On Flat12’s Half Cycle, Being A Conscious Buyer, & The Virtues Of Fresh Beer

On Flat12’s Half Cycle, Being A Conscious Buyer, & The Virtues Of Fresh Beer


By Charlie Sasse for Indiana On Tap

A few weeks ago I filled in as columnist on “This Week on Tap” and chose to write about Flat12 Bierwerks‘ Half Cycle IPA. I have since received several comments regarding recently purchased Half Cycle and continuing issues. Honestly, I typically take all comments with a grain of salt and don’t worry my pretty little head about them. The difference this time is people have told me they bought that IPA because of my article and were unhappy with the results. I love our local beer community and pride myself on being honest in my articles. Because of this I did more digging into where and when the beer was purchased, what type of cap was on the bottle, and even visited a couple of the stores to see their stock.  

There were several comments made to me, and at least one person contacted the Indiana On Tap staff, regarding carbonation issues and “skunked” beer being purchased after reading my article. Before contacting Flat 12 and the Brewmaster and Director of Brewing Operations, Sean Manahan, I wanted to make sure I had all of my bases covered. I hate having a conversation with someone and not having answers for the easy questions I know will be asked. I visited several of the stores I had heard about and looked through the Flat 12 selection other local beers they had on the shelves and in the coolers. What I discovered were old bottles and cans, many with dust covering them. Something else that struck me as odd was both stores had Cutters Brewing beers on the shelves or in the cooler. In case you are not familiar, Cutters shut their doors in early 2015.

When I asked if the stores had any recently delivered or fresh Half Cycle I was given two different answers; the first one was complete bullshit. The first store told me that the beer on the floor was delivered that week. When I pointed out there was dust covering the beer on the floor, I was told that happens at the distribution site because it is a big dusty warehouse. I chose to leave, while shaking my head, after that comment. The second store was honest about why they had old beer on the floor. I was told until the old stock sells they will not add newer stock.  I was shown the beer in the cooler waiting to restock the floor. I asked why they would store it in the cooler and they said there was no where else to keep it. The floor of this store is stocked to the point that you can barely bend over to see the bottom shelves because the aisles are so congested. Store owners are in the business of making money and returning beer to their distributor (it has been paid for) is not a valid option. I understand this, but if I bought beer at a store and found out it was old (not aged) I would not purchase anything from them again.

PictureImage courtesy of MI Mobile Canning

After doing what I felt was my due diligence, I contacted Manahan and presented my findings and asked his opinion about this continuing issue. Manahan had recently been contacted by BeerAdvocate and asked about this issue and provided them with a written statement (I have included a large excerpt below). Other than that statement, we discussed how having old stock on the shelves affects the current view of Flat 12 as a brewery. Manahan also stated all current products are free from defect. Another employee told me they have increased product quality testing over the last year to make certain only the best products are released into the market. Until the old stock clears the shelves this will continue to be an issue and Flat 12 has asked anyone having issues contact them directly. On the website there is an area where you can report quality issues.

Whether you decide to never buy or drink a beer again is not my concern. My concern is entertaining and informing you, the reader. I also want to make sure that the information I write is accurate and well informed. If there are issues with my articles I invite you to contact me about them. If we have a difference of opinion we can have those conversations, but don’t be sad if I do not respond immediately. You’re entitled to your opinion but I don’t have to agree with it. Just like I always tell my daughter, it is your opinion and an opinion is never wrong. I might not agree or even like it and I might argue my opinion to death, but it is still your opinion and you should own it. If you have issues with a topic or product I wrote about, as you can see, I will investigate it and try to find out what went wrong and be happy to share my findings. Keep drinking good beer and sharing your opinion, because I guarantee you I will!

Sean Manahan’s Response to BeerAdvocate
“…the previous way we were handling fermentation was simply incorrect.  We were trying to force the yeast to perform in a strict manner and by doing so the resulting beer was incompletely fermented leading to over carbonated bottles and diacetyl laden beer.  However, earlier this year, we relieved those who were dictating these flawed processes and completely revamped our brewing procedures.  Everything from the grain mill through to our bottling line was revisited and we developed a more sound process that has thus yielded a more sound product.  Specifically, in regards to over carbonated bottles and diacetyl in the beer, our new process allows the yeast to dictate its own performance which has effectively eliminated these issues.  By allowing the yeast to properly complete fermentation, there is much less residual sugar for yeast to continue to ferment in packaging.  Also, by allowing the yeast to more thoroughly work and go through a secondary/conditioning period, alpha acetolactate is now properly being converted into diacetyl and then consumed by the yeast.

In addition to changing our processes, we have also implemented monitoring and testing of the products from grain to glass.  Prior to these changes, we had (neither a) non significant QA/QC program nor any objective methods of analyzing the product.  With all of our changes, we are all very confident in the quality of the product we are shipping out into the market.  However, despite these changes, our last hurdle is locating and removing old product that may still have issues.  On behalf of Flat12 Bierwerks, I apologize for the any subpar experience you have had and we invite you to give us another try.  Any product produced and packaged in 2015 is free from defect, and we are diligently working with our wholesalers and retailers to ensure that new and fresh product is replacing old stock on the shelves.  If you would like to visit us at the brewery to try our fresh brews on tap or grab fresh filled bottles and cans, we’d love to show you our new and improved products and discuss the situation more if you have any further questions.”

  • Scott
    Posted at 23:11h, 29 October Reply

    I like that you investigated this. That’s good journalism.

    • Charlie
      Posted at 09:31h, 30 October Reply

      Thank you Scott. I know that we are writing about beer and trying to be as entertaining as we are informative, but I want to make sure that my articles are not misleading or incorrect. I appreciate you taking the time to comment on this article!

  • Luke F
    Posted at 13:24h, 30 October Reply

    Good work Charlie, that sums things up pretty well. I also appreciate the brewers honesty in admitting they had a process problem, and they are fixing it. New old stock will always be an issue with the amount of beers on the market now. Although give me a new old Fantome, and that oxidation gets me excited.

  • Matt D.
    Posted at 19:58h, 30 October Reply

    I really appreciate all your hard work in keeping us, the beer consumer, informed. By far the most thorough report I have ever read. Great job!

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