Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Odd Side Ales Off Beer Tasting

Chris Michner, brewmaster and co-owner of Odd Side Ales, recently gave the Michigan Beer Blog the opportunity to attend one of his exclusive beer tasting events. Typically, this would involve a lengthy, 3-6 course meal in which specific beers crafted by Michner would be paired with food from a participating restaurant.

This was not to be the case; instead, Chris had prepared for us a very complex and educational tour of the hurdles faced by home brewers and commercial brewers alike. He took his Jackalope amber ale and “spiked” it with different flavors meant to represent the different ways an abundance of given chemicals could affect the flavor of the beer. The flavor descriptions and scientific names came from the Siebel Institute Analysis kit, which unfortunately doesn’t have a list on their web page. In an effort not to reinvent the wheel, I will direct you to check out this post by a person I found via Google. I have no affiliation with Kristyn, but that list of 24 flavors is exactly what Michner put in his beers.

Full Disclosure: this was not the most pleasant beer tasting of my life. I do not recollect the last time I waxed sublime about “hints of metal,” or “an aggressive taste of dirt,” or (everyone’s favorite) “a solid sewer profile.” There were some that were pleasant – the almond, the clove, and the vanilla notes – but it’s important to note that typically these flavors are seen as contaminants to the beer. What Michner was doing was educating the audience’s palates, giving us solid scientific information to use whether we’re brewing beer or tasting beer. In other words. . .the next time we go to a brewery and wonder why a given IPA has a sweet, butterscotch flavor, we can be confident that it’s likely the beer has too much diacetyl.

A huge thank you to Chris and Alyson for hosting the event; I think I’ve made it clear in my previous posts that I consider Michner one of the most talented brewers in the state, consistently developing the most intricate and complex beers available. While his educational classes are currently invitation only, I highly recommend every beer connoisseur to explore his place in Grand Haven.


Bowlf said...

I'm happy I was able to attend. Odd Side Ales is my favorite brewery in Michigan, but "sweat sock" is a flavor I never need to taste in beer again.

BigDog said...

I hear ya Bowlf. Sweat sock, dirt, rotten vegetables, cardboard, etc... Not tastes you want to have in your mouth for sure.

I actually like the butterscotch flavor though. Chris should make a butterscotch ale it would go great with ice-cream.

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