You may recall my bitter disappointment over the horrible review I got from a pro brewer after sending two bottles of my Royal Goblin brown ale - perhaps the best beer I have ever brewed - to the guys at the Behind the Craft podcast.
I've had several people ask me if it was possible that there had been a mix up, if perhaps the Behind the Craft guys opened someone else's bottle which led to the explosively foamy, soap flavored beer that they "enjoyed". I doubted that was the answer, and an email with Brendan led to this response: "There is no way I'd get your beer confused with another! Everyone talked about the great labeling."
After a big discussion on reddit, I decided to abuse a bottle of my beer to see if I could reproduce the sad results that the Behind the Craft guys came up with. I took one bottle of the Royal Goblin, stuck it in a cardboard box, and put it in the trunk of my car for a few days. I then moved the box to the floorboard of the car so that it would be even hotter. I made it a point to flip the bottle over several times, just to be sure that the yeast wasn't allowed to settle too nicely.
The two bottles that I shipped out were sent at the end of March, where they went via FedEx ground to Pennsylvania. I would think that eight days in Alabama heat (after two more months of aging at room temps) would have provided more of a favorable environment for infection growth.
After removing it from the car, I allowed the bottle to sit in the fridge for about twenty-four hours, then took it out for fifteen minutes prior to pouring. I braced myself for a ruined beer.
Instead, I had zero gushing. Opening the bottle caused a small cap of foam on top of the beer inside of the bottle - which is perfectly normal. The foam did not attempt to escape. I was able to pour the entire bottle into a pint glass without issue. Head formation was pretty typical on this glass; I got about a finger and a half of fluffy foam. I did not get great head retention, but I think that is a function of my glass more than anything else (there was some dish soap used, and I don't think it was perfectly rinsed... it's time for a salt scrub).
Beer clarity has suffered for sure. I was expecting a fairly clear beer, but this bottle was pretty cloudy. I assume that twenty-four hours was not enough for everything to properly settle?
Aroma has suffered a bit; I don't get quite the intensity here that I remember. I assume that heat has accelerated the effects of time and age in this area.
Flavor is a hop dominated brown ale. I get a little astringency on the finish, just as I always have. Light caramel, toasty hints, more hops than you would typically detect in an English brown... just like always.
To be very clear: there was not one trace of soapiness. Both of my older kids independently took a sip (my daughter did a swish and spit), neither picked up on any hint of soap. My daughter said that the aftertaste was a little funny to her - I get hop bitterness and a touch astringency, both of which I expected.
So, now what? If there was a bottle infection, I should have had gushing and badly compromised flavor. Instead, there was not one hint of either. The beer was a little worse for wear, but the disaster that the Behind the Craft guys described just did not happen for me.
I wish that I could explain it. I have drank and shared more than a case of this beer (I believe that I'm down to fewer than twenty bottles remaining of the original two cases), and only those two bottles that I shipped out were affected. Is it possible that I had two bad bottles in the entire batch, and just happened to send both to the Behind the Craft guys? Is it possible that they just really shook up the beer before they opened it? Maybe they weren't expecting an English brown to be hoppy, and when they saw gushing, decided that it couldn't taste good, that there must be some off flavor?
Neither of these explanations seems terribly likely.
What in the eff?
Tags for this post: heat, beer, gushing, infection, ruined, review
You selected the only two bad bottles and sent them to a couple "pros". Total fluke, bad luck... either way, don't make any large bets for awhile...
posted by Klaserhausen on 7/12/2014 at 10:00:06 AM