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Brush up on Basic Beer Knowledge

It's a good time to brush up on basic beer knowledge.

It’s a good time to brush up on basic beer knowledge.

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, 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.

Beer Tasting 

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.

Read the full article on

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.



About Gail Kowal

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