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Old 02-10-2012, 04:25 PM   #1
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Default How do breweries get "signature" tastes?

Let me preface by saying I am a noob. I was wondering at what point a homebrewer develops his / her signature characteristics? Meaning that signature tastes that all of the beers most breweries put out share. For instance most Sam Adams even though different styles, share some common tastes. Same goes for (in my opinion) Saranac, Dogfish, Founders, Six Point. All of their beers share some common characteristics, and I wonder how this happens (intentional / unintentional). Is it some "secret" ingredients they add or something the do different in the process?

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Old 02-10-2012, 04:35 PM   #2
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Water. Every brewery will have their own distinct water supply, which causes different flavors in the beer. Also, a lot of breweries use the same yeast for most of their basic beers.

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Old 02-10-2012, 04:36 PM   #3
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Many breweries have a proprietary house yeast as well.

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Old 02-10-2012, 04:49 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bernerbrau View Post
Many breweries have a proprietary house yeast as well.
Yeast is probably the biggest reason. Also, breweries often use the same equipment for brewing and fermenting their beers as well. This means that the process will develop its own character, shared by the beers. Some breweries will even blend previous batches with the current one, to maintain a consistent taste (I know this doesn't carry over to other beers, but it helps keep a single beer consistent). Another thing to consider, is that the brewer might have a favorite malt, or a favorite company that makes the malt. By using the same general grain bill, you get very similar flavors. If they like the way a beer tastes with certain specialty grains, they might even use the same ones in another beer. Another thing to consider, is how different the beers are that you are comparing. If they are all variations of an IPA, it's a lot easier to spot the similarities. If you're looking at a Saison and a Milk Stout, I doubt you'll be able to tell that they are from the same brewery.
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Old 02-10-2012, 05:00 PM   #5
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Quote:
Many breweries have a proprietary house yeast as well.
A good example is Sam Adams. Anyone who's ever had a few different kinds of Sam Adams knows that the "base" of each beer tastes the same. It's because their water is ALWAYS the same, and they only use two yeast strains, both of which are propietary to Sam Adams beer - Sam Adams lager yeast and Sam Adams ale yeast. They also obviously would source all of their grain and hops from the same farmers to maintain consistency.

I recently took a tour of the Yuengling brewery here in Tampa, FL, which is their largest brewery. Once of the comments from the resident chemist that I found interesting is that the aquifer in PA primarily filters water through coal, while the aquifer in FL primarily filters water through limestone, which dramatically changes the chemistry and resulting flavor profile. One of the duties of the chemist in the FL Yeungling plant is to take water from the FL aquifer and condition it to exactly match the water profile at the plant in Pottsville, PA to ensure the consistency of the beer.

It's things like this that ensure the "signature" taste of the beer and also that keep good beer from being national/international brands, as this type of consistency is cost-prohibitive until you reach a certain scale just based on the brewery's water source alone.

I've even heard that the water they use to make Guiness in Ireland that filters through peat is so unique that it can't be chemically replicated, which is why european Guiness tastes so much different than US Guiness (which I can attest to personally). The water they use in the US is close, but not quite the same, and the flavor profile shows it!
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Old 02-10-2012, 06:24 PM   #6
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Thanks...Great answers in here.

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Old 02-10-2012, 06:29 PM   #7
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Yep good info.

Consistency is also key in terms of developing your 'signature' flavors so good record keeping is a must. You don't want to find a great flavor and lose it because you didn't record temps, times, and whatnot

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Old 02-10-2012, 06:29 PM   #8
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I would think water and yeast would be the two biggest things.

Apparently (this is my roommates story) Kalik and Heineken use the same recipe but the water in Belgium is so different than the Bahamas that they are two totally different beers. Also Kalik uses clear bottles which affect taste but the water is a big part.

I dont know if thats true but Kalik is owned by Heineken so maybe...

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Old 02-10-2012, 06:32 PM   #9
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Fermentor size and shape is another factor, in other words, the surface area of the yeast/trub and the wort/beer.

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Old 02-10-2012, 06:42 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TopherM View Post

I've even heard that the water they use to make Guiness in Ireland that filters through peat is so unique that it can't be chemically replicated, which is why european Guiness tastes so much different than US Guiness (which I can attest to personally). The water they use in the US is close, but not quite the same, and the flavor profile shows it!
GUINNESS® is GUINNESS® - wherever you are. We always use pure, fresh water from natural local sources for the GUINNESS® stout brewed outside Ireland. That said, in blind tests (with a bunch of highly cynical journalists) none of our sample could tell the difference between Irish-brewed GUINNESS® and the locally produced variety. All the GUINNESS® sold in the UK, Ireland and North America is brewed in Ireland at the historic St. James's Gate Brewery in Dublin....

From www.guinness.com
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