The Herald Trubune

Newsletter of the Ann Arbor Brewer's Guild

"It's the Rice"
-Anonymous copywriter-

Vol. 9, No. 2
February, 1995

In this issue

  • Rant
  • The Meeting: What's Happening
  • The Last Meeting
  • Meeting Schedule
  • Beer News
  • Roving Reporter
  • Competition News
  • Unclassified
  • Treasurer's Report
  • Members
  • Competition Calendar
  • The Map
  • Newsletter Editors
    Spencer Thomas: 994-0072
    Josh Grosse: 769-0906

    Meeting Schedule

    Thu, February 9   Dave West       
    Tue, March 14     Bock is Best    
    Thu, April 13                   
    Tue, May 9        Rauchbier       
    Thu, June 15                    
    Sun, July 16      Beer-BQ Weiss   
                      is Nice         
    Thu, Aug 10                     
    Tue, Sep 12       Best of Fest    
    Thu, Oct 12                     
    Tue, Nov 14       Renowned Brown  
    Thu, Dec 14                     

    Rant: Where's the Next Meeting?

    A few members have been repeatedly hosting recent meetings. There have been times when I've been frantically trying to find a meeting location at the last minute. WELL, I'M TIRED OF IT! This is your club. If nobody offers to host the meeting, it won't happen. You don't need a huge place; we usually end up in one or two rooms, anyway. You don't need to supply much: a few munchies on hand and a few glasses for the forgetful. You don't have to drive home, and you get lots of new bottles.

    New members, this is a perfect way to become an instant "old-timer."

    So: VOLUNTEER TO HOST A MEETING! You'll be glad you did.

    The Meeting:
    What's Happening

    This will be a quiet month. No doubt, we'll get a tour of Dave's brewhouse and walk-in beer storage area. The brewhouse includes a prototype 1.5 barrel "pico" brewery, fired by steam heat. We'll also be sampling Dave's beers and meads. It will be worth the drive to Milford.

    Formal Programs?

    A few of us were talking about the anarchic nature of recent meetings. We thought that we'd like to try adding a "program" to the typical meeting schedule. This would be a half hour presentation on a brewing-related topic. (Any volunteers?) Those who are not interested would adjourn to another room and be quiet! The proposed schedule is: program at 8:30, business meeting at 9. This month, we'll be doing a "judge table." Bring your beers (good or not-so-good), and get an "expert" opinion from our panel. Anonymity assured!

    The Last Meeting

    A goodly crowd assembled at Ed's house last month. Conversation and beer flowed fast and furiously.

    Hail to Ale

    We judged about 8 beers to pick an India Pale Ale brewed by the Worker Bees, Dave and Jon VanEck, to send to the AHA Hail to Ale club-only competition. We also had news of the performance of Steve Yalisove's Useless Wheat in the Specialty Quest competition. We had thought that it was a nicely tart and refreshing "lambic-sort-of-like" beer. One of the judges agreed, giving it a score of very good. The other judge disagreed, grading it as only drinkable.

    Who brought what?

    Yes, that's right, it's time for the beer list: your chance to see your name in print. Unfortunately, I'm writing this almost 3 weeks after the meeting, and I lost the list!! So, my recall of individual beers is a bit foggy. So, what do I remember? A couple of beers really stood out from the pack for me. A friend of Mike Tomaszewski (I'm sorry, I can't recall his name) brought a keg(!) of his first-ever brew. It was a try at reproducing Anchor Steam. While not as bitter as the original, it was still a very good beer, definitely much better than my first beer. He's going to bring another keg of it this month (he made 15 gallons!) after dry-hopping it to add more hop character. I'll be looking forward to it.

    Paul Philippon had a wonderful Strong Scotch "Wee Heavy". Unfortunately, he thinks may have been the last one of that batch. All I can say is, Paul, you'd better make that one again!

    Beer News

    Chocolate Beer?

    Whitbread has a new beer in England: Fuggles Chocolate. While some decry it, Whitbread believes "people who like good beer, challenging to the palate," will savor the beer, which contains an "absolutely minimal" amount of chocolate flavor. A London pub owner, who will not be selling it, said "It sounds disgusting."

    Genetic Engineering

    Transmitted by Kevin Kutskill, Clinton Twp., MI

    From the "for what it's worth department"--an article by David Holzman in a recent issue of ASM News: "Engineered Yeasts Available but Not Yet Used For Brewing"

    Brewers could reduce the time it takes to get beer to the market, from the current 3 to 7 weeks to 2 weeks, by taking advantage of genetically engineered yeasts that are being developed in Germany and Japan. However, concern about public reactions to such changes apparently is keeping brewers from introducing these engineered yeast strains into commercial use, according to Ulf Stahl, professor of microbiology and genetics at Berlin University of Technology in Berlin, Germany; Reisuke Takahashi, general manager of Kirin Brewery's Central Laboratories for Key Technology in Yokohama, Japan; and others who described recent developments in this field during the August meeting of the American Chemical Society held in Washington, DC.

    Along with ethanol and some minor components that add flavor to beer, yeast fermentation also produces alpha-acetolactate. It quickly is oxidatively decarboxylated to form a compound that imparts a sweet, buttery flavor, which most beer drinkers beside Czechoslovakians do not like. To overcome this problem following fermentation, most beer is allowed to mature, or to lager, for 2 to 6 weeks, depending on conditions. This much time is required for enzymes in the yeast to convert most of the immediately produced diacetyl to acetoin, a innocuous compound with no effect on flavor. "Lagering means your money sits for six weeks in the cellar," says Stahl.

    By using genetic engineering to short-circuit the alpha-acetolactate to acetoin pathway in brewer's yeast, the German and Japanese scientists say they will be able to reduce lagering time to about one week. For example, the researchers at Kirin cloned the gene for acetolactate decarboxylase (ALDC), an enzyme which quickly catalyzes conversion of the buttery diacetyl to acetoin, and inserted this gene into the yeast. The gene donor is Acetobacter aceti, a bacterium used to make vinegar.

    "Using this transformant we carried out a laboratory-scale fermentation," says Takahashi. The transformed yeast holds the diacetyl concentration to 0.1 mg/liter, compared to 0.6 mg/liter for the nonengineered yeast. The reason that any diacetyl appears in the beer is that some of the diacetyl, or its precursor, alpha-acetolactate, leaks out of the yeast and into the beer before the enzyme, locked inside the yeast cells, can catalyze its transformation, he notes.

    By taking a different approach to the genetic engineering of the yeast, the research group at Berlin University appears to have eliminated even the residual diacetyl. Thus, by including in the expression cassette a gene that enables the cell to secrete the decarboxylase enzyme into the brew along with its diacetyl substrate, the conversion to acetoin is more efficient, according to Stahl.

    Aside from the dearth of diacetyl, the beers produced by the transformed yeast were virtually identical to those produced by untransformed yeast. "Transformants showed the same characteristics as the parental strain in all tests," says Takahashi. "There was no difference in fermentation profiles." There was also no difference in concentrations of components such as saccharides, from which the yeasts derive most of their energy. "The concentrations of maltose and maltotriose were slightly lower in the beer brewed with the transformant," he adds, "but this degree of difference is sometimes observed in the standard brewing process." Importantly, there is no difference between the flavor of the finished product and that of beer made with unengineered yeast but lagered for longer periods. Moreover, the transformed yeast maintains its ability to produce the ALDC enzyme through eight successive fermentations.

    Will the transformed yeast be used commercially for brewing beer any time soon? Takahashi dances around this question. "Our mission is to develop innovative or revolutionary technology and transfer those obtained in the research laboratory to a business division [of Kirin]," he says. "I am not in a position to make clear the answer...but I wish Kirin will commercialize those yeasts in the future."

    Use of genetically engineered yeast to brew beer is a bigger problem for the Germans than for the Japanese, according to Stahl. Public opposition to any sort of genetic engineering is so strong that the process is unlikely to be approved anytime soon. For instance, although Germany's diabetics take genetically engineered insulin, the product may not be manufactured locally but must be imported from abroad, he notes.

    A. Guinness Son and Company, a brewery based in Dublin, Ireland, also has developed genetically engineered yeast, according to Alvin Young, science advisor and scientific director, Office of Agricultural Biotechnology at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Once again, despite technical achievements, the company seems to be in no hurry to bring its improved yeast strains into commercial use. "I don't know when we will have a recombinant DNA beer to face the public," he says.

    Personally, I can't believe that the only benefit of lagering is to reduce the alpha-acetolactate levels (though I'll be the first to admit I have a lot to learn about brewing). Still, I wonder how long it will take the U.S. Megaswill brewers to embrace these new beasties.

    Spirit of Belgium Report

    Excerpt shamelessly copied from a Burp News article by Jim Dorsch

    "I love yeast," declared Dan McConnell of Ann Arbor, Michigan, owner of the Yeast Culture Kit Company. McConnell addressed the topic of "Ethanol, Carbon Dioxide and Other Stuff." The latter category includes such compounds as esters, alcohols, aldehydes and diketones. Production of these depends on factors such as yeast strain, food source, reproduction, environment, nutrition and [yeast] health.

    Ester production occurs under anaerobic conditions. As oxygen leaves solution, yeast cells direct their energy away from cell wall maintenance and start to produce esters. most important in ester formation are yeast strain and fermentation temperature. Formation of those fusel alcohols that we all love is influenced by yeast strain, temperature, wort agitation, yeast growth and wort composition.

    McConnell advocates repitching, for esthetic as well as economic reasons. Many yeast strains change over two or three brews, he said. Commercial yeasts are not propagated in beer wort. The first batch of beer fermented by such a yeast may not show the strain's true character. To illustrate the abundance of yeasts one might use, McConnell showed a list of some 40 varieties of Belgian yeasts that he had quickly jotted down the night before.

    Chicago Real Ale Fest

    The Chicago Beer Society is sponsoring Real Ale Fest, following in the spirit of the Spirit of Belgium mini-conference. It will feature seminars on Real Ale, a Homebrew Real Ale competition (keg only!), an English dinner, a hand pulled cask conditioned Real Ale tasting (imported and domestic) and more. Mark your calendars for October 13-14, 1995. We're promised more details, including a brewing and judging guide. We'll pass them on when we get them.

    Roving Reporter

    Beer in Hawaii

    Spencer W. Thomas

    "It's a tough job, but somebody's got to do it!"

    I was required to visit Hawaii last month in order to present a paper at a conference. Fortunately, mine was the first paper of the first day, leaving lots of time for more important activities like snorkeling and drinking beer. Actually, the state drink seems to be the Mai-Tai, but that's another story.

    Asian beers were abundant, and seemed to be fresher than we get them here. A bottle of Singha nicely complemented a Thai dinner my second evening on Maui. The New Zealand beer, Steinlager, was also fresher and more flavorful than I remember from previous encounters with it. It went very well with sushi.

    Finally, on my last day on Maui, I saw Maui Whale Ale on the beer list. I had to try this one. When it came, I carefully perused the bottle to find "Maui Brewing Co, Paia, Hawaii. Brewed and Bottled by Weinhardt Brewing, Portland, OR." Well, it was still a nice, fruity ale, and it went very well with the over 10-foot surf outside the window.

    The next morning, we were wandering around downtown Honolulu. In the Aloha Tower shopping center, we spotted a Gordon Biersch brewpub! Luckily, it was open, so we walked right over to the bar. The bartender pulled samples of Export, Oktoberfest, and Dunkel, and I selected a pint of Oktoberfest. Quite nice, if I do say so! The bartender, upon learning that I am a homebrewer, brought over a couple of issues of Brew Hawaii, the "newspaper" of the Hawaiian Homebrewers Association. From it, I learned of a recently opened microbrewery and of a brewpub in Lahaina (had we but known of it a few days earlier, when we were there!)

    Club-only Schedule

    Bock is Best       March 20      
    Rauchbier Roundup  May 22        
    Weiss is Nice      Aug 14        
    Best of Fest       Oct 23        
    Renowned Brown     Dec 4         

    Competition News

    Judge stuff

    A quick reminder that the BJCP exam is scheduled for Saturday, February 11 at Bill Pfeiffer's house. Late breaking news: the AHA is pulling out of the BJCP program, effective April 19. Bill will update us on the "inside scoop" at the meeting.

    Upcoming judging events include the AHA National Homebrew Competition 1st round in Chicago, April 28-30. There will be a car-pool. Others include: Mazer Cup Mead, May 26; Small Beer, June 24; State Fair, August 12 or 19; Taste of the Great Lakes late October; Chicago Real Ale Fest October 13-14.

    Small Beer Competition

    Spencer Thomas and Josh Grosse decided we should have a "small beer" competition, in contrast to the Madison club's annual "Big Beer" competition. There will be two prize categories: small (OG 1.035-1.045) and smaller (OG < 1.035). We are thinking about a no-alcohol category, too. There are many standard styles that overlap these categories, such as English Brown, Mild, American Wheat, English Ordinary and Special Bitter, Scottish Light, Heavy, and Export, Porter, Classic Dry Stout, American Lite and Standard Lagers, Kölsch, and Berliner Weisse. In addition, almost any beer style, with the possible exception of Bock and Barleywine, can be made "small." We're looking for beers that are, despite their light gravity, good-tasting and flavorful. Beers that get shunted aside in most competitions in favor of their more robust cousins. Beers that deserve recognition! So, start brewing!


    Jim Anderson, who is not a brewer, but likes good beer, has a deal for you. Someone gave him a gift subscription to Zymurgy, but he's not really interested in it. He's offering to trade the subscription, including a number of back issues, for some homebrew. Call him at 668-6809 if you are interested.

    Competition Calendar

    Competition Name                    Entry Deadline  Contact                                          
    Commander Saaz's Interplanetary     Feb 14          Carl Saxer, 407-649-6717 (Florida)               
    Central Illinois                    Feb 18          Tony McCauley, 309-664-6284 (Illinois)           
    2nd Queen of Beer (women only)      Feb 24  Mar 3   Elizabeth Zangeri, 916-626-7733 (California)     
    America's Finest City (San Diego)   Feb 27 - Mar 8  Skip Virgilio, 619-566-7061 (California)         
    5th March Mashfest                  Mar 10 (Mar 3)  Brian Walter, 303-493-2586 (Colorado)            
    Hop into Spring (hoppy styles)      Mar 1 - Mar 13  Gary Spiess, (319)455-2135                       
    4th Southern New York Spring Comp   Mar 16          Ken Johnsen, 718-667-4459 (New York)             
    Great Maple Brewoff                 Mar 17          Andy Patrick, (Chicago)         
    2nd Greater Wichita Open            Mar 17          Lee Bussy, 316-267-2391 (Kansas)                 
    Brewers of South Suburbia (BOSS)    before Mar 25   Al Korzonas, 708-430-HOPS (Illinois)             
    9th Bluebonnet Brewoff              Mar 18          Pat Morrison, 817-383-4399 (Texas)               
    5th Dukes of Ale Spring Thing       Mar 25          Guy Ruth, 505-294-0302 (New Mexico)              
    Bidal Society of Kenosha            Apr 15          Carol DeBell, 414-654-2211 (Wisconsin)           
    Chili Cookoff and Beer Brewoff      Apr 18          Jana Stevens, 303-241-0070 (Colorado)            
    Big and Huge                        May             MHTG, P.O. Box 1365, Madison, WI 53701-1365      
    4th Mazer Cup Mead Competition      May 8 - 19      Dan McConnell, 313-663-4845                      
    Small Beer Competition              May 29 - June   Spencer Thomas, 313-994-0072                     
    Michigan State Fair                 July 28 - Aug   Hal Buttermore, 313-663-1236                     

    Treasurer's Report

    Rolf Wucherer

    February, 1995: Since I'm now a few months behind in reports, I'll be combining payments and funds received over those months in this report. Starting balance: $357.26. I received '94 dues of $5 from Karl Brosius and $2.50 from Mark Hogle; I received 1995 dues of $15 each from Dave West, Bill Pfeiffer, Jon Van Eck, Dave Van Eck, Rob Collier, Ed Boucher, Eric Engelmeier, Hall Buttermore, Pete Sobczak, Bob (& Jean) Freligh, Pete Holmes, Steve Yalisove, Jack Mercer, Bill Holmes, Arthur Howard, Mike Tomaszewski, Paul Ruschmann, Chris Fraleigh, Jim Johnston, Tim Belanger, Dennis Leland, Don McBride, Dennis Wilmarth, Mike Lumm, Mike O'Brien, and Dennis Raney; and dues and a donation of $20 from John Alguire; I received a total of $64, $30, and $30 from the raffles for November, December, and January, respectively; I also received $10 from Allen Pagliere for the use of the pico-Brewery. This made for a total of $566.50 taken in.

    The pico-Brewery Sinking Fund now stands at $151. I'm no longer keeping the pico-Brewery at my house; Bill Pfeiffer has it hostage up in Brighton, so if you want to use it, call Bill at (810)229-0727. It's a great system and members get to use it for only $1/gallon of wort made. Hey, Bill, if you loan it out and collect money for its use, give it to me!!

    I have paid out $68.85 to Beer Across America for the November, December, and January selections; I paid $96 to the Postmaster for three rolls of 32cents stamps; I reimbursed Spencer Thomas $32.22 for December copies; I paid $52.94 to Kolossos Quick Copy for November copies and $10.34 for January copies; I reimbursed Tom Dimmer $11.39 for his entry in the Club-Only competition; all this made for a total paid out of $271.74. This leaves a balance in the checkbook of $652.02; the club owned 3 rolls of 32cents stamps and less than a roll of 29cents stamps before this newsletter went out.


    We are now at the start of a new dues cycle. Virtually everybody's dues are now due, excepting those that paid for 1995 as mentioned above. Members whose dues are not paid by the writing of the Treasurer's Report for March will be dropped from the list and will not receive newsletters. Dues for calendar 1995 are $15; for members joining after January, dues are prorated at $1.25 a month through December '95 Make your dues checks payable to me, Rolf Wucherer, 1942 Steere Place, Ann Arbor, MI 48104. The club does not have a bank account and checks made out to the Guild must be resubmitted.

    New Ann Arbor Brewer's Guild Members

        Karl Brosius        606 E. Ann #2, Ann Arbor, MI 48104                                           
        Eric Engelmeier     2371 Yost, Ann Arbor, MI 48104                                               
        Chris Fraleigh      1123 Pontiac Trail, Ann Arbor, MI 48105                                      
        Mark Hogle          31738 N. Marklawn, Farmington Hills, MI 48334                                
        Dennis Leland       7285 Whitmore Lake Rd.  Whitmore Lake, MI      449-8146                      
        Don McBride         1677 Melody Ln., Milford, MI 48380             (810)889-2378                 
        Dennis Wilmarth     2850 Elmwood, Ann Arbor, MI 48107              971-2865                      

    The Meeting: How to Get There

    Thursday, February 9, 7:30PM

    2920 Debbiwood Ct., Milford

    Dave and Linda West's house, 810-685-1888

    There's a map inside. The meeting will probably be in Dave's "barn." That's the large garage-like building behind the house.

    If you're interested in car-pooling, show up at the Merchant of Vino on Plymouth Rd by 7:00 ("first bus") or 7:30 ("second bus"). Each group will arrange drivers among themselves. Meet in front of the store (or inside if the weather is awful).

    Guide for New Members Bring 1-2 bottles per batch of your beer that you'd like to share, or an interesting commercial beer. Bring tasty munchies to cleanse the palate and sop up the alcohol. Feel free to share and sample with other members and make and accept constructive comments; making better beer or curing ailing ales is our interest! Please observe good judgment while imbibing and don't drive while intoxicated.

    Ann Arbor Brewer's Guild
    c/o Rolf Wucherer
    1942 Steere Pl.
    Ann Arbor, MI 48104