Let me pull credentials on you. I've studied brewing from the professional texts, and done considerable study in the brewing journals. Everything from the barley reqs, the malting process, yeast metabolism, flavor chemistry, hops features, water analysis. I've done a very little consulting to commercial breweries, I've taught a few BJCP (beer judging classes), written articles for Hbrewing publication, contributed to two HB books. I used to be a very active HBer but I'm more into wine making for the past several years. An obsession, not a hobby.
Originally Posted by tashirosgt
There's a particular appearance and taste that I associate with "home brew" type of beer. It looks like cloudy apple juice. I don't know a good way to describe the taste, but to me, all beers that look like that have a similar taste. It's not one I want to drink every day, but I don't mind it every now and then.
There are several sources for beer haze; poor flocculation (i.e. brewing yeast or wild yeast), protein haze, bacterial haze (infection), yeast autolysis (degradation) or rarely chemical haze create by small amounts of certain metal ions in the brewing water.
/ Chemical haze is too rate to be considered a common problem.
/ Protein haze occurs (roughly) when too many larger protein molecules remain in the finished beer. These large proteins create large enough clusters to cause light to scatter (aha haze). Protein haze is often temperature dependent only appearing at colder temps (chill haze). Haze Implies either undermodified malt (very rare with modern commercial malts) or the us of raw grains (higher un-degraded protein levels) or else inadequate low temperature mashing (in the mash enzymes can split proteins). The features of protein in beer are ....
- major component of head=foam (Guinness uses some unmalted roast barley for extra protein=head).
- major cause of haze (consider ultra-hazy wheat beers, often use hi-protein unmalted wheat)
- create a very full mouthfeel (again wheat beer).
- haze & foam causing proteins will sediment and can be remove but it tales many days (see lagering).
- commercial brewers, even micros often filter heir beers to remove residual yeast and also excess protein ,but this also removes some positive flavor components, but is economically justified.
- has little to no flavor impact (a good problem to have unless you just look at beer)
/ Bacterial haze. All beers outside of a lab are 'infected' to some minor extent (wine is far more 'infected') but the level of beer infection are microscopic if proper methods are employed. It requires far higher levels of sanitation than you find in a good kitchen. Commercial gear is made to assist the sanitation process, HB gear is usually adapted from kitchen tools and plumbing parts. So infection is a common problem in HB. The bacteria that can infect even a shodily made beer aren't harmful. The only categories of bacteria that survive in beer produce vinegar (acetic acid) and DimethylSulfoxide(DMS, cooked corn or cabbage aroma) flavor/aromas. Sometime diacetyl (buttery or butterscotch) aroma can occur, but this can have several causes. In all, bacterial haze is fairly rare and minor in HB, tho' it does occur you are far more likely to taste background vinegar than see bacteria haze.
/ Wild yeast infection. The most common categories of airborne wild Saccharomyces yeast are genetically similar to ale brewing yeast, BUT they don't flocculate at all(haze), and they often produce a clovey-spicey flavor (4 vinyl guiaicol) - the flavor of Weizen beers. There are many other yeasts than may do little more than cloud beer and reduce body.,but can produce odd astringent or musty off flavors. Off flavors and haze from yeast infections is not uncommon, but it's far from universal. This is an area where a reasonably skilled HBer should not have problems, but most newbs do.
/There are two ways that brewing yeast can cause haze. Shortly after fermenting the yeast may be still slightly active and not flocculate well so there is live yeast in suspension. Live yeast will cause ... flatulence. Live yeast also has a not-bad toasty flavor (think of a good champagne's toasty character). The other way good yeast cause haze is if they have poor vitality and the can fall to the bottom of th fermenter and the cells degrade and spill their contents creating haze and flavors. This 'autolysis' can give a slight brothy flavor up to something as bad as a rancid oil aroma. Both cases can by prevented with proper yeast & beer management, but that's an advanced skill.
So I believe the most common cause of HB haze with flavor is suspended live yeast and the associated toasty/yeasty(aldehyde) flavors.
There are commercial beers that are like the "home brew" type. My guess at the causes of the "home brew" effect in beer are that these brews are:
1) Un-filtered, or at least not run through very fine filters.
3) Naturally carbonated
1) HB is unfiltered, but I've tasted HB that is every bit as clean and clear as the best commercial beers and many that are so clean you wouldn't care about the difference; lack of filtration is not the problem.
2) Pasteurization has a bad impact on flavor but a positive impact on shelf-life. It's primarily used for commercial bottled & canned beers (not kegs) and almost exclusively by big mega-breweies - rarely micros not HBers.
3) The source of carbonation has no impact on flavor, however this brings up a side-topic. SOME HBers and many fine German breweries use bottle conditioning
. They add yeast & a little sugar after fermentation and then allow the CO2 to develop from fermentation in the bottle. Other HBers use pressure vessels (corny kegs used for soda-pop) to 'artificially' carbonate after fermentation. There is little difference in flavor, but the bottle conditioned beers have much better shelf life (the yeast have anti-oxidant impact and MAY clean up earlier fermentation flavor byproducts). Bottle conditioned beers have a tiny layer of yeast at the bottom so you may want to avoid pouring the last half cm of beer from a conditioned bottle - otherwise you get that toasty/yeasty flavor - or sludge.
Is that correct? Or is it due to something different?
I think much HB has a flavorless protein haze. Much HB has residual live yeast haze & flavor (esp ales). It's really a skill to manage yeast properly, and tho' many HBers do this well, many do not. Poor fermentation performance can result in suspended yeast, autolyzed yeast as well as other off flavors not discussed.
"Real Ales" are an entirely different topic where we have ales cask condition beers they are purposely under-carbonated and served at warmish-temps by US or Lager standards. These are always hazy yeast-y to some extent.
Originally Posted by tashirosgt
A notable feature of USA major commercial beers (I have read) is that they contain corn. I think that's what makes them taste so different than European commercial beers. Do corn flakes give you a headache too?
This is a myth. Back before Prohibition in the 1930s many German style lagers in the US were made using a combination of harsher tasting American 6 row barley (horse barley vs 2-row European brewing barley) and the lighter flavored corn grain. The corn dilutes the husk-y grain-y flavor of 6-row to normal levels, but adds it's own little corn flavor in the background. A friend of mine was responsible for writing several articles on these pre-prohibition Classical American Lagers (CAPs) and this lost beer style has been resurrected by several microbreweries. I doubt that most US beer drinkers have ever tasted a beer with corn content - it's still a rare style.
The fact is that most people have been taught to expect beer to be low-flavor, 'dead' watery twaddle. The late Michael Jackson (the English beverage writer, not the US pop singer) called this a campaign against flavor. We see it all around us, not just in beer - MacDonalds providing bland unchallenging sweet & simple menu options. Switching from commercial mega-beer to real flavorful live beer is just as palate challenging as switching from Japanese to Indian cuisine.