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Key Takeaways From New Brew Asia Technical Sessions

The region’s craft beer industry is growing rapidly, and so too is the thirst for continual education among its new generation of brewers. With this in mind we launched the Brew Asia Technical Sessions series in 2019, staged in the Philippines, Ho Chi Minh City and Seoul. This new initiative aims to bring more technical knowledge and best practice theories to brewers in the region who, in many instances, have neither the resources nor the time to travel overseas to advance their brewing education.

One of the most popular sessions run across all three gatherings was the Siebel Institute of Technology Beer Off-Flavours workshop. The day-to-day implications of which were further expanded on through a practical session on Developing Brewery Tasting Panels during the Seoul technical session. The key take-aways’ from the workshop were:

  1. Every brewery needs a tasting panel

  2. Cellar Blindness is real and affects us all!

  3. All beer should be sampled and ‘signed off’ before release from the brewery

  4. Everyone in the organization should be involved (your accounts clerk may actually be your best taster!)

The first run of sessions, held in Manila (Philippines) and Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam) in early March and with attendance of 40 and 55 respectively, incorporated some of the latest research from Yakima Chief Hops on their hop extracts and recipe development advice. In addition Lallemand Brewing’s Dr Sylvie van Zandycke delved into brewing yeast characteristics and avoiding yeast stress during fermentation, revealing that:

  • Brewhouse and packaging line hygiene is crucial to avoid S. Cerevisiae Diastaticus contamination

  • Ensuring your yeast has adequate nutrition, is pitched at the optimal temperature and you have sufficient pitching rates is essential to avoid off flavours from stress

  • Knowing your yeast and treating it well will encourage the best ester and flavour production

Guest brewers Luke Erdody, Michael Oberdieck and Dave Burn also shared their experience on topics such as methods to increase beer shelf stability, capacity & variety in breweries with limited production capacity and brewery expansion.

A third technical session was held in Seoul in late May, marking our first foray into the burgeoning South Korean market. In conjunction with local ingredients distribution company Brewsource International, this session saw attendance of 50 brewers. Insights into the importance of malt certificates of analysis and malt storage were shared by David Cryer representing Barrett Burston Malting. David's key take-away’s were:

  • Be sure to review your malt Certificate of Analysis (CoA) to ensure consistency of flavour and wort extraction

  • Store your barley in optimum conditions to ensure the best brewing results (below 15ᵒC, as dry as possible and in a rodent safe room)

Whilst White Labs’ Dr Chris White presented an enlightening talk on yeast selection, collection and management, which highlighted 7 key points:

  1. Harvest yeast as soon as the bulk of the yeast has separated from the beer

  2. Chill rapidly to ~ 4°C and maintain that temp

  3. Exclude air

  4. Store for as short a period as possible

  5. Pitch accurately

  6. Evaluate the culture before using/reusing

  7. Keep it clean

In addition, it was revealed maltose, maltotriose, glucose (the primary sugars yeast feeds on) not only create CO2 and ethanol, but over 500 flavor and aroma compounds to finished beer. And since 59% of aroma and 79% of flavor descriptors are created or modified by yeast, it is important to find the right strain of yeast to create the flavors and aromas you’re looking for.

But it wasn’t all work and no play – each day’s session ended with an evening gathering allowed the attendees time to wind down, catch up with their peers and reflect on the days’ insights … and perhaps sample a beer or two.

In Seoul the guest brewers and industry experts were also kept busy outside of their official roles, being invited to judge the Alpha Brew Challenge, a local freestyle beer competition organized by Yakima Chief Hops & Brewsource International. The first running of the competition saw a solid win by Seoul’s Amazing Brewery with a mouthwatering Hazy Double IPA.

Looking forward to 2020

Working with the supply industry, educators and experienced, professionally trained brewers, future Brew Asia Technical Sessions will continue to allow for a deep-dive into subjects that cannot be covered at the annual SEA Brew Conference. For 2020, plans are in place to increase the number of technical sessions to between 8-10, whilst reaching more of the region’s brewing centres.


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