Craft Beer Crash Course

While we can agree that beer starts and ends with flavor, a true beer enthusiast’s interests reach far beyond the pallet. These interests include the packaging and labeling, the brewers who craft their favorite drinks, the history of beer, the festivals that celebrate beer, and everything else that goes into making beer more than just a sensory experience. They study and celebrate the traditions of beer because it is more than just an ice cold drink at the end of a long day, it holds cultural significance. If you want to engage in conversations with the beer lovers in your life, read on, we’ve got you covered.

By the end of this blog our hope is that you’ll become a bit more knowledgeable about your favorite beverage. Below are some of the most common questions that come up about beer, and we’re here to equip you with the correct answers.

What are ales and lagers? What does “bottom fermented” mean?

Ales and lagers are the two main branches of beer. The difference between the two is the type of yeast and the temperature of fermentation. Lagers are fermented at colder temperatures by “bottom fermenting” yeast. Beers in the lager family need to “lagered,” which means conditioned in a cool place for weeks before they are ready. Ales are fermented at a warmer temperature by “top-fermenting” yeast strains, and are ready to drink much sooner than lagers.

What is the correct way to pour a beer?

Slowly and to the side. When you pour a beer down the side of a tilted glass more co2 remains in the beer as opposed to just holding the glass upright and letting all of the gas get released. Now it gets a bit more involved with different pouring methods for different beers, but as a general rule of thumb: tilt the glass.

What is porter?

According to The Guinness Drinking Companion by Leslie Dunkling (1992) Guinness Publishing; ISBN 0-85112-988-9 “In the London alehouses and taverns of the early 18th Century, it was common to call for a pint of ‘three threads,’ meaning a third of a pint each of ale, beer and twopenny (the strongest beer, costing twopence a quart.) A brewer called Harwood had the idea of brewing a beer that united the flavours of all three. He called this beer ‘Entire’. This was about 1720. Harwood’s Entire was highly hopped, strong and dark. It was brewed with soft rather than hard water. Within a few years Entire was also being referred to as ‘Porter’ (short for porter’s ale) because the porters of the London street markets were especially fond of it. Porter that was extra strong was known as ‘Stout Porter’ and eventually ‘Stout.'”

What is draft beer?

Draft beer is beer served from the cask in which it has been conditioned. The term has been applied loosely to any beer served from a large container. More recently, it has been used as a term for canned or bottled beer to demonstrate that the beer tastes like it came from a cask.

What are “dry” beers?

A japanese brewing innovation. By using more corn and rice and genetically altered yeasts, these beers ferment more completely and have less sweetness which translates to more subtle aftertastes.

Now that you’ve got a bit more knowledge under your belt, your friends will be looking to you to for beer leadership. Life is too short to enjoy watered down beer, take the reigns and dive into the delicious world of craft beer.

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