Bizarre Brewing, Chuck’s Hop Shop, Phantasm, thiols, and spunding too!



This new beer provides an excuse to teach you a couple things

Bizarre Brewing and Chuck’s Hop Shop teamed up to create a beer to coincide with the changing of the seasons as Seattle moves from spring into summer. The beer, Pools Rules Everything Around Me, releases this Wednesday, June 14th. The beer is described as a hoppy pilsner. Once released, get it at all three Chuck’s locations around Seattle, as well as Bizarre Brewing’s taproom in Magnolia.

“We’re proud to introduce Pools Rules Everything Around Me, a hoppy pilsner brewed with German pale pilsner malt, a touch of flaked barley, and hopped in the mash with whole leaf Cascade,” said Chuck’s Hop Shop on social media. “We then added in a ton of Motueka hops and Phantasm. This hoppy pilsner was then fermented cold, dry hopped with more Motueka, and spunded for natural carbonation.”

You had me at “whole leaf Cascade,” but there’s more to it than that, I know. Spunded? Phantasm? I love it when a beer teaches us something. Even better when it teaches us two things. Some good beer geekery here.

Spunding relates to how the beer is carbonated. It’s a time-honored brewing practice with roots in Germany. The fermentation process produces CO2. Usually, the resulting CO2 is an unused byproduct. It is bubbled off in buckets and otherwise dissipates into the air as the beer ferments. Once fermentation is complete and the beer is about to get packaged (kegged, bottled, or canned), the beer is force carbonated–CO2 is added to the finished beer. That’s the method by which most beers are carbonated and there’s nothing wrong with it.


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Spunding, on the other hand, is a process by which the CO2 produced during fermentation is carefully captured and used to carbonate the beer. Basically, once the initial and most aggressive stage of fermentation is complete, and the process is slowing to a stop, the tank is sealed to capture the CO2 produced in the final stages of fermentation. The brewer carefully monitors the beer at this point. The CO2 is absorbed by the beer, thus creating its carbonation. Spunding is said to create smaller bubbles in the beer and, thus, a smoother mouthfeel.

Phantasm is a newish “hop product” from New Zealand that isn’t a hop. It’s a powder made from Sauvignon Blanc grape skins. The powder is added during the brewing process and works to amplify the fruity flavors imparted by hops. Here’s how it works, explained in super-simple terms.

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Grape skins contain thiols–organic compounds with a sulfur atom bound to a hydrogen atom. A lot of things contain thiols, btw, but grape skins are particularly lousy with ’em. Sauvignon Blanc grapes from Marlborough, New Zealand are notoriously high in thiols. Wherever they exist, thiols contribute to aroma and flavor, especially tropical aromas and flavors. Hops contain thiols, which is where they get the aroma and juicy character that many beer lovers crave. So what does this grape skin powder add to the beer?

It’s not about what it adds to the beer, it’s about what it does to the beer during fermentation. A product like Phantasm, which is made using Sauvignon Blanc grapes from Marlborough, is all about thiols that work as precursors to release more of the juicy, tropical character provided by hops. “Thiol precursors” are all the rage these days. Adding thiol precursors during brewing is like turbocharging the hops, releasing more of the hops’ own thiols.

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Phantasm is one of the newish, thiol-based products on the market that some brewers use to boost the juicy hop character of their beers, especially hazy IPAs. Cosmic Punch from Omega Labs and Thiol Boost from Berkley Yeast are a couple of others. For more information about thiols and beer, I suggest this article written by Stan Hieronymus.

A thiolize, spunded pilsner. Now that you have a clue what that means, perhaps you’re curious to taste this new beer from Bizarre Brewing and Chuck’s Hop Shop. You’ll have a chance starting this Wednesday. Do not delay! It won’t last long.

For more news about recent beer releases, visit the Washington Beer Blog’s New Beer Releases page.



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