… I have consumed numerous beers spread across this earth… I like to think of myself as a beer man. As a beer man, I hope that you’ll forgive just good old fashioned plain-speaking.”
Beer - intoxicating the many underage delinquents, American construction workers, college students, leprechauns, unpretentious Dutch, and pissed off Germans of this earth for thousands of years. I however, reside within another category. To assign a title, I would consider myself an amateur beer connoisseur. Much like childbirth, the creation of beer is an intimate, lengthy, and arduous process; often times relying on experimentation and luck because you never know what the end product will look and taste like (please don’t taste your baby).
Beer is classified into two separate categories: ales and lagers. Both lagers and ales are produced by steeping malted barley in water and the addition of brewer’s yeast, which starts the fermentation process (creating alcohol). Yeasts cause the foam to form on the surface of beer during fermentation. The type of yeast used distinguishes ales from lagers, and the sweetness/fruitiness of a beer. Hops are added as flavoring and stability agents, producing the bitter characteristic of beer.
The brewing process is far more complicated than my short explanation. Possibilities seem endless, considering ales are further broken down into pale ales, which are then grouped into strong pale ales, India pale ales, and American pale ales. Lambic, Belgium, French, and German ales are also broader categories of ales. Stouts and porters are also categories of ales, and include small ties to lagers. Lager beers are broken down into the broad categories of pilsners and American, German, and European lagers.
Currently, I am fond of pale ales, especially double IPA’s and most strong pale ales, (including beers from Dogfish Head and Stone breweries), some of which will put hair on the scrawniest of men’s chests. I also had the opportunity to evaluate numerous Belgium beers during my travels through Europe this past semester. I would highly recommend Belgium pale ales (including Leffe and Orval breweries) to anyone new to the world of serious beer drinking.
On a final note, microbreweries are independent breweries which produce a limited amount of specialized craft beers, and have recently become more prominent in the States. Bars serving imported and specialized craft beer were rare and few between a few years ago, but today almost every bar carries some type of craft beer, especially in the breeding grounds of Los Angeles and San Diego. I will post reviews of different beers in future posts.