Beer 511

Exploring Craft Beer and Homebrew in Peru (Country Code 51) and the USA (Country Code 1)

Author: juan Page 1 of 29

In Memoriam

On October 4th the homebrewing world lost one of its most stalwart champions with the passing of Mike “Tasty” McDole.

Mike was a world-renowned homebrewer, who also was part of many collaboration brews with commercial brewers, the most famous of which produced 21st Amendment’s “Tasty IPA” and, of course, Heretic’s “Evil 3″ triple IPA.

Mike was a founding member of my homebrew club, the Diablo Order of Zymiracle Enthusiasts (DOZE) and it was one of his pride and joys. He was the first club member to win an award at a homebrew competition, and he went on to win several more, including the Samuel Adams Longshot competition (2008), before retiring from competing.

Mike was a supportive and encouraging of new brewers. He was humble and earnest in critiquing a beer, and never offered a criticism without also offering a suggestion on how to resolve the problem. He was also a regular contributor to the Brewing Network’s podcasts, and the originator of “Tasty’s Tasting Room” homebrew booth at the BN’s annual Spring Brews Festival in Concord, CA. It was because of Mike that homebrew is a regular part of several other beer festivals in the area.

As a result, Mike was known and beloved far and wide. Occasionally, after being greeted by people and having selfies taken with him, by people while out for a beer, he’d lean in with a grin and whisper, “I just don’t get it. They act like I’m something special, but I’ll let you in on a secret: I’m just an old hippie who likes to make good beer.”

Mike’s most famous and popular recipe is “Janet’s Brown Ale”, with which he won a gold medal at the 2004 National Homebrew Competition. Janet’s Brown is named after his wife, whose favorite it was among his brews (she had passed away in 2001). Tasty freely shared the recipe, and allowed several commercial breweries to make batches of it. It appears in Jamil Zainasheff’s book Brewing Classic Styles and has been made into a homebrew kit by MoreBeer!

Janet’s Brown Ale

  • 27.5 lb pale malt
  • 3.0 lb dextrin malt
  • 2.5 lb 40L crystal malt
  • 2.0 lb wheat malt
  • 1.0 lb 350L chocolate malt
  • 1.0 lb corn sugar
  • 3.0 oz US Northern Brewer pellet hops, 5.1% a.a. (mash)
  • 3.0 oz US Northern Brewer pellet hops, 5.1% a.a. (60 min)
  • 2.0 oz US Northern Brewer pellet hops, 5.1% a.a. (15 min)
  • 3.0 oz Cascade pellet hops, 5.6% a.a. (10 min)
  • 4.0 oz Cascade whole hops, 5.8% a.a. (0 min, hopback)
  • 4.0 oz Centennial pellet hops, 10.5% a.a. (dry hop)
  • White Labs WLP001

Water profile: Ca 110.0 ppm, Mg 18.0 ppm, Na 17.0 ppm, SO4 350.0 ppm, Cl 50.0 ppm.

  1. Mash grains at 154° F for 30 minutes. Raise to 170° F and hold for 15 minutes. Sparge at 170° F for 45 minutes.
  2. Primary fermentation for 7 days at 68° F.
  3. Secondary fermentation for 9 days at 70° F . Dry hop in secondary for 7 days.
  4. Cold condition for six weeks.

Original Gravity: 1.074 FG: 1.018 ABV: 7.35%

Heineken has eye on Peru beer market

The Netherlands-based Heineken N.V. -the world’s second largest brewing company, with over 165 breweries in 70 countries (including California’s Lagunitas Brewing Co.)- is seeking to expand its share in Peru’s beer market.

In late September Heineken closed the purchase -for an undisclosed amount, but said to be around US$50M- of the Tres Cruces brand from the AJE Group. AJE is a beverage company, started in Ayacucho by the Añaños family, with operations in 22 countries. Tres Cruces was its incursion into the Peruvian beer market. Under the partnership, AJE will serve as Heineken’s national distributor.

Although Tres Cruces’ share of the national beer market amounted to only 0.1%, with the purchase Heineken has gained a foothold in the only large regional market in which it did not have a direct presence.

However, according to rumors, verified by articles in the business-oriented Lima newspaper Gestión, Heineken has also set its sights on purchasing Lima’s largest independent brewery, Candelaria. Representatives for Candelaria have confirmed that they have been approached by Heineken and there have been conversations.

Coupled with last year’s purchase of Cervecería Barbarian by AB-Inbev’s ZX Ventures, any such sale of Candelaria would have the effect of having removed the top two breweries in the craft sector. This is important, not just because they were the largest, but also because they were leaders in opening spaces for craft beer in supermarket coolers and shelves.

Some observers, even within the craft brew community, hail such sales, predicting that they will increase competition and thus lead to a raise in quality within the craft beer sector. Others point to the exclusionary and anti-competitive practices of AB-Inbev and its local conglomerate, Backus.

Needless to say, Peruvian craft brewers are watching the situation with attention.

Peruvian Craft Brewers Oppose “Dry Law”

Last week Peruvians were dismayed by a tragedy which resulted from people violating the government prohibition on social gatherings during the pandemic. More than 100 young people had gathered at an informal discotheque for a birthday celebration. When, following complaints from neighbors, the police arrived to break it up, dozens of intoxicated revelers tried to flee via the locale’s sole narrow exit, resulting in a crush which claimed thirteen lives.

Of the twenty-three people arrested, fifteen tested positive for COVID-19.

Public indignation grew more intense when cellphone video surfaced of non-masked friends and relatives drinking and dancing in the cemetery following entombment of one of the deceased.

This, all following a long list of cases of curfew and social distancing violations involving alcohol, reportedly led Walter Martos, head of President Martín Vizcarra’s Ministerial Council, to pose the possibility of a “Dry Law” banning alcohol in the country.

Peru’s craft brewer’s association, the Unión de Cerveceros Artesanales del Perú (UCAP), was quick to respond to this threat to the health of its sector and the livelihood of its members. Below is my translation of the letter they sent to the Production Minister:

Lima, 27th of August of 2020
Señor José Salardi Rodríguez
Minister of Production
Dear Mr. Minister,
There have been made public today the declarations of the president of the Council of Ministers, Mr. Walter Martos, in which the possibility is floated of declaring a “Dry Law” in the whole country. In that regard, we wish to make you aware of the current situation of the Peruvian Craft Brewers MYPES [Micro and Small Industries] sector:

● Peruvian craft breweries are in a critical state, having lost more than 50% of our sales due to the strains brought about by the pandemic.

● More than 20% of craft breweries have had to close their doors permanently

● Breweries that continue to operate have had to reduce their personnel by 40% on average (more than 200 direct jobs and 2000 indirect ones have been lost to date).

● During the first 6 weeks of the state of emergency there existed a “tacit dry law”. During that time, in which there was the highest control by the authorities, we witnessed the proliferation of a “black market” in alcoholic beverages.

● A temporary dry law at this time would not help solve the root problem. The black market would continue, hurting small producers, especially formal ones.

● Given its flavor characteristics and price point, craft beer is an alcoholic beverage of moderation and is not the cause of agglomerations nor of irresponsible acts.

● Those craft breweries who are still functioning do so with all the established protocols and approvals from the Health Ministry and the Production Ministry. This work is undertaken with great effort and at a very high cost.

● A temporary Dry Law would bring about the closure of these enterprises and the temporary or permanent loss of more than 400 direct jobs and more than 2000 indirect ones.

● In short: A temporary Dry Law would be the coup de grace to our weakened sector and its job generation.
Within our sector, we have direct and immediate communication with our consumer through our social media. We offer to be communicators and to contribute to spreading the message of the Central Government, which looks for us to be responsible in difficult times.

We hope that you could be the voice that represents us in conversations with the Prime Minister, and who promotes solutions to problems.
Gloria Quispe
Unión de Cerveceros Artesanales del Perú

St. Arnold of Soissons

Today is the Feast Day of St Arnold of Soissons, the Roman Catholic patron saint of hop pickers and Belgian brewers.

According to the Revue bibliogaphique belge (v. 1, no. 1, 20 January 1889), he was born in about 1040 at Tiegem, the son of a Flemish nobleman. He embarked on a career of arms, earning renown for his valour in tourneying, before “heeding the voice of God” and entering the Abbey of Saint Medard in Soissons.

According to the Revue bibliogaphique belge (v. 1, no. 1, 20 January 1889), he was born in about 1040 at Tiegem, the son of a Flemish nobleman. He embarked on a career of arms, earning renown for his valour in tourneying, before “obeying the voice of God” and entering the Abbey of Saint Médard in Soissons.

Later in life he returned to Flanders, where he helped restore peace to a land torn apart by wars of succession.  He established the abbey at Oudenbourg, where he died and was interred in 1087.  The Revue notes that “Students of his life report a great number of miracles.”

Other sources remind us that at Oudenburg, Arnold brewed beer and encouraged the local peasantry to drink beer, instead of water, citing its “gift of health”. One of his reported miracles was his saving numerous lives by insisting that the populace drink beer during an outbreak of disease from contaminated water.

Arnold of Soissons was canonized by Pope Callixtus II in 1120. He is often depicted carryring a brewer’s mash paddle.

The CO2 Shortage

On April 7th the Brewers Association, along with the Beer Institute, and several other industry groups, including the Compressed Gas Association, signed a letter to Vice President Mike Pence expressing “strong concern that the current coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic creates a significant risk of a shortage in carbon dioxide (CO2).” The letter further noted that “A shortage in CO2 would impact the U.S. availability of fresh food, preserved food and beverages, including beer production”, and requested emergency federal assistance to forestall a CO2 shortage.

The Brewers Association’s concern is understandable. Carbon dioxide gas is an essential component of beer manufacture and dispensing. It is also a byproduct of fermentation, but fewer than 10% of craft breweries have CO2 capture technology in place. Most simply don’t have the resources to invest in the costly technology, so they must rely on commercial suppliers of CO2 for their production, packaging, and dispensing needs.

Normally, about 40% of US supply of CO2 is derived from ethanol production, 15% to 20% comes from refineries, and the remainder comes from fertilizer production or from geological sources. According to Independent Commodity Intelligence Services, about 1/6 of US production of CO2 is used in the beverage industry. Among the Brewers Association member breweries, about 44% of their CO2 needs are met from ethanol-derived sourcing.

Due to lowered demand for ethanol brought about by reduced travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic, 33 of the US’s 46 CO2-selling ethanol plants had been idled or had cut production by the end May, according to gases industries reports. At one point, more than half of the US ethanol industry’s capacity was shut down.

By late April overall CO2 production for resale was down 20%. By the end of May it was down by 30% according to the Compressed Gas Association. Normally, US production of CO2 is approximately 1 million barrels per day, since April it has mostly been in the range of 700,000 barrels per day.

So, there has definitely been a shortage. However, due to the high freight cost associated with it, sourcing of CO2 is relatively local, and because of differences in sourcing the shortage can be fairly regional in its effects. In Michigan, for example, Bell’s Brewery, the US’s 7th largest craft brewer, has said that they’ve not experienced any issues with their CO2 supply. In other places there have there have been reports of customers being able to get only 50% of what they usually contracted for. Overall, prices for CO2 have been driven up by as much as 25%.

It has been enough of a concern for the American Homebrewers Association to open the July/August issue of its journal, Zymurgy, with an editor’s commentary on the CO2 situation. The supply issues have also led the Brewers Association to warn its member breweries against the risk of lower-quality CO2 gas entering the supply chain.

Food-grade CO2 must be at least 99.9% pure. The remaining 0.1% could consist of water, oxygen, nitrogen, and even hydrocarbons – some of which we can detect with our senses of smell and taste. In a letter to its members, the BA noted that 0.1% equals 1000 parts per million, which is as much as 4 times the concentration at which we can sense some flavor-active components in hops.

Fortunately, according to gases industry reps the situation is returning to normal albeit with some “ongoing allocation” issues.

One thing that may have helped prevent things from getting worse overall, was the Federal Government sensibly declaring the production, warehousing, transport, and distribution of “medical gases” an “essential industry”. Another, likely has been the partial “re-opening” of economic activities across the nation that followed upon Memorial Day weekend, which has meant an increase in driving, transportation of goods, and travel.

As for California, we might have been helped by the fact that in May, industrial gases manufacturer Messer Americas brought online a new CO2 production facility in Keyes, that can produce 450 tons of CO2 per day, including food-grade CO2 .

At any rate, as long as the pandemic continues to spread pretty much unchecked, we may expect perhaps several cycles of shut downs and quarantine, with the attendant effects on fuel -and thus of CO2– production.

Breweries can adjust by investing in CO2 capture technology or by fine-tuning their existing CO2 systems to eliminate leaks and reduce waste. They can also expand their use of nitrogen gas in moving and dispensing of beer.

As for homebrewers, our smaller volumes do give us a bit of flexibility over commercial breweries. Not only are the volumes of CO2 that we require much, much smaller, but it is a relatively simple matter to use a bit dextrose or sucrose to naturally carbonate a few dozen bottles for a typical 5-gallon batch. The same can be done in a keg or a cask.

In the meantime, don’t let yourself be caught off-guard. Get your CO2 refills when you can. Preferably before you run out.

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