Lager Fermentation and Brülosophy Exbeeriments

Infusion, Decoction, Step, etc

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lupulus
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Lager Fermentation and Brülosophy Exbeeriments

Postby lupulus » Sun Oct 15, 2017 3:41 pm

This morning went for a run and decided to listen to the Brülosophy Lager Fermentation podcast.
Hope they do not interpret these comments as trolling them, but I cannot understand why principles of experimental research continue to be ignored, and how valid conclusions can be when previous research experience is ignored. Here are my major thoughts.
1. What is a classic lager fermentation profile?
- We can argue about what is a classic fermentation profile; but if we are generous we can concede that any of lager fermentation profiles proposed by lager fermentation experts can be used as a control for a fermentation temperature experiment. If your experiment ignores this experience completely, and arbitrarily decides that fermenting at 10C up to 50% of extract, then increasing fermentation temperature to 20C to completion, you cannot call this a Control classic lager fermentation. Germans are constantly trying to find ways to speed up lager fermentation and the best they have come up with to speed up the process, is fermentation under pressure. I am certain that if this 10C/20C fermentation profile were to produce a great lager, the process would be ubiquitous.
2. Is lagering needed?
Again, using the utmost generosity, one can find literature stating that 2 weeks of lagering is a minimum for lagering (can be reduced to one week if you have a good QC lab); additionally, I do not know of a German brewery that does not naturally carbonate (spunding).
Even for the "classic" lager, Brülosophy uses a hydrometer as the benchmark to know when the beer is done, then cold crashes, fines with gelatin, and force carbonates.
Then they compare ale fermentation and finishing profiles to this "classic" profile, find that there are no difference and conclude that one can ferment a lager at ale temperatures, cold crash and consume within a week, an nobody will know it is not a good lager ...and nobody at the professional level was able to figure this out...
Hard to believe.
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Re: Lager Fermentation and Brülosophy Exbeeriments

Postby Techbrau » Sun Oct 15, 2017 5:15 pm

I don't have any fully fleshed out ideas on this, but I do have an observation.

American craft brewed lagers are often overhopped an ungodly amount. Think Victory Prima Pils. The home-brew recipes follow suit.

When I've made lagers that were hopped closer to Brulosophy's recipes (http://brulosophy.com/2017/07/10/fermen ... ian-lager/ - 180 grams total hops!) and fermented them at 11-12 c, the fermentation seemed pretty clean to me, but I couldn't taste much besides the hops. When I did a helles fermented at 11-12c with 2206 that was hopped more in line with commercial German examples (I used 12g Perle at 60 and 6g Tradition at 30), I was able to detect a fusel alcohol note. It wasn't severe - it was about in line with what I detect in Coors Banquet beer. But the good Bavarian stuff doesn't have this fusel note at all, and when fermenting at 8-9c I haven't gotten that note.

Just some food for thought...
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Re: Lager Fermentation and Brülosophy Exbeeriments

Postby Brandon » Sun Oct 15, 2017 7:22 pm

Techbrau wrote:I don't have any fully fleshed out ideas on this, but I do have an observation.

American craft brewed lagers are often overhopped an ungodly amount. Think Victory Prima Pils. The home-brew recipes follow suit.

When I've made lagers that were hopped closer to Brulosophy's recipes (http://brulosophy.com/2017/07/10/fermen ... ian-lager/ - 180 grams total hops!) and fermented them at 11-12 c, the fermentation seemed pretty clean to me, but I couldn't taste much besides the hops. When I did a helles fermented at 11-12c with 2206 that was hopped more in line with commercial German examples (I used 12g Perle at 60 and 6g Tradition at 30), I was able to detect a fusel alcohol note. It wasn't severe - it was about in line with what I detect in Coors Banquet beer. But the good Bavarian stuff doesn't have this fusel note at all, and when fermenting at 8-9c I haven't gotten that note.

Just some food for thought...


Indeed. There's a reason the Autobahn is awesome and US interstates suck. Attention to detail and good engineering. But I digress, "technically" both will get you where you want to go. (also not intended to troll, just highlight philosophical differences towards engineering and product goals).
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Re: Lager Fermentation and Brülosophy Exbeeriments

Postby Techbrau » Mon Oct 16, 2017 9:24 am

Yeah, the funny thing was that I wasn't even expecting to get the fusel note from fermenting at 11-12c based upon my past experiences with hoppier brews, and if I'm being honest I was influenced to give it a try partially by the brulosophy experiments. I was fully expecting a flawless fermentation, and it was a big shock to me when the fusel note ended up in my glass. Kind of pissed me off to be honest, because a full 6 hour brew day + the ingredient costs are now ruined because I set my regulator three degrees higher than I should have.

I think that just about the only things that will have a noticeable negative impact on a super hoppy beer are a bad infection or severe post-ferment oxygen exposure. And over the past decade we've seen the definition of "hoppy" get pushed further and further to the extreme.

I mean, I think that beers I make with 15-20 grams of late hops are too hoppy...
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Re: Lager Fermentation and Brülosophy Exbeeriments

Postby Smellyglove » Mon Oct 16, 2017 10:33 am

There's a long thread about the methods used by Brulosophy over at HBT, and how to dissect/read the results form the experiments.

I started to read them a few years back, but it dawned on me after reading some results and how the experiments were done, that own experiences outweigh brulosphy by a million miles. I've done several tests at home and figured out my way to do it. Then Brulosphy comes out with an experiment which is about the same thing, and guess what, from the text there is no difference, it's always fine with gelatine etc etc, there's so many factors which skew the process.. I stopped reading that blog long time ago as the experiments in my eyes are pretty much worthless.
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Re: Lager Fermentation and Brülosophy Exbeeriments

Postby lupulus » Mon Oct 16, 2017 5:06 pm

Techbrau wrote:Yeah, the funny thing was that I wasn't even expecting to get the fusel note from fermenting at 11-12c based upon my past experiences with hoppier brews, and if I'm being honest I was influenced to give it a try partially by the brulosophy experiments. I was fully expecting a flawless fermentation, and it was a big shock to me when the fusel note ended up in my glass. Kind of pissed me off to be honest, because a full 6 hour brew day + the ingredient costs are now ruined because I set my regulator three degrees higher than I should have.

I think that just about the only things that will have a noticeable negative impact on a super hoppy beer are a bad infection or severe post-ferment oxygen exposure. And over the past decade we've seen the definition of "hoppy" get pushed further and further to the extreme.

I mean, I think that beers I make with 15-20 grams of late hops are too hoppy...


You are in the extreme ref hop amounts :-) but point taken, I agree with everything you say.
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Re: Lager Fermentation and Brülosophy Exbeeriments

Postby lupulus » Mon Oct 16, 2017 5:24 pm

Smellyglove wrote:There's a long thread about the methods used by Brulosophy over at HBT, and how to dissect/read the results form the experiments.

I started to read them a few years back, but it dawned on me after reading some results and how the experiments were done, that own experiences outweigh brulosphy by a million miles. I've done several tests at home and figured out my way to do it. Then Brulosphy comes out with an experiment which is about the same thing, and guess what, from the text there is no difference, it's always fine with gelatine etc etc, there's so many factors which skew the process.. I stopped reading that blog long time ago as the experiments in my eyes are pretty much worthless.


A few times I suggested they design experiments building on previous literature when available, and that at they get an objective score for the beer (very difficult to find differences if the beers has imperfections), but they did not take it graciously or seriously.

I do respect the energy and commitment the Brülosophy team put into brewing. I hope that they fine tune their experiments, that they start following the scientific process for experimental design, and that they stop using the excuse that other data is "pro" data and not applicable. Almost or the papers I read are from data collected in pilot systems, similar or slightly bigger than homebrew systems.
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Re: Lager Fermentation and Brülosophy Exbeeriments

Postby Weizenberg » Mon Oct 16, 2017 6:07 pm

lupulus wrote:
Smellyglove wrote:I do respect the energy and commitment the Brülosophy team put into brewing. I hope that they fine tune their experiments, that they start following the scientific process for experimental design, and that they stop using the excuse that other data is "pro" data and not applicable. Almost or the papers I read are from data collected in pilot systems, similar or slightly bigger than homebrew systems.


Well put!

It's nice to have the continuous enthusiasm, but one ought to be careful not to forget to establish truth by the best mechanism we know: the scientific method indeed.
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Re: Lager Fermentation and Brülosophy Exbeeriments

Postby Techbrau » Mon Oct 16, 2017 8:18 pm

lupulus wrote:A few times I suggested they design experiments building on previous literature when available, and that at they get an objective score for the beer (very difficult to find differences if the beers has imperfections), but they did not take it graciously or seriously.


Were that possible I'd be in agreement - but what is an objective score? Marshall himself said that he when he visited Munich, he thought that the helles tasted very similar to Budweiser.

When I taste Budweiser, I taste low levels of acetaldehyde and fusel alcohol, a weird sickly flavor from the rice/corn, and a pitifully weak pale barley flavor beneath all that. Even the worst helles in Munich is like ambrosia in comparison, with zero fermentation flaws, the aroma of a barley field at harvest time, and just bursting with that fresh, sweet cereal goodness.

The tastes of the general craft beer drinking public have gradually shifted over the last 10-15 years towards hoppier and hoppier brews. Even what passes for a "lightly" hopped blonde ale or whatnot still tastes like it has the 5 gal batch equivalent of 2-3 oz worth of late hops.

I find that when it comes to 95% of craft beer, I have a really hard time tasting anything other than hops. Sometimes you can tell that there might be a decent beer underneath, but that's rare.

I think that starting around about 20 total IBUs and/or more than about 0.4-0.5 oz (for a 5 gal batch) of late hops (30 min or less in the boil), and the hops gradually begin to cover up most everything else going on in the beer, except for any very strong flavors from the fermentation, roast malt, etc.

Taste perception works similarly to sight or hearing, in the sense that your brain/body adjusts to the intensity/dynamic range of the current sensory input. When you go outside, your pupils contract to let less light in, but in the dark they dilate. After a loud rock concert, you can't hear quiet noises well because your body has adjusted to the loudness. When you're eating something extremely strongly flavored, it not only dulls your perception to nuance, but as you adjust your taste sensitivity goes down so it doesn't seem so strongly flavored anymore. You haven't gained anything, but you've lost sensitivity to nuance - kind of a bad tradeoff.

What's sad about this all is that a properly brewed beer free of flaws doesn't need an all-out assault of hops to be full flavored. When it doesn't have an overwhelming bitterness, your sense of taste really opens up and amplifies all of the nuances. To me, an overhopped beer kind of stops being "beer" and becomes something else. If I can't clearly taste the nuances of the base malt, it's not beer.

The other side of all this is that making hoppy beer is really just brewing on ultra "easy mode". The hops cover up quite literally everything else going on, the good and the bad. If you're one of the majority who enjoys highly hopped beer, that's good news.

When I read the brulosophy experiments the first thing that strikes me is that I take one look at their recipe and immediately think "I wouldn't have ever brewed it even close to this hoppy".

I'm not saying their method or process is completely terrible (of course it's not perfect), but I don't think they're liars when it comes to reporting their tasting panel results.
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Re: Lager Fermentation and Brülosophy Exbeeriments

Postby Techbrau » Tue Oct 17, 2017 8:58 am

lupulus wrote:they stop using the excuse that other data is "pro" data and not applicable. Almost or the papers I read are from data collected in pilot systems, similar or slightly bigger than homebrew systems.


I don't think that this is likely to happen, because I suspect that two of the main things driving them are that 1) they feel that the conclusions reached by the pro literature translate into draconian dogma for homebrewers, and 2) the experiments they've done have a long track record of producing evidence which can be interpreted to suggest that the pro literature conclusions don't apply to home brewers.

I'm actually more interested in the question of why their results seem so consistently out of line with what commercial/academic professionals know, because that consistent pattern suggests a small set of fundamental, underlying causes. Some possible explainations:

1) Their tasters are different than professional tasters (the "shitty palettes" argument they've already tried to address. But frankly if Marshall thinks that Hofbrau tastes like Budweiser then I think there is more merit to it than they admit)

2) Their recipes are different than professional recipes (far more hoppy, like I ranted about above)

3) There is a systematic flaw with respect to their experimental design. One possibility: AJ Delange over on HBT did some meta analysis which suggested that their panel sizes are generally far too small to reach significance given the expected effect magnitude of the variables they test, and that when the results of all of their fermentation temp experiments were combined, significance was reached.

4) There is a systematic "flaw" with respect to their brewing process(es). This is different than an experimental design flaw, and I put "flaw" in quotes here because what I'm suggesting isn't a flaw in the same sense. What I mean by "flaw" is a significant process difference between their home-brew systems and a pro system. One big one I've pointed out before is that given what we know now, they are getting absolutely fucking massive post-fermentation oxygen exposure whenever they do one or more of: ferment to FG in primary, cold crash and/or gelatin fine, dry hop outside of active ferment, or rack into a poorly or unpurged keg. Is that degree of oxygen exposure, while possibly not enough to turn the beer into vinegar (or even make most people bat an eye, since most craft beer is equally or more oxidized), enough to "cover up" or "dull" the impact of other process variables? Maybe. Of course, there could easily be other aspects of their process which similarly give rise to confounding variables that they are blind to.

5) The pros are wrong after all and/or their conclusions don't apply at homebrew scale, and brulosophy is leading the charge in disproving their established dogma. I'm including this hypothesis in the list for the sake of completeness, but of course I highly doubt it's the case. Like you said, most of the pro experiments have been done on homebrew sized pilot systems, and the idea that a bunch of untrained amateurs know better than decades worth of PhD research backed by billions of dollars is silly. Aside from the appeal to authority argument, I won't accept this explaination simply because it flies in the face of my own experience. Before we went down the whole rabbit hole that led to LoDO, my process and equipment was very similar to what Marshall still uses/does, except I was typically step or decoction mashing (but not always). I hated my beer. I still managed to win some BJCP medals, including gold, (though nowhere near as many as CT) and my beer did taste in line with craft offerings. When I started following the best practices that you see the professional literature advocating (yet so many other homebrewers insist is irrelevant), I started making beer that I actually enjoyed drinking.
Last edited by Techbrau on Wed Oct 18, 2017 9:06 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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