Everyone has their personal favorite beer but these days there are so many varieties of brews to sample and enjoy that it can be daunting to keep up. When someone asks whether you’ve heard of this or that ale or tells you about a lager they discovered on vacation it’s helpful if you’ve brushed up on basic beer knowledge.
In his article on TheBrewBros.com, Dane Mentzer compares beer to fine wines. Beer tasting can be a little intimidating unless you understand the basic principles of brewing and the similarities and differences between varieties of beer so here’s a quick brush up on basic beer knowledge.
What Kind of Beer do You Like?
There are two main types of beer: lager beer and ale beer, referred to as lagers and ales. There is a third rather obscure type of beer, called a Lambic, which is made only in Belgium, and is not as popular as lagers or ales.
Beers are divided into these two categories by the kinds of yeast used during their creation and by the temperatures used to ferment the two different kinds of beer. Lagers use a yeast that best ferments at cool temperatures, and ales use a yeast that best ferments at warmer temperatures.
When tasting beer, take into account the look, color, head of foam, aroma, taste and aftertaste of the beer being sampled. Try pouring yourself four or five mini mugs of beer for a fun sampling experience, and take notes on the flavors and aromas detected in each beer.
Invite a few friends over for a beer tasting and have each friend bring some of his or her favorite beer. Serve peanuts, pretzels, oysters and cheese as palate cleansers and eat a little between each small mug of beer.
Pairing Beer and FoodIn general, it’s good to pair foods of like heaviness and flavor with like beers. This is the process followed by most beer connoisseurs. When you are drinking beer that you like a great deal, take some time to think about what food might complement the flavors naturally occurring in the beer. Take a sip of beer, close your eyes as you roll the beer around in your mouth, swallow and see what types of food come to mind.
Not only do I love beer any time of year and for almost any occasion, I think the history of brewing and all the different techniques and flavors that make each beer unique are what keep me coming back for more.