03 August 2008

Is this "dry-hopped" to you?

I'm hiding the identity of the subject of this discussion for now--I delayed publishing it in part to protect the possibly innocent, and perhaps in hopes of a more neutral assessment.

I was poured two cask-conditioned beer recently at a venue. One was advertised as dry-hopped.

The one on the right in the picture.

Yep. Those are fragments of pelletized hops in the glass.

Now, I hear a lot about sediment in beer now and then--people swearing by and at it. But what are we supposed to think about three-dimensional hop character of this nature? Have any of you ever seen it before? My personal guess is that a hop bag in the cask didn't do its job, or tore open, and/or the cask wasn't properly prepared or settled before the pouring.




Quantum Real Ale Mechanics states that the act of tapping a cask will disturb the cask. Gravity must be given the time to pull all sediment (which includes cold break, finings, and yeast, and in this case, hop pellets) to beneath the keystone. Best procedure: Receive cask; wait 24+ hours. Vent the cask; wait 24+ hours. Tap cask; wait 24+ hours. Serve pint; don't wait.

Traditionalists might harrumph at the use of hop pellets rather than whole leaf, but the true measure is the flavor and quality of the beer.

Tom E said...

Though the question of how you wound up with a beer like that is a valid one, I'm more interested in:

1) Did you drink it?


2) Did you pay for it?



Alexander D. Mitchell IV said...

In answer to Tom E:

Yes and yes, unfortunately. I hoped to stick around to get one without something floating in it, but I didn't have long enough. And 99% of the time I'm paying for the beer I drink, with a rare comp ticket to a fest or other event. (What, do you think I should have gotten a refund? It reminds me of the button I got for a former girlfriend, entomologist-turned-computer-programmer: "It's not a bug; it's an undocumented feature.")

Does anyone here think I should have received a refund for the beer on the right?

Tom E said...

Well, technically it's up to the person who sold it to you to decide whether you're owed a refund or not. But by any measure, you would be 100% justified in asking for one. If the bartender thought you shouldn't get one, I'd love to hear the explanation.


Steve said...

Didn't the pellatized hop fragments in the beer give it a really harsh and astringent bitterness? I've heard particles of hop pellets in bottling described as this in the past with concern to homebrewing.

Steve said...

I'm just curious if that hop particulate in the beer on the right caused a astringent bitterness, because I've heard that the case for homebrewers who dry hop with pellets and get some particles of the dry hops in their bottles.

Alexander D. Mitchell IV said...

Actually, no, it wasn't that bad that I recall. But then again, I'm fully used to the lees in my bottle-conditioned beers; I routinely leave long-leaf tea leaves floating in my half-gallon jugs of iced tea and just quaff them down ("I need my fiber"); and I've been known to chew on the whole spices left in my chai (cinnamon, cloves, coriander, etc.).

So, as far as that goes, I just might be a horrible judge of astringency and bitterness, especially the leafy or tannic kinds.