The greatest and most delicious things that we humans consume share many chemical similarities. Beer, coffee, steak, bread and sautéed anything all owe their amazing flavors to a specific process known as the Maillard(May-yard) reaction or non-enzymatic browning. While a very complex chemical process, the Maillard reaction can basically be described as carbohydrates that when encountering moisture and heat react with proteins to create new chemicals which have very strong aromatic qualities (Disclaimer: I am in no means a chemist). This process explains the caramelization of onions, the browning of toast and the delicious char of a hamburger. Most importantly to a brewer like myself the Maillard reaction is essential to how barley becomes a suitable basis for beer. Barley just so happens to contain the perfect mixture of sugars and proteins that when exposed to heat in the kilning process will create those magical flavor chemicals. One aspect of this process I find so interesting is the seemingly endless varitions of flavors that are created. Every brewer through practice learns the difference in flavor and aroma of the various commonly used malts. Very little of the variation is due to growing practice or local soil conditions, the vast majority comes from difference in the duration or temperature in kilning of the malt. The compounds created have incredible potency, this fact is obvious to anyone who has tried to brew a beer with more than 25% roasted malt or eaten an overly charred piece of toast. I hope next time you sip a beer, cup of coffee or eat a juicy steak you will appreciate the incredible chemical process that has happened and made your experience so enjoyable.
After receiving no negative feedback (or positive) last week, I am back with another round of links. I hope you enjoy what I found to be the latest and most interesting beer-related articles from around the internet.
First, I would like to acknowledge the latest brewery to announce its plans to open in the great state of North Carolina. They call themselves the Beer Army Combat Brewery and will be located in the 239 person town of Trenton. While the BAC abbreviation could prove to be confusing, those of you who are interested should read this article:
Readers who enjoy darker beers may be interested in this Time article about beer industry trends shifting towards darker, more flavorful beers:
Beer Enters the Dark Ages
Any beer-lover who has traveled to Wilmington has surely heard of Front Street Brewery. They are one of the best breweries in NC by many standards, most importantly of which is their award for Best of Show at the 2012 NC Brewer’s cup. Check out their website on the link below:
Front Street Brewery
As unique as they come, Concordia Brewery is certainly the first hotel/brewery that I’ve ever encountered. They opened as part of the Kennedy School in Oregon and are certainly worth reading about:
Finally, if you have time I recommend watching this interview with the owner of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, one of my favorite entrepreneurs:
We want Steel String to be the neighborhood bar you come to after work to grab a beer and decompress after a busy day. We also want it to be so much more than that. Our goal is to have something truly awesome happening in the bar every night of the week. “Wait” you may say incredulously, “How is that possible?” Well, let me tell you! For us at Steel String, as the name implies, it all starts with music. Three of four czars played in bluegrass bands in college, our inspirations are obvious in the titles of our brews. No, we won’t get on stage every night and play “In the Pines” and “Rocky Top” until you want to tar and feather us. We do have a bunch of friends though who we think are worth listening to, I’m sure you’ve heard of some of them. Supporting local musicians is a no-brainer and the Triangle is home to great acts of every style. You should expect a concert at least every other week as well as weekly open mic nights.
When we’re not showcasing amazing musical acts in the bar you can bet that something else is happening. We are planning a weekly trivia night, with an exciting twist to up the ante and encourage some friendly competition. If you are more of a film buff you will certainly enjoy our weekly movie night. What type of films will we show? All types really, they just have to be good. One week we might show a Hitchcock classic, the next could be Ferris Bueller’s Day Off or even Pixar’s Wall-e. Suggestions are certainly accepted.
We want to be Carrboro’s community center, always providing you with another option for something to do. When we open, just come on in and you will see prominently displayed a calendar of upcoming events for your enjoyment. There is another weekly event we are super excited about which I will write about at a later date once the details get worked out, so stay tuned.
The following is not beer related and does not represent the views of Steel String, LLC though it does represent the views of the Logistis Czar, it is a somewhat amusing story and general advice. Though you should probably grab a beer to read it you are not required to do so. Cheers.
Today my friend Ben posted a picture on Facebook of his phone which showed a picture up top and then a series of text messages following from 11pm last night. Some guy, I have his number but that would be cruel to post, let’s call him Chad because I think that is a funny sounding name and I’m a politics nerd so it makes me sad and laugh all at once but never mind that. Chad had sent, lets call her Emily, a picture of his Don’t Tread on Me rattle snake tattoo.
Warning History Lesson: This is called the Gadsden Flag after General Christopher Gadsden, was used by the continental marines and was given as a gift by Gadsden to other generals and statesmen by this South Carolina member of the Continental Congress (1774-1776). History Broken Down: Basically this guy designed a flag, which I guess is something people do, but it is kind of a quirky thing to do and I’m sure even in the seventeen hundreds was viewed with skepticism ”Oh there is Gadsden showing off his flag again.” ”Yeah enough already Gadsden, we know we’ve seen it, well done, it’s a rattlesnake.”
Sorry back to my story. We left off with his picture of his tattoo (upper left arm) which he sent to Emily. Only thing was he sent it by mistake to my friend Ben. Ben then said “Yeah, that’s impressive. Send it to the right number.” ”Is this not Emily?” ”Nope you just sent your tat picture to a dude.” ”Shittt.” (I would have put the emphasis on the I, Shiiiit, because T is harsh and ends the word abruptly but I lets you drag it out and is what most people would actually say in person, try it out.)
That’s pretty funny but let’s break it down. So he didn’t have Emily’s number correct in his phone but why? First possibility is that he entered it in very recently and simply entered it wrong, which means he was sending a picture of his new (?) tattoo to a girl he just met which is not advisable. Next option is he had the number in there for a while and it was wrong and he never talks to Emily but decided she needed to see his tattoo, I have no idea why he would do this if this is the correct scenario just he is nuts I guess. Finally the most probable answer is that Emily was in an awkward social situation and thinking of herself as a kind and decent person did the only thing she could when asked for her number. She entered a random number into Chad’s phone claiming it was hers, which, Emily, is not a kind or decent thing to do in fact it is rather cowardly but I can’t say that I blame you after his tattoo sharing text, well played.
This is the issue, if you are still with me after my babbling. Why was he sending a picture of his tattoo? I think it is all about self satisfaction. Here’s my issue with that, self satisfaction is fine if you make something or do something. If you don’t make something or do something tangible what’s the point? Sure you picked out the picture and gave a tattoo artist money but that’s not your accomplishment, different scenario if someone wants to see the finished tattoo, but that isn’t the case here because he would have the correct number if that scenario were true. I think, and this is general advice, that if no one asks to see your tattoo and if you didn’t draw it yourself you should refrain from showing people pictures of it. Again this would be different if you in person were like “Yo Barbara check out my new tattoo that Danny did he is really good an I like it a lot.” Believe me people will ask to see your tattoo so don’t get all antsy in the patnsy and take a picture in a mirror and send it to Emily, she has been through enough.
Today is my first edition of a hopefully long series of blogposts containing a variety of different links and videos related to beer. I’m hoping to focus on North Carolina breweries, but there’s so much going on in the brewing world outside of NC that I don’t plan to limit myself to that. With that said, here is my first set of links:
Although this is somewhat old news I feel like news as big as this is still acceptable to include in my first post. If there were any doubts about NC being one of the most exciting states in the brewing world, the addition of Oskar Blues, New Belgium, and Sierra Nevada to the state will put those to rest.
For those of you that like beers with a high alcohol content, let me introduce you to a beer called Armageddon from Scotland. Measuring in with a whopping 65% alcohol content, I’ve heard that you can get tipsy just from sitting next to someone who drinks one of these.
Being from Charlotte, I feel almost obligated to inform the world of the latest NC brewery to open it’s doors- Heist. Check out their website and if you’re in Charlotte swing by and give them a try.
And if you’re not into reading here’s a video about Heist Brewery.
Happy Halloween everybody and I hope you enjoyed the links. Only 243 more days until I can try Steel String beer, but make sure you get some at our next tasting!