Print Story Everything you always wanted to know about beer but were afraid to ask
By georgeha (Tue Apr 05, 2005 at 05:22:22 AM EST) (all tags)
or more honestly, enough facts about beer to fake being a beer snob, presented in a rambling, disordered fashion, which is entirely unrelated to drinking honey lager while writing much of it.

What is beer?

What is beer? Ben Franklin's answer notwithstanding, beer is a soupy mash of ground up malted grains, allowed to ferment. It's usually flavored with hops, a small, cylindrical green flower from a plant that is a close botanical relative to marijuana. Hops were originally used as a preservative, and people learned to like the bitter taste they impart.

What are malted grains?

Malted grains are seeds that have sprouted a bit, so their starch gets converted to sugar. Then, they are dried in warm air. Barley is the grain traditionally used for beer, wheat is also used traditionally, oatmeal is used in a few beers, and rice and corn are used in cheap beers.

In other countries, grains like millet and sorghum can be used to make beer. Just about any grain can be fermented into a beer.

If you dry your malted grains over a smoky fire, you get a smoke flavored beer call Rauchbier, which is supposed to go very well with smoked food. I have yet to try this.

What do you mean by ferment?

Ferment is when yeast cells take in sugar, and convert it to alcohol and carbon dioxide while reproducing. In essence, yeast cells go wild, multiply and excrete alcohol and CO2 until their environment becomes unsurvivable. Fermentation is used in a variety of

foodstuffs, including beer, wine and other alcohols, and bread. Wild yeast is so prevalent that any uncovered soupy mash will ferment, in general, outside of San Francisco and Belgium, this is not desired.

Yeast is a quick growing hardy organism, and given half a chance can overwhelm its growth medium. Other micro-organisms can survive amidst yeast for a while, which is generally a bad thing, except in Belgium or San Francisco.

What's special about the yeast in San Francisco and Belgium?

The wild yeast in San Francisco gives their sourdough taste it's distinctive tang.

The wild yeast in the valley of Zenne in Belgium makes the wonderful kind of beer known as lambic.

To what do we owe beer?

We owe beer our entire civilization. While some wine snobs will disagree and say wine is responsible for civilization, it's just as likely beer is responsible. Beer making requires grains and watertight containers and time, which is not easy when you have to schlep everything you own on your back. Once mankind desired an alcohol buzz, sitting around instead of roaming became more desirable.

From ancient Sumeria we have a beer recipe and ode to the God of beer. Archaelogists have uncovered evidence of beer in Egypt at the time of the pyramids, it was a staple for the workman. Truly, after spending a day pulling 10 ton blocks of stone, you would appreciate Miller time.

How do you make beer?

Sanitize a large container that can be made nearly airtight. Boil a lot of water mixed with crushed malted grain and hops. Strain into the container, add yeast, cover and fit an airlock, and wait. In as little as a day, you have beer.

This is just a brief overview, to make a good beer takes a bit more care.

Why is American beer so bad?

The most common American beer is a mildly tasting and mildly hopped highy carbonated Pilsener-style lager, made with comparatively large mounts of rice and/or corn, in addition to barley and hops. To most beer snobs, this is bad beer, tasteless, underbodied and too fizzy. When this style is done right (far less or no corn or rice, plenty of hops), you get a marvelous pilsner, such as Pilsner Urquell.

From a technical standpoint, American beer is incredible, in that the Bud you had yesterday tastes just like the Bud you had two years ago, which tastes just like the Bud Percy had in London, which tastes just like the Bud Takeshi had in Tokyo, which tastes just like the Bud Jose had in Medellin. Such consistency is hard when you're dealing with botanically derived products.

True, there are many wonderful microbrews, and in almost any bar in America a beer snob can find a tasty pint, but the average American beer is bad. For this, I blame Prohibition.

The Noble Experiment of Prohibition

The years of being unable to sell beer doomed nearly all but the largest breweries (which survived by making malt products for bakeries and food processors), sending hundreds of recipes to history's scrapheap. After Prohibition ended, World War II started up, causing many former breweries to be scrapped into tanks and Liberty ships, and sending many men overseas. The few large breweries left decided to brew a mild tasting beer that would appeal to women, who weren't a typical beer consumer; this is the  pilsner/lager style of beer made by most mass market breweries.

Generations of Americans have now grown up drinking a bland beer that tastes that same around the corner as across the country, many, many local tastes are gone. This is a huge tragedy, given the melting pot nature of America, American beer could have been the best, with influences from Germany, England, the Czech Republic, Belgium, Holland and Ireland.

How did Jimmy Carter save American beer?

It wasn't until October 14th, 1978 that Americans were able to make beer at home. Considering how many of today's microbrewery brewmasters got their start with home brewing, Carter could be considered the father of good American beer.

What American beer do you recommend?

The best American beers tend to be regional microbrews, and thus aren't available everywhere in America. Since I have yet to travel all over America, I can only recommend beers that I've had the fortune of trying.

Samuel Adams is one of the most common craft beers you can find, a cultivated beer drinker should find much to enjoy with their offerings. Even better, many airports have Sam Adams brewpubs (Dulles and Newark do, at least), so you can have a tasty pint before you stuff yourself into a tiny aluminum tube stuffed with kerosene and traveling at high speed eight miles above the ground.

Other commonly found microbrews are Sierra Nevada, and Pete's Wicked, each of which offers several different kinds of beer. I don't have a lot of experience with them, as they cost a bit more than local microbews. I do know I never regretted buying them.

In New York State, I'm a huge fan of Saranac. Yuengling is a notch below (IMHO), and has become available through the northeast. Brooklyn Brewery makes many fine products, and I would be remiss in not mentioning Flying Bison of Buffalo (a cask conditioned keg of theirs was the highlight of a beer tasting fest a few years ago). In my hometown, High Falls (aka Genesee) has released a decent Amber Lager and American Pale Ale.

Further out west you can get Fat Tire Ale, which was a highlight of a recent trip to Houston, though the St. Arnolds there was also very nice. Red Tail Ale was also a very pleasant surprise, and is now being brewed in new York. I don't know how much better it is from their home brewery in California.

I suppose a good rule of thumb when looking for a good beer in America is that if it describes what specific style of beer it is, and costs more than $5 a six pack, it's probably decent.

What is that brown stuff foreigners claim is beer?

The converse to why American beers are so bad. Most American beers are pale yellow with a white head, but the range of beers also runs to light ambers, dark ambers, and beer so dark you can't see through it, with heads ranging from big and white to flat and yellow.

The color of the final product mostly depends on the kind of malted barley used, barley can range from beige to walnut in color, depending upon how it is processed. This is also reflected in the taste, with darker beers usually tasting bolder.

Why do different places have different beers?

In regions where beer has been brewed for centuries, the local style of beer can vary dramatically. One recent theory blames it on geology, which affects the water, brewers used different styles of hops and malt to make a pleasant tasting beer, resulting in highly hopped ales where water was hard, and softer style lagers where water was softer. It also led to brewer's using different kinds of malts, as roasting changes the pH of the malt, and beer is best brewed at a specific ph. It's certainly an interesting theory, but I think more fieldwork is needed.

Nowadays, brewers can add chemicals and minerals to pure water, to mimic any kind of beer they want to.

Are dark beers more alcoholic?

Not necessarily, the Guinness you get in Ireland is very low in alcohol content. Guinness you buy in America has more alcohol. The darkness is a product of the malt used. One could make a beer with lots of light malt and honey that is as alcoholic as wine. One might call that beer mead.

Do people really drink fruit flavored beer and like it?

Yes they do, you should try it, it makes a refreshing summer drink. There are two common kinds of fruit flavored beer, lambics and wheat beers.

Lambics are a sour pale beer made with wheat and male, brewed in a small valley in Belgium (and often imitated elsewhere) where a bit of raspberry or cherry or strawberry added during the brewing makes for a very refreshing taste. Sadly, lambics are on the high end for price, so my experience is limited.

Wheat beers are made with a mixture of malted barley and wheat, and are often flavored with fruit, such as cherries, or various berries. Even without adding fruit, the esters produced during fermentation can give them a banana flavor, and it's common to serve them with a wedge of lemon. If you want to try this, they're commonly labeled Hefeweissen. The slice of lemon in a corona is not just a Yuppie affectation.

Did English schoolboys really drink beer?

Yes they did. Before modern sanitary water practices, drinking water could contain any number of lethal or sickening organisms. No known pathogens can live in beer, so in a case where the water quality is questionable, beer is much less likely to give you cholera. One of the first uses of epidemiology was noting that the closer you lived to a water pump in Soho, London, the more likely you were to get cholera, except for the nearby brewery workers, who took free beer over water.

How safe is homebrew to drink?

See above, safer than tap water, aside from the usual effects of alcohol. But, bad or unusual "rogue" tastes are known to happen from improper sanitizing, as undesireable micro-organisms survive and get a chance to affect the flavor.

How do you brew beer at home?

Homebrewing runs the gamut from just add water to a minikeg like thing to taking malted grain, grinding it and boiling it just like the big guys. I'm going to describe my favorite method, using malt extracts. You have a lot more options when using extracts as opposed to the kits, and you don't need a grinder, mash-tun, lauter-tun and wort chiller. Measurements and times are approximate, please follow a recipe. If you need a recipe, check out a local homebrew place, or an online one, they should have starter kits or beginner recipes.

  1. Sanitize your fermenting container and airlock with bleach. You can use a clean, unscratched plastic 6 gallon food container, but you will get better results with a 6 gallon carboy. You want to bathe everything that will touch the cooled wort with a bleach solution, so as to kill most of the microbes. A few tablespoons of bleach in hot water should do the job, I rely on a couple of splashes. Be sure to wear your rubber gloves.

  2. Start boiling 1 1/2 gallons water in a big pot. 

  3. Once the water is boiling, add the malt extract and most of the hops. Hops added at this stage contribute to the bitter taste. I tend to keep these hops in a cheesecloth bag.

  4. After boiling for 58 minutes, add the finishing hops. Hops added at this stage add to the bouquet (smell). Boil for one or two  minutes more.

  5. Sparge (pour) the beer into a carboy with 3 1/2 gallons of cold water. A filter or strainer is a very good idea here, you don't want hops plant material in the beer. A layer of soggy hops does help to filter the beer.

  6. When the beer has cooled to a tepid temperature, add the yeast. Dry yeast is typically reconstituted by boiling 1/4 cup of water, letting it cool, and then adding yeast and waiting for five minutes. You can tell if yeast is active by the bubbles and the yeasty smell.

  7. Seal the carboy with an airlock. After a period of time ( one week, two, a few months), sanitize your drinking containers (bottles and caps or kegs) and bottle the beer.

You should be able to see the beer actively ferment, by the bubbles released through the airlock. Ales can be particularly active, and you may want to use a blowoff tube for the first few days.

Open the pod bay door, Hal. The airlock Hal.

An airlock is a simple method of preventing air from getting into a fermenting tank. A simple one has two u's shaped loops in it, much like the U bend under your sink. Gas (mostly CO2) can get out, nothing can get in.

Is homebrewing worth it?

Homebrewing is a very inexpensive hobby, if you like to drink good beer and your time is free. For about $20 USD and three hours of work, I can make two cases of microbrew quality beer.

What do Nazis and German beer have in common, aside from Munich and the Beer Hall Putsch?

Way back in 1516, German beer became regulated by the Reinheitsgebot, or German Beer Purity Law, stating that beer must only be made of malted barley, hops, water, yeast, and sold for a reasonable amount. Curiously, wheat beer is also a very common beer in Germany.

The Jekyll and Hyde nature of Budweiser

There are two kinds of Budweiser, the beechwood aged mild tasting American ale, and a very fine Pilsner made in Czechoslovakia. Because of copyright laws, the weak tasting American beer often gets the name over in the wonderful Czech beer. In Europe, the Czeck beer is also named Budvar, in America, Czechvar. If you get a chance, check it out, it's just as good as Pilsner Urquell, in my opinion.

What are some common styles of beer?

Giving a nod to the Belgians, there are three major styles of beer. Lambics, made with wild yeast, lager made with bottom settling yeast which ferments best near freezing, and ale with top fermenting yeast which likes warmer temperatures. Within each major category, there are many different varieties, I intend to only mention the most common that I've had experience with, or my favorites. If you see a beer that you like and I haven't mentioned, pleased send me a few bottles so I may properly judge them.

Lambics: These are made with  malt and wheat and fermented with wild yeast and other wild micro-organisms, in an uncovered fermentation tank, and have a sour taste to them (due to lactobaccillus, which is a wild bacteria, not a yeast). The brewers will often add fruit to them, like strawberries or raspberries. Brewers outside of a small river valley in Belgium will attempt to make them also, with varying degrees of success.

Unless you're in the mood for a tart and possibly fruit flavored beer, beware.

Lagers: This is the most common American beer, usually a pale smooth beer with it's roots in the Czech republic. It's fermented with a bottom floating yeast, at cold temperatures, just above freezing, for weeks or months at a time (indeed, the German word for store is lager). Until refrigeration, one could only make lager during winter.

The first lager was a pilsener, made in Pilzen in the Czech Republic. It's pale transparency was a novelty in those days, most beer was darker and cloudier.

German pilsener is a little different tasting than Czezh pilsener- pale yellow, enough hops to be bitter and have a bouquet, with some sweetness.

Curiously, Vienna Style Lager's were nearly extinct, and hard to find in Europe. In Mexico they were kept alive by brewers of German descent, particularly in Dos Equis Amber.

American pilsener taste very different than European pilsener, it's a pale yellow in color, highly carbonated, with a mild malt taste, some hoppy bitterness, and usually an odd adjunt taste due to rice or corn used instead of some malt

Our favorite recipe, also made by Michelob and High Falls is a honey lager, with a large amount of the malt replaced by honey. It's a tasty, hoppy and light, I'm drinking one now. If you're curious, google Papazian's Rocky Racoon Crystal Honey Lager.

Other common lagers are Marzen's, which are brewed in March before the weather gets too hot for lagering, and have a pronounced malty taste, and bocks, doppelbocks and trippelbocks, which are a malty, lightly hopped lager, with increasing amounts of alcohol.

Ales: Ales are brewed closer to room temperature, with a top floating yeast. These ferment very quickly, being ready to drink in a week. They range from a pale yellow to too dark to see through, and to be heavier bodied and heavier hopped.

Guinness is the most famous kind of stout, which tend to be dark, malty flavored beers with a generally low alcohol content, though to be contrary I often order a Whatney's. The dark color is from the roasted barley being used. Stouts can also be made with oatmeal, such as in Samuel Smith's Oatmeal Stout.

Porter is a dark ale, like a stout. This is a style that was lost, and then recreated, so there's no telling just how authentic it is. It's lighter bodied than a stout.

Brown ale is a dark colored, mild tasting ale, most common in England.

Red ale is a red colored, medium bittered ale.

Pale ale/India Pale Ale is a yellow to golden colored ale, medium to highly  hopped. India Pale Ale more hops, more alcohol, and was developed for shipment to India in age of sail. The brewers needed a beer that would be palatable after months at sea.

Bitter, special bitter, extra special bitter  (ESB) are a gold to copper colored, well hopped ale with mild carbonation, with increasing amounts of alcohol. These are often served as cask conditioned ales.

Cask conditioned ale isn't a flavor of ale, but a process. Cask conditioned ale is stored in a cask, and meant to be hand pumped into glasses, and drunken soon after being casked. It will only last a few days, but most pubs go through beer that quickly. Cask conditioned ale tends to be less carbonated and yeasty, and served at room temperature, a real treat for those of us who like the taste of beer. Cask conditioned ale nearly died out, but thanks to the bewhiskered, suspendered members of CAMRA, it's making a come back.

Scotch ale is a sweet, malty low bitterness ale. Scotch Ale often comes in different alcoholic strengths, with Export or Strong being the most potent.

Kolsch is a soft, sweet tasting ale first brewed in Kolsch, Germany.

Hefeweizen is a German wheat beer, made with half malted barley and half wheat, and lightly hopped. Hefeweizen means with yeast and wheat, and it's traditionaly served with lots of yeast still in the bottle. In America, it's often served with a slice of lemon, and is a refreshing summer drink.

Cream ale is an American (or possible Canadian, if you believe Sleemans) invention, an ale made with ale or lager yeast, warm fermented, and then cold lagered.

Steam beer is an American recipe, beer made with lager yeast and fermented at warm temperatures. The keg would "steam" when opened, due to such active fermentation.

I'm traveling to $country, what beer is good?

I don't know, personally. I've only traveled to one foreign country, Canada, and their mass market beer tastes about the same as America's mass market beer.

Were I to be in a foreign country, I would try beers on tap that I had never heard of, they would probably be local, and good.

I want to beertroll citizen of $country, what do I say?

America: American's are easy to beer troll, fer instance, why is American beer like making love in a canoe?

Australia: If you want to troll an Australian, tell them you tried Australian beer, Foster's, and it was terrible, and you don't understand why Australians have such a reputation for beer drinking. Foster's is considered a terrible beer in Australia, with a very good advertising budget. Australians claim there are much better beers than Foster's, but I have yet to try one (a different Australian beer, not a better one, so if you want to ship me some Victoria's ESB...).

Canada: Canadian's like to claim their beer if far superior than American. While some may have a higher alcoholic content, most all the mass market Canadian beers taste only slightly better than American, I suspect Labatt's and Molson's have plenty of rice and corn added. Canadian microbrews don't travel down here very often, I have tried Sleeman's, and liked it, but it never made my top ten. In college, I tried Grizzly and Moosehead, I should revisit them and see if they were just as good as I recall. Getting back to the beer trolling, Molson's and Labatt's are barely beer, and not worthy of Canadian pride.

UK: The British like to proclaim they have the best beer, it's sad that one of their most commonly exported ales is Boddington's. To me, Boddies tasted like flat Budweiser, in that it had a taste that was like water in glass that once contained beer, but was poorly washed. Some British folk also say Newcastle Brown Ale, or Newkies, the most commonly exported brown ale is nothing special, but given the lack of brown ale in America, it's at least something different.

Interestingly enough, maybe you could blame advertising, but much beer consumed in English pubs is cheap lager, like Foster's, served ice cold. If the last beer a UKian tried was Foster's or the equivalent, they're no better than Bud drinkers.

Bavaria, Germany: In Bavaria, each little town and hamlet has often their own brewery. These villagers are very proud of their breweries, so even the smallest mistake in describng their beer, intentional or not, will result in a quick correction.

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Everything you always wanted to know about beer but were afraid to ask | 112 comments (50 topical, 0 hidden)
Molson's and Labatt's by theantix (4.00 / 3) #1 Sun Apr 03, 2005 at 02:35:21 PM EST
They are hardly Canadian either... Labbat's is owned by InterBrew and Molsons by Coors [1]... so neither of them are really Canadian.  The only mass-market beer that is actually Canadian is Kokanee, which is the the best of them anyhow.  As far as national presence Microbrews go, the Sleemans and Big Rock branded beers are pretty good.  And of course there is the good local selection in every area, as with anywhere else in the world... and the quality depends on personal taste.

[1] Yes, technically a merger with two headquarters, one in the USA and one in Canadia.  Coors wears the pants in the relationship though, and the Canadian office is more of a marketing ploy than anything else.

Sure, you've got the facts on your side -- but that's just your opinion.

I have never heard of Kokanees by georgeha (4.00 / 1) #2 Sun Apr 03, 2005 at 02:38:00 PM EST
so their mass marketing attempts have not penetrated to western New York, at least. I will keep my eyes open though, for Kokanee and Big Rock.

[ Parent ]
Never heard of Kokanee? by ti dave (2.00 / 0) #20 Sun Apr 03, 2005 at 08:31:48 PM EST
Jesus, man-- That stuff's so good, I dragged a full rack of it, in a duffle bag, back to Germany.

Ponder that for a moment.

I don't care if people hate my guts; I assume most of them do.
The important question is whether they are in a position to do anything about it. --W.S. Burroughs

[ Parent ]
Ne Forget Pas by CheeseburgerBrown (4.00 / 2) #7 Sun Apr 03, 2005 at 03:28:37 PM EST
You may be surprised by theantix (2.00 / 0) #13 Sun Apr 03, 2005 at 05:28:16 PM EST
I've never heard of Creemore at all... I will search for it, espcially since edward confirmed your recommendation in another post.  Merci!

Sure, you've got the facts on your side -- but that's just your opinion.
[ Parent ]
Kokanee's not that good, imho by edward (4.00 / 1) #8 Sun Apr 03, 2005 at 03:45:01 PM EST
But I have a soft spot for Big Rock, especially the Traditional Ale.

Anyway, there are lots of microbrews in Canada. Three of the larger ones (that I've tried) are Creemore Springs in Ontario, Granville Island (in Vancouver),  Shaftesbury/Okanagan Springs (in BC).

There are a few nano-brews that I've tried that are associated with a specific restaurant, where the beer is brewed on-site and only for that establishment. This beer in Gastown I had at a party once and never really forgot it.

I was in Victoria a year ago and I went out to this place that also brewed their own and had a really amazing chocolate-y ale also that really did it for me. Wow. I wish I remembered what the hell it was.


[ Parent ]
I am ashamed to admit by theantix (2.00 / 0) #12 Sun Apr 03, 2005 at 05:26:46 PM EST
I've tried a lot of Microbrews (local or not) and imports from all over the world... but in the end I always go back to the Kokanee.  It's not really classy or anything like that, but it's cheap and goes down with a pretty good taste.  It won't knock your socks off by any means, but... it's good.  :-)  I guess I'm a freak, and I don't care if it's not cool or even noo voh anticool cool like PBR is now in USia.

re: Microbrews... there are lots of good microbrews all over the world... if there is one thing I have learned from travelling, I'd say that every and their dog thinks that their microbrews are special, and they are usually right.  There are lots of great ones in every area... the ones I notably like in Vancouver are at the Yaletown Pub, and from the Storm brewery on Commercial Drive.  Steamworks is good too, I need to go back threre... but Granville Island reminds me too much of the massive quantities of that brewery's booze I drank when at UBC.  :-)

Sure, you've got the facts on your side -- but that's just your opinion.

[ Parent ]
I should have been more specific.. by edward (2.00 / 0) #14 Sun Apr 03, 2005 at 05:47:06 PM EST's not kokanee per se that I don't really like, it's pretty much most lagers. I don't know why, exactly, but they make me feel sick very quickly. Maybe I'm allergic to something? I don't know. Usually the darker the beer, the happier I am.

[ Parent ]
Propeller by ni (2.00 / 0) #81 Tue Apr 05, 2005 at 07:26:57 AM EST
Did you get a chance to try Propeller while you were in Atlantic Canada?

After a while he could probably just run the thing on righteousness... -- Alarmist, on blixco's car
[ Parent ]
I'm not really sure by theantix (4.00 / 1) #83 Tue Apr 05, 2005 at 07:30:50 AM EST
I drank a lot of beer in Halifax and all of it was local (I nearly always seek out local beers when I travel).  I can hardly remember what the details were though, as I went to a lot of pubs and had many drinks.  :-)

Sure, you've got the facts on your side -- but that's just your opinion.
[ Parent ]
Kokanee is owned by Labatt by Greener (2.00 / 0) #58 Mon Apr 04, 2005 at 08:20:03 AM EST
and has been for 30 years. At least it's still brewed here.

[ Parent ]
I didn't know that by theantix (2.00 / 0) #60 Mon Apr 04, 2005 at 09:17:39 AM EST
It makes me sad.  :-(  It's still tasty cheap beer... but man...


Sure, you've got the facts on your side -- but that's just your opinion.

[ Parent ]
tis okay. by dev trash (4.00 / 1) #103 Wed Apr 06, 2005 at 05:13:38 PM EST
When I found out that Rolling Rock was owned by a bigger firm I was saddened too.  Big beer just tatses like crap.

[ Parent ]
lots of links and bold letters. by rmg (1.66 / 9) #3 Sun Apr 03, 2005 at 02:53:03 PM EST
sorry georgeha, looks too much like a troll to me. i don't like trolls, you see. they're always tricking me and making me feel stupid.

what if five months from now i look at the front page and there's your article halfway down. by this time i've forgotten all about it, so i give it another chance, but this time i don't realize it's a troll and i bite on it. now i look like an idiot all because i didn't nip it at the bud in the first place.

so like i said, sorry, but i have to vote -1. i hope you understand.

[t]rolling retards conversation, period.

I would have presumed your account hacked by georgeha (4.00 / 2) #6 Sun Apr 03, 2005 at 03:07:35 PM EST
had you not voted this a -1.

[ Parent ]
spam buttoned it too. by rmg (4.00 / 1) #59 Mon Apr 04, 2005 at 08:57:06 AM EST
sorry, georgeha, but i take a hard line stance on the troll issue.

[t]rolling retards conversation, period.
[ Parent ]
Steam beer by ucblockhead (2.00 / 0) #10 Sun Apr 03, 2005 at 04:33:52 PM EST
IIRC, no one really knows how "steam beer" was made or why it was called "steam" beer. It's a San Francisco relic that died with prohibition. What's sold as "Anchor Steam" is a pretty typical ale made by the original brewer, who has a trademark on "steam" beer.

I find Anchor Steam pretty much indistinguishable from Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. I like Anchor's Porter quite a bit, though.

Red Tail Ale is one of my favorite beers...if the New York version is better than the California version, I'm damn impressed! Do you have Red Tail hawks in New York?
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman

steam beer correction by R343L (2.00 / 0) #63 Mon Apr 04, 2005 at 07:01:51 PM EST
"Steam beer is an American recipe, beer made with ale yeast and fermented at cold temperatures."

Actually, it's beer made with lager yeast, fermented at ale temperatures, which are warmer. Husband who is really into homebrewing says he doesn't know the origin either, although there is one tale that involves steam or fume coming from the casks when they were opened.


"There will be time, there will be time / To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet." -- Eliot

[ Parent ]
You are correct, I had them reversed by georgeha (2.00 / 0) #68 Tue Apr 05, 2005 at 02:22:13 AM EST
I should try my hand at a steam beer sometime.

[ Parent ]
"eye of the hawk" by aphrael (2.00 / 0) #89 Tue Apr 05, 2005 at 12:35:35 PM EST
another varietal from the same brewing company, is quite good; tastes great and is ... um ... strong.
If television is a babysitter, the internet is a drunk librarian who won't shut up.
[ Parent ]
brown ales by tps12 (2.00 / 0) #74 Tue Apr 05, 2005 at 03:48:46 AM EST
Isn't Newcastle a pretty non-representative brown ale? I really enjoy Pete's Wicked and Brooklyn's brown ale, but they taste nothing like Newcastle. Maybe it's the American ones that are atypical, though.

L@@K!! A+++++++ Will Vote +1FP Again!! by Bob Abooey (4.00 / 2) #77 Tue Apr 05, 2005 at 05:07:14 AM EST
Even though I don't drink beer I would, at this time, in an act of solidarity, like to endorse this well written (okay, I didn't really read it, but the esteemed Mr. Ha is published, so I'm making some well grounded assumptions here) and well researched article as definite Front Page material.

Indeed, the reader can read this article in good faith and with the greatest of confidence.

Warmest regards,
--Your best pal Bob

canadian beer by misslake (4.00 / 1) #79 Tue Apr 05, 2005 at 07:00:15 AM EST
what about La Fin Du Monde?

when i was in mexico i met a quebecquoi guy from sherbroke who was running a pizza shop, he had imported La Fin Du Mone especially for new year's eve to show the mexicans what Real Canadian Beer is all about.

i think it's a terrible terrible beverage, and probably wouldn't drink it, even if it was the end of the world. but it is very unique, and very well, special.

I have never heard of it by georgeha (2.00 / 0) #80 Tue Apr 05, 2005 at 07:11:55 AM EST
what makes it so special? I have a very special homebrew, called Vagabond Gingered Dark Ale, which tastes like a mixture of dark ale and potent ginger ale.

I can drink about two of those a year.

[ Parent ]
La Fin Du Monde by misslake (2.00 / 0) #82 Tue Apr 05, 2005 at 07:27:18 AM EST
it comes in big bottles, 1 litre, it tastes unlike other beers, it has a much higher alcohol content than regurlar beers, it is bottled with champagne corks, it has a crazy label with quebec and labrador in black and an unearthy orange glow around them. it also had a warning on the label that says you should never drink all the beer, the bottom bit is full of sludge and it's very bad for you.

its rare outside of quebec.
and it's kind of an anglophone joke about it being the end of the world if you have to drink it.

[ Parent ]
There is a lot of it in Vermont by vorheesleatherface (2.00 / 0) #108 Sat Jul 02, 2005 at 05:11:48 PM EST
The stuff on the bottom is just yeast and other things in the mash that didn't get filtered out and are sitting on the bottom of the bottle. Won't hurt you a bit. I've had pleanty of them.

[ Parent ]
et Maudite aussi. by 256 (2.00 / 0) #85 Tue Apr 05, 2005 at 10:48:37 AM EST
La Fin Du Monde (The End of the World) and it's companion beer Damned One are distinctly quebecois strong beers. the two have very different flavours, but both have high alcohol contents and are bottled with live yeast that referments the beer while it sits on the shelf. this is why you are supposed to let it settle before drinking and not drink the bottom quarter of the bottle.

drinking the sludge is a common dare at quebecois house parties.
I don't think anyone's ever really died from smoking. --ni

[ Parent ]
et, un autre biere, eh by 256 (2.00 / 0) #87 Tue Apr 05, 2005 at 11:13:01 AM EST
also, if you are looking for a slightly less intimidating beer in the same family (and from the same brewery), Blanche de Chambly is available in beer stores and fancy pubs throughout canada.
I don't think anyone's ever really died from smoking. --ni
[ Parent ]
From the Chambly brewery by vorheesleatherface (2.00 / 0) #109 Sat Jul 02, 2005 at 05:19:39 PM EST
Good beer. Some recipes Triple fermented. Maudite is another good one they make.

[ Parent ]
cf Nazi and German beer laws by georgeha (2.00 / 0) #88 Tue Apr 05, 2005 at 11:41:07 AM EST
already up on Beer Purity laws.

Just a small nit. by dev trash (2.00 / 0) #90 Tue Apr 05, 2005 at 01:17:57 PM EST
Yuengling is brewed in Pottsville PA and is America's oldest brewery.

I went to college 20 minutes from pottsville by notllimllib (2.00 / 0) #92 Tue Apr 05, 2005 at 04:34:15 PM EST
When I got there, I liked Yuengling. By the time I left, I could barely stand it. Whether due to it getting worse, my tastes changing, or both, I can't stand the stuff anymore.

(Well, I still don't mind their black and tan, but that's neither here nor there.)


[ Parent ]
HuSiStock event: by Greener (2.00 / 0) #93 Tue Apr 05, 2005 at 06:02:11 PM EST
The Great North American Beer Swap

Everyone brings a sample beer they wouldn't expect to be found outside their local area. And remember, you can only bring 24 cans or bottles per person across the border.

This ought to tempt a few of those alcoholics from Old Blighty to come over eh?

I know what I'm bringing.

Not really by snugglebunny (2.00 / 0) #95 Wed Apr 06, 2005 at 12:20:09 AM EST
If I can only bring a days worth of beer with me it's not worth the effort.

[ Parent ]
you won't drink your own beer. by Greener (2.00 / 0) #97 Wed Apr 06, 2005 at 04:07:08 AM EST
You trade it like badges at scout camp.

[ Parent ]
Still by snugglebunny (2.00 / 0) #99 Wed Apr 06, 2005 at 04:33:55 AM EST
If I can only end up with 24 cans of beer I'm not going to be happy. Unless of course my mystical Ukian beer is worth more than USian beer. Hmm, but would I want to drink 48 cans of Bud?

[ Parent ]
IABT obviously by Greener (2.00 / 0) #100 Wed Apr 06, 2005 at 07:03:51 AM EST
but I'm going to fight this to the bitter end dammit.

First: s/USian/Canadian/

Second: people better not bring Bud, I'm hoping for their favourite local microbrew that you can't get elsewhere. I'm hoping I get to try some of georgeha's finest.

Third: I'm a lightweight so I'm going to be contributing much more than I can handle.

Fourth: It's about quality, not quantity.

Fifth: forget it, I give up. You win.

[ Parent ]
I'm not sure I can bring homebrew by georgeha (2.00 / 0) #101 Wed Apr 06, 2005 at 08:22:27 AM EST
over the border, were I even to attend this HusiStock, which is still suspended aerially.

[ Parent ]
but. by dev trash (2.00 / 0) #102 Wed Apr 06, 2005 at 05:13:34 PM EST
Isn't Bud a local microbrew to SOME people.

[ Parent ]
Then bring Bud by Greener (2.00 / 0) #104 Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 12:58:51 PM EST
I don't care any more.

How different is it from the Bud I can get down the street though?

[ Parent ]
not me. by dev trash (2.00 / 0) #105 Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 03:41:46 PM EST
Bus isn't local to me.

[ Parent ]
Just two minor corrections by hooglaboogla (2.00 / 0) #94 Tue Apr 05, 2005 at 09:51:05 PM EST
> Kolsch is a soft, sweet tasting ale first brewed
> in Kolsch, Germany.

Kölsch (mind the umlaut!) is not brewed in "Kölsch" but in "Köln" (a city in germany, the english name is "Cologne").

> Hefeweizen is a German wheat beer, made with
> half malted barley and half wheat, and lightly
> hopped.
> Hefeweizen means with yeast and wheat, and it's
> traditionaly served with lots of yeast still in
> the bottle. In America, it's often served with a
> slice of lemon, and is a refreshing summer
> drink.

Actually there are two types of "Weizen" beer in germany. One is the "Hefeweizen" you mentioned, and you'll go straight to hell for putting lemon slices in it. The other one is called "Kristallweizen" ("Kristall" means "crystal") which has no visible yeast in it - hence the name - and is indeed served with a lemon slice.

Hoogla Boogla

Too late, too late by georgeha (2.00 / 0) #98 Wed Apr 06, 2005 at 04:27:17 AM EST
The story is out of editing mode, inaccuracies and all, and can never be changed. Hulver burnt onto a DVD.

But thanks for the enlightenment.

[ Parent ]
Guiness by jforan (2.00 / 0) #96 Wed Apr 06, 2005 at 03:53:33 AM EST
Guiness in US is the same as in Ireland, and both are made in Ireland.  Both are relatively low in alcohol and calories compared with "average" beers.

Guiness Export, however, is not the same, is made in lots of places, and can have a wide variety of flavors depending upon where it is maid.  The Guiness Export made in Jamaica, for example, tastes a lot like their Dragon Stout.

I hops to be barley workin'.

Good Canadian beer: by welkin (2.00 / 0) #106 Wed Apr 20, 2005 at 04:09:17 AM EST
St. Ambroise Oatmeal Stout. Yummy.

Great Article... by grub (4.00 / 1) #107 Wed Apr 20, 2005 at 09:44:22 AM EST
...but you forgot Murphy's Irish Stout!  Better than Guinness IMO.
Listen to my crappy music!
mmmm Beer. Woo hoo! YES! by vorheesleatherface (2.00 / 0) #110 Sat Jul 02, 2005 at 06:11:20 PM EST
... is what my homer simpson bottle opener says when I use it.

I love beer and after a lot of typing have decided to make this a diary. Come check out my diaries and read my beer lovers rant.

Prepare thyne palate for the smoked beer. by black symposium (2.00 / 0) #111 Tue Aug 30, 2005 at 10:27:31 AM EST
I have tried almost all types of beer. I could not even begin to finish the smoked beer that I purchased.

You have been warned.


And, by the way. I am a big fan of BBQ'ed and smoked foods.

It's hard to find by georgeha (2.00 / 0) #112 Tue Aug 30, 2005 at 10:30:58 AM EST
and I don't know if I want to brew a batch just to taste it. I'll keep my eyes peeled, though.

[ Parent ]
You are best off trying it first. by black symposium (2.00 / 0) #113 Tue Aug 30, 2005 at 09:55:13 PM EST
It really is a strange brew and you would not want to be stuck with a whole batch of it without having tried it first.

[ Parent ]
Everything you always wanted to know about beer but were afraid to ask | 112 comments (50 topical, 0 hidden)