Het voorwoord vind ik veelzeggend:
-Taste is subjective. Recommendations are great, but ultimately, drink what you like. Don’t necessarily be swayed by brand names or big prices either. Let your taste buds be your guide.
What’s the best way to get started? Go out there, buy something, stick it in your fridge, then drink it! Of course this can be a bit intimidating....
Find a store that allows you to buy single 12 oz bottles, or better yet if they allow you to make your own six-pack at a discount.
Vervolgens volgen enkele Amerikaanse bieren. Daarna gaat het handboek in op de eigenschappen van bier:
Beer should be served at its proper temperature. This varies, based on style but it should never be ice cold. In general, coldness inhibits your sense of taste and often blunts the aroma. For this reason, super cheap adjuncts are often sold ice cold to mask flavors.
Don’t fret too much over glassware. Branded glasses are fun to use, but they’re far from a must-have. The important thing is to drink the beer out of a glass, as opposed to out of the bottle or the can. Smell is heavily involved in taste, and drinking from a bottle takes smell completely out of the equation. Pint glasses will do, but they’re actually the poorest vessels for beer- the head dissipates quickly, there’s plenty of surface to warm the beer, and the glass does nothing to trap aroma compounds. Many people opt for a Belgian tulip as their go-to glass, and it works well for most styles. Ensure your glass is free of debris, and avoid using jet-dry or other products that leave a film because this can completely kill the beer’s head.
Beer should be poured into the glass in a two step process. As the beer is first poured, the glass is tilted to 45 degrees, and the beer is poured down the side of the glass. This is done to prevent excess foaming. Once about half the desired volume is poured, tilt the glass upright and continue pouring down the middle. You should end up with a head level that is appropriate for the style (from absolutely nothing for aged beers, to a couple inches on a hefeweizen). When pouring a bottle conditioned beer (a bottle that contains yeast), it's important to pour as few times as possible from the bottle. Try to have all the glasses receiving a pour ready to go, so that the bottle can be emptied in one go. Near the end of the bottle, leave a small amount of liquid in the bottle. This prevents the yeast from being poured into someone's glass. If the yeast is poured out, the beer is still safe to drink, but this may alter the taste.
Beer is usually best at its freshest. Certain compounds in beer are highly volatile and are quick to disappear. With that having been said, certain beers and styles may benefit from aging. Hop aroma is the first thing to fade, while other flavors start to mesh. Beers that are too boozy or sweet up front will often benefit from some aging. In general, beer should be at least 8% alcohol to consider aging; however there are exceptions. Most notably, any beer that uses brettanomyces or any other mixed culture may benefit over time, due to the slow-acting nature of the bacteria. The best and most informative way to age beer is to buy multiples at one time. Consume them at different points (every couple of months, every year) and take notes to track the beer's progress.
Dissecting a Beer
For those with an inquisitive palate, dissecting a beer can be a fun experiment to tease apart the flavors. This can be formal or informal. The most important thing is to slow down, appreciate each quality of the beer for what it is. This begins with the look of the beer- What color is it? Is the beer opaque or cloudy? How much foam is there? Does the foam stay or quickly disappear? Once the beer is inspected visually, it’s time to smell it. Stick your nose in the glass and inhale deeply. What aromas are there? Fresh bread? Citrus fruits? Pine needles? Orange peel? Cherries? Toffee? Coffee? The list goes on. Sometimes the smell may dissipate. Try smelling something else to refresh your sensory glands. Still no luck? Try carefully swishing the liquid, which will cause more aromas to release. Now taste the beer. Breathe in through your nose lightly while you drink, then swish the beer through your mouth. You can warm the beer slightly by inhaling through the mouth while holding the beer under your tongue, which may bring out different tastes. Notice any lingering aftertastes on the palate. Finally, how does the liquid feel? Is it creamy like a milkshake? Fizzy like club soda? Does it dry your mouth as you drink it? These are all palpable sensations that round out the drinking experience.
Daarna wordt het bekende onderscheid van boven- en ondergistend bier benoemd:
Lager vs. Ale
Two main subdivisions of beer exist: Lagers (cold-fermented, clean flavor) and ales (warm-fermented, with a somewhat fruitier palette. Yeast can contribute flavor).
Most major commercial beers (Bud, Miller, Coors, Heineken, Corona, Stella, etc.) are lagers, and they represent a majority of worldwide sales. While each country has its domestic lager, Germany is the country most often associated with lager beer, and most of the styles originated within its borders. Lagers can be light or dark in color; malty or bitter; strong or weak. These beers are brewed normally, then fermented with a strain of yeast that is only active at cold (40-55°F, 4-13°C) temperatures. The yeast will eat the sugars, but will not contribute many flavors as a by-product of this process. The result is a beer that relies solely on the malt and hops that are picked for its flavor profile.
Ales represent a bulk of the American craft movement and most of the Belgian and English traditions, and include some of this country’s most well-known styles, such as the popular India Pale Ale. Like lagers, there are a wide range of flavor profiles for the beers included in this category. The main difference comes in the fermentation process. Ales ferment at warm (60-75°F, 16-24°C) temperatures, and the yeast often contributes to the flavor profile of the beer. These yeasty flavors differ depending on the strain, and the fermentation temperature. Fruity, spicy, tart, and dozens of other common beer flavors propagate from various ale yeasts. (https://www.reddit.com/r/beer/wiki/faq)
Vervolgens worden verschillende bierstijlen beschreven en wordt ingegaan op het brouwproces. En daarna volgt een woordenlijst (waarbij ik me afvraag waarom sommigen volgens mij eerder bij de opsomming van bierstijlen thuishoren):
- Abbey style ale Any beer that is brewed in a Trappist style by a commercial brewer. These styles include the Belgian enkel, dubbel, tripel, and quadrupel. The term "Trappist" is reserved to describe only by beer made in one of seven acting monasteries. All other beers produced in these styles is referred to as "abbey style".
- ABV Alcohol by volume; the percentage of a beer that is comprised of alcohol. Most beers will fall somewhere between 3-12% alcohol, although brewers are constantly pushing the upper bound.
- Adjunct grain Any grain besides barley that is used in the brewing process. This may include rye, oats, rice, corn, maize, wheat, or a variety of other grains.
- APA American Pale Ale; see APA/IPA section above.
- Bottle conditioned Bottle conditioned beer is bottled with a small amount of active yeast. The yeast eats up a small amount of sugar to naturally carbonate the beer in-bottle, as the gas can no longer escape. These beers will change over time since the yeast keeps eating sugars over time. They should be poured carefully or decanted, as the last pour of the bottle will contain chunky yeast bits.
- Bomber A large-format bottle of beer that is 22 oz, the typical American large-format size. The European large-format standard is a 750 mL bottle.
- ESB Extra Special/Strong Bitter; see ESB section above.
- Growler A half-gallon jug with a resealable stopper or cap used to take fresh draught beer home from a brewery.
- Horizontal tasting A tasting of multiple beers across the same style, from different breweries. Two or more beers of a particular style that were brewed and bottled in the same year are tasted side-by-side. The purpose is to taste differences within a given style.
- IBU International Bitterness Units; a calculated measure of how bitter a beer is, based on hop quantities, hop bitterness, and the amount of time the hops were boiled. IBUs increase as hop quantity increases, as hop bitterness increases, and as the time boiled increases.
- Imperial beer The term for any strong variety of beer, relative to its base style. Strong refers to alcohol content, as well as flavor and overall robustness. The brewer will use more grain and hops than are typical for the base style. For example, a stout may be medium-bodied, with ~5-6.5% ABV; an imperial stout may be thick-bodied, with ~8-12% ABV.
- IPA India Pale Ale; see APA/IPA section above.
- Noble hops Any of the four central European hops that are low in bitterness and prized for their spicy aromas. They are traditionally used in many German and Czech lagers, but their uses obviously spread further than these styles. The varieties are the German Tettnanger, Hallertau and Spalt, and the Czech Saaz.
- OG/FG Original Gravity/Final Gravity; the term 'gravity' in this instance is a relative density measure. Water at room temperature has a specific gravity of 1. Any additional sugars from the mash will raise the specific gravity. The brewer takes a reading before fermentation, the OG reading. As the yeast converts sugars to alcohol, the gravity drops until the yeast can consume no more. The brewer takes a reading before bottling, the FG reading. These values hold a lot of information about the beer, but the important takeaway is that a higher OG is indicative of a stronger beer.
- Session beer The term for any beer that can be drank repeatedly in a sitting without exhausting the palate. These beers tend to be low (3-5.5%) alcohol content, and relatively subdued flavor profiles. As a rule of thumb, if one could reasonably drink three pints of the beer without being overwhelmed by taste, body, or alcohol cotent, the beer would be described as a "session beer".
- Trappist beer A Belgian-style beer brewed by one of the seven brewing monasteries. These beers are often strong in alcohol content. The styles enkel, dubbel, tripel, and quadrupel all originated in the monasteries. Only beer brewed by the seven monasteries can be called a Trappist ale. Any other beer made in the style must be called an "Abbey style ale". The seven monasteries are Chimay, Orval, Rochefort, Westmalle, Westvleteren, Achel, and La Trappe.
- Vertical tasting A tasting of multiple beers from the same brewery and same style, across different years. The exact same beer has different vintages sampled simultaneously. The purpose is to track the aging process of the beer.
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