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THE SIMPLE GUIDE TO CRAFT BEER

Posted by Nicola Rennie on

THE GUIDE

Time for Some Terminology. Not sure this helps, but it's how beer peeps talk.
So get to know the lingo.

Light-Medium-Dark: In reference to color of the beer only. Light beers can be straw-colored, yellow, gold, tan. Medium-colored beers can be amber, red, copper, orange. Dark beers can be brown, black, opaque, coffee-like.

Light-Medium-Heavy: In reference to the body and mouthfeel of the beer. Light-bodied beers tend to be clean and crisp. Heavy-bodied beers tend to cling to the mouth, feel oily, rich, or full.

Malty: Malted barley (or malt) is a main beer ingredient of beer. The level of kilning or roasting determines the color and flavor (like how roasting affects coffee beans). Lighter malts taste nutty, biscuity, like cereal; medium roasts like toffee or caramel; and dark roasts like coffee, dark chocolate, dried dark fruits.

Hoppy: Another main beer ingredient that imparts flavor and aroma. Hops can be fruity: apple, citrus, tropical fruits; or piney: resin, pine needles, wood; or floral, earthy, spicy, grassy.

Bitter: Bitterness comes from hops, but not all hoppy beers are bitter. It all depends on when you add the hops. When balanced with strong malt character, bitterness can be quite pleasant.

Fruity: Common fruity flavors and aromas are lemon, banana, grapefruit, apricot, plum, cherry.

Spicy: Not spicy like chilies – though adventurous brewers use those too – but spicy like coriander, clove, pepper, star anise.

THE VARIETIES

Golden Ale
Combining elements of pilsners and wheat beers, golden ales are technically part of the broader pale ale family. Noted for their alluring colour, golden ales are light, refreshing and highly drinkable, with a restrained bitterness and dry finish.
H&C fact: Often called ‘Summer Ales’, this is the fastest-growing style of beer in the UK, charming drinkers away from the heavily promoted lager brands.

Pale Ale
Originating in northern England (Burton upon Trent, to be precise, a town blessed with plenty of rich, hard water, which helps with clarity and enhancing the hop bitterness), the term stems from the practice of using coke to dry-roast malts, resulting in a lighter-coloured beer. Pale ales tend to be fruity and hoppy, and can vary in colour from amber to golden.
H&C fact: Craft beer fans around the world have innovative chemist C W Vincent to thank for identifying the calcium sulphate content in the Burton water that first allowed for hoppy beers to be brewed. The act of adding gypsum to water is known as ‘Burtonisation’ and now allows the likes of the Malt Shovel Brewery (home to the James Squire craft beer range) to bring out the flavours of the hops.

Wheat Beers
Two common varieties of wheat beer are witbier (Dutch – “white beer”) based on the Belgian tradition of using flavorings such ascoriander and orange peel which was revived by Pierre Celis at the Hoegaarden Brewery, and the Celis Brewery in Austin, Texas andweissbier (German – “white beer”) based on the German tradition of mixing at least 50% wheat to barley malt to make a light coloured top-fermenting beer. Both the Belgian witbier and the German Weissbier were termed “white beers” because “wheat” has the same etymological root as “white” in most West Germanic languages (which includes English as well as German and Dutch). Belgian white beers are often made with raw unmalted wheat, as opposed to the malted wheat used in other varieties.

German wheat beers are called “Weizen” (wheat) in the western (Baden-Württemberg) and northern regions, and “Weissbier” or “Weisse” (white beer or white) in Bavaria.Hefeweizen (the prefix “Hefe” is German for yeast) is the name for unfiltered wheat beers, whileKristallweizen (“Kristall” being German for crystal) is the same beer filtered.

Dark Beer / Porter
Stout
is a dark beer made using roasted malt or roasted barley, hops, water and yeast. Stouts were traditionally the generic term for the strongest or stoutest porters, typically 7% or 8%, produced by a brewery. There are a number of variations including Baltic porter, dry stout and imperial stout. The first known use of the word stout for beer was in a document dated 1677 found in the Egerton Manuscript, the sense being that a stout beer was a strong beer not a dark beer. The nameporter was first used in 1721 to describe a dark brown beer that had been made with roasted malts. Because of the huge popularity of porters, brewers made them in a variety of strengths. The beers with higher gravities were called “stout porters”, so the history and development of stout and porter are intertwined, and the term stout has since become firmly associated with dark beer, rather than just strong beer.

Bitter (With a British history)
Bitter belongs to the pale ale style and can have a great variety of strength, flavour and appearance from dark amber to a golden summer ale. It can go under 3% abv – known as Boys Bitter – and as high as 7% with premium or strongbitters. The colour may be controlled by the addition of caramel colouring.[2]

Sub-types of bitter
British brewers have several loose names for variations in beer strength, such as best bitter, special bitter, extra special bitter, and premium bitter. There is no agreed and defined difference between an ordinary and a best bitterother than one particular brewery’s best bitter will usually be stronger than itsordinary. Two groups of drinkers may mark differently the point at which abest bitter then becomes apremium bitter. Hop levels will vary within each sub group, though there is a tendency for the hops in the session bitter group to be more noticeable.

Drinkers tend to loosely group the beers into:

Session or ordinary bitter
Strength up to 4.1% abv. The majority of British beers with the name India Pale Ale will be found in this group,[citation needed] such as Greene King IPA, Deuchars IPA, Flowers IPA, Wadworth Henrys Original IPA, etc. IPAs with gravities below 1040º have been brewed in Britain since at least the 1920s.[4] This is the most common strength of bitter sold in British pubs. It accounted for 16.9% of pub sales in 2003.

India Pale Ale
The term pale ale originally denoted an ale that had been brewed from pale malt. The pale ales of the early 18th century were lightly hopped and quite different from later pale ales. By the mid-18th century, pale ale was mostly manufactured with coke-fired malt, which produced less smoking and roasting of barley in the malting process, and hence produced a paler beer. One such variety of beer was October beer, a pale well-hopped brew popular among the landed classes, who brewed it domestically; once brewed it was intended to cellar two years.

Early IPA, such as Burton brewers’ and Hodgson’s, was only slightly higher in alcohol than most beer brewed in his day and would not have been considered a strong ale; however, a greater proportion of the wort was well-fermented, leaving behind few residual sugars, and the beer was strongly hopped. The common story that early IPAs were much stronger than other beers of the time, however, is a myth. While IPA’s were formulated to survive long voyages by sea better than other styles of the time, porter was also shipped to India and California successfully. It is clear that by the 1860s, India pale ales were widely brewed in England, and that they were much more attenuated and highly hopped than porters and many other ales.

Pilsner
The introduction to Germany of modern refrigeration by Carl von Linde in the late 19th century eliminated the need for caves for beer storage, enabling the brewing of bottom-fermenting beer in many new locations. Until recently the Pilsner Urquell brewery fermented its beer using open barrels in the cellars beneath their brewery. This changed in 1993 with the use of large cylindrical tanks. Small samples are still brewed in a traditional way for taste comparisons.

A modern pilsner has a very light, clear colour from pale to golden yellow and a distinct hop aroma and flavour. The alcohol strength is typically around 4.5%-5% (by volume), if pilsner is brewed stronger, it is usually labeled “Export”. Pilsners compete in categories like “European-Style Pilsner” at the World Beer Cup or other similar competitions. Pilsen style lagers are marketed internationally by numerous small brewers and larger conglomerates

German-style Pilsner

light straw to golden color with more bitter or earthy taste – Jever, Beck’s, Bitburger, Franconia Brewing Company, Holsten, König, Krombacher, Radeberger, Veltins,Warsteiner, Wernesgrüner

Czech-style Pilsner

golden, full of colors, with high foaminess and lighter flavour – Pilsner Urquell, Gambrinus, Kozel, Svijany, Staropramen, Radegast, Tuzlanski pilsner

European-style Pilsner

has a slightly sweet taste, can be produced from other than barley malt – Dutch: Amstel, Grolsch, Heineken or Belgian: Jupiler, Stella Artois

Lager
While cold storage of beer, “lagering”, in caves for example, was a common practice throughout the medieval period, bottom-fermenting yeast seems to have emerged as a hybridization in the early fifteenth century. However, in 2011, an international team of researchers writing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciencesclaimed to have discovered that Saccharomyces eubayanus, a yeast native to Patagonia, is responsible for creating the hybrid yeast used to make lager.

Based on the numbers of breweries, lager brewing became the main form of brewing in Bohemia between 1860 and 1870. The rise of lager was entwined with the development of refrigeration, as refrigeration made it possible to brew lager year-round (brewing in the summer had previously been banned in many locations across Germany), and efficient refrigeration also made it possible to brew lager in more places and keep it cold until serving. The first large-scale refrigerated lagering tanks were developed for Gabriel Sedelmayr’s Spaten Brewery in Munich by Carl von Linde in 1870.

The average lager in worldwide production is a pale lager in the Dortmunder or Pilsner styles. The flavor of these lighter lagers is usually mild, and the producers often recommend that the beers be served refrigerated. However, the examples of lager beers produced worldwide vary greatly in flavour, colour, and composition.

In colour, Helles represents the lightest lager, rating as low as 6 EBC. Dark German lagers are often referred to as Dunkel.

The organism most often associated with lager brewing is Saccharomyces pastorianus, a close relative ofSaccharomyces cerevisiae.

IMAGE: THE ROCKS BREWING


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