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Interesting Facts on Beer

group of friends toasting with some beers

I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts, and beer. 
--Abraham Lincoln

As long as there’s been man, there’s been beer. Brewed from malted barley, hops, yeast, and water--although other fermentable carbs (e.g. corn, wheat, rice, etc.) and ingredients can be added to create a variety of styles and flavors--beer has existed, in this similar form, since 5,000 B.C.

Today, beer is the world’s most consumed alcoholic beverage and the world’s third most popular drink, behind water and tea. There exist roughly 15,000 breweries across the globe, with each producing uniquely tasting ales, lagers, stouts, and malts. With so many varieties of beer, read more about how to shop for the best beers at your local grocer.

How to Find and Buy Beer

A lot of people would agree that a “good” beer is whatever beer’s in your hand. However, beer comes in all shapes and sizes. There are cheap lagers that cost a few bucks for a six pack to intricate craft brews that go for $20 a pack. Of course, finding a good beer depends entirely on your taste.

Depending on the fermentation process of the beer, it can also take on a variety of flavors, enough to please any drinker. For example, lagers tend to be crisp and drinkable--the standard beer--whereas, an IPA tastes hoppy and fruity, and stouts taste creamy with a hint of coffee.

Such distinctions make certain beers ideal for certain occasions. For example, lagers make perfect party companions because of its simplistic flavor. Fruit beers, light beers, and wheat beers are great for hot summer days because they’re soft and easy to sip. Compare those with stouts and porters whose rich and creamy texture are filling to drink.

Types of Beer

beer glasses of pilsner, dark lager, wheat beer, amber ale

  • Ales: Brewed with top-fermenting yeast at a cellar temperature, ales are full-bodied brews with hints of fruit or spice and a hoppy finish. This form of fermentation, along with the hops in the wort, gives ales an acidity and fruitfulness unlike most beers. Often their flavors are more assertive flavor than that of lagers.
  • Lagers: Deriving from the German word lagern, meaning “to store,” lager refers to the method of storing the beer for several months in near-freezing temperatures. This extensive aging process produces the crisp, smooth finish for which lagers are most known. Lagers range from sweet to bitter to pale to black, though most maintain a medium color, with high carbonation, and a relatively mild hop flavor. The lager generally describes brews of Dutch, German, and Czech styles. It’s also the world’s most popular type of beer.
  • Stouts and Porters: Stouts & Porters: Both black, roast brews made via top fermentation. The two beers are quite similar with only slight distinctions differentiating the pair. Stouts are flavored and colored by barley with a rich, creamy head. Porters tend to be fruitier in flavor due to the roasted malt.
  • Malts: Similar to stouts and porters in color, malts are also flavored with caramel, toffee, and nuts.
  • Lambic: Unlike most beers, which are fermented with a brewer’s yeast, lambic is produced via spontaneous fermentation by wild yeasts and bacteria. This process gives the beer its distinctive flavor with a sour aftertaste. This brewing style is common in Belgium.
  • Non-Alcoholic: Beer with a little or no alcoholic content. It recreates the taste of beer without the inebriating effects. Most non-alcoholic beers resemble lagers.

The Most Popular Styles of Beer

beer tap at a bar restaurant

  • Amber: Full-bodied malt aromas with hints of caramel, ambers are versatile beers that can adopt the tastes of ales or lagers. Their distinguishing characteristic is obviously the reddish color.
  • Blonde: DPale in color. In taste, blonde’s are clear, crisp, and dry, with little bitterness and some sweetness from the malt.
  • Brown: Hints of caramel and chocolate emanate from this style of brew. Depending on the where the beer was brewed, it may also hold a malty or nutty flavor.
  • Cream: A mild, sweet, golden ale.
  • Dark: A British style of beer that combines hops, yeast, and a blend of malts, robust in taste.
  • Fruit: BFor a fruit beer to taste “fruity,” the malt cannot dominate in flavor and the finish should be low on bitterness. The taste should focus entirely on the fruit infusion.
  • Golden: Golden: Straw in color, and it tastes of citrus and vanilla.
  • Honey: Creamy, coppery in color, and it tastes of--you guessed it--honey. The beers tend to also include a hint of caramel.
  • India Pale Ale: Hopper than the normal pale ale. IPAs originated in England to serve British troops stationed in India, and the hoppiness helped the ale to survive the journey to India.
  • Light: : Light in color, light in flavor, lighter in calories, and lighter in alcohol content.
  • Lime: Lightly flavored beer with a refreshing taste of lime.
  • Pale: Pale ales tend to be fruitier in flavor and pair perfectly with spicy foods. It’s copper in color.
  • Pilsner: Gold in color. Dry, crisp, and slightly bitter in flavor, pilsners tend to taste hoppier than lagers.
  • Red: Reddish in color. Their hoppy flavor is often offset with hints of caramel to balance out the taste.
  • Strong: Any beer over 7% ABV. These beers tend to be dark in color and include old ales, double IPAs, and barleywines.
  • Wheat: Light and easy to drink, the wheat provides a softness to the beer. It can look cloudy in appearance.

Beer Buying and Brewing Seasons

Spring Bock
Stout
Lambic
Summer Fruit
Wheat
Blonde
Pale Ale
Saison
Fall Malt
Oktoberfest
Pumpkin Ales
Red Ales
Extra Special Bitter
IPAs
Winter Porters
Stouts
Doppelbocks
Old Ales

What You Need To Make Your Own Beer

old beer brewing cask for beer aging

Here’s a shopping list if you’re interested in home brewing:

  • 4+ gallon pot
  • 6 gallon bucket with spigot - used for sanitizing and bottling
  • 6 gallon fermentation bucket - these have a lid with a hole drilled for an airlock
  • Airlock and stopper
  • 3 to 4 small nylon bags - for adding hops to the boil
  • Racking cane - this is to syphon beer out of the fermentor
  • Food grade sanitizer (iodine based or acid based)
  • Hydrometer and hydrometer jar
  • Waterproof thermometer
  • Bottle caps
  • Bottle capper
  • Bottling wand
  • 5 ft of ⅜ inch beverage line - used for transferring beer and filling bottles
  • Bottles
  • Beer kit - ingredients for the beer

How to Home Brew Your Own Beer

  1. Buy the Equipment
  2. Choose a Beer Kit: Experienced homebrewers device their own recipes, but, for beginners, a beer kit is highly advised. Beer kits usually consist of hopped malt concentrate and yeast, along with the additional fermentables--like brewing sugar, dry malt extract, etc.--you’ll need to make alcohol.
  3. Cooking the Beer: Before beginning, you should completely clean and sanitize your equipment. Once you’ve finished that, you’re ready to start cooking beer. Start by bringing two quarts of water to 160°-180°F. Once there, remove from the heat and add your beer kit along with the fermentables, pertaining to the instructions on the package. Stir to dissolve everything. After dissolution, put the lid on the pot and let it sit on the lowest heat setting for about fifteen minutes. Next, add the contents of your pot to four gallons of cold water that should already be in your fermenter. Mix, and then allow to ferment at the recommended temperature (this temperature depends on your beer kit).
  4. Fermentation: Time to turn your wort into beer. Attach the funnel and strainer to the fermenting container and pour the cooled wort through the strainer and into the fermenter. Feel free to use a thermometer to ensure the wort’s at room temperature. Once it’s at room temperature, add the yeast directly to the fermenter and stir--give the yeast some oxygen. After stirring thoroughly, place the airlock and stopper onto the fermenter and seal it tightly. Now, set your fermenter somewhere dark and cold and let the magic happen, checking it every few days to ensure the temperature isn’t too high. This process can take 7-10 days. You’ll know your beer is ready for bottling if you notice bubbles coming out of the airlock at a rate of fewer than one every minute. If it’s not clear from the bubbling, then check to see if the yeast has become used up, leaving your beer clear and not hazy.
  5. Bottling: Before bottling, prime the beer by mixing in some sugar. This promotes a bit of fermentation after you’ve bottled the beer. Also, be sure to sterilize everything the beer will touch.

    Now, siphon the finished beer into your priming bucket. Add a couple cups of priming sugar and mix it gently. Using the bottle filler, siphon the beer into the bottle, leaving about an inch of space at the top. This aids in additional fermentation. Next, just cap the bottles with a bottle capper. Finally, store the beers in a cool, dark place for the first two weeks after bottling, and then transfer the beers to a refrigerator. Your beers should be ready after 8-15 weeks.

  6. Cheers!