Monday, November 15, 2010
Hop To It: A Look at Great Beer
Taking a closer look at the beers you enjoy drinking will help you to have a deeper understanding of what you are drinking and why it tastes the way it does. An increased knowledge will help you when making beer selections for different events as well as to help you when you are making a recommendation to a friend as to what kinds they might enjoy drinking. As you start to become familiar with the different kinds of beer, you will find that there is a whole world of beer knowledge you can tap into.
The Three Main Types
The first thing that you need to know is that there are three main categories of beers. You have the Ales which tend to be heavier tasting and more on the bitter side because of their use of yeasts which work better in warm brewing techniques. Lagers are by far the more popular of the two because of their light amber colors which result from the yeasts which prefer colder brewing techniques. The third category of beers is reserved for specialty beers like Lambic which uses less of the hops and barley and more fruit to create the alcohol.
The most recognized and most consumed of the Lager beers is the Pale Lagers. These are the lightest tasting and the highest in carbonation of any of the beers. It uses a balance of hops and barley or rice to create a light bodied beer which is agreeable to most palates. Pilsner is a more distinctive brew which has its roots from the Pilsner Urquell label. It is bitterer, but has a higher degree of character. Dark lagers are accomplished through roasting the hops and barley used to create the brew. These beers impart a nutty flavor.
A Note on Light Lagers
Mention a light beer to an American and you are sure to think low calorie. This is a result of using less hops and barley which also creates a flavor some do not prefer because it tends to have les bitter and hoppy notes. Mention the same thing to a European and they will think light in color and body. These beers still have good bitterness and a hoppy flavor which beer drinkers prefer.
The most popular of the ales is the brown ale. Beers like Newcastle have made a name for the brewing style with a good sweet, nutty flavor and just the right amount of bitterness. Porters are less popular because of their intense barley flavor which to some tastes too bitter while others feel it is much like chocolate. Stouts tend to be sweeter in the finish than porters with more of a balance of hops and barley. While they are the darkest and the richest, they also tend to be the highest in alcohol content.
Exploring the world of beers will land you on microbrews and many other subsets of beers you will either enjoy or avoid. So, get out there and try something different today. You may just be surprised at what you find.