28 February 2013

AB-InBev Accused of Watering Down Beer

"American beer is a like making love in a canoe. It’s fucking close to water.”
-Hegelian Philosophy Professor First Bruce of the University of Woolamaloo 
(Monty Python’s Eric Idle Live at the Hollywood Bowl)

Beer drinkers in California, Pennsylvania and New Jersey have filed a class action lawsuit against AB-InBev for watering down their beer significantly below the advertised ABV on the label. The suit is based on the statements of former AB-InBev employees, but the plaintiffs have not analyzed Budweiser, Michelob, Michelob Ultra, Bud Ice, Bud Light Platinum, Hurricane High Gravity Lager, King Cobra, Busch Ice, Natural Ice and Bud Light Lime (named in the suit).

Two thoughts come to mind, so bear with me.


As I understand the Bud Light brewing process, it is brewed with a high gravity wort. After fermentation, water is added to the beer to get it to the target ABV. I think I learned about this when brewing Charlie Papazian's Quarterbock, from The Homebrewer's Companion.  Basically, I brewed a regular batch of doppelbock, and at kegging, transferred a gallon of the high gravity beer to three gallons of water, yielding me a beer around 2% abv. It would not surprise me to learn that they brewed all their beers to higher gravities. (I don't recall if Charlie mentioned Miller Lite being brewed that way, though. I can't confirm because my brewing books are packed away in storage for the time being.)

I don't think this is what the plaintiffs are arguing though. It sounds like they are suggesting that AB is adding even more water to get below the ABV on the label.


I know that in Texas, in order for a brewery to get label approval, samples of the beer must be sent to the TABC for testing. Every time the Budweiser label is changed, it has to be tested. While it might be possible to send the undiluted beer to TABC for testing, I would think it would be impractical to do it for every one of the 10 named brands. I'm sure it's the same in other states, and the legal consequences if they were caught would be substantial.

Having said that, recently it was found that restaurants in 21 states were mislabeling fish. Last year, meat companies were accused of putting "pink slime" in pre-packaged ground meat to increase profits. The Feds recently indicted four board members of a Georgia peanut company for selling tainted food. And over in Europe, a Romanian company is accused of adding horse meat to ground meat. So it isn't outside of the realm of possibility. Corporations have long put profits before customers. Why should AB-InBev be any different?

Update: Beer Pulse has reported that White Labs has tested samples and found that the ABV varied only by a few hundreths of a percent, backing up AB-InBev's claims.

Update: CNN has tested ABInbev samples, and has found variations from .06-.15 between the label and actual ABV. Still just a few hundreths of a percentage point.


posted by hiikeeba at 08:00 0 comments

26 February 2013

Going Back to Kits

I ran out of beer.

Yeah, I'm surprised you didn't hear the scream, too.

So I began thinking about keeping beer in the pipeline. Should I buy more pro beer? Well, Ben E. Keith hasn't brought any out of state beer into Paradise lately. So I'm stuck with the usual brews.

Should I brew more? Well, yes, but an all-grain brew day is long. I've been brewing a gluten free beer that is pretty quick to brew, and so I thought I'd do more kit beers, just for keeping on tap.

So I ordered an AHS Hoppy Ale extract kit to fill in the slack weekend when I can't brew all-grain. This kit I did on the stove top, following the kit instructions. I kegged it a couple of weeks ago, and, despite my CO2 issues last week, managed to keep the carbonation in the beer. It has the extract twang (a brown sugar taste far in the background), and the hops are more bitter on the sides of my tongue than I'd like. But this is a nice beer.

I brewed another AHS kit last weekend, with details to follow.  If you are an extract brewer, buy this kit.

posted by hiikeeba at 08:00 0 comments

24 February 2013

Last Sunday Was a Bad, Bad Day

Sunday started off on a wrong foot.

I tried to nap at 9 am. (Don't judge me.) Just as I was dozing off, someone decided it would be a good time to unload and reload the dishwasher. (My bedroom is next to the kitchen.) So no nap.

Then off to the office to fix a computer problem.

An hour later to fix it again.

At then end of my brew day--an Austin Homebrew extract IPA kit--before cleaning up, I thought I would have a beer. I grab a pint glass and go to the beer fridge, postion the cobra tap at the side of my glass and depress the trigger. Nothin'.  I look down at the CO2 gauge. Nothin'. Smugly, I think "That's why I have a back up tank!"

So I reach for the adjustable wrench. . .

"Where the frak is my adjustable wrench?" (Admittedly, I didn't use the work "frak.") So I hunt for the damn wrench.  I have bought three wrenches for the CO2 tank, and they keep disappearing.  I mean, how hard is it to leave a frakin' wrench on the table next to the frakin' CO2 tank? Apparently it's very difficult.

So I start hunting for it. There is a Snap-On tool chest in the storage room my brother used when he was an auto mechanic. I've been using the top drawers for brewing tools for several years, and on the off chance I put the wrench in there I looked.  I checked the storage building in the yard. Nope and nope. I check the junk drawer in the kitchen.  Nope.

Finally, I checked all the drawers in the tool chest, and finally found a big wrench in the bottom drawer.  "Finally!" I think. So I took off the regulator and put it on the spare tank and opened the valve. HSSSSSSSSSS! Great! I turn it off and recheck the regulator connection, try it again and it leaks.  It felt like the leak was from around the collar, and not from the regulator. Great! The welding shop is closed on Sunday.

So I thought I'd have some pro beer.  The HORROR! I was OUT of pro beer!

"It's come to this," I say out loud. "B-Double E-Double R-U-N."

I swing by Fredericksburg Brewing Company and pick up a 2-liter Romantic growler of The Giant, their imperial stout. Then on to the local megamart for a 12 pack each of Sierra Nevada Torpedo and Ruthless Rye.

Back at home, I put the twelves into the beer cooler, and grab my favorite snifter. I bought at the Stone Brewery in 2011. It's a wonderful glass. If your fingernail rubs it the glass sings! I sit down and start in on The Giant.

In the middle of the second pint, all is now right with the world. God's yellow moon was shining in the cool clear evening. God's little lanterns were twinkling on and off in the heavens.  As the  beer flowed through me, I smiled broadly and enjoyed the evening.

As I was draining the last drops of The Giant into my glass, the ceramic lid slipped out from under my thumb, swung down and knocked a quarter-sized piece of glass into my beer, which cause a corresponding size stream of beer to fall onto the table.

"Darnit!" I said loudly. Followed by several other choice words. Unsure of how much glass was in the beer, I  poured the unsipped last glass of The Giant down the drain. Wiping the tears from my eyes, I slammed the now worthless glass into the trash, and cleaned up the mess on the table.

I went to bed, slipped under the covers and sobbed myself to sleep.

posted by hiikeeba at 08:00 0 comments

22 February 2013

Fort Bend Brewing Company Announces Tours

Fort Bend Brewing has announced that they will have regular tours on the second and fourth Saturdays of each month, from 1-3 pm. Admission is $5 at the door, and $7.50 in advance to secure a ticket. If the tour sells out, they will announce it on their Facebook page.

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posted by hiikeeba at 09:47 0 comments

20 February 2013

Cheatgrass Beer?

In the Western US, after the previous year's wildfires, cheatgrass (bromus tectorum) is spreading wildly. The problem with that is that cheatgrass actually makes wildfires more likely since it stops growing and dries up a few weeks before native species. Some folks have, as they have with other invasive species, proposed using them for food, including beer, since cheatgrass has a similar biological   composition to barley.

The USDA has made beer out of cheatgrass using a decoction mash, and apparently came up with something drinkable along the lines of an amber ale. They estimate profits of $200,000 per hectare. There is even a brewing with cheatgrass forum on HomeBrewTalk.com.

I wonder if a brewer making cheatgrass beer would be considered an adjunct brewer, and therefore not a craft brewer?


posted by hiikeeba at 08:00 0 comments

18 February 2013

Corncob "Maple" Syrup

I mentioned a Countryside Magazine article last time. It suggested replacing water in your extract beer with maple syrup.

Well, suppose that you can't get that much maple syrup.  What do you do then?

"Cover one dozen large, clean corn cobs with water; boil one to two hours. Drain off the water and strain it (there should be 1 pint of it).  Add 2 lbs of brown sugar to this and boil to desired thickness."

Besides flying squarely in the face of a pissed off Charlie P, I wonder if there would be any advantage to using the corn water?

Don't look at me. I'm not gonna try it. I hate corn. And even if I liked it, I'd need at least 480 corncobs, and I don't live in corn country. Maybe someone from out there would like to give it a try. . .


posted by hiikeeba at 08:22 0 comments

16 February 2013

Maple Beer

My dad hasn't lived on a farm since the 1940s, but he subscribes to a bunch of farming magazines. One of his favorites is Countryside Magazine. And he always tosses it to me, saying, "I know you want to read it."

Really? I've never lived on a farm!

In this month's issue is an article about syrup from sugar maples. At the end of Jeff DeBillis' article he talks about making beer with maple sap.

Well, say no more!

DeBellis writes that we should consider a bock extract kit and replacing the water with maple sap. You're going to need six gallons of sap, with 3 gallons of sap pre-boiled to kill bacteria.

Has any reader tried this?  Does anyone have six gallons of sap they want to give me?

Post your experiences in the comments, please.


posted by hiikeeba at 08:00 0 comments

14 February 2013

Six Point 3Beans Review

About this time last year, after a successful Brewing Network Secret Santa exchange, I was sipping on some Sixpoint beers, and Tweeting about them. I'd received 6 16 oz cans of truly good beers.  The brewmaster (I assume) found my tweets and, when finding out I live in the Great Texas Craft Beer Desert, sadly informed me they didn't distribute here.

Now they do! Woot!

Well, except for the 16 oz cans. We're getting beer in Red Bull cans. In 4 packs.  Woo.

Since Sixpoint is new to the market, I'm not familiar with their beers. And the packaging doesn't help. It gives the name and the abv, and some marketing text, but I can't tell what the beers are.  C'mon, seriously? "Made with Rye malt to provide a signature and distinct earthy character. Seasoned and dry-hopped with herbal and citrus hops. Truly Righteous." Can't you just say rye pale ale?

So at the local honey hole I picked up some 3Beans. "Take thou also unto thee wheat, and barley, and beans...and put them into one vessel. The beans of bygone brewers, united with cacao and coffee, to create a trinity of roasted, rich, and savory flavors."

So what the frak is it? Stout? Porter? Dark lager?

Don't get me wrong. It's a great beer.  But I'd like to know what I'm drinking. I'd like to know what to expect. But to obscure the style in a mix of of marketing-speak. . .


I'm glad Sixpoint is in Texas. I just wish they'd let me buy bigger cans. Like they sell in other places.


posted by hiikeeba at 21:18 0 comments

12 February 2013

Where Vikings Brewed Beer

At the Experimental Archaeology Conference, archaeologists Merryn and Graham Dineley argued that what have been labelled as Viking bath houses may have actually been Breweries. Here's a link to their presentation.


posted by hiikeeba at 08:00 0 comments

10 February 2013

Getting Crafty in Saint Louis, or Haters Gonna Hate

You know, I'm not sure where all the Big Two hate truly comes from. I suspect a lot of it comes from snobbery. "My tastes are more refined than yours," it seems to say. While I can understand not liking a particular beer (Dog Fish Head 120 Minute IPA, I'm looking at you.), I don't understand hating the whole company. I don't like Ed's Cave Creek Chili Beer, but I don't hate on Ed, after all.

So as I report this interesting story, I am expecting comments along the line of "That swill will never touch my lips!" or "Why are you repeating this?"

It's an interesting story, so I thought I'd share.  Please feel free to fill the comments with ABInBev hate.

Rebecca Reid is a chemical engineer that works at the Budweiser brewery in Saint Louis, Missouri. If you want to blame someone for Bud Platinum, she's the culprit. Currently she is the brewmaster of the 10 barrel pilot brewery at the plant. She brews 500 batches a year on that system. Well, she does have a team that works with her on it, so maybe she doesn't personally brewed 500 times a year.  I don't know. The article isn't that specific.

Here are some interesting quotes from the article:

For Platinum, she overhauled the mix of grains, settling on a combination that lent a caramel-like note. She also altered the time the malt sat in the mash cooker; the longer it sits, the lighter and smoother the beer becomes. [Emphasis mine. - Jeff] And she went low on the hops, which produce bitterness, to bring out more sweetness, among other things.
 Does anyone know if that's true? Mashing longer makes lighter, smoother beer? Doesn't sound right to me.

Ms. Reid is trying to stretch the boundaries of what typically ends up in a beer. Recently she mixed hibiscus flowers with wheat and lemon peels to approximate the taste of a "strawberry lemonade'' beer. That idea came from a baking recipe for chocolate chili-powder cupcakes with hibiscus frosting. She said the beer batch tasted pretty good, but not good enough, and she plans to keep tinkering.
Other botanicals that she wants to experiment with in the coming months include thyme and rosemary. "If they go well in food, they should be good in beer,'' she says.
Careful with those adjuncts there, Becky. You don't want to rile up Charlie P. Only craft breweries can use those adjuncts!
Ms. Reid and her dozen assistants also recently experimented with several Christmas beers, brewing a peppermint stout as well as gingerbread, raisin and apple-pie ales that might one day make their way to store shelves. 
So I will leave you with a question: If Budweiser were to make an exceptional Peppermint Stout, full of body and flavor, would you buy it? Or would you turn up your nose dismissively?


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posted by hiikeeba at 08:00 0 comments

08 February 2013

Suzy Kuzy Glove and Beer Holder

First off, this is not a Koozie.  This is a Suzy Kuzy USA Beer Mitt. That is what it is called on Amazon.com. It is a neoprene fingerless glove attached to a neoprese can holder. Even though it is a Beer Holder, I suppose you could put a soda in it. I doubt anyone would mind.

Draped in Old Glory, this will be perfect for the Fourth of July, the next Gun Show, or an anti-Obama rally.

My only concern is that people already think I'm an alcoholic. What would they think if they saw me drinking out of something that couldn't be put down?


posted by hiikeeba at 08:00 0 comments

06 February 2013

The Secret to Tender Beef? Beer!

神戸ビーフ, or Kobe Beef, comes from Wagyū cattle in Hyōgo Prefecture. It is known for it's marbling and tenderness, achieved through feeding the cattle beer and giving them daily massages. The yeast in beer aids digestion and helps break down the grass the cattle eat.  Kobe beef can only come from Japan, since it is a trademark of Kobe Beef Marketing and Distribution Promotion Association.  Much like Champagne and Kölsch beer.

With its popularity, American Ranchers have been producing Kobe-style beef using the same breed of cow, and the same Japanese herding techniques. Texas T Kobe ranch in Wallis, Texas, pours beer into the hay its Wagyū cows eat, and owner Gene Terry says that they prefer it over regular hay.

And what beer do they cows consume? Saint Arnold Endeavor! The beer was out dated and was exchanged for fresh product in the stores, so Saint Arnold owner Brock Wagner donated several hundred cases of the beer to the ranch.

Several hundred outdated cases of Endeavor in Houston?!

Send some out here to the Great Texas Craft Beer Desert™, for Pete's sake! I'll drink it old, because I can't get it here! Donate it to me!

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04 February 2013

The Island of Many Foxes

posted by hiikeeba at 08:00 0 comments

02 February 2013

Maxing out the Mash Tun

It's barley wine time, so I am going to attempt an all grain version. With almost 28 pounds of grain and a dough in of 35 quarts, I may max out the old mash tun.

Old Ruffian Clone
American Barleywine

Type: All Grain Date: 2/3/2013
Batch Size: 6.00 gal Brewer: Jeff Holt
Boil Size: 8.38 gal Asst Brewer:
Boil Time: 90 min Equipment: Jeff's Equipment
Taste Rating(out of 50): 35.0 Brewhouse Efficiency: 60.00
Taste Notes:
Amount Item Type % or IBU
26.00 lb Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM) Grain 94.33 %
0.63 lb Caramel/Crystal Malt - 80L (80.0 SRM) Grain 2.27 %
0.63 lb Victory Malt (25.0 SRM) Grain 2.27 %
0.31 lb Wheat, Flaked (1.6 SRM) Grain 1.13 %
2.00 oz Chinook [13.00 %] (60 min) Hops 55.3 IBU
2.00 oz Amarillo Gold [8.50 %] (30 min) Hops 27.8 IBU
3.00 oz Amarillo Gold [8.50 %] (5 min) Hops 10.8 IBU
1 Pkgs English Ale (White Labs #WLP002) Yeast-Ale
Beer Profile
Est Original Gravity: 1.100 SG Measured Original Gravity: 1.010 SG
Est Final Gravity: 1.031 SG Measured Final Gravity: 1.005 SG
Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 8.99 % Actual Alcohol by Vol: 0.65 %
Bitterness: 93.9 IBU Calories: 43 cal/pint
Est Color: 11.5 SRM Color:
Mash Profile
Mash Name: Single Infusion, Light Body, Batch Sparge Total Grain Weight: 27.56 lb
Sparge Water: 3.08 gal Grain Temperature: 72.0 F
Sparge Temperature: 168.0 F TunTemperature: 72.0 F
Adjust Temp for Equipment: FALSE Mash PH: 5.4 PH
Single Infusion, Light Body, Batch Sparge
Step Time Name Description Step Temp
75 min Mash In Add 34.45 qt of water at 161.4 F 150.0 F
Mash Notes: Simple single infusion mash for use with most modern well modified grains (about 95% of the time).
Carbonation and Storage
Carbonation Type: Corn Sugar Volumes of CO2: 2.4
Pressure/Weight: 4.5 oz Carbonation Used: -
Keg/Bottling Temperature: 60.0 F Age for: 28.0 days
Storage Temperature: 52.0 F
Created with BeerSmith


posted by hiikeeba at 08:00 0 comments