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Beer 101

Batch Fatigue: Your Doctor Can’t Help You

Have you ever tried the latest roasted coffee porter on your friend’s recommendation, and there was no love at first sip? Have you sampled a highly anticipated sour red ale and let a “meh” escape your lips? 

It happens. Sometimes because the beer simply is not aligned with your taste expectations—which in Scottish terms is known as “crap.” But other times it’s because you’re suffering from a phenomenon we’ll discuss today, known as batch fatigue.

In its simplest terms, batch fatigue is when your palate gets tired of trying new flavors every week—or, for the more adventurous among you, every glass—leaving the avid beer drinker with a less-than-ringing-endorsement of the local brewmaster’s most-recent innovation.

Before you panic, know this: 

  •  Batch fatigue is a temporary condition
  •  It is not contagious
  •  There are ways to recognize it, address it, and possibly even prevent it*

*These claims have not been validated by a medical professional or even a reputable brewmaster.

Recognizing and Dealing with Batch Fatigue  

Thankfully, a blood test is not required to determine if you suffer from batch fatigue. It’s as much as a mental challenge as it is a physical affliction of your taste buds. So how do we recognize this insidious disorder? Let’s start with a few simple questions: 

Do you eagerly await the seasonal shifts of the tap menu of your local watering hole? Are you constantly seeking the latest releases at your local brewpub, sometimes trying 2 or more in 1 night?

If so, you, my friend, are a candidate for batch fatigue. Just being aware that too much of a new thing in a short period of time can overwhelm your taste buds may help you pace yourself more—not to mention giving you a reason to come back another night to try a flavor you didn’t get to the first time! 

Here’s another way to help recognize the concept of batch fatigue. Remember when your favorite band released a new CD? (or cassette, as the case may be) Chances are you played one song over and over, then listened to the album straight through once or twice. That’s because, deep down, you knew there was no way to absorb and appreciate 10 new songs all at once. (Unless you listen to Nickelback, where all the songs sound the same, but I digress…) 

Of course, over time, you dug into the rest of the album and found your favorites throughout—maybe even a few that were underappreciated by others. Same. With. Beer.

When you visit the best pubs in South Jersey, take your time and work through the latest releases the same way you would a new album. And if you start feeling like all of them are less-than-satisfying, you can ask yourself if batch fatigue is playing a factor (or if you just need to find a new brewery). 

Preventing Batch Fatigue  

So now that we realize batch fatigue can be a thing, what can we do to keep it from happening? One strategy employed by a certain beer aficionado with more than 30 years’ experience is to circle back to your top 10 list. Let’s see how this works:

Say you go to a festival and discover 3 great new brews that you absolutely must stock in the fridge at home. Great! Get one, drink and enjoy. Then go back and get an “Old Faithful”—a 6-pack of something from your all-time top-10 list. Once you’ve polished that off, (NOTE: this should not all happen in one day) head back and get new flavor #2 to try. Followed by an established favorite. And so forth and so on. 

What you’re doing is training your palate to expand slowly—building up muscle memory for your taste buds, if you will. Plus, you’re giving your brain a chance to compare something new against something you trust. Where does the rookie fall on the taste spectrum relative to the crafty veteran? (pun intended)

The benefits of this approach are twofold: first, it helps you make time in your schedule for the beers you enjoy most. Kind of like you do with the relationships in your life. Second, it adds a sense of anticipation, knowing that you’re going back for something new and exciting. Again, kind of like some people do with relationships in their lives. (Depending on the relationship you’re in, understand that this works better with beer than people.)

An additional benefit is that eventually—at least with the beer—you’ll make some comparisons that end up re-shaping your “best-of” list as a superstar newbie pushes out one of the old guard. And you will have implemented a strategy that ensures your taste buds don’t get fried along the way!

Beer 101 Podcast

The South Jersey Beer Scene Podcast: Episode 13-Homebrewing With The Presidents

Episode 13 of the South Jersey Beer Scene Podcast is Presidential!

We are joined by the Presidents of 3 of South Jersey’s Home Brewing Clubs Vince Feminella of The Monmouth County Homebrewers Association; Vic Sbailo of The Ocean County Homebrewers Association; and Eric Schmehl of Brew Jersey and also the owner of Fermented Food and Beverage Supply Shop in Hammonton.  The guys share their stories of how they got involved in homebrewing and how you can learn to do it at home!

This episode was brought to you by Dock Street Brewery and their refreshing Berliner Weisse “Summer In Berlin”.  This is a tasty session with lemongrass and ginger that is really refreshing and the perfect poolside beer for Summer.  Look for Dock Street’s Beer all over South Jersey or visit them in Philly!

Please check out our Patreon! www.patreon.com/southerseybeerscene

If you like our podcast please rate and review on iTunes!

Monmouth County Homebrewers www.mcha.club

Brew Jersey www.brewjerseyhbc.com

Ocean County Homebrewers www.ochomebrewclub.com

The Screwy Brewer www.thescrewybrewer.com

Fermented www.fermentednj.com

 

Beer 101

Hi! I Like Beer!

I would walk into a brewery with my husband and he would get greeted like Norm from Cheers.  Me?  A wave or a quick hello, if I was lucky.  But I refused to let this intimidate me. I’d take my tour, read the menu, and confidently order my beer.  I would hold up my glass to look at the color, I’d smell the aroma, and I would take that anticipated first sip.  Mmmmm.  Too bad a lot of women weren’t given the same chit-chat from the bartender as most men got over their selection, but times they are a changing.

Ladies, we know our stuff (or are trying to), and shouldn’t be afraid to ask questions or strike up a conversation with the bartender, brewer, or owner.  I have heard plenty of men ask some pretty silly questions without thinking twice.  Worst yet, I have heard many a man go to order but says he doesn’t like “bitter beers”, doesn’t want anything “too heavy’, nothing “too dark”, and absolutely “hates sours”.  What the heck are you doing in a microbrewery then?  That guy wasn’t holding back, so don’t you. 

We all have to learn to speak up and feel comfortable.  Yes, many times the breweries are so busy that a conversation isn’t possible.  But with so many microbrews opening, you don’t have to go far to find a friendly face.  Don’t be afraid to ask about a beer, and don’t hesitate to ask for a sample.  These breweries are putting their heart, soul, and money into this passion of theirs.  They want you to enjoy your time in their establishment and learn about their product.  After all, we are all there for the same reason…a great beer and a good time.

Now Sit Back And Enjoy Your Flight!

Beer 101

Girls Take Flight with Karen-Sourpuss!

You walk into the brewery, take your tour, and go read the menu. You see Stouts, IPA’s, Ales, Lagers, Wits, and a …Sour? A sour beer? What does that mean? The brewer purposely made the beer acidic to taste tart? Hmmmmm…….

Bacteria are what give the sour beers their distinct taste. Lactobacillus and Pediococcus are the two bacteria that turn the sugars into lactic acid and increase acidity. Brettanomyces is wild yeast that balances the beer with an earthiness. So how do they taste?

At first sip, I thought, “Oooh, too tart!” But then I was asked by the brewer, “Do you like wine?” I replied, “Yes.” He said, “Take another sip and think about wine.” Wow! He was right. The sour took on an entirely new profile. Comparing it to wine, rather than a sour or tart drink, had me appreciating it a lot more. It was crisp, clean, refreshing, tart and fruity. Yay! A brand new way to enjoy a beer.

Sours can be a great alternative to those who don’t love beer but do like wine. For me, they’re a brew to slowly sip and savor the flavor of just one. I must admit, I don’t regularly order a sour. Having it as a sidecar, or just asking for a sample is about my extent. This year I will stop being a sourpuss and find a sweetness for sours.

Now sit back and enjoy your flight!

Beer 101 News

Jay Rose, Host of Fear of A Craft Beer Planet Podcast, On “Release Fatigue”-Why You Should Remember Your Craft Beer Roots!

New music. It can be fantastic. It can be exciting, innovative, it can stir up emotion, and unite people. But, why is it when an album comes out that I’ve anxiously been waiting to hear, I only listen to it 3 or 4 times then I’m over it? Why? Where does this come from? When I was younger I’d listen to an album/tape/cd until I wore it out. Weeks at a time would go by as I absorbed every breath the singer (well, full disclosure, probably a rapper) took and every syncopated fill the drummer hit. At some point, something shifted and I don’t listen to new things with the same enthusiasm and zeal that I once did. Is it because I have just about everything ever recorded on demand in the palm of my hand, and I feel overwhelmed by all the music I’m NOT listening to at any given moment? Maybe that overwhelming feeling is the reason I inevitably find myself leaning on the old music that changed my life and made me who I am today, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

I noticed a correlation recently between the music I consume (a ton) and the beer I drink (more than a ton). As with new music, I’ll drink a new beer release and find myself smitten with it. I’ll take artsy, jealousy-inducing pics of it and post it on ALL social media forums while I wait anxiously (drunkenly) to collect as many of those addictive little hearts and upright thumbs as digitally possible for my boner beer. But, once that beer is gone, I don’t reach for it again. Like ever. Why is that? Are there too many new releases to keep up with? Recently, I’ve heard the term “release fatigue” floating around the craft beer water cooler. As I interpret it, “release fatigue” happens when there are too many new beers on shelves for drinkers to fill up their untapped account with, so they keep grabbing what’s new and not grabbing what they’ve already had that has just 3 stars (“This beer says it’s unfiltered, I can still see right through it! THREE STARS!”). How are breweries supposed to keep up with the pace of drinkers that are constantly on the lookout for the next IG-worthy one-off? Why is it that once a hot new release makes the IG and untapped rounds for a few weeks, it becomes irrelevant? Is this a sustainable way to grow a business? Example: Brewery XYZ has been making pretty solid beer for a few years. Recently they made a fantastic New England Double IPA which sold out instantly in the brewery and leaped off local shelves and tap lines at blinding speeds. What is that brewery’s next logical move as a business? Supply the (perceived) demand. So they make more and it takes a month to get back on shelves. In that time, guess what happens… no one cares. The buzz is now squarely anchored around the exact same style beer by another brewery leaving XYZ Brewing very confused and looking for answers as their once RED-HOT beer slowly gets older on shelves. I wonder if there is such a thing as a favorite brewery or a favorite beer at this point? By beer hopping from one to the next with every cracked can, how CAN there be a brewery/beer that inevitably becomes someone’s favorite? I don’t have answers to these questions. I guess they’re more of a rhetorical glimpse at my inner monologue as I eye up NJ tap lists and retail shelves on my daily grind. I was sitting a bar a few days ago (shocker) and saw Dogfish 90 Min IPA on tap surrounded by every fruit juice bomb IPA currently available in the great Garden State. Now I love these NEIPA’s as much as the next hipster, but….. I really do always find myself leaning on the old beers that changed my life and made me who I am today. Does that negate my 41-year-old hipster street cred? I think it just might.

Seriously, why is it ok to pop on Physical Graffiti by Led Zep or Check Your Head by the The Beasties and break off the volume knob (are volume knobs still a thing? I feel like they’re not…), but if someone hands you Rogue Dead Guy Ale it’s a violation of the highest order?! Those classic beers are the foundation for what is happening today. Just like The Beatles, Stones, Floyd, Zep, Beasties, Tribe Called Quest and Prince are the foundation for current music, Victory Hop Devil, Stone IPA, DFH 60 Min, 90 Min, Allagash White, Troegs Hop Back, Flying Fish HopFish are the foundation for where we currently find ourselves in the craft beer world (we need to come up with a new name by the way. The word ‘craft’ is now being used to sell pizzas at pizza hut, slimy lunchmeat sandwiches at subway, and some preposterous concoction from Ronnie Mac himself at McDonald’s). Next time you’re in a store and an employee says you JUST MISSED the last 4pk of the latest juice bomb #beerporn beer you left work early to track down, go reacquaint yourself with some of the classics living on shelves in South Jersey. You’ll be astonished by the selection (ridiculous amount of amazing Belgians on shelves, more Bruery Beers than even The Bruery themselves has access to) and in some cases, already perfectly aged bottles! You can find these gems sitting on shelves all over South Jersey and all over the entire state! And we haven’t even mentioned the imports yet! Schneider Aventinus, Rochefort 8, 10, 12, Orval, Sam Smith, Chimay and St Bernardus! What a time to be alive! All of these beers are collecting dust on shelves all over South Jersey as the shiny new can with the tripped out artwork and 17-word name arrives in the store and finds a home in under an hour. I wonder how many reading this have had the opportunity to sit with a Schneider Aventinus, or an Orval, or a Sam Smith Oatmeal Stout. If this rite of passage has passed you by, it’s not too late! Run to your nearest Discount Liquor Emporium Outlet and comb over the goods in the beer aisle. There you will find a treasure trove of beers that were once upon a time, the most sought-after beers in the state!

If the music we grew up with, which molded our personalities, kept us company and watched us grow up, is still a big part of our lives, shouldn’t the beers that shaped us ALSO hold a special spot in our lives? Is filling an app with as many rare, one-off beers as possible in the ultimate quest for upright thumbs really all that important? I dunno, maybe I listen to too much music, and chances are I drink too much beer for any of this to seem remotely logical. But… Do yourself a solid the next time you’re in a store with an overwhelming selection, grab one of the OG’s sitting there waiting for a home and luxuriate in its timeless glory. Those beers connect us to the past, help us remember how we got where we are today, and if you look hard enough, give hints as to where the craft beer universe is headed in the future. Just because it’s not an IPA doesn’t mean it’s a bad beer, but that’s another rant for another time I suppose. Go open a beer.

I’m Jay Rose, host of Fear Of A Craft Beer Planet Podcast, and I approve this message!

Craft Beer Podcast hosted by Jay Rose, Richard James Rabic, Rob Forczek and Ryan Harbinson. Jay Rose has been in the beer business for 20 years. Currently, he works for The Hunterdon Distributing Specialty Team in Southern NJ as their Exquisite Liquids Expansionist. Richard Rabic has been in the radio biz for years and most recently co-hosted/produced for the Mary Walter show. Rob Forczek has also been in the beer business for 20 years and is the NJ Rep for Stone Brewing. Ryan Harbinson is a craft beer fan/conspiracy theorist with an opinion on everything.