When we last checked in on our Quest For Quality I introduced you to our new partnership with the QC2 Lab at The University of Southern Maine. This partnership is meant for our two teams to dig into some of the most beer-geeky details of lagering and attempt to learn something new.
To that end, our first experiment is underway, and for the detectives out there reading into the title, you have probably figured out that this one is about carbonation.
Before we get into the science – let’s talk a little bit about carbonation in beer. If everything is going well you probably don’t even think about it, and that’s the point. However, when it goes wrong – you know it. A terribly flat beer is lifeless and doesn’t taste right. An over carbonated beer may cause some unwelcome excitement, but a perfectly carbonated beer is divine.
Defining perfect carbonation is as much art as it is science. The art of it is a belief that certain carbonation levels should highlight certain characteristics of your beer and dialing in to achieve those. The science is the process and technique to create that carbonation and replicate it perfectly every time.
In this experiment we will be delving into a little bit of both. Here at Jack’s Abby we engage in a process called “spunding” to carbonate our beers. This is a natural process where we cut off the blow off system near the end of fermentation so the yeast can produce natural CO2 in the beer. We believe this provides a softer mouthfeel that makes our lagers more enjoyable.
However, there are other options. One of the most common in our business is forced carbonation where the brewer ferments the beer completely and introduces CO2 after. A third method is to Krausen the beer. This is where your brewer introduces actively fermenting beer at its peak to completely fermented beer to create natural carbonation.
In our first experiment, we will be comparing all 3 methods via science and sensory. Luci and Samantha at QC2 will be leading a team of students to test and measure a wide range of volatiles across the 3 methods in an attempt to determine if there are measurable differences. We will also be packaging all of these methods for our beer hall and inviting you all to purchase a pack and participate in the study on a sensory level.
Our goal here is simple – we want to identify whether these different methods produce measurably different results in the same beer so that we can learn, educate and perfect the process. If you can drop in and join the sensory project then that’s great – otherwise, keep your eye out on the blog for updates.
By Rob Day Sr. Director of Marketing