|The Chocolate Secret
|The Fix Is In
|Massachusetts regulators are investigating
whether beer distributors, breweries and
retailers are violating the law by paying to have
certain brands sold in bars and at liquor stores,
while at the same time shutting out rivals.
Investigators for the Alcoholic Beverages
Control Commission have issued subpoenas to
several breweries, distributors and retailers for
records to determine whether they are paying
for, or demanding payments for, access to taps
and shelf space. The practice, known as
pay-to-play, is illegal under state and federal
Inducements can take several forms, including
paying bars, restaurants and retailers to stock
particular beers while keeping out competitors,
or through gifts, including expensive bar
equipment. Now you know why there are so
many macro beer products in the cooler at your
local store. The fix is in.
|Chocolate seems to have been finding its way into rich,
luscious stouts for decades. It seems like the no-brainer,
right? Take a viscous, thick, somewhat sweet beer that
already has notes of dark chocolate from the darker-
kilned malts used in the brewing process and chuck some
actual chocolate in there. The problem is that chocolate
contains fat, in the form of cocoa butter, which would
ruin a beer’s head-retention and cause other issues
since fats solidify at cold temperatures.
Because of this some brewers will use cocoa products
that have the fats removed. For example baker’s
chocolate can be used but it must be boiled long enough
to “volatilize the oils, otherwise the beer will suffer from
poor head retention.” Other brewers aim to emulate the
flavor of chocolate in their beers without actually adding
any. Black malts and so-called chocolate malts are kiln
roasted at higher temperatures than other malts. These
malts produce flavors of char, black coffee and dark
chocolate and when used in the right proportions and
provide the flavors of dark chocolate.
Wet Hopped Beers
Many IPAs are made with hops that are dried and pelletized, while wet-
hopped beers are added within hours of picking, still wet and fresh from the
field—presenting an interesting dilemma for brewers located further than a
day from the farm. Turns out, the hassle is worth it. These beers taste great!
Many of the modern hops used today are mostly descended from breeding
programs that were aimed at creating hops that were higher in resin content.
Resin is the stuff that creates that bitter, crisp taste, a bit like the resin of
cannabis plants. It is American hops—the ones that have made wet hopped
beers so popular—that are most famous for their delicious "resiny" goodness.
Most hop cones are picked and dried, then put into a kiln and turned
into little pellets. These pelletized hops taste very different than their fresh-
picked counterparts, just like dry herbs taste different than fresh ones.
But because fresh hops start to wilt very quickly after they're picked,
pelletized hops are the most practical way for brewers to make their
beers—getting hops from the farm to the brewery in under 24 hours
is a logistical nightmare for most breweries.
Fortunately, there are now dozens of wet-hopped beers on the market, but
keep in mind that wet-hop beers depend far more on the harvest process than
conventional beers—so supplies are not be as consistent as other IPAs.
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