from the President
By Chris White
A recent visit to a homebrewing club in Phoenix has
me thinking about the importance of regionalism when it comes to craft
Why? Because everyone was making a Hefeweizen.
Homebrewers. Craft brewers. Big breweries. They were everywhere.
And they weren't just imitating other beers. They
were coming up with distinct beers and innovations.
They make Hefeweizens because the beers are
thirst-quenching, among other reasons. They make German and American
styles. One brewer uses three different yeast strains. Everyone has one,
and it is year-round.
We can find these kinds of regional differences
throughout the U.S. and the world. It is what makes our hobby
interesting and fun.
Perhaps the Phoenix crowd teaches us another lesson.
Many breweries in America tend to shy away from the more authentic
German-style Hefeweizens because people say it is too aggressive. But
some of the brewers there believe and so do I that craft
breweries need to be aggressive.
The only way you can convert people into diehard
fans, it seems to me, is to offer them something that they cant get
anywhere else. So go ahead, be aggressive. If you make a pale ale, make
a real pale ale that is hoppy. If you make a Hefeweizen, make it a
German Hefeweizen. If you make a barley wine, make it a big barley wine.
Give your beers character and individuality.
While it is important to think aggressively, it is
equally as important to think carefully about the ingredients. This
brings me back to my Phoenix visit and how some brewers overcame the
local water problems. They get water from six different sources, meaning
that the quality of the water can vary greatly from day to day.
That is why some of the better breweries in Phoenix
use reverse osmosis to get their water and then remineralize it. They
take that extra step. This is important because if too much chloride
gets into the beer, it can cause a Bandaid-like flavor.
The system costs probably $5,000, but the results
beers with consistently good flavor are worth it.
Pay attention to your ingredients, including water,
because you want to maximize your flavor impact. That first impression
is the most important. The customer should want another sip. If they dont,
they probably will return to drinking commercial beer.
Of course, as you might expect me to say, yeast is
one of the most important ingredients in your beer.
We often get calls from brewers asking us about yeast
selection, and we enjoy helping people make the best choice possible. If
you are thinking of experimenting, give me a call at 1-888-5YEAST5, ext.
223, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and perhaps we can help you
But just remember I will probably advise you to
We will be at the National Brewpub Conference and
Trade Show on Oct. 21-23 in Portland, Maine.
The conference offers a great range of services for
the professional brewer, with topics ranging from brewing in a
restraurant setting to microbrewery management to brewery promotions. I
will give a yeast demonstration at 2 p.m. Sunday and noon Monday. It
will involve analyzing and checking yeast purity.
Brewers who attended last years show in Chicago
may have attended my presentation on yeast management. The talk I have
planned this year is quite different. Instead of me just talking, this
new one will be a hands-on demonstration.
We will also attend the Great American Beer Festival
on Oct. 5, 6, 7 in Boulder, Colo. Because it is going to be held at a
smaller venue this year, we will share a booth with Alesmith Brewing
Company. This great brewery is located just a few miles from our main
manufacturing site in San Diego. They produce 15 different beers a year
and rotate the selections according to the season. They use a different
yeast in almost every beer, and are winning awards around the country,
from the Real Ale festival in Chicago to local festivals.
We hope to see you at the festivals!
We just returned from the World Beer Congress in
Orlando, Florida. It was well worth the visit.
This years event was different because for the
first time since the 1950s, the meeting was held jointly between the
American Society of Brewing Chemists and the Master Brewers Association
of America. They decided to forgoe their individual meetings and have a
joint one in honor of the new millennium.
Specifically, the event drew researchers and brewers
from the top 50 breweries in the world. We made some alliances there
that we are excited about. We will tell you more about it next issue.
Chris White, who holds a Ph.D in biochemistry from the University
of California, San Diego, is president of White Labs. He can be reached
at (888) 5-YEAST-5, ext. 223.