Episode 195 Transcript

Matt:               Welcome to BeerDownload.

Steve:              Suggestions from Pivní Filosof on how to improve the definition of craft beer.  “I suggest the following points or something along these lines should be added to the definition of craft beer.  The person in charge of production at a craft brewery must be at all times someone with at least, say, three years of professional experience.  Start-up breweries that don’t meet this requirement will have to wait three years without changing their head brewer before they can apply for the certification.

I believe that if we can discriminate based on size and ownership we can also discriminate based on professional expertise.  A craft brewery will apply certified quality control processes, which can be audited at any time by the eventual organization.  Unless sold directly to the public, craft beer can only be sold and distributed by certified vendors who must also comply with standards regarding conditions of transport, storage, dispensing, and training of their staff.”

Matt:               This is BeerDownload.  I’m Matt Arata.

Steve:              I am Steve Mastny.

Matt:               BeerDownload is the only podcast that pits beers head to head in a tournament-style competition to find out which beer reigns supreme.

Steve:              That it is.  What are we drinking this week?

Matt:               This week we have two, hopefully, awesome beers head to head.  The Founders Harvest Ale, finally got our hands on it.

Steve:              That’s right.

Matt:               Because it finally came out. It’s not like it was out and we couldn’t find it.  It just hadn’t come out yet.

Steve:              Yeah, it was bottled October 2nd, 2013, and it seemed to only make itself into the distribution channel here in Chicago this past week.  We’re recording here on, I believe, it’s the 20th.  A shout-out to webmaster Ben, today is his birthday.  Happy birthday, webmaster Ben.

Matt:               Happy birthday, webmaster Ben.

Steve:              This beer has been in the bottle for 18 days and I think last weekend, Saturday or something, Founders had their Harvest Fest release at their brewery.  You couldn’t really have gotten this beer without someone smuggling it to you from the brewery more than a few days ago.  Very fresh, and it’s their wet hopped ale.  I’ve been reading the Beervana writer, Jeff Alworth out in Portland, for a while and he’s been expounding on wet hopped ales recently.  In his opinion, days really truly matter for this style of beer.  Possibly it would have been better if I’d drank it Wednesday when I got it or whatever day it was, Thursday.

Matt:               Beer really starts to drop off after hour 23.

Steve:              Right, right, exactly.  So we’ll see.  That should be interesting.  I’ve enjoyed Founders Harvest Ale well into a few months in the bottle in years past.  If we’re missing something, I guess we’ll never know, but it is pretty dang fresh all things considered.

Matt:               Well, that’s going to be going up against the Half Acre Double Daisy Cutter which came out, now it’s been about six weeks or so I think.

Steve:              Yeah.  It’s four or six weeks, something like that.  As soon as it hit the brewery you went and got some and then we’re like, “All right, we’ve got to put this up against Harvest Ale.  It’s perfect timing.  It just came out; we just started the third round.”  Then Harvest Ale kind of dragged its heels on actually coming out.  Maybe that was a tournament strategy for Founders is delaying the release of their Harvest Ale so that they would have an edge over the Double Daisy Cutter.

Matt:               Yeah, really trying to win in the BeerDownload tournament here.

Steve:              We’re swaying the whole industry, at least here in the Midwest.

Matt                We are coming you today from the new BeerDownload east headquarters which is a little bit further west than it used to be.

Steve:              That is correct.  A little bit further north.  Definitely further west and it brings the two headquarters a little closer together which is kind of nice.  Going to make the drive a little easier.  We’re not too far from Johnny’s Beef, which any Chicago natives know on North Avenue in River Forest is just an awesome, awesome Italian beef stand.  Arguably the best beef in the city, which would make it the best Italian beef in the whole world because Italian beef really isn’t a thing, it doesn’t seem, anywhere outside of Chicago or places where Chicago natives have put down roots and started making it.  Like Arizona and stuff like that.

Matt:               They sell beer there at Johnny’s?

Steve:              They do not sell beer but they have Italian ice that is excellent.  They pile it on.  You get no lid and so you get this … it’s like a 14 or 16 ounce cup of ice but there’s probably 10 to 12 ounces of ice piled on top of the cup which is full.  You get a decent amount of ice and it’s its own thing.  Really good sausage, really good beef.  Great sweet peppers.  It’s a good sandwich so I had one of those on the way over here which is why it comes so highly to mind.

Matt:               I’m sure.  I’m sure.

Steve:              You might get a little bit more natural reverb in the recording this week.  We’re out kind of in the back, kind of … what would you call this?

Matt:               I call this either the family room or perhaps the … we have a wood-burning stove back here so I’m not really sure what you call this room.

Steve:              It’s kind of like a three-seasons room except it’s fully enclosed and insulated so it works in winter too.  It’s got that feel.  It’s like an addition to the back of the house and it’s this kind of extra annex to the house almost.  We are recording in the studio annex here at BeerDownload east, but slightly less east than before, headquarters.  Congratulations to Mr. Arata, new homeowner.  Just a few days ago closed on this house.

Matt:               I owned the previous BeerDownload east headquarters.

Steve:              Right, right.  But, you know …

Matt:               I still technically own the previous BeerDownload east headquarters.

Steve:              You’re a multiple homeowner.  You’re one of these fat cats who has residences.  “I’ve got my city condo and then my suburban home.”

Matt:               My city place.

Steve:              Yeah.

Matt:               I’m staying at the city place tonight.

Steve:              But that is the setting that we are in here.

Matt:               Yeah, BeerDownload east headquarters is now in Oak Park, Illinois.  Apparently you can now get Toquin on draft somewhere in Oak Park.  I don’t know.  Where is that at?

Steve:              Several weeks ago, it was actually over the weekend of Labor Day, so six weeks ago, it was at Poor Phil’s which is over right across the street from Marion Street Cheese Market which is kind of down …

Matt:               Oh, yeah, Poor Phil’s, I’ve been there.

Steve:              Downtown Oak Park area.  It’s a little bit west and south of the main strip which is kind of Lake Street from Home Avenue to Harlem.

Matt:               A guy I used to work with I believe has residency at Poor Phil’s.  I’m pretty sure he has his name on a stool there.

Steve:              Nice.  Well, Poor Phil’s, I’ve heard about it a lot of times from people talking about it but I don’t think I’d ever been there until I was doing a little talk at the Oak Park Library on beer and home brewing.  I was one of a panel.  It seemed appropriate to stop and get a beer because I was a little early.  I go over to Poor Phil’s and they had Toquin on draft.  Toquin Gueuze is terrific stuff that is from the bowel.  I think one of the best gueuzes coming out of Belgium right now even though they’re up and comers.  They’re not as rooted in tradition.  The draft is actually a different product than you get in a bottle.  I think the bottle is about 6% alcohol by volume, the draft is 4.8.  A slightly different product.  Very similar flavor profile though I don’t know if I’ve ever actually done them head to head.

When I got the bill I was a little shocked, 14 bucks, good god.  It was like a snifter, 10 ounce glass or whatever and 14 bucks for this glass.  If I’d known in advance I guess there’s a good chance I still would have ordered it although I probably wouldn’t order two.  I didn’t’, I only had the one but it was very much a sticker-shock thing.

When you go to a bar and it’s like when we were in college you’d go to a bar and you’d have dollar beer night or two or three dollars.  Then we started getting into the craft and started to be like, beers typically cost four or five and then in Chicago you saw all these beer prices go up kind of across the board at retail and this seemed to happen out in the bars too.  Now craft beer bars it’s like six, seven, eight, nine dollars is not uncommon at all for a beer.  But I would kind of think that if a beer costs more than $10 for a 10-ounce glass that they would let you know up front.  “Hey, this is going to be very pricey.”  Then they didn’t and that’s fine.

Matt:               Poor Phil’s isn’t one of the places that has their prices on the menus or on a board somewhere?

Steve:              I’m not a 100%.  I do remember looking at the menu and seeing it on the menu because the tap handle wasn’t on yet.  I would have noticed if it was 14 bucks.  I think it’s possible that I afterwards looked somewhere else and saw that it said 14.  Maybe it was right on the menu and I was so excited to see that it was on that I didn’t even look.  I’m not trying to blame Poor Phil’s or anything although I guess it sounded like I was.

Matt:               Oh, poor Phil’s.

Steve:              It was more like, “Wow, that is expensive.”  I had the same beer a local option a few weeks later and I think it was eight or nine there.  I feel like there was a little bit of gouging going on.  We had Drew on the show from Hopleaf a few weeks ago and when I told him about this he was complaining that a place like Poor Phil’s can even get that beer because Hopleaf has been featuring Belgium stuff for the last 20 years.  It’s really created a toehold in this market for all these beers that come in and then for a beer like that to go to somewhere like Poor Phil’s, which in his mind is like not on the same level, and they can’t get it at Hopleaf even though they’ve been asking for it, he felt a little snubbed, I guess, on that one.  The inside baseball distributors and everything else.

That reminds me.  We were at a wedding last night, Dawn and Fred.  Congratulations very much to them.

Matt:               Yes, Fred has been on the show way back in one of the first 20 or 30 episodes.

Steve:              We need to have him back on.  Fred is a spider monkey.  He rides a bicycle for the Goose Island Bike Team and they really kind of set him up nicely for his wedding and the beers.  He had a case of Bourbon County Stout, a couple cases of Matilda and Sophie, those big nice bombers.  He had an experimental pilsner called Sky Scraper which is kind of like a 3-1-2 type of beer but without any wheat, very clean too.  I’m not sure if it had [inaudible 00:10:14] or what.

Matt:               Now I didn’t get any of the Sky Scraper.  Did you try that one?

Steve:              Um hmm.

Matt:               How was that one because I didn’t get any of that one?

Steve:              It had a white label with just sky and then the bottling date was the end of July.  It wasn’t a retail beer.  Fred described it as basically 3-1-2 without the wheat and while I could see that and maybe that is what the recipe is more or less, to me it was very clean and crisp and almost tasted more like a lager.  I’m not sure if they would have laagered it.  It doesn’t seem like they’d be wanting to make a lager because it’s such a longer production time.  I’m not sure.  It was very clean, crisp, had a nice pleasant kind of, to me, German lager-style hoppiness at the end.  Not huge hoppiness by any means but there was a big malt component to it too.  If it was a pilsner it was a really malty pilsner.  It was pretty good beer overall.

We were driving golf carts around on the golf course taking pictures and there was eight or nine people drinking beer in tuxedos charging around in these golf carts and the girls in their wedding dresses.  It was a lot of fun.  It was very unique.  He also had some outdoor stuff.  Goose Island did fairly well by Fred.  He was trying to get a keg of Bourbon County 2013 and instead got a case of Bourbon County 2012.  I’m like, “Dude, a case of Bourbon County in addition to all this other stuff is nothing to turn your nose up at.”  It was a very unique wedding where it’s like, “What are the beer options?  Well, here’s some Bourbon County.”

Matt:               He did also have a keg of Daisy Cutter that he got.  I think then on the other side, I’m not sure what they had on first because I saw them changing it out.  Did they have something crafty on the side where we were sitting?

Steve:              I don’t know off hand.

Matt:               Because I know that they had Miller Lite or something on later but I thought that they changed it out.

Steve:              Okay.  I’m not aware of anything else.  It could have been.  The reason that the whole Poor Phil’s thing and me having sticker shock on this beer reminded me of Fred’s wedding was that there was an open bar before we actually got into the banquet hall.  It was at a country club and it was kind of nice environment.  There was a fireplace and space to hang around and all these people showed up early and I think the plan was to have an open bar from 5:30 to 6:30 and then the banquet hall would open but people were getting there more like 5:00-5:15 and so they were initially charging people for drinks at the bar and Fred and I were like, “No, no, you can’t be charging.  We’ll cover this.”  They dealt with the people at the club and then it started to be an open bar.  Mr. Arata ordered … what did you order?

Matt:               I came up and I saw that they had a couple of draft handles and I saw one of them was Sam Adams.  I was saying that Fred said there was all this good beer but I guess it’s in the back and I guess they’ll be served later or something.
“I guess Sam Adams, Miller Lite, Coors Light, mmm, Sam Adams I guess.”  I say I’ll take a Sam Adams and he’s like, “Well, that’s not in the open bar package.”  I was like, “Really?”  Then I didn’t want any beer really at that point.  Then I just got a bourbon and coke.

Steve felt that I declassed the situation by refusing to pay for the one beer that was not included in the “package” even though I could have as many as I wanted of the other beers.  I could go and stand there and put my head under the fountain or under the draft handle and just suck down the Coors Light but I can’t have the one right next to it.

Steve:              I was somewhat intoxicated at Fred’s wedding due to the drinking all day and I hadn’t had anything to eat.  I was probably giving Arata a little harder time than I perhaps needed to.  I was trying to make the point that it’s like if you go up to a bar and you order a drink and then you’re under the impression that it’s free drinks and they say, “This is not included in the free.  Do you still want it?” or whatever.  To me, if you’re going to order something what you’re implying when you order it is that you’ve made a value judgment and the value judgment is that it’s worth whatever it is that they’re charging to drink it.  Whether you’re paying or someone else is paying either it’s worth drinking or not.

Obviously psychologically it’s different when you know you can get something for free then it makes something that costs four, six, or eight dollars or whatever, be like “Why would I pay infinitely more for this when this costs this?”  The reality is that at an open bar someone is paying for it in some way, shape or form.  It’s like yes, this may not be included, but …  That was kind of the point I was making.  I’m not sure that I’m really able to press it.  I was like, “Why didn’t you say okay and pay them the five bucks.”  It’s like, “No way.  It’s ridiculous.  It’s ridiculous.”  It was like, “Okay.”

Matt:               When they’re buying kegs for the golf course or whatever, they’re buying several kegs at a time.  They probably have kegs delivered every week or something and, yes, the Sam Adams keg costs more.  But it’s not infinitely more dollars, it’s like …

Steve:              Your issue is more that you’re like why would the golf course have an open bar package that does not include the third draft beer?  What’s that.

Matt:               Yeah, the third of three and the other two being Miller Lite and Sam Adams is not like a super-premium beer.  Not like the Toquins on draft at the golf course.

Steve:              Your issue is not the five bucks or whatever it would have cost.  Your issue is this should be included and it’s not and that’s silly.

Matt:               It’s virtually the same thing.  I don’t know.  Anyway my other point was that had he poured it and then said, “This is $5, it wasn’t included in the thing.”  Then I obviously would have paid for it.  I have that class.  I wouldn’t have just thrown it in his face.

Steve:              Fair enough.

Matt:               Or dumped it down in the bar drain and be like, “No.  Give me the free one.”

Steve:              He instead said, “This will not be free.”  And you were like, “All right, I don’t want those other beers.”  I mean honestly I don’t think I’ve ever been to a wedding that had this good of a beer selection.  Well done, Fred.

Matt:               Once the door opened into the banquet hall then it was all bets are off and all this good beer was awesome.

Steve:              I was drinking Bourbon County ice cream floats which was really good.

Matt:               Yeah, I didn’t pour a lot into mine but I poured a little bit in.

Steve:              You know I’ve done stout floats before here and there.  I’ve never really felt like it was super great.  But with the Bourbon County it was just totally worth it.  There’s the sweet booziness and then it works with the ice cream.  I don’t know if I would want to drink a lot of Bourbon County that way because I like Bourbon County so much by itself but it was pretty dang good over ice cream.

Matt:               How many Bourbon County bottles did we have at our table alone?

Steve:              I know that it was starting to run low towards the beginning of dinner and I snagged the last bottle on the one side but the other side had a few bottles.  I think Max went and got a bottle and Zach went and got a bottle.  There were three or four bottles of Bourbon County sitting at our table of eight people.  That’s some really tasty stuff.

Matt:               I was seeing a bunch of people going up and pulling back a bottle of Bourbon County a piece and I was like, um, everyone here knows what this beer is, right?

Steve:              Fred was saying, “I just told them to serve people, just give them the bottle and make sure to give them a glass,” and I was thinking that they would kind of reserve it back and have it be more like wine where they pour some.  People have this mentality of if it’s in the 12-ounce bottle that is a serving size of beer and that’s what you should get.  It’s funny because Matilda and Sophie were in the wine-size bottles and so they were pouring those the way they would pour wine and they could have done that with Bourbon County but Fred was like, “No, we’re not going to go that way.”  I give him credit.  That was kind of a neat way to … “You want a bottle of Bourbon County, here’s a bottle of Bourbon County.”  My only thought was I hope no one took a bottle and was just thinking it’s just a beer.

Matt:               Drank a sip of it and …

Steve:              Drank a sip and then just abandoned it.

Matt:               Yeah, I was meaning to go back and look around at some of the tables after everybody got up to see if there was a bunch of full ones but I never actually did that so I don’t really know.

Steve:              It was a totally awesome party so I didn’t have it in me to walk around and look at stuff like that because I was just out dancing and having a great time.  Fred married Dawn Carner and the Carner clan is … they are a good freaking time to hang around with a week to the wedding.

Matt:               They’re a drinking clan too.  They’re an Irish clan.

Steve:              Drinking, dancing, there’s a million of them.  It was a good time.

Matt:               There were several mass shot rounds.

Steve:              Yes, yes.  Roll call they call it.  Everyone has to come and sip or shoot their whiskey.

Matt:               Fifty people doing shots all at once.

Steve:              It was something else.  To Fred and Dawn, may they have a hundred or so years of good marriage.  Cheers, guys.

Matt:               Cheers, Fred and Dawn.

Steve:              We’ve got the Double Daisy Cutter and the Harvest Ale into the glasses.  Arata was kind enough to pour them while I was going on about the beer at Fred’s wedding.  I’ve got the Double Daisy Cutter in my glass.  I’ve got this kind of tall jester kind sort of globe glass with the Half Acre Double Daisy Cutter.  Arata is drinking the Founders Harvest Ale out of his Bourbon County stout snifter.  What is your initial take?  I see you doing a lot of sipping and smelling on that Harvest Ale.  What do you think?

Matt:               The hop profile is very bitter on the taste and very earthy grassy in the smell.

Steve:              Okay.  It’s not as highly aromatic as I would have expected.

Matt:               No.

Steve:              There are hop aromatics, and it’s kind of like a pungent hop aromatic that initially jumps out at me from the Double Daisy Cutter.  There’s big, big hop aromatics that jump out of the Double Daisy Cutter glass.  The Founders Harvest Ale definitely less so.  Although when I go in there, there is a very … it’s funny but it’s kind of like a green kind of smell.  I guess by that I must mean like a plant-like.  Not exactly like a vegetable but like …

Matt:               Kind of like hops are in pellet form or something before they’re … like if you taste that or if you smell straight up hops before they’re … not off the vine, but straight up hops before they’re put into a boil.

Steve:              Yeah, maybe.  Maybe.  It’s an interesting hop character at least that I’m pulling out of the aroma.  Why don’t you tell us what you think a little bit about the Double Daisy Cutter and then maybe we can …

Matt:               The aroma on the Double Daisy Cutter it’s that sweeter, not totally citrus but moving more in that direction of an aroma.  Then a little bit more direction in taste as well.  A little bit sweeter in the taste.

Steve:              The Founders Harvest Ale they’re describing it as a wet hopped ale which I presume they mean that the hops were harvested and then immediately shipped to them without being dried and then put into the boil.  Again, Jeff Alworth talking to different brewers out there is saying that ideally you should be getting those hops in within an hour, hour and a half and being in Michigan I don’t know that Founders has hops close enough.  Maybe they do.

Matt:               Maybe they have some Michigan hops.

Steve:              Maybe they’ve got some local Michigan hops that they’re doing with it or …

Matt:               You need a lot though.

Steve:              Okay.

Matt:               And you need them pulled straight off the vine essentially in trucks or any big truck.  You need it harvested that morning and then brought to the brewery directly and dumped into the tank.

Steve:              Right.  It’s hard to physically compost within an hour or two unless you’ve got them spread out and cooled.  It would be interesting sometime to talk to the guys at Founders about how they actually managed the logistics of this process.

Matt:               Do a wet hop and on that scale too.

Steve:              Right.

Matt:               Now this isn’t a huge release.

Steve:              Right, it’s one of these things where I went to the binnies a day or two after it came out and they were willing to sell me two bottles.  It comes in four packs so they’re obviously breaking it down so that people can get more of it.  I think Ben said that at his local store he bought a four-pack or a two.

Matt:               Why is beer labeled for individual resale and lots of other products are not?  Why is that allowed with beer?

Steve:              I don’t know.  Maybe it’s just because in the tradition of the wine, spirits, liquor store trade there’s always the opportunity to sell a single serving.  You’ve got a pint of whiskey or you’ve got a 375 ml bottle of wine or stuff like that.  Maybe it’s just because in the alcohol world with some of the higher alcohol stuff they do sell relatively small quantities in single bottle form and so maybe the beer is kind of riding the coattails of that and it’s part of the industry-wide … that’s just a guess.  I don’t know.

Matt:               I don’t know either.

Steve:              We’ve been talking about these beers back and forth and I want to talk about them more.  I feel that the Founders Harvest Ale definitely tastes different this year than we’ve had in years past.  It’s got less of a spicy hop thing than I remember though I haven’t listened to those episodes, I’m not totally sure.  I did want to talk a little bit.  At the open I gave a listing of three additional points.

Matt:               Yeah, we were supposed to come back to that but we …

Steve:              We never really quite got there but Pivní Filosof, the beer philosopher, is a gentleman, apparently his name is Max, I’m not sure of his last name right off hand but he runs pivnífilosof.com which is a blog and his Friday Craft Musings was on Brew Dog.  Brew Dog apparently recently put out a proposal that there should be a European craft beer definition similar but distinct from the American craft beer definition because America has a Brewer’s Association.  Presumably foreign companies not brewing in America are not joining the Brewer’s Association which is an American trade association.  They’re proposing a European craft brewer is small, brewing less than 500,000 hectoliters annually.

The 500,000 hectoliters to give you a rough ballpark, a hectoliter and a barrel are on the same order of magnitude.  I never remember, I think a hectoliter is 20% larger although it possibly could go in the other direction.  I’d have to do the math.  Basically 500,000 hectoliters and 500,000 barrels are a similar amount of beer.  I think it might be 500,000 hectoliters would be like 600,000 barrels.  This is 10 times smaller than the Brewer’s Association who is saying 6 million barrels.

Then two is authentic.  Brews beers at their original gravity, does not use rice, corn, or other additives to lessen flavor.  That same kind of BS thing that the Brewer’s Association has.  Three is honest.  All ingredients are clearly listed on the label.  The place where it’s brewed is on the label and the beer is brewed at craft breweries.   Four, independence.  Is independent.  Not more than 20% owned by a brewing company which operates a brewery that is not a craft brewery.

Very similar definition to the American one and basically this Pivní Filosof is saying that this is utter BS because under this definition there is lots of things that would fall under crafts that would taste like crap and lots of things that would not be crafts that are delicious and some of the best beers in the world and so this is ridiculous.  He wants to add some quality standards to the whole craft beer thing.  I think that this is a way that if the Brewer’s Association were to pick up on something like this they could actually gain back some credibility in my eyes.  I feel like they’ve got this whole position of I am a craft beer brewer or you’re not a craft beer brewer and therefore this is or isn’t a craft beer craft versus crafting and all this.

We’ve talked about this a lot.  Basically what it comes down to is they’re saying buy Bourbon County Stout and all those gueuzana beers that were tasty at Fred’s wedding are not craft beer.  Which is obviously ridiculous from any sort of objective consumer standpoint of, is this beer well crafted, tastes great, and everything else.  An extremely high quality product.  Then you’ve got someone like … I’m not sure if I want to name any names here in Chicago.  We know a lot of these guys.  There are some breweries out there who are putting out, if not a consistently bad product, at least a fairly frequently bad product.  Real nasty levels of diacetyl or DMS where it smells like cabbage when you’re drinking the beer.  Just kind of generally crappy.

Matt:               Throwing things together and be like, “This recipe will work.  We’re going to bottle it.”

Steve:              Right.  Like nothing even specifically wrong with it but it’s just not good.  If that stuff is craft and Bourbon County is not because it’s owned by Anheuser-Busch In Bev it’s like …

Matt:               Then what’s the point of definition at all.

Steve:              Right.  If you want to say that it’s got to be craft and it’s got to be small, okay, fine.  But add some teeth to the crafting and this whole proposal about someone who knows what they’re doing has to work there and you have to have a certified quality control process that someone can come in a check and you can get thrown out of the club.   I can’t imagine that the B.A., Brewer’s Association, is going to do this.  Why would they want to?  They want to have as many members as they want.

But I could see maybe a place like Firestone Walker or a place like … I think it would have to be a place that’s currently in the craft umbrella but maybe got unhappy with the Brewer’s Association and said, “Look I don’t want to be associated with these little guys who don’t know what the hell they’re doing.”  In a few years this could maybe start to be a real issue if you see people start to turning away from craft beer because a lot of it tastes lousy, that could be a way for them to try to protect themselves.  To say we have this association and if it’s got this stamp it means that it is this, this and this, and it’s good.

Matt:               And certified and not just because you are owned in a certain way.

Steve:              Right and not just because the trade association decides you’re allowed to be a voting member, you’re not, whatever.  I’m not holding my breath for this to happen but I never really thought about how could you take this definition which is by nature has to sort out these people are in the club, these people are not, and actually have this bring something positive to the table.  I think it would be cool.  Now this Pivní Filosof is not at all optimistic about this happening.  His blog post is pretty amusing on it and we’ll try to link to it.

I think it’s an excellent idea, I really do as a beer consumer.  I particularly like the point about unless sold directly to the public craft beer can only be sold and distributed by certified vendors who must also comply with standards regarding conditions of transport, storage, dispensing, and training of their staff.  That would be such a huge benefit to the consumer.  You go to even some of the best beer stores now and there’s old stuff on the shelves.  Even if it’s not that old you don’t know how it’s been treated.  Even if they treat it great maybe it was on a container ship and it was cooked.  I mean there are all these different issues and it would be really nice to see some of that change.  Now, again, not holding my breath but why not dream big.

Matt:               Until it becomes a problem nobody’s going to come up with a solution.

Steve:              Yeah, that’s probably true, although you never know.

Matt:               Somebody could be proactive.

Steve:              Look at someone like Ray Daniel’s doing the Cicerone Program.  He wasn’t necessarily solving a problem that everyone’s demanding we need to have certification, but he saw a potential need for it and started something.  Someone else could do something similar with a certification program but on the brewery side.  Certify that this is a good beer and it is dispensed properly and blah, blah, blah.  Now, that would be tremendously difficult and expensive to do.  I don’t know that it would work very well doing it outside of trade association but you never know, you never know.

Matt:               I think we need to render an opinion on the beers on the table.  As I’m going through it they’re more evenly matched than I originally thought even though the Double Daisy Cutter is a double. It’s only slightly more alcohol than the Harvest Ale.  The hop profiles aren’t extremely dissimilar in the end.

Steve:              On the Harvest Ale, yeah.

Matt:               7.6, versus 8.

Steve:              7.6, that’s higher than I remember.  I thought it was lower than that in the past.

Matt:               Yeah, versus 8 on the Double Daisy Cutter, so pretty close.

Steve:              Yeah, they actually are kind of in the same class there.  The Double Daisy is much bigger body, a lot more malt character coming through.  More alcohol character too.

Matt:               It balances a little better.

Steve:              I definitely get a little more alcohol burn out of the Double Daisy Cutter which …

Matt:               Point four percent more.

Steve:              In a lot of ways I think that the Double Daisy Cutter is working a little better but that’s definitely a point off in my boat that I do kind of perceive that alcohol at 8% which I prefer for it to be hidden a little more.  It tasting a little hot to me at the moment.

Matt:               Yeah, maybe.  I was just saying more that the hop profiles are converging a little bit more in my mind.  They’re not as dissimilar as maybe I originally thought.

Steve:              For me …

Matt:               I keep going back and forth a little bit, smelling and tasting back and forth.

Steve:              The hop note in the Harvest Ale is definitely interesting but I put it in the interesting but not necessarily wonderful category.  It’s not bad but it’s not … I like the hop profile in the Double Daisy Cutter and what it feels like to me is the Double Daisy Cutter on the table right now is a more polished final product.  They’ve made this beer several times.  They’ve kind of dialed in what they know they want.

Matt:               Just by its nature the Harvest is maybe more difficult to make consistent.

Steve:              Right.  I think just based on my recollection, and this could be wrong, but I think that we’re looking at somewhat of a recipe change because it seems stronger than I’m used to.  Also even if you have the exact same hops from the exact same farm this is very much a terroir kind of grape kind of a thing.  It’s going to taste a little different year to year.  It’s just not as magnificent to me.  That’s maybe a strong word, magnificent, for the old one.   The old one I found to be very compelling.  It’s just a really good American pale ale.  I don’t remember it being so strong like this.  This definitely falls more in the IPA category.  This is good but it’s not so good.  It’s just good.  The Double Daisy Cutter is rock solid.  How are you feeling?

Matt:               Yeah, on my initial taste on both of them I was leaning towards the Double.  I was hoping that the Founders would maybe blow me away a little bit more.  Maybe it’s just hyped up too much.

Steve:              The aroma on the Double Daisy Cutter it’s just much more present.  There’s just a lot more hop component in this Double Daisy Cutter and it’s very pleasant.

Matt:               A different kind of hop.  I’m not sure exactly which hop but …

Steve:              Yeah.  There’s just more of it by a lot.  You’ve got to look around for the hops in this Harvest Ale which is like …

Matt:               Again, in the wet hopping you’re going to have difficulty getting whatever quantity you’re looking for.

Steve:              Yeah, maybe.

Matt:               Or whatever acid profile.

Steve:              My judgment is that I think Harvest Ale, at least last year and in other years past, has been a little better than this particular Harvest Ale.  It’s not a bad beer by any means and if it was going up against something lesser is might very well win.  I think these are pretty similar beers and I think the Double Daisy Cutter is bringing more to the table.

Matt:               I agree.  I wanted to go that way anyway so I’m glad you agree.  We don’t have to fight about it.  We will push the Double Daisy Cutter on to the next round and we might have to save some of it from this batch for the next time it comes up.

Steve:              I put some in cold storage a day or two after it came out then you got it.  Even if we do drink it eight months from now it should still be nice and fresh and good tasting.  There will probably be releases between now and then and assuming we can manage to get our hands on some maybe we can even do a head-to-head.  One very fresh, one not so fresh.

Matt:               Maybe.  Next week we are planning to do the Alesmith IPA which is now available in our market I think.  Hopefully we have a fresh version of that.  Then again, in our market, who knows.  Going up against the bolder Obivoid.

Steve:              Which has its whole own set of issues that we talked about a little while back so that should be interesting.  I just want to throw out one more thing before we go.  We’ll probably talk about it a bit more next week but I am going to be going on a Florida trip.  Basically driving from Chicago to Florida hitting a bunch of stuff along the way.  Planning on hitting Cigar City and probably doing to go through Cincinnati and some other stuff.  Hopefully see BeerDownload super fan, Peter Hale, on the way.  I am then planning on probably driving up along the coast.  Maybe going to Dogfish Head in Delaware, doing through the Carolinas.  Maybe checking out Philadelphia area, Washington D.C.

There’s a lot of stuff that I’ve been kind of over the years wanting to do and I’ve got this opportunity where my wife is going to Florida for two weeks with her mom and our children.  They’re all going to fly; I’m going to drive so I can do whatever I want on the way down there.  Take a few days, hang out for a few days down there with them and then do whatever I want on the way back.  I’ve got this two-week junket.  I’m really getting pretty excited about it.  The reason I’m throwing it out there is because if anyone in BeerDownload land out there knows of any places that they think, man, you’ve got to stop here, you’ve got to go here, it’s totally worth going out of your way drop us a line.

Matt:               In the triangle between Chicago, Florida, and Delaware.

Steve:              Yes.  All the way up, I’m probably not going to get into New York City, but in that general range.  That’s a big, big chunk of space.  I know there’s a lot out there.  If you think that there’s something that’s really worthwhile hit us up on Facebook, Twitter, shoot me an email steveatBeerDownload.  Would love to hear your thoughts.  With that we’ll let you go until next week.  Mr. Arata, it is always a pleasure to drink a beer with you.  Happy to christen your new house with a new episode of BeerDownload here.  For this week I am Steve Mastny.

Matt:               I am Matt Arata.

Steve:              Cheers.

Matt:               Cheers.  Go have a beer.

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