Beer. It has united people across the world for centuries. If you are new to beer, or just need a little help finding your go-to brew, you have come to the right place. This month we are getting back to our beer basics when it comes to beer styles, terminology, and history.
A Quick History
Beer has been around for a long time. A very long time. Most historical account describe the discovery of beer as an accident that occurred 6 or 8 thousand years ago by the Sumerians. Early evidence suggests that beer was born from bread, as a result of fermenting damp grains mixing with yeasts in the air, resulting in fermentation. We can all agree that after this time, the world became a different place.
What is beer? To put it simply, it is an alcoholic beverage, made from malted cereal grains, flavored with hops, and brewed by slow fermentation.
Barley – A grain that is high in starch. These starches convert to sugar when mashed. To malt barley, it is soaked in water and germinated, then dried, cured, and mashed. This is how brewing begins.
Hops – Hops are a bit of a historical add-on in the lifelong story of beer. Introduced in the Middle Ages, hops add flavor and an aroma that help balance the sweetness of malt with bitterness.
Yeast – A fungus that consumes sugar and produces alcohol and carbonation in the process. It is one of the most important ingredients in bread making, and is just as important when brewing beer. The science behind the way yeast works was uncovered by Louis Pasteur in the 19th century, which helped usher in a new generation of beer brewing.
Water – Every food and drink has water in it, yes? Well, so does beer. Roughly 90% water, the quality and mineral content of the water in beer should never be overlooked as a source of great flavor in a brew.
Styles of Beer
There are over 100 styles of beer, including special glassware to complement each particular variety. Believe it or not, the United States is home to more styles and brands of beers than any other market in the world. To put it simply, most beers can be broken down into one of two categories that is determined by the type of yeast they were created with: Ales and Lagers.
Ale- During brewing, the yeast in an ale gathers and ferments at the top of the brewing vessel, acting very quickly. Some ales finish fermenting in as little as 2 weeks, and have more yeast-derived flavors than lagers. Some common varieties of ale include India Pale Ale (IPA), Brown Ale, Pale Ale, Stout, Porter, Wheat Beer, and Hefeweisen.
Lager- During brewing, the yeast in a lager sinks to the bottom of the vessel, and ferments at a colder temperature than ale. Fermenting near the bottom means that fewer flavor compounds are produced, resulting in a crisp, mild, and clean tasting beer. Common varieties of lagers include American Lagers, Red or Amber Lagers, Pilsner, Bock, Doppelbock, and Oktoberfest.
If you are interested in learning more about beer, swing by the beer department at Julio’s Liquors. We are experts in all things beer, have one of the widest selections in the area, and are top rated by RateBeer.com. We will ensure that you are well on your way to enjoying your next favorite brew! For more information, read our blog or give us a call at (508) 366-1942.