Say “Cheese!” Isovaleric Acid in Beer

From, writer not attributed. Posts as BeerSensor

Cracking cheese, Gromit!

Have you ever smelled cheese in your beer? How about dirty sweatsocks? It’s more common than you may think. If you’re a homebrewer and you don’t use your hop supply as fast as you should, or if you store them improperly, you may be familiar with this aroma. This is isovaleric acid, and it’s a short-chain fatty acid commonly found in cheese, the valerian herb, foot odor, and sometimes beer. Now that’s an interesting selection of sources!

The commonly accepted threshold for isovaleric acid is about 1ppm, but like most other aromatic compounds, this can vary greatly depending on your genetics. This brief article gives some information about the genetic component of isovaleric acid receptors, exploring some of the sources of variability in how subjects perceive this compound. One of the more interesting things mentioned is that its detection threshold can apparently differ between individuals by up to 10,000 times. Personally, I think my nose has what I call an “acquired anosmia” to this compound. To be anosmic to a particular compound means you can not detect it at any concentration. While my case isn’t that dramatic, I think my sensitivity has dropped due to being frequently exposed to the purified compound when I spike it into my samples (despite using a fume hood and taking protective measures, it’s still possible to get it on you). If you get this stuff on your hands, you’ll stink for the rest of the day, if not longer. For this reason, I often have a hard time being able to tell if my spiked samples are at an appropriate level for the panel. Many times, I have to trust my math more than my nose.

So, how does isovaleric acid get into beer?
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Beer Gardens Everywhere

Written by Alan Feuer for The New York Times

THERE are some who thought, prematurely, that 2010 was New York’s summer of the beer garden, what with the World Cup and the opening of a half-dozen outdoor, German-style drinking establishments. But not unlike some genetically altered superweed, these ale-and-oompah joints have continued even this year to crop up everywhere you look. They have grown so thick, so fast, that certain neighborhoods (Astoria in Queens and Williamsburg in Brooklyn come to mind) could, with the proper vantage and the help of several pilsners, be mistaken for Bavaria.

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Beer Profile: Scottish Stout by Bellhaven

Profiled by Ken Carman

The nose: roasted malt with a hint of peat. Appearance: obsidian black… what else did you expect? It even looks thick. Now the mouthfeel confirms the malt bill is a lot more complex than your typical Stout, and the OG a bit higher. Nice, moderate lasting, deep-tan head.

Not much in the hops arena, but with all this going on it would take a lot of hops to over come this. The mouth is filled with malt, chocolate, caramel: both in the dark; less sweet sense. Not a high abv quaff. About 4? There is some sweetness to it, but that seems more from unfermentables and, yes, that hint of smoke or peated malt.

A definite Scottish version of Stout, less “foreign extra,” more just an 80 turned stout-ish.

Very enjoyable: a recommend.

Maui Brewing

Restaurant pictures courtesy various posters at

Written by Tom Becham for Professor Goodales

Picture courtesy

When a friend calls you and says, “I’m booking a week in my time share on Maui. If you and your wife can meet me there, you’ll have a place to stay,” what do you say? You bloody well say “YES!”

That’s how Kim and I came to be on Maui very recently, and visit the Maui Brewing restaurant and pub.

I really wanted to love Maui Brewing. I wanted to title this piece something like “Heavenly Beers in Paradise”. I mean, how could you be on Maui and not be incredibly positive about everything?
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The Thrill is Gone

Part of the beauty that lies in beer is the discovery. There are a plethora of styles, a barrage of nuances,and a myriad of contexts in which to discover the king of beverages. When the would-be beer drinker starts the quest of exploring a fresh world of beer, it seems as though the sky is the limit. Bottles are purchased, locations are scouted, rumors of rare bottles become fictive hopes…

And then it happens.

One day, the beer drinker becomes aware that the thrill for discovery is a little less thrilling. Searching for the rare bottle takes a back seat. The 100 tap handles do not seem as awe inspiring. As Scott from Manland once told me, the kid in the candy store feeling is not there any more.

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Beer Buzz: Say “Yes” to “Boring,” Low-Alcohol Craft Beer

Written by Andy Ingram for The Republic and

Beer Buzz columnist Andy Ingram says to say yes to 'boring,' low-alcohol craft beer. Photo by David Kadlubowski.
I’m not very technically savvy, so when things go a little haywire, like an iPhone or my son’s Xbox, it’s nice to push reset and start over.

It seems to me that this is happening with craft beer as well. And, although I like the experimental and the crazy, it’s nice to see some brewers hit the reset button and get back to what started this whole beer revolution: clean, lower-alcohol, session beer.

There’s been a little spat on the beer-geek blogs and websites about what exactly is a session beer. These folks tend to have an insatiable desire to label and categorize, to micromanage with specific alcohol ranges and distinct flavor profiles.

Maybe the idea of a session beer is lost on these people.
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The Beer Nut: Boston’s Harpoon Brewery Spearheading a Revolution

Written by Norman Millier for GateHouse News Service and

Rich Doyle, left, and Dan Kenary, founders of Harpoon Brewery, are celebrating the brewery's 25th anniversary this year.
A quarter century ago, Rich Doyle and Dan Kenary were friends who enjoyed going out and grabbing a beer or two.

The pair founded Boston’s Harpoon Brewery, and next month, the brewery will celebrate its 25th anniversary.

“It sounds like a long time, but it doesn’t necessarily feel that long,” Doyle said.

“It’s really incredible,” Kenary said. “This is one of those anniversaries that you really notice. I’m 50 now, and I was 25 when we started the brewery, so it’s been half of my life now.”

To celebrate the anniversary, Doyle and Kenary went into the brewhouse together and brewed a commemorative beer: Rich and Dan’s Rye IPA. The beer is part of Harpoon’s 100 Barrel Series, meaning only 3,100 gallons of it have been brewed.

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The Economic Forces Behind Rising Cost of Beer

Weather, commodity prices and greed are to blame for the cost of your brew going up

Picture: Rob Carr/Getty Images Joe O'Dea drinks a beer before the 136th running of the Preakness on Saturday. The cost of beer is up 3 percent at supermarkets over a year ago.

Written by Loren Berlin for DailyFinance and

It’s strange to think that someone actually invented beer, that it hasn’t just always been there, like centrifugal force or oxygen. But it’s true: 6,000 years before Jesus even hit the scene, the Babylonians — people living in the area that is modern-day Iraq — began fermenting barley in the glittering heat of the Mesopotamian dessert, and making clay vessels in which to store the frothy brew and trade it with neighbors.
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Lawmakers OK Strong Beer Sales at Tenn. Breweries

Written by Erik Schelzig for The Associated Press and

NASHVILLE, Tenn.—A bill to allow strong beer makers to sell their product at Tennessee breweries was given final approval by the House on Saturday and sent to the governor for his signature.

The House voted 69-15 to pass the bill sponsored by Republican Rep. Curry Todd of Collierville. It passed the Senate 28-3 a day earlier.
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