You say you aren’t a beer drinker? I say you haven’t found the right beer. I do think beer is an acquired taste, but I also think it is true of wine. I was a beer drinker prior to meeting my husband, but he has at least doubled my knowledge of beer. I figured it was about time for me to share some of that knowledge with you. If you have read any of my travel posts then you know, I’ve done my research :) Acquiring a taste for beer requires an open mind…much like learning about anything new. Beer categories are broad and can be confusing. It is amazing the wide range of flavors that you can produce with just a few ingredients. I’m going to start you off today with what goes into beer, where the flavors come from, and common descriptors used to describe beer.
Here is a VERY simplified explanation of how beer is made:
Grains +Water converts starches to sugars
Hops are added to balance sweetness
Yeast is added for fermentation, converting sugar to alcohol
For a more in-depth explanation~Billy Brew: How Beer is Made
Each ingredient that goes into beer imparts flavor to the finished product:
Grains: provides the color and base of the beer; well grains + water, that is. The grains imparts flavors like roasty, malty, biscuity, creamy, caramel, or sweetness, to name a few. An example of a really malty (grain forward) style beer would be a Scottish ale. Grains also contribute to the body (heavy vs light) of a beer.
Yeast: is how beer becomes alcoholic (I’m not going to get into a science lesson so we will leave it at that). Yeast also imparts flavors to the beer such as peppery, spicy, fruity, bubblegum, or even musty. A good beer to see this in action is a Hefeweizen – the banana taste that is often associated with Hefeweizen is from the yeast. The yeast also plays a role in a dry versus sweet beer.
Hops: provide many complex flavors in beers. The most classic example of a hop forward beer is an IPA (India Pale Ale). While most people think hops=ipa, nearly all beer styles contain some hops. The taste imparted from the hops depend on: the kind of hops, when they are added to the brewing process, and how much. The easiest way to think about hops is like spices in cooking. Different hop varieties impart different flavors just like different spices do for cooking. Common hop flavors include bitter, floral, citrus, evergreen, piney, or earthy.
Secondary Additions: some beers may contain fruits, spices, or other flavorings that will provide additional flavor and complexity to a beer. Many beers get their flavors solely from the three ingredients above without any additions needed, but it is always fun to see the unique flavors additional ingredients can bring to a beer style. Most common beers where secondary additions play a prominent role are pumpkin or fruit beers, but Wit style beers traditionally contain additional ingredients such as coriander and camomile.
To give you a little more insight into the world of beer:
Developing Your Beer Palate
BeerAdvocate Beer 101
Join me next Sunday for some recommended styles to get you started in developing your beer palate and enjoying craft beer 🙂
And to make this seem more like a life lesson here is quote:
While this quote is attributed to Mr. Franklin he most likely did not say beer but wine instead 🙂 The more you know.
Got a lesson to share–link up below. Need to learn a thing or two–check out the links below!