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The Beer Guy Beer School; Lesson 2 — I can see clearly now! Checking beer appearance

beerschool_Lesson2Note to readers: This is the second in a weekly four-part series about how to get the most out of your craft beer experience. If you missed the first article in this series, click this link to get caught up.

Lesson 2 — I can see clearly now! Checking beer appearance

Our second lesson in the art of enjoying great beer involves your sense of vision. For years the world has thought of beer visually as crystal clear, yellow in color and with robust carbonation streaming up the glass. While that presentation is great for many styles, it is not always how beer should appear. As you will learn, the way a beer looks can be influenced by style, temperature and even the skill of the bartender.

When evaluating the appearance of a beer there are three things you should look for:

  • Color
  • Clarity
  • Head Retention

Let’s take a look at each of these characteristics individually.

Color

Today’s craft and import beers run the gamut of the color spectrum from pale straw to golden, amber, copper, orange, brown, black, and everything in between. Dictated solely by the style of the beer, color is not an indication of whether a beer will taste good it is merely an indication of which malts and adjuncts the brewer used while making the beer. One color is not necessarily better than another when it comes to beer. It’s all a matter of preference.

In the world of competitive beer brewing – yes, there is such a thing – judges use a style guide to determine the general color a given beer style should have. One of the most accepted and respected guide is the Beer Judge Certification Program Style Guidelines. This extensive guide catalogs how over 75 general beer styles should look, smell and taste. It is well worth a look if you really want to know all the details of how a beer should look in your glass.

But, for the casual beer-drinker, we can simplify the color issue.

pale  Pale: Light Lager, Lager, Wheat Ale and Belgian White

light

Light: Pilsners, Marzen/Oktoberfest, Weizen

straw  Straw: Hefewizen, Kolsch, Cream Ale, English Pale Ale, Belgian-style Triple

goldenGolden: American Pale Ale, India Pale Ale, Amber Lager, Lambic, Dopplebock

amber

Amber: Scottish Ale, Vienna-style Lager, Dunkelweizen, Irish Ale, Amber/Red Ale, Barleywine

black

Black: Stout, Porter, Milk Stout, Irish Dry Stout, Oatmeal Stout, Black IPA

 

 

Of course, there are plenty of other styles not represented on the above chart. Styles like Brown Ales that are, well, brown and Schwarzbier and dark lagers that lean towards the amber side of brown. But, for the most part, this chart should help give you an idea of how certain styles should fit on the color scale.

In general, if the beer falls within the expected color spectrum of its style, the brewer followed good procedure and used fresh, quality ingredients. Beer that is far outside of the expected color for the style may still be good, but treat it a bit more cautiously in your expectations.

Clarity

Crystal clear or cloudy, that is the question. And the answer is a definitive; it depends. While the quest for beer clarity is a goal to most modern brewers, there are certain styles of beer that are inherently cloudy and that is perfectly okay.

Historically, beer was rarely crystal clear. Indeed, the suspended particles were desireable because they are what made beer the nourishing drink that it was. Sure there were a few styles prized for their clarity like Pilsners and other German lagers, but the vast majority of beer was anything from hazy to outright cloudy. Today, for beers like Wits, Hefeweizens and other unfiltered styles a cloudy appearance is perfectly appropriate.

But, beer styles other than those mentioned above and a few others, today most beer is expected to be clear in order to be properly brewed. There are several factors that contribute to a beer’s clarity including:

  • Suspended proteins
  • Unsettled yeast
  • Other particles

In the world of beer tasting there is a phenomenon known as chill haze. When a beer is not boiled properly during and then cooled fast enough chill haze can set in. When this occurs and the beer is refrigerated, the proteins still in the brew are driven out of the solution causing it to take on a hazy appearance in the glass. While it rarely changes the flavor of the beer, it does make it less appealing to look at.

Another cause of hazy or cloudy beer is the presence of yeast that has not settled to the bottom yet. Certain yeast strains are bred to have a high degree of flocculation or the ability to settle out of beer quickly. Others, like those used in Witbiers and Hefeweizens flocculate much slower and cause the cloudy appearance that is perfectly normal for those styles.

Brewers will often store beer in a cool place or even refrigerate it to increase flocculation in yeast. A perfect example of this is the practice of lagering employed by the Germans who, in the old days, stored beer in caves for several months before serving it. The time spent sitting undisturbed in the lagering caves allowed the yeast to fall to the bottom of the barrel and produced a much clearer brew.

Other particles that remain in beer for a long period of time include things like hop particles, fruit pectins and any other adjuncts that may be added. Beers like double and triple IPAs will often appear hazy due to the higher amount of hop residue that stays in suspension in the beer. Dry-hopping, a practice of adding hops to a beer after the original boil, also contributes to a decrease in beer clarity.

To increase the clarity of beer brewers will often add materials like Irish Moss, isinglass and whirlfloc. They may also employ a filter or whirlpool the remove solids.

For your enjoyment, though, just keep in mind that some beers are meant to be cloudy. As a rule of thumb, wheat beers or beers made with a large amount of wheat in the grain bill are meant to be cloudy. Also, keep in mind that chill haze, while not attractive will likely not affect the flavor of your beer.

Head Retention

For years the excepted standard of two fingers so foam at the top of a well-poured glass of beer was what all good bartenders strived for. Another tell-tae sign of good head is the lacing – known as Belgian or Brussels lace – left on the sides of the glass as you drink the beer. But, if the head did not form it is not always the bartender’s fault. There is a lot of chemistry and artistry that goes into brewing beer that will form and perfect, fluffy head.

During travels in Belgium, I noticed a bartender mis-poured a beer. Before she would serve the beer to her guest, she made sure there was head on the beer by taking two coffee stir sticks and whipping one up. By doing this she not only saved an innocent beer from being wasted, but she also insured her guest got full enjoyment from his beer. The Belgians are fanatics about beer and would not dream of serving a beer without a proper head. But, why?

The foam at the top of your beer serves a number of purposes; most importantly it captures and disburses aromatics that lead to an increased enjoyment of beer. But, it also provides part of the beers feel in your mouth and is an indication of the relative health of the beer.

So, what kills foam? Soap residue in a glass and oils. Glassware used for beer must be impeccably clean, any soap or cleanser left in the glass can kill a foam head and leave a beer with a surface smoother than a lake on a windless day. Oils will do the same thing. For instance, lipstick and lip balms react with the foam a cause it to quickly dissipate. This is why the old trick of touching your nose and then sticking your finger in an overflowing beer or soda works.

But, there are other factors to a rich head including the type and alcohol content of the beer. Just as Witbiers and Hefeweizens are typically cloudy, they are also blessed with glorious, billowy heads because of their high concentration of compounds that enhance foam production. Higher alcohol beers, on the other hand, generally have lower amounts of head.

So, how can you insure the best possible head for your beer? Pour your beer straight down the middle of your glass. Sure, this goes against the steps given on the perfect pour instructions last week, but if head is what you want, this is how to get the most.

Let’s review:

The color of your beer depends on the style you are drinking and can indicate whether the brewer hit the mark for the style he was going for. Clarity can be an indication of improper boil and cool down procedures or, depending on the style can be perfectly acceptable. And, head retention can be affected by the cleanliness of your local pub or tap room or it can be an indication of the alcohol content of the beer.

Next week: Ooh, ooh that smell! What effects the aroma and how it should affect your perception of beer.

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Posted by on July 25, 2014 in Beer Education

 

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Beer: Just four ingredients, infinite possibilities

Pilsner Urquell in its original glass

Pilsner Urquell in its original glass (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A Brief History

Thousands of years ago, an urn of water was sitting under a table being used to process grain. Some of that grain fell into the urn and, over the course of several weeks (housekeeping was not a top priority in those days), the water slowly transformed into an early form of what we now call beer. About that time, a thirsty wanderer came along and, seeing the urn of liquid, decided to drink it. He (or she) was surprised by the sweet taste of the concoction. The beverage was definitely not water, but it tasted so good they continued to drink. After drinking a while, they noticed that they felt strangely euphoric and slightly out of control. With a full belly, they decided to sleep off the strange feelings and awoke the next morning with a splitting headache. Thus, the first hangover was suffered.

Since then beer has been used for everything from currency to sponsor of beach volleyball. During its long history it helped to save the human race, assisted monks to survive 40 days of fasting at Lent, and was instrumental in founding our country.

Ingredients: The Early Years

If you were paying attention to the story I just told, you heard two of the ingredients of beer; water and grain. And, in the beginning, that I all that the simple people of that time knew about. But, as the process of brewing beer was refined, more ingredients made it into the brew pot.

Archeologists agree that the Vikings that first conquered and settled northern Great Britain used to flavor their beer with heather flowers. The ancient Chinese are known to have used hawthorn fruit in beer over 9,000 years ago and ancient Hondurans used cocoa, chilies and honey in their brew.

Delaware brewery Dogfish Head has made several brews based on ancient recipes that used such ingredients as chamomile, oregano and palm fruit. But, apart from specialty brews such as Midas Touch or Ta Henket – both brews based on ancient recipes – beer is traditionally made from a just a few base ingredients.

Ingredients: The Law

Beer as we know it today owes a debt to the Bavarian Duke Wilhelm IV who, in the town of Ingolstadt decreed in 1516 that beer could be made of only certain ingredients. Those ingredients were: barley, hops, and water. The fourth ingredient, yeast, had not been discovered yet and this was not included in the law until it was understood to be a part of the fermentation process as explained by Louis Pastuer in 1857. The law was known as the Reinheitgebot or more simply, the German Purity Law.

It is from these basic ingredients that beer as we know it today is crafted.

Over the next hour we will discuss each and how it affects the finished product. We will also taste examples of beer styles that highlight each ingredient.

Water

Seemingly the simplest of the four ingredients in beer, water is surprisingly a very complex part of the final product. Water comprises more than 95 percent of beer and, depending on its mineral content, can lend distinct flavors to the beer that is made with it. Water hardness or softness is something to which every good brewer pays very close attention.

Some of the world’s oldest and most well-known breweries have been using water from the same source to brew their distinctive beers for hundreds of years. And, when the brands go global, some of the flavor characteristics simply cannot be reproduced. An example of this is the debate that rages on in beer circles of whether Guinness tastes better in Ireland than anywhere else. Detractors say that it is simply romanticism that makes the beer taste better on the Emerald Isle while proponents insist that differences in the water used at contract breweries simply is not the same and thus the flavor of the beer is off because of this. In fact, a serious study was undertaken to put this argument to rest. The result: Guinness brewed in Ireland did taste better to a panel of experts in a blind taste test.

Another famous example of water playing a pivotal role in the flavor of beer is that of Pilsners brewed in Pilzen, Czechoslovakia. Bohemian Pilsners are more malt forward despite the fact that they are hopped more heavily than other Pilsner styles. This is due to the incredible softness of the naturally occurring waters used in brewing. Pilsner Urquell is an excellent example of how water affects the final taste of a beer.

Malt

Traditionally, and according to the German Purity Law, malt is made from barley grain. This was part of the law in part to ensure bakers had enough wheat and rye to make bread. Today, however, beer is brewed with a variety of grains including wheat, rye, oats, even quinoa. The mega brewers use other, cheaper grains such as rice and corn as well.

Malt is made by soaking the grain in water until it begins to sprout. At that point the grain is converting its starches into the simple sugars that are needed for fermentation to take place. The grain is removed from the water and halted from further germination by drying with hot air in a kiln.

Beers styles that are traditionally malt-forward include Scottish ale, doppelbock, Vienna lager, and English barleywine. These beers are typically sweeter with a deeper color and rich maltiness. But, other styles that are influenced heavily by malt include stouts and porters that are made with malt that is roasted longer in the kiln until almost black in color. This process lends the chocolate and coffee flavors that are so prized in these styles. Still another style of beer – hefeweizen – is light, slightly sweet and yeasty in flavor. This style gets its characteristic golden color and hazy appearance from wheat grain. An excellent example of this style is the original Blue Moon.

Hops

The flower of the plant that bares their name, hops provides the bitterness in beer that offsets the sweetness of the malt. Also known as cones, the hops flowers contain chemical compounds known as Alpha Acids that provide their bitter punch. But, hops were originally used for another reason in addition to as a flavoring; hops kills off bacteria and has preservative properties. In fact, it is these properties that may have contributed to beer saving humanity. Water in Medieval Europe was often swarming with microbes that caused sickness and disease. But, beer was found to be safe in part because of the anti-bacterial effects of the hops used in the brewing process. The preservative properties of hops lead to the discovery that beer that was highly hopped could last longer on long sea journeys and arrive in far-flung locales such as India still drinkable if a bit more bitter than the average ale. Indeed, this is the origins of the beer style known as India Pale Ale or IPA.

There are over 50 recognized styles of hops that provide flavors that range from extreme bitterness like that of a grapefruit or pine needle to milder citrus flavors that are just right for cutting the sweetness of malts.

Beers that truly showcase the flavors possible due to hops are the afore mentioned IPAs. Decidedly hop-forward, IPAs have evolved from monstrous hop bombs that lead full-on assaults of your senses to well-rounded and carefully crafted beers that employ skillful blends and additions of hops at different stages of the brewing process to produce complex brews that challenge the palate as well as the mind of the taster.

Yeast

In ancient times, brewers did not understand that the process of beer brewing would be incomplete without the contributions of yeast. It is likely that ancient brews were spontaneously fermented due to the addition of wild yeasts suspended in the air. Today, however, the true function of yeast is understood and, with the exception of lambics, most beers are intentionally infected with specific strains of yeast that are known to impart certain flavors.

Yeast is separated into two types for the purpose of brewing beer – ale and lager. Ale yeasts typically ferment at warmer temperatures and impart a frutier and fuller flavor to the beer. On the other hand, lager yeasts prefer cooler temperatures and produce crisper, cleaner beers that taste best when served ice cold.

Examples of flavors you may detect due to yeast include banana, crackers, cloves or tartness. In some cases, brettanomyces and Lactic Acid bacteria are used to produce extreme beers that present sour or extremely funky flavors. Another example of a sour beer is a lambic. These beers are made in a specific area of Belgium near Brussels and uses naturally occurring yeasts in the air to ferment the beer spontaneously.

Four Ingredients, Infinite Possibilities

Though beer is traditionally comprised of just the four ingredients we have discussed today, there are infinite combinations that can affect the flavor and character of the final product. Through skillful manipulation of these ingredients hundreds of styles of beer have been produced. Toss in a few other ingredients like fruits, flowers or even Rocky Mountain Oysters and you expand the possible flavors that can be extracted from beer exponentially. Regardless of the reputation beer has had as an inferior drink, it can be affirmatively argued that it is actually much more complex than any other alcoholic beverage.

Beer has been the drink of Pharos and the wage that helped build the pyramids, it has been used in ancient rituals and as sustenance during the most holy of times, it is a staple at sporting events and backyard barbecues. In short, it is one of the most popular beverages in the world behind water and tea. If that is not deserving of a hearty toast, nothing is!

 
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Posted by on May 31, 2013 in Beer, Beer Education

 

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Founders crossing the pond, distributing to UK

foundersMore proof that the American craft beer surge is finding its way across the pond to Europe came this week in the form of a press release April 16 from Founders Brewing Company. The makers of the popular and oh so delicious Founders Breakfast Stout, also announced on their website that their brews are being exported to the United Kingdom in bottles with draft beer to follow.

The text of the press release follows:

(UNITED KINGDOM) – Both year-round and seasonal beers will be available in bottle immediately with draught expected to follow later in the year.

John Green, President of Founders Brewing Co. said of the partnership, “We’ve been looking at export opportunities for a while now, and we’re excited to partner with James Clay in making the United Kingdom one of our first international markets.”

“We are delighted to bring Founders Brewing Co. beers to the UK market” comments Ian Clay Managing Director of James Clay. “Founders is one of the most respected breweries in the world brewing a truly world class portfolio of beers. Introducing beers of Founders’ calibre to the UK is a fantastic addition to an increasingly diverse and vibrant UK beer culture.”

James Clay are particularly excited about the arrival of Founders Brewing Company’s All Day IPA. American IPA is fast becoming the beer-drinker’s style of choice, but with most coming in at a heady 6 – 9% abv often one can’t enjoy more than a couple. Founders Brewing Company’s All Day IPA is an award winning American Session IPA that has been expertly brewed to keep all the flavour of its stronger cousins, but at 4.7%abv.

Other beers available at launch include Porter (6.5% abv), Pale Ale (5.4% abv), a more traditional Centennial IPA (7.2% abv) and the remarkably smooth Scotch Ale, Dirty Bastard (8.5% abv).

The full range of Founders Brewing beers will be available through James Clay by early May.

 
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Posted by on April 17, 2013 in Beer, Beer News

 

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A lot is brewing at SweetWater Brewing in Atlanta

SweetWater Logo JPGThere’s always something interesting going on around the SweetWater brewery in Atlanta, Ga. And right now is no exception. A recent press release from the Peach State details plenty of activities at the brewery and in the city at large. This time around there is information about their new brewhouse, their annual 420 Fest, a funky new beer, and the first time 12 bottles of their IPA get to hang out in a box together.

Back in March of last year SweetWater opened its new production facility that took the brewery from approximately 100,000 barrels a day production to nearly 500,000. More recently Freddy Bensch, the brewery’s outspoken owner, proudly unveiled a brand new brewhouse that tops off the $19 million, two-year-long expansion project. But, its not just any brewhouse, this is a 250 barrel beauty that is now producing most of the company’s beers.

Another big thing brewing around the SweetWater offices is the brewery’s 420 Festival. Candler Park plays host to the annual party that features music, art, educational opportunities, and lots of beer. Top musical acts such as Black Joe Lewis & The Honey Bears, Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk , and the imitable George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic. Add in the Sweetwater Experience, a lively tasting of over 20 different style of beer and along with guest speakers that will enlighten guests with stories of beer and you have a great time. SweetWater’s 420 Fest takes place April 19-21 and is sure to be spoken of in hushed tones for months to come.

Remember that new brewhouse from a couple of paragraphs ago? Well, the first brew to issue forth from it is the next in the Dank Tank series. This time the wizards of the SweetWater brew crew have produced a whopper of a Black Double IPA. called Some Strange. Word has it that the brew clocks in with a monstrous 10% ABV and a potfull of IBUs. Watch for more details on this limited release brew over the next few weeks.

Sadly, with the word of a new brew comes the news that another is being retired. Exodus Porter is being put out to pasture and making its, well, exodus. If you have a few bottles lying around you might want to store them for a special occasion because they are likely the last you will be seeing – ever.

But, with bad news comes more good news. If you have been wondering how you could get 12 of your favorite SweetWater IPAs together at one time and in one convenient box, there is now an answer. SweetWater IPA is now or soon will be available in 12-packs for your hoppy, thirst-quenching enjoyment. So, keep an eye out at your local beer monger for the new boxes.

With so much going on, you would think that the folks at SweetWater corporate offices would be just plain tired. But, happily, that is not the case. Be assured that more great things will be happening and coming down the pipe soon from these mad men – and women – of brewing. We can hardly wait.

 
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Posted by on April 9, 2013 in Beer, Craft Beer Brewery, Events

 

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Jax Beer Week — Day One

jaxBeerWeek2013Pele’s Wood Fire: Bell’s Brewing Co. Beer Dinner

In little over a year, Pele’s Wood Fire has established itself as a true destination restaurant. With over 50 craft beers on tap and many more in bottles, it has also proven itself as a gourmet eatery that is truly plugged in to what its guests are seek. So, it is not a surprise that they are opening this year’s Jax beer Week with an extravagant dinner paired with beers from Bell’s Brewing Co.

The menu, prepared by Chef Micah Windham, features his trademark flair for using organic ingredients with an artisan’s flair.

First Course

Prosciutto basil and tomato sandwich, beer cheese dip paired with Bell’s Amber ale.

Second Course

Arugula shaved fennel salad, spiced candy pecans, grapefruit segments, Oarsman vinaigrette served with Bell’s Oarsman a tart German style beer.

Third Course

Banana leaf wrap trout stuffed, beer bacon risotto, butter sauce paired with Bell’s Two Hearted Ale.

Fourth Course

Brown butter seared gnocchi duck confit, beer duck demi, shaved parmesan reggiano served with Bell’s Best Brown Ale.

Fifth Course

Ravioli with buffalo ragu, fresh tomato, garlic oil, basil, hand-pulled mozzarella paired with Expedition Stout.

Sixth Course

Hanger steak with Tuscan fries and a third coast malt shake, “Steak & Shake.” Paired with Third Coast Old Ale.

Seventh Course

Double Cream Stout infused vanilla pot de crem, beer candied nuts, baked cocoa nib meringue served with Bell’s Double Crème Stout.

The cost for the dinner – if tickets are still available — $75 per person including tax and gratuity.
Reservations must be made by calling 904/232-8545. Only 40 seats available.

Brewer’s Pizza: 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Brewer’s will host a night with Grassroots Natural Market. The guys from Grassroots of Riverside will come out and drink some brews, rub elbows and pour some beers for sampling.

M Shack

All week the burger wizards at the Beach’s M Shack will be featuring beer and burger parings. You could eat there every day, all week and still not have them all! But, from the looks of the menu, you sure will wnat them all.

M Shack daily specials include both beer and food combined:
  • Shipyard Monkey Fist IPA paired with Asian Burger, Sirracha Cole Slaw and Hoisin BBQ sauce & pepper jack cheese $9.95
  • Cigar City Maduro paired with Truffle Portobello Burger with Bacon Smoked Gouda and Sherry Glaze $12.45
  • Sea Dog Blueberry paired with super kale salad, apples, avocados,pecans, raisins, ginger garlic dressing $12.45
  • Narragansett Lager paired with classic combo with all beef Hebrew national hotdog $9
  • Left Hand Nitro Milk Stout paired with The Medurable: cheeseburger topped with foi gras and caramelized onions $24.95
  • Julian Cider paired with the Rooster and the Pig sandwich: marinated chicken breast, smoked ham and an over easy egg. $18.50
 

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All hopped up

Deutsch: Hopfengarten (Humulus lupulus) nahe A...

Deutsch: Hopfengarten (Humulus lupulus) nahe Au in der Hallertau (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Even though it only has four main ingredients, beer is an infinitely diverse beverage. I n skilled hands,, those four ingredients – water, malt, yeast, and hops – can be combined to create anything from a light, crisp pilsner to a thick and hearty stout. In between those two extremes are hundreds of styles and variations. Add in a variety of adjuncts, and the possibilities become astronomical.

But, beer did not always have all four of the main ingredients that we enjoy in the modern brew. In fact, one of the most famous beer purity laws, the German Reinheitsgebot, originally identified only three ingredients – water, malt, and hops when it was first enacted in 1516. The law was later amended when yeast was discovered by Louis Pasture in the late 1800s.

Still, there is one ingredient in what we know as beer that was not always a staple. That ingredient is hops. Used to add the characteristic bitterness inherent in many beers, hops are a relatively new addition to a beverage that has been with humanity since the very beginning of civilization. Tests of pieces of pottery found in modern day Iran have produced evidence that a fermented grain drink was produced and enjoyed over 7,000 years ago.

The first brews were thought to be rather simple concoctions of crushed grains and water that were left outside to ferment. Of course, the makers of these early brews had no idea that by leaving these early beers out in the open air, they were being spontaneously inoculated by wild yeast and thus the process of fermentation had begun. And, those first brewmasters had no idea about the flavor enhancing properties of hops.

It is not until 77 AD that hops are even mentioned in any historical text. And even then, the references to the plant were not connected to brewing. The first descriptions of the plant were more like botanical cataloging and were recorded by Pliney the Elder of the naturally occurring plant. The first written record of humans cultivating the plant does not appear until 736 AD nearly 660 years later. And it is another 82 years until the first known reference to hops being used in beer.

Contrary to popular belief, hops were not first used in beer by early Germans; instead it was the French that added the bitter cones to their brews first. The Germans were nearly 300 years behind. The key text that points to this is written by Abbot Adalhard of the Benedictine monastery of Corbie. In statutes that spell out how to run the monastery, the Abbot specifically mentions that hops gathered in the wild are to be given to the porter for the making of beer.

Since the introduction of hops into beer, things have never been the same. Hops, with their natural preservative properties, are responsible for the development of many of today’s favorite beer styles. The English introduced copious amounts of hops into ales that were shipped to India in order for the beer to arrive unspoiled bringing the world IPAs. Pilsners get their delicious crisp, dry flavor from the addition of hops. And, Imperial stouts get their impressive and deeply satisfying wallop from the bitter cones, too.

Depending on the flavors a brewer wants to impart to his brew, he or she will chose from the wide variety of hops. There are hops that will add citrusy flavors, piney flavors, and vegetal flavors. There are hops that are added specifically for the aroma they bring to a brew and there are hops that are used to add pleasant floral or fruity notes to beer. The bottom line is that brewers have a wide variety of hops to choose from both for bittering and aroma. In the right hands, this simple plant can be used to elevate a mediocre beer to heights that can only be described stratospherically.

 
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Posted by on February 25, 2013 in Beer, Beer Education

 

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Goose Island to roll out nationally with both draft and bottled brews

Goose-Island-logoBack in 1988 John Hall set out on a mission to not only educate consumers, but to challenge them as well. Back then, the big brewery’s brands were practically the only beers available. And in the neighborhoods of Chicago, Ill. those brands were embedded deeply into the psyche of beer-drinkers. Hall decided to do something about that. After several trips across Europe, where he enjoyed visiting many brewpubs, Hall decided to open his own brewpub.  Goose Island Brewpub was opened its doors on May 13, 1988.

In the years since, Goose Island brews have become the stuff of legends. Thirsty Chicago beer-lovers soon discovered the little brewpub and in just seven years, the demand had grown to such a point that Hall began looking for a larger brewing facility. In 1995 he found a suitable place and began brewing and bottling his beers for the greater Chicagoland area. But, once again, demand outpaced production and Hall once again began a search for more production space. Where he finally settled was a location just an out-of-park home run from the cathedral of many Chicagoans, Wrigley Field.

Over the years, Goose Island has made its mark on the beer industry. Not only was Goose Island one of the pioneers of the craft beer industry, the booming brewery introduced beer-drinkers to styles that set their taste buds and hearts on fire. The brewery’s legendary Bourbon County Stout recently won accolades as one of the 20 most influential beers of all time as the result of a poll of beer experts conducted by website First We Feasts.  The brew consistently scores among the very top brews on beer rating websites like Rate Beer and Beer Advocate. The barrels used to create the first batch of the stout are said to have been Elijah Craig 18 Year Old Single barrel bourbon, the oldest Single Barrel Bourbon in the world at 18 years. Other accounts say that they were 25-year old Pappy Van Winkle bourbon barrels.

In 2011, it was announced that Goose Island would sell its operations and brands to Anheuser-Busch. Shortly after the announcement, AB declared its intent to take the brand national. Just last week another announcement was made concerning the roll-out.

“As a native Chicago line of brands, the national launch will bring one of the Windy City’s most acclaimed creations to consumers across the country,” said Andy Goeler, Goose Island CEO and president. “Throughout the craft segment, Goose Island’s beers are recognized, respected and loved, maintaining a passionate and knowledgeable fan base over many decades.”

The four brews to go national will be:

  • 312 Urban Wheat Ale
  • Honker’s Ale, an English-style bitter.
  • India Pale Ale (IPA)

And a seasonal rotating brew that will include:

  • Mild Winter (In 2013: February, November – December) an American mild ale.
  • Summertime (In 2013: March – August) a kölsch brewed in the traditional German fashion.
  • Harvest Ale (In 2013: September – October) a copper-colored extra special bitter (ESB) made with Cascade hops and the richest Midwestern malts.

According to a press release from AB, the beers will be brewed at the company’s Fort Collins, Colo. and Baldwinsville, N.Y. breweries. All the beers will be available on draught. Additionally, all will be available in bottles later this spring.

Watch for these highly acclaimed beers to appear at your favorite bars as well as on the shelves of your beer purveyor soon.

 
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Posted by on February 12, 2013 in Beer, Craft Beer Brewery

 

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