Beer is one of my favorite subjects because, yes, I drink it. Like many of my other articles, I’ll caution readers to do their own research because “beer” is a very complex subject. I’m not encouraging readers to drink a lot, just saying that the varieties of beers are a huge number and so many things contribute to the different flavors and characteristics that books have been written on the subject.
Beer begins with a starch source, normally barley, but other grains are commonly used, such as wheat, corn and rice. Then the starch is mixed with hot water and then crushed malt. Next, brewer’s yeast is added to produce the fermentation and carbonation. There are many steps following, some quite technical and many that are mostly for the purpose of adding flavor.
Beers are generally and pretty much technically divided into two categories, Ales and Lagers. The difference lies in the types of yeast used for fermentation. Ales are made with top fermenting yeasts that act fast and produce bright, flowery, fruity and peppery flavors. Lagers are made with much slower acting, bottom fermenting yeasts that produce clean, crisp, dry flavors.
My personal favorite source of flavor is HOPS, which is a component of nearly all beers. There are several different varieties of hops. Hops adds aroma and bitterness as well as flavor, and the bitterness is balanced often by adding other ingredients that provide sweetness.
When the British held India as a colony, they found in the 1820’s that during the course of the long voyages from England to India, their ales would sometimes spoil. They discovered that adding more hops would preserve the ale quite well and an Australian advertisement coined the term India Pale Ale. Thus the term IPA. IPA’s are my favorite!
Another thing that I have found to be interesting is the effect of the beer’s temperature on the experience of beer drinking. During the summer I keep my IPA in the refrigerator because I don’t want to drink warm beer. On the other hand, in the winter I keep my IPA in the garage and just grab a bottle right off the shelf there when I want one. THEN the bottle is cool but not cold and the flavor is smoother and yet richer. It’s hard to describe but if one likes a flavorful beverage like I do, it might be worth your while to try a beer that is just cool, not cold.
Beers have been brewed around the world for literally thousands of years and are part of the culture of many nations today. Beer is the third most popular beverage after water and tea. You can read more about beer by following these links that I used in researching this article:
ENJOY! Seriously, but not too much!