From the very beginning at South Plains I’ve known it’s all about freshness! Doing a fresh ale, unfiltered and unpasteurized, containing a live yeast culture, using high alpha hybrid hops is a recipe for a wonderful fresh ale, but also a recipe for a ale that will fade in flavor over time, becoming less stable in it’s flavor. Living most of my life in California, I always went to micro breweries and drank fresh ales. The flavor was incredible because they were so fresh! But when I came to Sweden and drank these same beers they were still pretty good but nothing like they once were. By the time they are produced in California, packaged in bottles or kegs, trucked to the ports, loaded in a ship, makes the long journey through the extreme heat of the Panama Canal..and keep in mind these ships are not refrigerated….and by the time they come to a central port like La Havre or Hamburg in Europe, then put in a distribution system and trucked to Sweden and then in the Systembolaget the beers are kept under warm lamps and it’s often been five or six months and guess what?….The beer is no longer fresh anymore!… It’s lost most of that wonderful fresh hoppy flavor! They are still pretty good and people seem to like (perhaps not knowing what it once tasted like) them but the flavor has become less stable, often producing hint’s skunk (warm-cold cycle of your beer) of wet-dog, wet-cardboard. This was the main premise of my marketing strategy and sole purpose of South Plains Brewing Company. That I can produce very fresh, locally produced American style craft beer and let people see what fresh ale tastes like. The flavor is incredible! I usually go to my customers and they pre-order key kegs so they can serve them fresh. Over the weekend I’ve been working on a concept to let the people see how fresh the beer is. My graphics designer Joshua Alvarez is in the process of modifying my labels with a box to stamp Batch # and Best Before Date. So I also asked him generate a QR Code that people can scan with their smart phones and link it to a page that tells production/bottle dates of different batch number…all the details so people can see how fresh my beer is…the pages will have photos & video,all the technical information…the idea is very 2014. See the side of the new label below with QR Code and social media info.
For more information on flavor stability, listen to this podcast by Dr. Charles Bamforth, a Professor of Brewing Science from UC Davis in California as he discusses flavor stability and complexities of keeping beer fresh tasting as it ages, a major problem the micro brewery industry struggles with.