Beers In Sacramento reached out to Mike Ungerbuhler to post about his journey to become a certified beer judge. Mike will post every Sunday for the next three months to share his experiences. Mike has his own blog, Insatiable Thirst, make sure to check it out. Here's Mike..

I am happy to return to the journey and to have you all with me as I get closer to becoming a Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) certified judge. Beer is made up of four basic ingredients: water, grains, hops and yeast. Each of these contributes to the flavor and style of the beer and can be specific to styles of beer. We have already gone over hops and water and their contribution to beer styles. This week we travel yeastward to discover the microorganism partially responsible for many aspects of beer, including aroma, flavor, appearance, mouthfeel and the production of alcohol (and carbonation in the instance of bottle conditioning).

 Martin Lodahl, sour beer in hand.

Martin Lodahl, sour beer in hand.

This week we met at New Helvetia Brewing Company; a big thank you to New Helvetia for allowing us to use their space. It was a beautiful morning, so we took the class to the courtyard. We were met there by this week's guest teacher, Martin Lodahl. Martin was aided in stewarding by master, single vessel, blender and prominent local BJCP judge, Dwight Bradish. Martin has a history book worth of experiences with and knowledge of beer styles. He has been involved in the BJCP since its inception. Martin's love of Lambic and Sours is apparent when he speaks on those subjects. Our focus this week was on that section of the BJCP Style Guidelines along with Belgian and French Ales. The reason for focusing on those styles was to accentuate the obvious characteristics caused by different strains of yeast and/or Bacteria.

This week all of the samples were from the sour spectrum, ranging from Flanders Red to Gueuze. Of these beers, I was most pleased with Liefmans Oud Bruin. The aroma was of dried sour cherries and toffee. Its appearance was a translucent brown with an off white crown of fine bubbles. This beer was a perfect balance of sour and caramel sweetness. The tartness and moderate low carbonation make this a very approachable and refreshing sour beer.

 Class in the courtyard of New Helvetia Brewing

Class in the courtyard of New Helvetia Brewing

Yeast has much to do with beer styles, flavors and aromas. It amazes me that when people were originally brewing beer, they had no idea of yeast's existence. The beers were fermented with whatever wild yeast made its way into the beer, either via the air or on the brewing tools. This fact has contributed to the older beer styles of the world and I am thankful for those pioneers of brewing. Lambic is one of those old styles and is still brewed in traditional open vessels and with wild yeast.

This week’s thirst quencher is Lindemans Framboise an easy to find and very tasty Fruit Lambic. The aroma is of ripe raspberries with a hint of sourness. The rose color and thin pink lacing are enticing. The tart raspberry sweetness is quite appealing in any weather. This beer has champagne like dryness and effervescence. I think that this beer would be a wonderful substitute to champagne in a mimosa.

Cheers!