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Old 08-07-2008, 05:25 PM   #1
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Default Blue Moon Butter Bomb

My wife's a big Blue Moon fan (who's isn't?) and we were stuck waiting for our commuter train the other night so we grabbed a beer at the train station.

The place on BLue Moon on tap, she ordered one, it came... and it was an absolute butter bomb. It had a horrible horrible diacytl/butter taste to it to the point that she couldn't drink it.

I thought diacytl was a product of improper fermentation temps?? Blue Moon is a Coors product... I'm doubting Coors screwed up it's fermentation temps.

Any ideas??

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Old 08-07-2008, 05:29 PM   #2
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I've noticed all sorts of off flavors from tapped beers in "regular" bars...I've picked up a lot of vinegar tastes mostly, and some butterscotch as well...I think it's because our palates are more sophisticated becasue of homebrewing...I also believe that most bars don't clean and flush their lines on a regular basis...

The sad thing is I watch other people gleefully chugging down that swill....I was at lunch with co-workers and 3 of us ordered the same beer...I could barely choke it down, it tasted like vinegar...I asked my friends, and they thought it was fine...

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Old 08-07-2008, 05:33 PM   #3
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Yeah, this place not cleaning it's lines would not shock me at all (I'll go bottles next time).

I'm just surprised that THAT taste would come from dirty lines. Not doubting you, you're probably right... I'm just surprised.

As a side note, I was proud of the SWMBO... "This tastes like crap!" and wouldn't drink it. I've got her branching out lately. She's a big fan of my ESB now.... which is cool.

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Old 08-07-2008, 05:34 PM   #4
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Yeah, this place not cleaning it's lines would not shock me at all (I'll go bottles next time).

I'm just surprised that THAT taste would come from dirty lines. Not doubting you, you're probably right... I'm just surprised.

As a side note, I was proud of the SWMBO... "This tastes like crap!" and wouldn't drink it. I've got her branching out lately. She's a big fan of my ESB now.... which is cool.
I wonder if it can also develop during improper storage? Like the keg sitting in a hot storeroom for a week before it got hooked into the system.
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Old 08-07-2008, 05:57 PM   #5
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hmm... maybe....

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Old 08-07-2008, 06:48 PM   #6
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I'm thinking that what you might have perceived as diacetyl was likely just a horrible taste from the lines. They could have ran something else through them before that keg, the lines could have been gross to the point of making some magic flavor, etc. I don't like drinking at most regular bars because of this. I pretty much limit myself to the good beer bars around me and I am not disappointed.

(and just to be a snot... "My wife's a big Blue Moon fan (who's isn't?)" Well, the answer would be me! )

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Old 08-07-2008, 07:14 PM   #7
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I'm thinking that what you might have perceived as diacetyl was likely just a horrible taste from the lines. They could have ran something else through them before that keg, the lines could have been gross to the point of making some magic flavor, etc. I don't like drinking at most regular bars because of this. I pretty much limit myself to the good beer bars around me and I am not disappointed.

(and just to be a snot... "My wife's a big Blue Moon fan (who's isn't?)" Well, the answer would be me! )
Maybe it wasn't diacetyl specifically but it was BUTTER... I took a sip and it was like drinking melted butter... I'm not exaggerating... it was terrrrrrrrrrible.

... and "who's isn't" wasn't a dig at all... it just seems to be a very popular beer for guy's who brew's SWMBO's... I don't mind it and have been known to have one over the summer. As long as they don't taste like butter.
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Old 08-07-2008, 07:35 PM   #8
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I had a similar experience at a bar last weekend. Ordered a Sam Adams draft, as it was the best option available. First my bro tasted his....and looked at me and said, "Wow...this tastes funny." After I had a sip, I wholeheartedly agreed. It had a vinegar type flavor to it.

Yeech....

Thankfully, the barmaid was great about it. Gave my bro a Sam Adams bottle....which was the last one they had. Told me I could have whatever bottle I wanted....so I noticed they had a Samuel Smith's Oatmeal Stout which filled the bill nicely.

I must say, I was slightly disappointed, as they had those new "Official" Sam Adams glasses, and I haven't tried one yet.

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Old 08-08-2008, 11:58 AM   #9
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Yeah I had a rolling rock last night (first since they've left latrobe) and you can tell no one has ordered one in the past month or so, tasted a combination of vinegar and butter, its uncleaned lines. disgusting. people need to get with the program and not have 10 taps if they cant take care of them.

sleepystevenson: what part of NW pa are you from, I went to college in erie for the last 5 years and worked as a bartender at a few bars downtown.

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Old 08-08-2008, 12:35 PM   #10
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I've just been doing some reading on issues with commercial draft systems...

Quote:
Butterscotch Flavor

Even after a fresh barrel of draft beer leaves the brewery, is held at a proper temperature by the distributor and rolled gingerly into the beer cooler of a bar, problems can still occur in the beer, especially if the draft lines to the tap are not clean. Without a regular cleaning regime, draft beer lines often build up a coating of yeast, most often when a beer such as a hazy, yeast-laden wheat beer has been run through the tap. Without a thorough cleaning of the draft line after the barrel runs dry, especially if the next beer hooked-up is a clear one, the result can be an unappetizing beer with very apparent chunks of old yeast floating in it.
A more commonplace defect with beers hooked up to a dirty draft line, however, is the flavor of butterscotch or butter in the beer. Though the taste is not necessarily an unpleasant one, it’s often a sign of a beer gone bad. “This happens either because the draft lines are not cleaned frequently enough or because the beer is on tap for too long,” says Lyn Kruger.
“We have the draft lines cleaned once a week,” says Chad Wulff, manager of The Map Room, “and run the same style of beers on the same lines to avoid possible flavor or cross-contamination problems. Wheat beers stay on the same tap, for instance.” The bar on Armitage serves up twenty-six draft beers. Noting the importance of keeping more than a score of draft beers fresh, Wulff notes that “If we could have the lines cleaned daily, we would,” but concedes that “it’s just not possible.”
There's an article in a Milwauke paper about the lousy condition of draft beer in bars..

Quote:
While the average beer drinker might not realize it, that buttery or sometimes sour flavor is not typically by design and is more likely an indication of a contaminated beer. And although the bacteria - specifically microorganisms such as lactobacillus - won't make you sick, they can lead to foul-smelling and -tasting beer, not worth the average $3 to $5 consumers pay.

"It can be quite unpleasant," said Mary Pellettieri, quality manager for Goose Island Beer Co. in Chicago.

Beer lines should be cleaned at least once every two weeks, according to industry standards. Some states such as Illinois require that restaurants and taverns clean their lines once a week or at minimum every two weeks, depending on the system. The category "Unsanitary taps" consistently ranks among the top 10 violations cited by the Illinois Liquor Control Commission, said spokesman Ted Penesis. In 2006, for example, the commission cited 91 bars and restaurants for dirty taps....

...Just to get a glimpse of the grit around the city, the Journal Sentinel's Public Investigator Team tested six beers from five bars and restaurants picked at random and found four were "dirty" by brewers' standards.

Results from a sample of Session Ale from the Milwaukee Ale House on N. Water St., for example, showed that beer - a Weiss beer - had 150,000 cells of lactobacillus per gram of beer.

"You caught us between cleanings," said Robert Morton, an Ale House brewer.

Morton said the Session Ale, sampled on Aug. 20, ideally shouldn't have any lactobacillus.

"That certainly is high," said Michael Barney, a microbiologist and consultant for the Milwaukee Ale House. "There's always the chance that a line doesn't get thoroughly cleaned. . . but the Ale House does much, much better than most."

Owner Jim McCabe called it an "oddball result" and said other factors could have led to a bad keg.

"It's so out of character," he said. "We're so passionate about (our beer)."

The day after being contacted by the Public Investigator, McCabe said internal testing showed the keg itself was contaminated.

"Over the past 10 years, we have brewed more than 11,000 barrels of beer at the Third Ward location, and this is the first time we have had a bad batch," McCabe said in a written statement.

Lactobacillus is naturally occurring bacteria undesirable in most beers because it produces lactic acid, souring the flavors and smells. It is the same microorganism responsible for spoiling milk.

Another sample, a Budweiser from the tap at Chasers Pub on S. Kinnickinnic Ave., contained 1,950 cells of lactobacillus per gram and a yeast count of 16,400 cells per gram, another indication that lines or faucets hadn't been properly cleaned, experts in the industry say. Budweiser should not have any lactobacillus or yeast in it.

Chasers Pub owner Frank Dobert said he contracts with a cleaning company to have the lines cleaned once every two weeks and the spigots scrubbed monthly.

"I've never had anybody get sick here from beer," Dobert said. "Nobody has ever told me my beer was skunky."

Dobert provided receipts that showed the taps had been cleaned monthly from February through May. He had no receipts for June, two cleaning receipts for July and two in August. He said he probably lost some of the other receipts.

A Miller Genuine Draft from a terrace-level concession stand at Miller Park had 3,300 yeast cells per gram when it shouldn't have any.

Tom Olson, general manager of Sportservice Corp., which operates the concessions at Miller Park, said his company cleans the lines once a month.

"Every two weeks is something I hadn't heard before," Olson said.

The Home Bar, another tavern on S. Kinnickinnic in the Bay View neighborhood, served a Goose Island 312 Urban Wheat Ale that when tested showed it had 4,700 cells of lactobacillus.

Owners Todd Brown and Sonja Seebacher said they, too, have their lines cleaned every two weeks. Brown and others in virtually all sectors of the beer industry agree: Bad beer negatively affects sales.

"We've been in the business a long time," Brown said. "We know it saves us money by keeping the lines clean."

But visits from a line cleaner don't necessarily mean the lines are clean, those in the beer brewing industry say.

Russ Klisch, president of Milwaukee-based Lakefront Brewery, said he has been talking with other brewers about initiating a tap cleaning certification program to ensure the work is being done properly.

"I'd say one in 10 probably isn't cleaning right," he said.

Steve Lonsway, owner of Happy Tap cleaning service in Appleton, said line-cleaning frequency and techniques have become more important in recent years as the craft beer industry has exploded. Heavier beers provide more food for the bacteria and when coupled with the fact that many craft beers aren't pasteurized, lines provide a breeding ground for bacteria.

Lonsway said many tap cleaners make lots of mistakes, such as not using proper chemicals or not keeping the chemicals in the lines long enough. Bars and restaurants need to make sure they hire companies that understand and care about beer, he said.

"It's so damn important," said Lonsway, who also is a professional brewer and owns Stone Cellar Brewpub in Appleton.

And line cleaning is not all that expensive, depending on the number of lines - roughly $3 to $6 a line.

One Milwaukee pub and grill tested by the P.I. Team seemed to be tending to tap tidiness. One beer - a Miller High Life - pulled from Hooligan's Super Bar on E. North Ave. came back bacteria and yeast free, a perfect score. A second beer - a Spotted Cow from New Glarus Brewing - had 100 cells of lactobacillus per gram.

"Our bread and butter here is our tap business," said Hooligan's owner John Sidoff. "Milwaukee tends to have some pretty educated beer drinkers. They know what a beer is supposed to taste like."

Much is at stake not only for the retailer who can lose huge sales, but for the brewer, who, like a gourmet chef, often has invested in the finest, freshest ingredients and spent much time crafting each batch for a specific, desired taste.

"Draft beer line cleaning is being done so poorly (that) the beer consumers are tasting is not the way it was intended by the brewer," said Paul Gatza, director of the Brewers Association, a Boulder, Colo., trade association of American craft brewers. "I don't think people know that at all. They walk away thinking they don't like the beer. They assume it's the brewer's fault."

Carey, of New Glarus Brewing, takes it personally when one of his beers is served through a dirty line at a bar.

"It ruins my evening," Cary said. "It's my baby, and damn it, you've ruined it."

So do you guys say anything when you come across it? I'm more apt to at a brewpub if I get a glass than I am at a crappy BMC only bar...Because I figure the pourer or the staff is going to be more understanding, and may not even realize that a certain batch as turned...It seems nearly pointless at a crappy chain with a staff that barely cares about what they're doing....Unless I see a manager near the bar....How about you?
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