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Old 02-14-2008, 08:57 AM   #1
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Beer Primer

Good morning all.

Just thought I'd put some of my experience to good use for a change instead of using my powers for evil.

I began homebrewing just over 20 years ago, and have taken numerous courses on brewing, and have acted as a member of the judging staff at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver for 4 years. I've also worked part time, on and off throught my life as a bartender, and also worked as a somalier at multiple Napa wineries. As someone who adores and worships cooking as well, I've learned quite a bit about combining the two as well. Just wanted to share.

I wanted to start with an introduction to beer, and it's basics. This installment (no telling when I'll get tired of sharing about beer ) I'll introduce the MANY different types of beer. I will also sit down soon and cover the characteristics, and cover how to taste, how to throw a tasting party, and how to cook with it, so keep an eye out for those.I hear people say "I don't like beer" and laugh. I always tell them "you just haven't found the one for you yet" there are thousands of breweries in the U.S. alone, and most make a basic lager. So you have thousands of lagers. Each bearing a different style and taste of it's own. Hopefully by the end of my 'series' you'll be ready to go out and explore beer.

Here we go. Beer is made out of four ingredients. Water, Malted barley, Hops, and Yeast. The barley and the hops both have many varieties, and the malt can be roasted to achieve many different combinations of flavor. When the malts are roasted, they also add color to the beer. A prime example of this is the difference between a standard yellow beer and a stout. The roasting process adds the dark color, and the deep rich flavors of coffee and chocolate that most stouts have. Hops add the bitterness and aroma to beer. Hops also add the 'back' of the beer or aftertaste and smell. The yeast is the ingredient that divides the beer into it's first divisions, ales or lagers, and comes in many varieties as well.

Beer is divided into two categories plus one. Ales, Lagers, and specialty beers. While specialty beers can fall into either the ale or lager category, they tend to be on their own because of their flavors.

Ales.
Ales are produced by using a top fermenting yeast. This means that the yeast floats on the top of the brew and oxygenates for a few days while it flocculates (gathers in a mass) on the top of the beer. It will eventually sink to the bottom. Ale yeast also requires a warmer temperature to activate. The warmer temperature, more oxygen, and typically longer fermentation times all add up to a much heavier beer, with a higher alcohol content.

Lagers.
Lager yeast almost immediatly sinks to the bottom, and has a relatively fast fermentation time. Lager yeast works in a much colder climate (ever hear the phrase "frost Brewed"?) and because of that the yeast tends to be less active. Consider leaving a bread dough in a 'warm place for hours' versus leaving a bread dough in the fridge to rise. Lager yeast produces a lower alcohol content, and a much lighter, and drier beer.

Specialty Beer
Specialty beers are a breed of their own. Some beer afficianados shy away from these because of the extra ingredients, if we all did this Bud would go out of business Most include extras like fruits, or flavorings which include oak, smoke, vegetables, herbs, and spices. Wheat beers also tend to fall into this category.

So there you have it. The three basic beers. What follows is a break down of what beer goes where. We'll get into more detail later on them

Ales
Barley Wine
Brown Ale
Kolsch
Mild
Old Ale refers to it's style, not it's age.
The following break down even farther.
Dark Ales
-Porter
-Stouts (which divides again into...)
--Chocolate
--Coffee
--Dry
--Imperial
--Milk
--Oatmeal
--Oyster
Belgian Ales
-Abbey
-Amber
-Blond
-Dubbel
-Flemish
-Quadrupel
-Trppel
-Trappist
Pale Ales
-Altbier
-American
-English Bitter
-E.P.A (extra pale)
-I.P.A. (india pale ale, another story all together)
-Saison
-Scotch ale

Lagers
Bock
-doppelbock
-Einbock
-Maibock
-Weizenbock
Pale Lager
-dorttmunder
-dry
-helles
-pilsner
-Spiezal
Dunkel
Marzen
Schwarzbier
Vienna
Kellerbier


Specialty Beers
Wheat
-Berliner
-Dunkel
-Hefeweizen
-Kristalweizen
-Weizenbock
-White Beer
Lambics A whole other section of their own, and will be covered later.
-Faro
-Fruit
-Gaeuze
And many more flavored beers

So there you have it. See why I never accept "I don't Like beer" as an answer? Right around fifty styles, and hundreds if not thousands of breweries making each one (except the lambics and trappists) everyday. Some places make more than one type of each. We're talking hundreds of thousands of different beers. You just have to find the one you like. We'll cover the flavors of each and how to taste them next.

PHEW I talk way too much but I'd be happy to answer ANY (don't be shy) questions!

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Old 02-14-2008, 09:05 AM   #2
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Well, I don't like beer But I will have to say I can drink a Lambic if it's not too sweet. I have been known to have a Frambois and a plate of onion rings - WITH confidence I can say I ate fruit and vegetables for dinner

Thanks so much for taking the time to do this. There are several beer aficionados here - you guys should have a good conversation.
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Old 02-14-2008, 09:13 AM   #3
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I've only just begun. and I'm pretty sure that Lambics count as a serving of Fruit. If they don't, My diet is in trouble. If you don't know where Lambics come from, you may want to skip that upcoming post. For such aa beautiful, delicate thing, the process is a bit ugly.
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Old 02-14-2008, 09:55 AM   #4
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Kudos to you

I won't bother telling you about my "Beer Machine"
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Old 02-14-2008, 10:34 AM   #5
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So what category does Bud/Miller/Coors fall into?
After many many MANY kegs' worth, I finally realized that I didn't really
care for that "beer".

My current preference is a nice hoppy Pale Ale.. or a stout.. or
anything with flavor, but not so much on the wheat beers...
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Old 02-14-2008, 10:37 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ask-A-Butcher View Post
I won't bother telling you about my "Beer Machine"
Umm... Beer machine? I'm a beer machine!
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Old 02-14-2008, 10:38 AM   #7
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sooooo, now i understand why ronjohn feels uncomfortable...

good read, 6-6. thanks.

you can never talk too much about beer.
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Old 02-14-2008, 10:49 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GrillingFool View Post
So what category does Bud/Miller/Coors fall into?
After many many MANY kegs' worth, I finally realized that I didn't really
care for that "beer".

My current preference is a nice hoppy Pale Ale.. or a stout.. or
anything with flavor, but not so much on the wheat beers...
Those are lagers. Just a plain old lager. Sometimes called an "american light lager" because of it's color. Some because of flavor and ingredients, Coors, Heinekin, Rolling Rock among others, border on being a pilsner, but most mass produced american beers are lagers. For two reasons really, they are inexpensive to make, and they are fast to make. Cheap and easy. And the end result shows it

A truly great IPA, very hoppy and full bodied, is the IPA made by Flying Dog, Sierra Nevada also reigns over the Pale ales as one of the finest. Another must try, but be prepared for the bite (you've been warned) Is Stone Brewing Co.'s IPA or their Arrogant Bas***d Ale, whose slogan is "You're Not Worthy" A tremendous kick of hops, and a thrashing of the tongue with every gulp. 11.9% alc (Bud is 3.2 by contrast) and I've only seen it in 20 oz bottles. Use extreme caution and do the math. One 12 oz bud = 3.2%. One stone Arrogant is nearly twice as big, and four times as strong. That like drinking 8 buds.

As for stouts. Of course being a good Irish boy, I am honor bound to Guinness. However, Youngs Chocolate stout is tremendous, and if ou don't feel like paying 4 bucks a bottle, pay 7 and get a whole six pack of Sam Adams Cream Stout. As a side note, If you mix half and half Young's and Guinness it creates a treat that tastes like drinking a rootbeer float made with chocolate Ice cream...
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Old 02-14-2008, 10:56 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SixSix210 View Post
Umm... Beer machine? I'm a beer machine!
Yes you are

I was referring to this one
Beer Machine 2000 : World's best brewing system
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Old 02-14-2008, 11:02 AM   #10
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Sweet! They used to call those "beer pigs" By the time they rolled out, I was already well (too well for most people ) set up. I was always a little curious about them though. Does it work well? Beer come out ok? Easy to do? Might be nice to set one up just for some quick beer in small batches. Right now I keg my beer in pony kegs. It's a lot of work that way, and it might be nice to have something easy.
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