From the HBD Archive
From: bickham@msc2.msc.cornell.edu (Scott Bickham)
Subject: Jack Schmidling's NA Beer (very long!)
Date: 1992-04-19 19:37:43 GMT

Saturday, Jean Hunter ran a Dr. Beer seminar in which several Ithaca
Brewers' Union members were able to taste a standard beer that had
been doctored by adding food grade flavors or by fermentation/storage
conditions. After we had finished, we had the opportunity to taste
Jack Schmidling's NA homebrew, as well as Freeport NA "brew". My
analysis of these two NA beers appears below, along with a listing of
some of my judging qualifications.

Judging and Brewing experience: I have been a homebrewer for 3 years,
primarily of ales due to the temperature stability of my basement
at 60F. I am currently doing partial mashes; however I will start
doing full mashes with a RIMS unit in the fall. I will not take the AHA
Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) Exam for another week; however
I already have 5 judging points from 3 AHA-sponsored competitions
(including 3 from judging the first round of the 1992 AHA Nationals
at Boston). Disclaimer: I have no bias towards Jack Schmidling as a
result of any so-called "flame wars", and am no way affiliated with him
or the brewers of Freeport NA.

Freeport NA: The color is golden to amber, very clear, and conditioning
is sufficient to produces a moderate head. The aroma and taste are
predominately piney or woody in character, and the finish is very
clean. I found the flavor profile to be somewhat short, yet
surprisingly complex for a NA brew.

Jack's NA: The beer was in a clear Corona bottle, which enabled us to
see a small colony (about 1/4" in diameter) floating on the
surface of the liquid. Jean Hunter remarked that the colony
was there when she received the bottle in the mail. The color
was pale, however it was very cloudy. The bottle had been
refrigerated, so it could have been chill haze; however I didn't
let the beer warm up to test this hypothesis. The conditioning
level was similar to the Freeport. The aroma was faintly herbal,
but phenolics were also detectable. The taste was also herbal,
with some phenolic astringency in the finish. The flavor profile
of this brew lasted longer than the Freeport; however it seemed more
like an herbal tea than a beer. As for the alcohol level, Jean
has not yet checked this on the chromatograph, so the question
of distillation efficiency remains unanswered.

Conclusion: I found both of these brews lacking in the qualities necessary
to define them as beers. I haven't tried any other commercial versions of
this style and I don't know of any AHA description of this style. However
if I assign a 29 out of 50 to Freeport (which puts it at the high end of the
good range), then Jack Schmidling's beer would be a 24 (the high end of the
drinkable range). Both brews suffer from having one-dimensional flavor
profiles, while Jack's loses points in aroma, appearance, flavor, and
overall impression.

Jack, I recommend that you be extra careful with sanitation, since more
microorganisms can exist at the lower alcohol level (as you are no doubt
already aware of). Also, since your brew still contains isomerized-hop
and sulphur compounds, you are taking an unnecessary risk of photochemical
damage by using clear bottles. Hopefully the reason you sent this bottle
to Jean is because you are trying to get rid of it :-)

Cheers,
Scott Bickham

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