Last Saturday I had the pleasure of staffing Beerology, which I always enjoy. I have a good time at most beer festivals but you can’t often talk about your brown ale while a mastodon skeleton hangs out in the background.
This year they asked some of the breweries and organizations to make posters and demonstrations1. We chose to tackle the issue of why fresh beer matters.
The set up
One of the main benefits of drinking local beer comes from it being fresh as heck. I wrote on our poster that the kegs of That IPA we brought had been kegged the week before, but in reality they had been kegged two days earlier. Any fresher and you’re just sucking on hops.
To contrast, we took a keg of That IPA and set it aside in February. A month later we put it in our office, directly in front of the heating vent. Whenever the heat kicked on, it blew right into our keg.
Hops have three main nemeses: two of them are heat and time.
The third is light, and just to really ruin the beer I put about half a growler of it in clear glass and set it outside. In direct sunlight. From noon until 2 pm.
Posters are fun to make
I wanted the aesthetic of our poster to be “8th grade science fair” because, well, it amused me. Generally if I have an idea and it tickles me I’ll do it. I very nearly put “Dan Conley, Mr. Cox’s homeroom, room 235” somewhere on it.
I bought some posterboard and a variety pack of Sharpies, then brought out my non slip ruler, scoring tool and corner chomper2. I had quite a lot of fun making the poster, and while it may not have been the most “professional” looking3 I’m really proud of it.
Posters take time to make
So okay maybe I forgot about the poster until the day before, and bought the materials the day of. And planned to make it during retail. Which was, predictably, slammed. But hey, it provided a talking point, and I got to explain to people what the “Hop Security Advisory System” meant.
People don’t always want to drink bad beer ??
I don’t know why but it turns out when you ask people at a beer festival “Do you want to try the old beer and compare it to the fresh stuff, or just the good beer?” they seem to vastly prefer not drinking the bad beer. Who knew!
While many people did neglect to try our mad concoction quite a few others took great interest in trying both. I admit that I had my worries about it being different enough: as Rudy pointed out, the conditions wouldn’t be too different from what beer that sits unrefrigerated in a grocery store in the summer would go through. Keg A, though, bore very little resemblance to the “real” That IPA. I wouldn’t have sent it back if I got it at a bar, but I might not order it again and certainly would feel underwhelmed. It tasted bitter, but not in a good way: more of a harsh bite yelling several levels louder than the rest of the people at a party. The hop flavor and aroma had disappeared completely, being replaced by a fruity sweetness. I like fruity sweetness, but not like this. Not here.
As for the skunked beer? You probably could smell it through your screen. Hoo boy.
People do like to talk about science
Not a lot of people necessarily tasted the old beer, but almost every time I looked at the end of our table someone was reading the poster. Sorry about the handwriting. People liked learning about skunked/light struck beer, and yeast, and aging. I learned a thing or too as well! Fresh beer really does matter.
But you don’t have to take my word for it!