Rebecca Newman is our first guest today on Brew Ha Ha with Steve Jaxon and Mark Carpenter. Rebecca is the Director of Global Quality for Lagunitas Brewing.
We also have Dr. Hoby Wedler back on the show. He holds a PhD in Chemistry from UC Davis, is blind, and is a renowned expert on perception science. He will talk about some of his work later in the show.
Rebecca Newman has been doing this job for three decades for different companies. She was recruited by Anheuser-Busch after she graduated from UC Davis. She worked there with some Japanese colleagues and learned how to make Sake, how to taste and understand it. Then she met the folks at Sierra Nevada and ended up working there. At UC Davis she majored in Food Science & Technology with a minor in Nutrition and Fermentation Science. In quality control, they want to measure “the magic” to make sure the product is consistent. They help the brewers to achieve their goals.
It is all focussed on flavor and human experience. Mark Carpenter, who was a brewer, says that smart brewers love to have people like Rebecca around, because even the educated brewers don’t’ know enough and they have to concentrate on the acdtual brewing. It’s valuable to have someone to explain what’s happening in the brewing process who can help fix problems or help brewers focus on the results they really want. She uses both scientific measurements and articulation of the sensory side. They to lots of tasting testing at Lagunitas for quality control.
When they taste beer, unlike wine tasting, they swallow the beer because they need the whole mouth feel and need “the whole trigeminal” nerve, where the jaw and the cheek meet.
Dr. Hoby Wedler
Dr. Hoby Wedler is a renowned PhD Chemist at UC Davis who does original research into taste perception. He is blind and his focus has been on full sensory design and the science of human perception through the senses.
He tells about his work with beer, wine and spirits. He is co-founder of Sense Point Design, where they use full sensory design to test products, to study human perception and to record perceptions of beer, wine and spirits. They are in the midst of launching a spirits line so they are doing a lot of sensory research into that product.
They do a beer tasting in the dark, where they actually blindfold people to taste beer. “The blind tastings give us the chance to think differently about beer.” When we are not distracted by the vision of beer, we lose the 85 or 90 percent of the perception that we normally get from sight.
He is based in Petaluma and works with the Petaluma Educational Foundation.
This week’s show is short because there is a live Golden State Warriors playoff game coming up on home station KSRO in Santa Rosa, so Hoby Wexler and Rebecca Newman will be back on the show.
Before the end, Rebecca Newman talks about a beer from Lagunitas called Phase Change which is a wet hopped beer in the spring
They loved the fresh hops and to use them out of season, they “slurried up” whole cone hops from 2018 put them under nitrogen co2 to freeze them, topped with nitrogen and flash frozen. The Lagunitas website describes it thusly: Hops are good, fresh hops are better, wet hops are best. We say ‘wet hops’ because they have not been dried after harvest. We say ‘better’ because they possess the fullest expression of hop flavor; vine-fresh.