Howdy Y’all, if there is one thing that I can tell you for certain about the brewing industry, it’s that it always keeps you on your toes! The minute you think you have everything under control, is the minute you realize that you have nothing under control. There is so much to learn, that no matter how much knowledge and experience you gain, you can always learn more. Very recently this truism proved itself, as we came across an issue that we had, until now, never seen.
In our continuous quest to bring you the best beer possible, early last year we purchased a centrifuge. We thought this state of the art piece of equipment would be the “ultimate saviour”. It would immediately help us increase our quality, with efficiency and give a product with prolonged shelf stability. But like most things, there is a sharp and drastic learning curve. The centrifuge has certainly helped us in many ways, but it has also introduced a few new challenges that we did not expect to come across. Most recently, it caused an issue with our Lone Pine IPA that we would like to share with you.
Recently, you may have noticed particulate floating in some cans of our Lone Pine IPA. Ideally we like our Lone Pine to have a slight haze, as it is unfiltered and unpasteurized. But this new issue isn’t the same haze that you’ve come to love and expect. What you are seeing is larger proteins from the malt binding with polyphenols from the hops, that create a larger particulate, which ultimately causes it to come out of solution. This gives our beer an unsightly “snow globe” appearance. Unfortunately for us, this particular issue only arose after we packaged the product, so the cans did go out to trade. Although unsightly, the particulate is harmless, odourless and tasteless. It does not change the aroma or flavour of the beer. Even though it doesn’t present any issues other than appearance, it’s not the way we want to present our beer to you.
What we can tell you, is that we are on top of the issue and have come up with a solution to our challenge.
Okay, if there is one MORE thing I can tell you for certain about the brewing industry, it’s that we work in a very collaborative industry. When you seem stuck, you know there is an army of great brewers and friends out there that have your back. Friends that you know you can turn to for help, which is exactly what I did. Having read through all my old brewing texts, speaking with countless reps, combing through tons of brewer discussion boards and trying every possible solution to combat this new issue, I finally turned to my fellow brewers for help and man did they ever.
It only took a few calls before I not only had the answer on how to fix our "snow globe" issue but also why it was happening. According to them, some of which have had a centrifuge much longer than we have, they also had this issue but only with dry hopped beers that had a North American 2-Row malt base and which they ultimately put through the centrifuge. As with us, all other beers seemed unaffected. This perfect storm of malt, plus dry hop, plus centrifuge was causing our beer to come apart and giving us this undesirable appearance. Their belief was that the shear forces of the beer passing through the centrifuge was causing some proteins from the malt to come out of solution, which then bound with the polyphenols from the dry hops added to the fermenter. The beer looked great post-centrifugation and didn’t present any problems in the brite tank, but approximately a week after the beer being in the can or the bottle, it began to flocculate. They also noted that this phenomenon didn’t happen every year, just on particular years with particular malt crops.
Now that we have the solution, we’ve moved forward to correct it. In the future, you can once again expect to see our Lone Pine IPA the way we’ve always intended, with a beautiful orange hue and a slight haze and the lovely aroma of delicious hops.
Thanks again to all our loyal customers that continue to support us. And believe me when we tell you that we take every concern with our quality very seriously and will continue to do our best to bring you the best beer that we can. And thank you to my fellow brewers out there, not only for your help but also your continued inspiration.