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 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.
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 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
refers to it's style, not it's age.
The following break down even farther.
-Stouts (which divides again into...)
-E.P.A (extra pale)
-I.P.A. (india pale ale, another story all together)
A whole other section of their own, and will be covered later.
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!