Does anyone else have a problem with the Zymatore Project?

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by ahalloin, May 6, 2012.

  1. ahalloin

    ahalloin Initiate (0) Jan 3, 2008 Virginia

    I have a problem with this endeavor and I'm curious what others think. For those that haven't seen these beers or have heard of this yet, I'll attempt to summarize. A beverage distributor by the name of B. United International Inc. is taking beers produced by brewers and aging them in various new and spent spirit barrels, sometimes adding other ingredients, and even yeast, and then releasing them in small batches. Is it just me, or does it seem weird that a distributor would be allowed to take what is considered a "finished product" by the brewer and then radically alter the aspects of the beer, blend it (without the brewers' input), and release the beer with the brewer's name on it? I suppose I can understand this being allowable if the brewer consents, but I'm not sure I, as a consumer, would necessarily trust what seems like a haphazard experiment taken by someone who didn't develop the product to begin with.

    Here is a link the project for further reading:

    I should mention that I had a few of these renditions recently and I thought only 1 of 5 was worth anything and the rest seemed like badly blended mishmashes of ingredients and aging.
  2. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,294) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    I assume all their partner breweries know and approve of the program - they are shipping them beers in bulk containers, after all.

    (Also, in normal industry terminology, B. United is an importer, not a distributor.)
  3. EgadBananas

    EgadBananas Initiate (0) Mar 18, 2009 Louisiana

    I have to presume that you didn't read the site thoroughly and decided to draw your own conclusions first. Here's an excerpt:

    "All of the beers & meads that are used in the Zymatore project were used with the permissions of the breweries involved."
    GarthDanielson likes this.
  4. herrburgess

    herrburgess Meyvn (1,044) Nov 4, 2009 South Carolina
    Industry Beer Trader

    A simple case of "careful what you ask for" (if you ask me).

    e.g. Reissdorf Koelsch ages in Madeira barrels; Aecht Schlenkerla Helles "Bock Version" (whatever the hell that is...) aged in Petit Verdot barrels.

    After all, in the 1980s, when croissants came into vogue, we slapped a cheeseburger on them and called them a Croissanwich....
    tronester likes this.
  5. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,294) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    I blame the hypodermic needle of green dye in kegs of adjunct lagers for St. Patrick's Day, which begot DFH's Randall and it's imitators (and pocket-sized units), and now this...

    It is a little perplexing that a beer culture that is shocked at people who sprinkle a little salt in their beer or hang a piece of citrus fruit on their glass or in the neck of their bottle, approves of this.

    Of course, did anyone really "ask" for it?
  6. clegolfski

    clegolfski Aspirant (299) Jul 13, 2008 Ohio
    Beer Trader

    My only problem with it is that the beers are not very good and sold for exorbitant prices. I think it's an interesting idea in theory.
    KAF likes this.
  7. BearsOnAcid

    BearsOnAcid Savant (970) Mar 17, 2009 Washington
    Beer Trader

    Have they released the Zinfindel BA Berliner Weiss yet? Sounds good.
    CowsandBeer and afrokaze like this.
  8. billandsuz

    billandsuz Disciple (345) Sep 1, 2004 New York

    B. United is worried that Hitachio Nest Ancient Nipponia or Smiske Extra is too mainstream?
    busternuggz likes this.
  9. olympuszymurgus

    olympuszymurgus Zealot (582) Nov 24, 2009 California
    Beer Trader

    This beer is my problem with the zymatore project. And by problem, I mean problem that it isn't in my belly.
  10. afrokaze

    afrokaze Zealot (586) Jun 12, 2009 Arizona
    Industry Beer Trader

    Jess is right, as usual. These sound like a cool idea and I'm all for experimentation, but if it ain't as good as the original don't bother putting it out.
  11. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,454) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    Doesn't bother me any more than the fact that there are folks who buy Single Malt whiskies from distilleries to make their own label blended scotches with or that there are folks in Belgium who buy lambics to age in their own barrels to make their Gueuze blends with. Its not like they stole the base product or the brewer didn't know what was being done with they beer they sold.
    CowsandBeer, sharpski, KAF and 2 others like this.
  12. Giovannilucano

    Giovannilucano Devotee (452) Feb 24, 2011 New Jersey

    I will not try to be biased but I will say that Matthias who is the owner and brewmaster of B. United, is to me one of the most respectable owners I have had the privilege to talk to and so I trust in his endeavors and support what he does.
  13. GarrettOliver

    GarrettOliver Initiate (0) Jul 25, 2003 New York

    I have nothing to do with the Zymatore project, but it seems to me that the idea of a blender/ager/affineur is a very old one in the world of beer. Look at labels from 50 -100 years ago, and you'll sometimes see the names of the bottlers sometimes portrayed just as prominently as those of the brewers. It apparently mattered a lot "whose" bottles of Guinness you got in those days. More recently, at The White Horse in London, Mark Dorber, considered by many to be the best cellarman in England, always dry-hopped cask-conditioned Bass Ale and laid it down for many weeks. "His" Bass was distinctly different, and it drove the folks at Bass nuts....except for the fact that he sold more Bass than just about anyone in the country. If these brewers have decided to take on Matthias as a collaborator, why should this bother anyone? After all, you might note that YOU (collectively, anyhow) are almost surely the reason this is happening, yes?
  14. Giovannilucano

    Giovannilucano Devotee (452) Feb 24, 2011 New Jersey

    Exactly, Garrett! I have noticed that the most hauls of the die hard beer geeks tend to go towards beers that are blended/aged, just as you described. Much wisdom in your words, my friend....
  15. t8000shx

    t8000shx Aspirant (210) Mar 2, 2004 New York
    Beer Trader

    That's an interesting anecdote regarding The White Horse. The ins and outs of British pub culture never fail to entertain, I keep intending to make a trip over there to make a concerted effort at immersing my self in it for a week or two... but never quite find the time.

    And I know it's been said previously in these forums, but Garrett, that hat is spectacular.
  16. herrburgess

    herrburgess Meyvn (1,044) Nov 4, 2009 South Carolina
    Industry Beer Trader

    Agree with all that you have said here. It's all about giving the people (i.e. beer geeks) what they want. However, as Afrokaze said above, if it's not as good as the original I don't see the point (save for experimentation for experimentation's sake). Kinda reminds me of when, say, the Lemonheads covered Simon and Garfunkel's "Mrs. Robinson."
    Giovannilucano likes this.
  17. immobilisme

    immobilisme Aspirant (231) Nov 8, 2005 Illinois

    I have had a few Zymatore Project beers and they have all been worse than the base beer. I don't know if B. United hired a respected barrel program manager to head this project, but I would bet they didn't. The ones I had were curiosities at best.

    I have no problem with the idea, but the execution seems rather lackluster in my opinion.
  18. tewaris

    tewaris Initiate (0) Jul 14, 2009 Minnesota

    Couldn't have said it better. If it's no good, it won't sell.
  19. billandsuz

    billandsuz Disciple (345) Sep 1, 2004 New York

    your opinion of the quality of the product not withstanding, you are going to lose this bet.
    B. United and Mathias are not pikers in this world of beer.
  20. Sgorzynski

    Sgorzynski Initiate (0) Jul 23, 2009 Yemen

    It's a rather interesting endeavor, if you ask me. I tried one of them, don't recall which, at The Trappist in Oakland. I believe it was aged in whisky and pinot noir barrels but you could get all three flavors out of the beer. Started off wine-y like pinot noir, slight hoppiness of beer in the middle then finished with a slight whisky note.
  21. immobilisme

    immobilisme Aspirant (231) Nov 8, 2005 Illinois

    Did B. United hire someone? I am not trying to be a jerk, I just did not see any information on B. United's website about how they chose what to do with the beers they received.

    Matthias may be (and is) a world-class importer of utterly fantastic beer, but that does not mean he knows how to barrel age a beer.

    Why he thought it was a great idea to age a Schlenkerla beer in white wine barrels makes me question the direction of the project in general.
  22. GarrettOliver

    GarrettOliver Initiate (0) Jul 25, 2003 New York

    I'm glad people like the hat - I designed it myself and had it made some years ago.
    CowsandBeer, 4balance and benart like this.
  23. herrburgess

    herrburgess Meyvn (1,044) Nov 4, 2009 South Carolina
    Industry Beer Trader

    So is it meant to be a kind of "blend" of a straw boater and a fedora? I do not have a problem with that.... Certainly more to my tastes than Schlenkerla Helles in a wine barrel.
  24. GarrettOliver

    GarrettOliver Initiate (0) Jul 25, 2003 New York

    Ha! It's actually technically a pork-pie, but it has some boater elements to it. And it's very well aged!
  25. herrburgess

    herrburgess Meyvn (1,044) Nov 4, 2009 South Carolina
    Industry Beer Trader

    Damn, how did I miss the pork (pie)? So in keeping with the Schlenkerla theme.... Prost!
    afrokaze likes this.
  26. cavedave

    cavedave Poo-Bah (2,455) Mar 12, 2009 New York
    Beer Trader

    I actually like the idea, I mean the best gueuzes are blends, and my favorite FW beers also. Why not do it with these beers? Is OP's objection that it offends a sense of continuity, or seems to be a symbol of something else that he disagrees with in a more general way?
  27. RabidWeasal

    RabidWeasal Initiate (0) Sep 7, 2010 Illinois

    No problem with the Zymatore project. I have tried 4 of the Zymatore "projects". All four of the beers were sour to some extent. Two were fantastic, 1 good, and 1 poor. The best was the "Gale's Conquest Ale Zymatore". Quote from my notes - "Complex and interesting. Taste starts pure English Old Ale, then is quickly followed with a solid sour presence, then a wine sweetness and finished with a hint of whiskey. Normally my palate is not good enough to pick up such clean breaks between flavors but with this beer it is all right there".

    I also really liked the "Glazen Toren Ondineke Zymatore". I ordered two of these back to back, something I rarely do when at a good beer bar.
    bushycook likes this.
  28. sunkistxsudafed

    sunkistxsudafed Initiate (0) Apr 30, 2010 New Mexico

    from what i can gather, the brewers are giving permission for this... I have no problem with it. If you don't like the finished product then don't buy it or drink it. I actually think this idea is kind of cool and innovative.
  29. John_M

    John_M Moderator (6,054) Oct 25, 2003 Oregon
    Premium Member Beer Trader

    Agreed. Actually, I could tolerate the prices if the beer were better. Some of the one's I've tried so far have been just weird (like a German Keller bier aged in whiskey barrels). Ugggghhhh....
  30. ahalloin

    ahalloin Initiate (0) Jan 3, 2008 Virginia

    I missed that on the site and I figured that the brewer did allow it, but thanks for clearing that up.
  31. ahalloin

    ahalloin Initiate (0) Jan 3, 2008 Virginia

    My main objection here is that the blender, B. United, seems to be trying to capitalize on the barrel-aged sour craze by running head long into a program that they have no previous experience with. And, they aren't going the simple route by using a tried and true combination of barrel and beer (see stout and bourbon barrel). As pointed out above, their combinations are completely unorthodox and in most cases, in my opinion, not good. They are weird, and I guess that is that people will pay for. Weird for the sake of weird is sloppy to me.
    I think if I were a brewer, imported (thanks, jesskidden for correcting that) by B. United, I wouldn't feel comfortable allowing this experimentation to occur. It seems to me that most often good barrel aged beer is built or conceived for barrel aging and similarly with souring yeasts.
    To summarize, my main objection is that what B. United is doing goes beyond, in my opinion, of what a gueuze blender does, with radical barrels and new yeast strains and the usage of finished beer (fermented out, not initially conceived for secondary, tertiary, etc... fermentation) is being done to capitalize on beer geeks barrel aged and sour craze. It seems sloppy and haphazard in the beers I've tried.
    I'll speak with my dollars and get off my soapbox now.
  32. FosterJM

    FosterJM Poo-Bah (2,719) Nov 16, 2009 California
    Beer Trader

    I think it boils down to simple answers here people. If you dont like the practicies, dont spend money on the project and hopefully it will discourage this practice in the future.

    If the funds dry up and the product sits, maybe the brewers will think twice about sending their hard worked on product to sit on a washed up project.

    Just my .02

    ahalloin likes this.
  33. neophilus

    neophilus Initiate (0) Apr 4, 2009 Massachusetts

    It all depends on if the product that comes out of the barrel is better than the product that went into it. Blending whiskey or bourbon may produce a better product from multiple batches than any one of the batches on their own, but small batch and single barrel premium bourbons still seem to command the highest prices.
    ahalloin likes this.
  34. Longstaff

    Longstaff Initiate (0) May 23, 2002 Massachusetts

    I was hoping that these shipping containers would be used to bring in fresh unpastuerized beer that otherwise would get stale on the voyage - like kolsch, helles, altbier, hefeweizen, etc. But instead they seem they would rather create rarez for the tickers to tick. I won't be buying those ill conceived bbl flavoring experiments, so as long as the brewer knows how his beer is being corrupted, I don't care.
  35. tewaris

    tewaris Initiate (0) Jul 14, 2009 Minnesota

    The spirits released as single barrel/small batch are usually the from the best barrel determined by rigorous tasting... it's not like they choose any random barrel and put it in bottles at a higher price.
  36. cavedave

    cavedave Poo-Bah (2,455) Mar 12, 2009 New York
    Beer Trader

    This is exactly the point. I am a homebrewer, I plan on using Syrah, Zinfandel, many other used wine casks as they are available to me and I would learn from it one result, or another. I would welcome anyone taking something I'd considered as finished, and trying to spin it into something better. Of course, were I or you a professional brewer, we would have the opportunity to tell B. United not to do this. IIRC, those in this thread chose to do this.
  37. unclejazz

    unclejazz Defender (639) Oct 24, 2011 New York
    Beer Trader

    I had a chance to try the Harvieston Bitter & Twist aged in Gin and Pinot Noir Barrels. This beer was qonderful in its complexity and the fact that I was drinking it on a warm spring day got me thinking about how Zymatore could have a great idea on thier hands if they are able to compliment good beers with barrel aging characteristics and release them at times based on weather-based enjoyment.(Heavier beers in winter, lighter in the summer) One of my favorite parts of enjoying, say, a bourbon-barrel aged beer is to be able to taste the bourbon thru the canvas of the beer. Sipping straight bourbon is great, but the heat of the straight spirit keeps me from being able to taste as much of the subtle notes. However, being able to use the beer to cut the heat of the spirit and allow for the oak, peat, and other wonderful notes is a real work of alchemy IMO. I am not a big gin fan, but the way the gin complimented the Bitter and Twisted was true art.
  38. gory4d

    gory4d Defender (680) Apr 14, 2007 Texas
    Beer Trader

    I've only had the Glazen Toren Saison d'Erpe Mere Zymatore. It was delicious.
    CowsandBeer likes this.
  39. azorie

    azorie Initiate (0) Mar 18, 2006 Florida

    I am curious I not seen any of these what are they charging per bottle?
  40. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,294) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey