Welcome back to the Guinea Pig Diaries – where we’re having a Beer, Wine and Cheese Festival! So come drink with me all month long! Every monday we’ll focus on our favorite beers, wines, and cheeses and at the end of the month, we’ll tour a real LIVE BWC Fest plus share our Top Picks!
Today we’re talking BEERS!
Allow me to introduce my partner in crime, my boyfriend Joe, and longtime beer connoisseur. Say hi, Joe! You can tell I didn’t have to ask twice for his help with this project.
A Bit of History:
There are two kinds of beers: ales and lagers.
Ales have been brewed for over 5,000 years! The term ale comes from the German “alt” meaning aged. And ales come from the top fermentation yeast and are typically served at room temperature.
Lagers have only been around for the last several hundred years. They’re made from bottom fermentation yeast, and their creation was actually an accident that no one understood until the invention of the microscope, where the new yeast strain was actually visible. They are typically served at cooler temperatures.
The Four Key Ingredients:
Water, Yeast, Malt (most commonly barley), and Hops.
The water and yeast combine to start the brewing process, and yeast is the ingredient which makes the drink have alcohol in it. Barley is a type of grain that as it sprouts, produces sugar. The yeast feeds on these sugars during the brew process. And hops are climbing vines that produce flowers or “cones”. Hops is what gives the beer its bitterness and its aroma. Mmmm!
Time to Start the Tasting!
Just like with wines, when doing a tasting, you’ll want to start with your lightest beers and move to the darker ones. This allows your palette a clean transition.
Hefe-weizens are usually light colored beers. The name translates from “Hefe” meaning unfiltered or with yeast and “weizen” meaning white beer, for its light color.
Franziskaner Weissbier – Light yellow in color, bubbly, and a little cloudy. This is a smooth, malleable beer that is well received on its own or with the smorgasbord of summer snacks one finds at a barbecue. We tried it with lightly salted pistachios and the combo was heavenly. A little sweet, fizzy, and crisp!
El Hefe Bavarian Style Hefeweizen – From local Pearl Street Brewery, a great starter beer or transition beer, the Hefe is a light ale packed with barley and wheat and notes of banana and clove. It’s most commonly served with a lemon slice for complimentary flavor. Now, the Hefe can get a rep as the “girly beer,” but don’t underestimate this Bavarian style wheat beer. It’s crisp, packs a punch, and I love the citrus notes!
Heineken Premium Light – Brewed using a horizontal fermentation process, this lager has a wheat color, and licoricy aftertaste. Overall it is smooth and another great pick for mixing with meals because its light and mellow.
Redd’s Apple Ale – Ok, no lies. This girl loves a good cider, but Redd’s is marketed differently. Though it’s made with apple, Redd’s is a true ale, and not a cider. It’s made by MillerCoors and meant to rival such carbonated faves as Mike’s Hard and Twisted Tea. If you look on Beer Advocate’s rating site, this one did NOT do well. For avid beer fans, such as my honey, I wouldn’t expect a high ranking for this fruity, fizzy drink. But I’m a fan! It’s crisp, a little tart, and only starts out fizzy. The first few gulps are bubbly indeed, but it mellows right away. This was again, a negative on Beer Advocate, but just going off of taste and fully noting that I am desperately seeking summer – I would totally grab a case of Redd’s and hit the beach with my besties!
Mr. Beer – Ever wanted to try making your own beer? Now you can! Even without a brewery in your backyard. I bought my honey the Mr. Beer, Beer Making Kit and it’s not half bad! With a recipe and care instructions, Joe bottled 8 liters of homemade beer. Classified as a pale ale, this batch was a light medium amber color and very fizzy. To smell, it’s quite sweet and a little syrupy to taste, but still fresh. Upon further inspection, it smells like brown sugar. Quite enjoyable indeed, and it gave my honey a new appreciation for those who work daily in the brew making business.
Killian’s Irish Red – With a dark, rich amber color, this beer is smooth, full, and a bit darker than the previous ones. It’s sweet to smell, and one that I didn’t mind swirling around my mouth to enjoy. I think this beer would go well with red meats, hard cheeses, and peppery foods.
India Pale Ale:
Described as the “star of the hop world”, IPA’s first came about while the British were colonizing India. Originally, all the beer they sent down was spoiled by the time it got to the soldiers, so they added in more hops and more alcohol – both of which have preservative qualities – and voila! The IPA was born!
Smuttynose IPA – From the Smuttynose Brewing Co., this IPA is known for its sedimentary gold color. I thought it had a bit of a sour smell, but that didn’t translate in the taste. It definitely lingers on the tongue with what I described as a funky, but friendly, aftertaste.
Beer Advocate website defines the Double IPA as this: “Take an India Pale Ale and feed it steroids, ergo the term Double IPA. Although open to the same interpretation as its sister styles, you should expect something robust, malty, alcoholic and with a hop profile that might rip your tongue out.”
Hopslam – From the Bells Brewing Co., Hopslam is befitting its name from its inclusion of six different hop styles. Add in some grapefruit and floral notes, a generous malt bill, and a dollop of honey = Hopslam. The label itself proclaims “A biting, bitter, tongue bruiser of an ale. With a name like Hopslam, what did you expect?” This beer will wake you up!
Porters are the first beer in the world to receive national distribution. The two most likely places the porter got its name from are the “train porters” who sold the beer along the rails or from its sea passage to other “port towns.” The darkness and cloudiness of port beers come from the early, albeit inconsistent, brewing process of the 1700’s, and helped mask any flavor imperfections.
Samuel Adams Maple Pecan Porter – Joe and I actually toured the Sam Adams Brewery in Boston, MA and had a great time! It turned both of us into fans – both for the beer’s taste and because the company gives back quite a bit of funds into local history preservation!
The Maple Pecan Porter is so dark I could barely see through the glass! The maple syrup and pecans give this beer a nutty flavor, but there’s a definite coffee taste as well. I would describe this slightly bitter, full-bodied porter as the perfect beverage for a cozy night in.
Those are the beers I was drinking, how about you? Do you have a favorite kind or brand of beer? What are you wanting to try next? Have you ever toured a brewery before? Joe and I always try to hit up at least one winery or brewery on vacation; they’re pretty fun!
If you’ve tried any of these beers, which is your fave?
Until next week, CHEERS!