or victory malt.
  31. BrownNut

    BrownNut Devotee (423) Jul 11, 2011 Florida

    Oh very nice. I'll try all of these things.
  32. BrownNut

    BrownNut Devotee (423) Jul 11, 2011 Florida

    Very helpfully specific. Thanks.
  33. sunkistxsudafed

    sunkistxsudafed Initiate (0) Apr 30, 2010 New Mexico

    spring lager? do you mean spring ale, noble pils or alpine spring? Also, i know what you mean with the SN torpedo in cans. I think its because the cans are more turbid as well as fresh (at least in my area)... if that makes sense.
  34. meltroha

    meltroha Initiate (0) Aug 16, 2011 Ohio

    Open a can of Pillsbury biscuits, take a whiff, have a taste and there you go, the yeasty, biscuity scent and flavor
  35. cavedave

    cavedave Poo-Bah (2,191) Mar 12, 2009 New York
    Beer Trader

    Even better is if you have a homebrewer for a friend (I assume you aren't one yourself) taste the grains he/she uses. They are pretty delicious, and give you an idea of the flavors they give to a beer.
  36. gustogasmic

    gustogasmic Initiate (0) Jan 13, 2012 Michigan
    Beer Trader

    english biscuit all the way-- not buttery
  37. 5thOhio

    5thOhio Zealot (500) May 13, 2007 South Carolina

    How exactly does someone know what oak or leather tastes like if they have never tasted either?

    I think when people say that, they're mistakenly talking about aroma, because a taste can be quite different from an odor. Perfect example is tobacco smoke. If you've ever smoked a cigar, pipe or cigarette, you know the taste of the smoke in your mouth is quite different from the aroma in the air.
  38. crossovert

    crossovert Initiate (0) Mar 29, 2009 Illinois

    They don't know what it tastes like but base the taste on the smell. I don't agree with it either but it is what some people do, right or wrong and that is how it happens. I don't think it is a proper way to describe something but the process isn't something that is hard to figure out. They put a taste with a smell. But at the same time oak is an easy flavor to pick out so when people mention it it generally is a proper observation.
  39. kspongeworthy

    kspongeworthy Initiate (0) Feb 25, 2011 Texas

    I understand this. I've tasted breadiness like a loaf of bread but not exactly biscuit. I feel the same way about "soy sauce" flavor being described in beer. I don't know what kind of soy sauce these people are used to. People just have different palates and memories of certain flavors that they compare other flavors to.
  40. angusdegraosta

    angusdegraosta Disciple (301) Sep 23, 2010 New York

    Think about English ales such as Black Sheep, Wells Bombardier, Fuller's ESB or 1845. Each of these have strong yeast and malt characteristics, which I'm thinking is what reviewers mean by "biscuit" or "bready."
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