The beer-vital-statistics-numerical.csv file has been converted to the ARFF (Attribute-Relation File Format) format in order to facilitate more advanced data mining and analysis.

In anticipation of the upcoming release of the 2014 Style Guidelines, a suffix to all data files has been added to differentiate between the versions. The 2014 Style Guidelines are still in draft so watch for more updates as they near approval.

All JSON files have been updated to follow Revision 0.9 Google JSON Style Guide and all future JSON files will follow these guidelines. While the standard structure of the data files remains the same, almost all property names have been changed. Prior property names followed an ascetic feel, instead of a functional approach.

There were three primary changes for this update:

  • Property Name Formats - These guidelines mirror the guidelines for naming JavaScript identifiers. This allows JavaScript clients to access properties using dot notation.
  • Plural Property Names for Arrays - Arrays usually contain multiple items, and a plural property name reflects this.
  • Quotes Removed from Property Values - Property values truncated by parsers.

These changes should make the data more developer friendly when used by JavaScript applications.

I knew I wanted to try growing hops this year, but I did not know much else and my gardening experience was limited. At the very least I needed to decide which varieties I would attempt, but how to decide which to buy? After shopping around I was paralysed with all my different choices. Growing hops would be a large time and space commitment for me and I didn’t want to make a choice I would regret later.

The following is the process I went through to decide which hop varieties I would grow. I don’t claim this to be the best way to decide which hops to grow, but it helped me at least feel like I was making an informed decision. Hopefully someone else can use this information to help them as well.

Warning: Tables of data ahead.

Local Art My schedule was terrible for my trip through Des Moines this year and the decision to visit Confluence was based more off their late tap room hours than anything else. Spoiler: It wasn’t a bad decision.

Late in the evening we were driving through what appeared to be an industrial district filled with dark warehouses and wondering if our GPS was purposefully leading us to our doom. Just as we had given up hope, we round the bend and were greeted with the warm and bright Confluence store front. It was cold, late and being desperately in need of a beer we hustled inside.

Picture of beer in glass inside with terribly lighting A collaboration between Christopher Elbow and Boulevard brewmaster Steven Pauwels, Chocolate Ale harmonizes the chocolate and malt, each supporting and enhancing, but not overwhelming, the other. Elbow recommended a rare variety of chocolate from the Dominican Republic, prized for its robust flavor and aroma. More than a mere flavoring, the crushed, roasted beans were incorporated into the brewing process itself.

Chocolate Ale is full of surprises, beginning with a glowing amber hue. The aroma is given over to earthy, fruity cocoa, with just a hint of hops. Smooth layers of dark chocolate intertwine with threads of caramel, vanilla, and nutty malt as the flavor warms and rounds to a bitter-sweet finish.

  • Hops:
    • Perle
  • Malts:
    • Pale Malt
    • Caracrystal Wheat
    • Simpsons Honey Naked Oats
  • Adjuncts:
    • Dextrose
  • Special Ingredients:
    • Cacao Nibs
  • Color - 41 EBC / 21 SRM
  • Bitterness - 24 IBU
  • Original Gravity - 20 Plato / 1.083 Specific Gravity
  • Terminal Gravity - 4 Plato / 1.016 Specific Gravity
  • Alcohol (ABV) - 9.1%

Picture of bottle and beer in glass outside with northern light Rye is an assertively flavorful grain more often associated with whiskey than with ales but has largely been eclipsed by corn and barley, the sources of bourbon and scotch. When Boulevard procured seasoned barrels from Templeton Rye, they chose to brew a rich, tawny rye ale, then mellowed it in the warmth of charred oak rye whiskey casks. Two kinds of malted rye provide spicy sweetness, giving way to notes of caramelized wood and the citrusy tang of Citra and Ahtanum hops before easing into a dry, lingering finish.

Heads up! Despite what your bottle label may say, Boulevard Brewer Jeremy Danner has confirmed the hop schedule listed here is correct.
  • Hops:
    • Magnum - Bittering
    • Citra - Bittering/Flavor
    • Styrian Golding - Flavor/Aroma (in kettle)
    • Ahtanum - Flavor/Aroma (in whirlpool)
  • Malts:
    • Pale Malt
    • Malted Rye
    • Munich
    • Cara 50
    • Crystal Rye
  • Adjuncts:
    • Dextrose
    • Brown Sugar
  • Color - 44 EBC / 22 SRM
  • Bitterness - 47 IBU
  • Original Gravity - 22.5 Plato / 1.094 Specific Gravity
  • Terminal Gravity - 2.8 Plato / 1.011 Specific Gravity
  • Alcohol (ABV) - 12%
  • CO2 - Bottles - 6.8 g/L

Last year I purchased Glacier hop pellets in bulk for the significant cost difference. I vacuum-sealed them into 1.0/1.5/2.0 oz portions, which I’ve done before with Centennial and Cascade hops with good results. Not being familiar with the Glacier variety and wanting to clear up some freezer space, I used them in my IPA test recipe:

  • Malts:
    • 7.0 lb Pale LME
    • 1.0 lb Maris Otter Malt
    • 1.0 lb Crystal 20
  • Hops:
    • 90 min: 0.5 oz (enough to hit 35 IBU)
    • 30 min: 1.5 oz
    • 00 min: 2.0 oz
    • Dry: 2.0 oz
  • Yeast: US-05 @ 67F

While the bitterness was as expected, the hop flavor and aroma were anything but; the reaction from everyone, myself included, when tasting the beer was “That’s not what I expected.”

Aroma tingles the nose, almost like mint, and is not as potent as expected with the amount of dry hopping. Flavor is a cool, clean citrus but subdued to the point you would not know it was dry hopped and far less than the aroma implies. A very clean bitterness; right on the money.

The beer does not taste bad (The Wife rather likes subdued hop flavors), just unexpected from this level of hopping. The aroma is almost entirely disconnected from the amount of hop flavors present. The end result is an IPA unlike anything I’ve tasted prior. Definitely something to keep in mind the next time I use Glacier hops.

I initially embarked on this journey in a effort to finally know, instead of guessing from year to year, which pumpkin beer I enjoyed the most. All I would need to do is taste a bunch of different pumpkin beers and see which I liked best. Easy, right? I was woefully unprepared for what lay ahead.

While conducting a beer tasting of this scale is not difficult, it is not entirely straightforward either. However, there are some things you can do to ensure a smooth, easy experience. Below are the five things I know now that I wish I had known at the start. Hopefully this will help someone learn from my mistakes and inspire you to conduct your own tasting experiments.

  1. Plan Ahead
  2. Beware Palate Fatigue
  3. Invite Everyone!
  4. Define Ranking Criteria
  5. Negative Feedback is Guaranteed

Bonus 7 Pumpkin Beers You Should Try Next Year

At long last, the time to choose a winner is upon us. I gathered up our favorite beers from the last four rounds and took them to a Halloween party to perform a final tasting experiment: eight people, five beers, one winner.

The finalists were chosen from the top four ranked beers plus one wildcard we wanted to taste again compared to the others. Which pumpkin beer will I be drinking exclusively next Fall? Let’s find out.

Beer Rank Rating
O’Fallon - Pumpkin Beer 1 8.5
Buffalo Bill’s - Pumpkin Ale 1 8.5
Samuel Adams - Harvest Pumpkin Ale 2 7.5
Blue Moon - Harvest Pumpkin Ale 2 7.5
California Cider Company - Ace Pumpkin Cider 1 7
Schlafly - Pumpkin Ale 3 6.5
Shock Top - Pumpkin Wheat 3 6.5
Samuel Adams - Fat Jack 2 6.5
Shipyard - Smashed Pumpkin 3 6
Mother’s - Mr. Pumpkin 1 6
Rogue Farms - Pumpkin Patch Ale 1 6
Horny Goat - HornyCopia 4 5.5
New Belgium - Pumpkick 5 5
Woodchuck - Pumpkin Cider 3 4
Shipyard - Pumpkinhead 4 3.5
Mendocino - Pumpkin Ale 5 2.5
BridgePort - Witch Hunt 4 1

It’s an Autumn miracle! Just when I had given up hope, these latecomers had shown up to join the showdown. Even after tasting over a dozen different pumpkin beers I’m still excited to see how this batch turns out. Round 4 Beers Which brewery’s late-to-the-party beverage will emerge from Round 4 victorious? Let’s find out.