Homebrewers love talking about craft beer so here is all the latest craft beer news, all in one easy to read Craft Beer Blog. This blog is where the team collects craft beer tasting notes, favorite Mr. Beer recipes by season, answers brewing questions, and tackle beer topics they feel haven’t been dealt with yet.
When you’re considering ways to get creative with your own beer recipe, yeast choice is important for fine-tuning flavor, aroma, and body.
Style is a great place to start.
Many yeasts are pedigreed for certain beer styles, so simply knowing which style you are brewing will help you easily choose the yeast you will need. With that said, don’t be afraid to experiment. Some brewers even blend yeasts to get the qualities of more than 1 strain.
There are many yeast companies that brew the same strains (for example, Safale US-05 dry yeast is the same as White Labs WLP001, Wyeast 1056, or Imperial Flagship) and many of them will also have exclusive strains that only they sell. Shop around and read the reviews until you find the right strain for your beer.
Here are some popular yeasts for particular styles:
American, English, Irish, & Scottish Ales
Safale US-05 is an American strain from Sierra Nevada Brewing, also known as the “Chico” strain
Safale S-33 is a general-purpose yeast that can be used for almost any low-to-moderate ABV beer
Safale S-04 is an English strain, but is also good for Irish/Scottish ales
Wheat yeast, such as the white packet under the lid of our Bavarian Weissbier
Safbrew WB-06 – a Weihenstephan strain
Saflager S-23 & Saflager W-34/70 are both German strains, but W-34/70 (a Weinhenstephan strain) has a cleaner flavor profile with less fruity esters
Hard ciders can use any ale, lager, or wine yeast. It all depends on what flavor you are trying to get.
Safale S-04 will make an English-style cider with some bready notes
Safale US-05 will be more neutral, bringing out more apple flavor, but it will be drier
Safale S-33 is a good yeast if you want some residual sweetness
Wine yeasts are referred for ciders above 10% ABV
Red Star and Lalvin are the 2 primary wine yeast companies. They both have a very large variety of strains for wines, meads, and sparkling wines.
On ale vs. lager…
Ale yeasts (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) are always fermented at moderate temperatures (65-75 degrees Fahrenheit, typically), but can go as high as 90 degrees for some strains (Saison & wheat strains).
Lager yeasts (Saccharomyces uvarum) are always fermented at lower temperatures (45-55 degrees Fahrenheit typically, but can go up to 70 degrees for California Commons, aka “Steam beers”).
Ale yeast is usually referred to as a “top-fermenting” yeast, while lager yeast is referred to as a “bottom-fermenting” yeast. This distinction is a misnomer originating from the observation that ales tend to have a large fluffy krausen (or foam) during fermentation while lagers do not. Yeast activity is always distributed throughout the liquid regardless of strain.
Consider yeast’s role in flavor.
Some yeasts can create esters with aromas/flavors similar to bread, fruit, or spice, such as banana, clove, and apple. Other yeasts can be more neutral and flavorless to allow the flavor of the malts and/or hops to dominate the beer.
Attenuation will affect finish.
Attenuation refers to the percentage of sugars that have been fermented by the yeast. A yeast with 70% attenuation will finish the beer much sweeter than a yeast with 90% attenuation, which leaves the beer much drier.
Flocculation will play a role in body and haze.
Flocculation is the process by which particles clump together in a “floc” or small lumps that will settle into the trub. A low flocculating yeast will leave the beer hazy and the trub will be loose. A high flocculating yeast will leave the beer clear with a compact, tight trub.
Dry or Liquid?
Dry yeasts have a much longer shelf life than liquid yeasts (up to 3 years vs 6 months)
Because only certain dry strains can handle the freeze-drying process, variety is limited compared to liquid yeast.
Dry yeast can be stored at room temperatures, but it is best to refrigerate it.
Liquid yeast must always be refrigerated.
While we’re hoping all these tips guide your yeast selection process – creativity is encouraged! Test and experiment!
Hazy IPAs have been trending for the last few years, and though they’ve carved out a substantial space in the craft beer world, they are a nameless darling that can be tricky to ask for at your local beer spot.
What do I ask for?
By BJCP standards, hazy IPAs are a “Specialty IPA,” and not an “American IPA” as many assume because of the style’s regional ties. The BJCP Guidelines define the common element of Specialty IPAs as a “balance and overall impression of an IPA (typically, an American IPA) but with some minor weak.” If a hazy IPA was entered in a BJCP competition as an American IPA, it would fail for its lack of hop bitterness, among other attributes.
The names “Vermont-Style IPA” and “New England IPA” – though popular – are not names for actual recognized styles.
I am currently choosing to call these beers “hazy IPAs” because it seems a smart catchall, but even this moniker misses the mark. The haze is simply a byproduct of the brewing process these beers share, and is not/should not be the primary goal when brewing. Hazy IPAs are better known for their tropical, juicy hop flavor/aroma and smooth mouthfeel. So, you’d be better off calling them TropiSmoothie IPAs if the goal is to call them by their most remarkable characteristics.
Don’t be confused by my last remark, as there are Smoothie or Milkshake IPAs out there too. But these IPAs are brewed with lactose sugar added to create a thick, milky, sweet beer that looks like a milkshake or smoothie.
So, if I had to advise you on what to ask for – until the BJCP gives this craft favorite a style name all its own – I’d say an IPA with juicy, tropical hops (that provide a restrained bitterness), smooth mouthfeel, and potentially a hazy/cloudy body. Sound like a mouthful? It is. Still it’s better than asking for styles that don’t exist or asking for a murky beer, when that’s not the primary characteristic you’re searching for.
How would you describe this beer?
When I’m standing at the bar listening to some poor sap trying to order a hazy IPA, here are the seemingly effective descriptors used most frequently:
“fruity, citrusy flavor and a creamy, soft mouthfeel”
“juicy hop character with restrained bitterness”
“hop flavor & aroma like fruit juice”
“smooth & tropical”
“more hop flavor, less bitterness”
While I get the desire to just say “pulpy looking – like grapefruit juice,” there are so many cloudy beers that don’t taste anything like a hazy IPA.
Where did it come from?
Though hazy IPAs have only become popular or “trendy” over the last few years, they’ve been around well over a decade. The original hazy IPA is The Alchemist’s “Heady Topper,” which they began serving after their opening in 2003. The Alchemist’s John Kimmich became the brew master at Vermont Pub & Brewery in 1994. He learned all about craft beer, and acquired the yeast which gives Heady Topper much of its character, from Greg Noonan, founder of Vermont Pub & Brewery. Hazy IPAs are often referred to as “New England IPAs,” “NEIPAs,” or “Vermont-style IPAs” because of this origin.
How do hazy IPAs get that haze?
As mentioned before, the haze is in fact NOT the point of a hazy IPA. It is a result of the measures taken to produce the right juicy hop aroma and flavor with a smooth mouthfeel.
– Yeast strains that don’t readily flocculate (the yeast do not simply sink to the bottom)
– A higher-protein malt bill, as in more oats and wheat that have been added to achieve that smooth body
– Late hop addition, which puts hop polyphenols in suspension
– Extreme dry-hopping regimen (same reason as above)
Not flour. Seriously, stop it.
How do they get that mouthfeel?
– Water treatment (high ratio of chloride to sulfate)
– Mash process (slightly elevated mash temperatures to promote body)
– Adding flaked wheat and flaked oats
– Unique yeast strains – Vermont Ale yeast or London Ale III (the ones that don’t readily flocculate, as mentioned above)
What does it take to get that big, juicy, tropical hop taste?
– Not adding hops during a “boil” – you’ll lose that fresh, bold aroma
– Using super fruit-forward hops like Citra, Mosaic, Galaxy, Amarillo, El Dorado
– Using a huge dry hop charge – some breweries use up to three dry-hop additions over a 7-8 day period after primary fermentation to lock in juicy hop aroma – keeping it hop-forward but not bitter.
Why do we like hazy IPAs so much if they don’t taste like IPAs?
Because we drink what we like! (Sorry, 90s nostalgia.)
The hop rates in hazy IPAs are usually equal to or even higher than other IPAs – so any true hop head will still get their fix. But for those who couldn’t even name a hop if asked, the juicy hop flavor without all the bitterness is a whole lot more approachable. Sure, all this hopping action causes hazy IPAs to have a shorter shelf life, but I feel confident craft beer fans don’t take issue with that one downside for all the fresh, juicy flavor.
For our own delicious take on the hazy IPA, check out American Resolution Hazy IPA. It’s an excellent start if you’re out to learn about brewing and make some luscious, juicy IPA in the process.
Malt extract is created when malted grains are crushed and mashed, then wort is separated from the spent grains, concentrated, and dehydrated.
Clearly, the benefit here is that you, the brewer, are avoiding the careful work of mashing grains yourself. No need to constantly control the right mash temperatures and volumes.
Not everyone is interested in committing to a long process.
Though malt extract does simplify the brewing process, it in no way diminishes the quality of the finished beer. Malt extracts for brewing are produced with high-quality brewing malts. Their color and flavor are derived from specialty malts. For example, Mr. Beer malt extracts are produced by Coopers Brewery, the largest Australian-owned brewery. The malts going into that extract are the same that make their world-class beer, so clearly the extract derived from them won’t be of poor quality. Don’t let anyone tell you that award-winning beers cannot be brewed with malt extract, it’s simply not true.
The keys to successfully brewing flavorful beer with malt extracts are which you use, and if you use them properly. The most common mistake made by extract brewers is that they brew with extract that is old or has been improperly stored. The simplest fix is to read the extract’s label carefully – in what conditions does it need to be stored, what is its best-by date?
Types of Malt Extract
You will find malt extract for brewing in both liquid and dry forms. The liquid malt extract, or LME, has a consistency like molasses, while dry malt extract, or DME, is a fine powder. Malt extract does come in a pre-hopped variety if you’d like to streamline your brewing even further, and is then referred to as hopped malt extract, or HME.
Liquid Malt Extract (LME)
How do they make LME?
1. Complete a typical mash
2. Dehydrate wort down to roughly 20% water.
LME frequently has a shelf life of 2 years in a cool, dark and dry environment, after which point it will begin to degrade. Color becomes much darker over long periods of time. With this darkening come off flavors, which contribute to that off-putting “extract twang” some brewers complain about.
Dry Malt Extract (DME)
How do they make DME?
1. [Steps 1 & 2 from LME]
2. Reduce water content down to roughly 2% water
With its lower water content, DME often has a better shelf life than LME, meaning less risk of darkening issues. The negative to DME is that once exposed to air, it will take on moisture, which can cause it to clump and be more difficult to work with.
Hopped Malt Extract (HME)
As mentioned earlier, HME is malt extract with hops added in as well to eliminate variables for brewers who want to keep brewing simple. Hops are chosen for the aromatic and bittering properties they can bring to the finished beer. Hopped malt extract is occasionally referred to as “pre-hopped,” versus “unhopped” malt extract.
clarifying home brewed beer by cooling it to near-freezing temperatures before bottling, forcing remaining yeast to fall out of suspension where they settle at the bottom of the fermenter
“nobody likes floaties in their beer, you should’ve cold crashed”
Having some residual floating stuff in your finished beer is totally normal. In fact, foreign beers often still have particles left in them (think Coopers’ beloved Sparkling and Pale Ales). However, the bright, clean look of most US favorites leads many homebrewers to feel iffy about beer with things suspended in it. No biggie. Here’s how to remedy the issue next time you brew.
What you’ll need:
Seriously, that’s it
A depiction of the yeast in your LBK
Intended temperature range for cold crashing: 33-40 degrees Fahrenheit
The goal here is to get yeast remaining after fermentation to flocculate, or clump together and fall out of suspension. This will allow you to get more beer from the spigot of your LBK before the particles collect and make their way to the spigot. Get every drop. Oh, and enjoy neat, clarified beer.
Some beers, especially hazy wheat beers, will not come out entirely clear. Still, cold crashing will prevent larger particles from getting into your bottle.
Once your beer is fully fermented and ready to be bottled (usually 3 weeks for our brewers)
Clear an area large enough to handle your LBK in your refrigerator.
You may want a hand with this bit as the LBK can be heavy…
Carefully place your LBK fermenter in the cleared space in your refrigerator, trying not to slosh around.
Close the refrigerator door and leave your LBK in the refrigerator for 12 – 24 hours.
On bottling day, after sanitizing and prepping all other components, remove your LBK only when you are ready to bottle. You do not want to remove the LBK first and risk warming it back up and undoing your hard work.
While some of our expert Mr. Beer Community members (Hi RickBeer!) would suggest propping you LBK to keep all collected particles away from the spigot, it’s not a must as the LBK’s reservoir is deep enough to avoid having particles clog the spigot.
FAQs about cold crashing:
Is cold crashing okay for lagers and ales? -Yes. While cold fermentation is only done with lagers, cold crashing can be done with both lagers and ales.
Will this kill my yeast? -No, cold temperatures only cause the yeast to “sleep.”
Will cold crashing mess with carbonation? -No, this short period of cold temperatures will not ruin the process of carbonation.
Brewers from all over Arizona will produce beer with “Pure Water” and compete for prizes in the Pure Brew Challenge at the National WateReuse Symposium in Phoenix. The challenge is meant to better inform Arizonans about the water issues that affect them, smart water reuse, and the technologies that are currently available for purifying recycled wastewater.
The Pure Water is produced at a treatment facility after being processed through an advanced mobile water purification unit, which uses a “sophisticated treatment schematic”. Meaning: safe, high-quality drinking water. Still not confident about recycled wastewater? After all that treatment, “the water that emerges is so pure that minerals must be added for stabilization and pH adjustment” and “each sample batch will be confirmed to ensure the purified water meets all federal and state safe drinking water standards.”
When is it?
On September 9th, Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) judges will rank the entries at the Mr. Beer offices here in Tucson. The following day, September 10th, the results of the Brew Challenge will be announced during the annual WateReuse Symposium at the Renaissance Hotel in downtown Phoenix.
Challenge winners will be awarded on September 13th – first place receives a HACH Orbisphere (valued at $12,000) and runner up received a HACH multimeter (valued at $3,000), both are water quality meters ideal for breweries.
Bring something new to your homebrew by adding in a fresh, and potentially local, ingredient like chile peppers. If you cannot see yourself enjoying chile peppers in your beer, remember, this does not mean that your beer has to be spicy. You may just be interested in bringing that familiar flavor of pepper flesh to your brew. Mango and chile pepper, for example, is a popular flavor combination that does not require serious heat to be delicious.
Adding a fresh component to your beer may seem like a gamble, but with these tips you’ll be good to go. Using a fresh ingredient can result in infections, bloated bottles, explosions – but only if you get too headstrong and skip out on the instructions bit before you get brewing.
Choosing the right chiles to use
Chiles can vary greatly in flavor and heat. They have flavor and aroma compounds that can mimic nearly every other fruit imaginable. They vary between sweet, sour, bitter, piquant, savory, or a combination of these. When choosing chiles to use, they should either highlight or contrast with the ingredients in the beer. Certain chiles may be chosen for flavor, while others may be chosen for heat. It’s usually easier to combine 2 chiles that each have those characteristics (1 for heat, 1 for flavor) than to use a single variety that has both characteristics.
Types of chiles commonly used in beer
Mild chiles: These are mostly used for flavor/aroma and can add some sweetness that pairs well with the heat from hot chiles. Varieties can include bell peppers for their strong “green vegetable” flavor, green chiles (also known as “Hatch” or “New Mexico” chiles) or Anaheims for their more piquant flavor.
Medium chiles: While mostly used for flavor/aroma, these can also add a moderate amount of heat. These varieties will include the very piquant jalapeno, its slightly hotter cousin, the serrano, and the slightly milder poblano.
Hot chiles: These are mostly used for their heat, but some varieties can also add a bit of flavor/aroma. These varieties will include Tobasco peppers, Cayenne peppers, Chile De Arbol, chiltepin, very hot habaneros, and the super-hot ghost peppers.
Dried/Smoked/Roasted chiles: Can be used to add flavor/aroma or heat. These include chiles such as Ancho peppers, which are the ripened and dried version of poblanos, and chipotles, which are the ripened, dried, and smoked versions of the jalapeno. Some mild chiles such as hatch green chiles and Anaheim chiles can be roasted before using to add a sweeter, mildly roasted flavor to your beer.
How to use chiles in beer
Just like hops, there are many ways to incorporate chiles into your beer and different types of chiles may benefit from different techniques or a combination of techniques. To prep them, rinse them well and remove the seeds and stems and chop into small pieces. Be sure to remove the white “ribbing” inside the chiles, too, as this can add unwanted bitterness.
In the boil: Boiling the chiles for 5 minutes in your brew water will add plenty of flavor and aroma to your beer. Be sure to transfer the chiles into your fermenter after the boil so they will continue to infuse the beer with flavor/aroma. This method is best for hot chiles to extract the heat into the beer.
Using like a “dry-hop”: Alternatively, for more chile flavor and aroma, add the chopped-up pieces to a glass container and fill it with enough neutral spirits (Everclear or high proof vodka will work) and let it sit for 1 week to extract the flavor and aroma compounds. Then add the chiles and vodka to your batch 1 week before bottling/kegging. This method is best for mild-medium chiles for flavor since the alcohol can neutralize the capsaicin in hot chiles that give them their heat.
In the bottle: Some brewers like to put a chile directly in their beer and as the beer ages, it will gain more flavor and/or heat from the chile. This can be done, but it’s always a risk due to sanitation issues. If this is done, be sure the beer is at least 5% ABV for best results. The alcohol in the beer should sanitize the chile, but the risk of infection still exists. The higher the ABV of the beer, the safer it should be.
Looking back, when I think about all the reasons why I didn’t homebrew for so long, waiting wasn’t even on my list. I admit, I’m an inpatient guy. But I’m here to tell you if you can wait three weeks after the boil and another two to three weeks after bottling, you can make your own beer too.
I haven’t been at it for very long – about two months. But, I have taken to homebrewing with Mr. Beer like a new best friend moving in next door. My friends, family and I have consumed – with growing delight – four batches of a wide style of homebrews. And, as I write this, I have five more batches either carbonating or fermenting.
Everybody’s beer brewing journey is unique. As a freelance writer for such sites/publications as Beer Advocate, craftbeer.com, and All About Beer I have heard many great stories of how people came to brewing. These interviews range from well-known founders, such as Sam Calagione at Dogfish Head Brewing, to people like Sean Nook at Black Bottle Brewing in Ft. Collins, CO.
Sean was a mechanic earning a good living who got tired of giving people bad, expensive news about their cars. Instead, he decided to make people happy and became a brewer. As with both Sam and Sean, I learned most commercial craft brewers were first homebrewers.
I decided being a homebrewer would give me insight – it would be good for my business. However, I am happy to report that there are much better reasons to homebrew than just for work. Here’s what I learned:
– The beer is really tasty.
The benefit of brewing with extracts is Mr. Beer has done a lot of the hard work. The margin of error (off taste) has just about been eliminated. As a newbie, I’m producing beers that finish smooth, something that is important to me. Also, the beer is fresh and with just the right amount of complexity.
– My family and friends approve.
Since I started sharing my new brewing expertise, I’m not just a guy who talks and writes about craft beer – I’m a brewer. Now I make people happy with a skill that seems to them just a little bit mysterious. My wife even thinks I’m a better husband because I can make the chili beer to which she is partial.
– Extract brewing gives me control.
What concerned me the most about brewing with extracts was that I couldn’t be creative. Man, was I wrong. While the basic extracts make good beer, I have enhanced and tweaked some of my batches. For example, I used extra grains in the boil and then fermented with sour cherries to own my unique recipe for English nut brown ale.
– Homebrewing does make me more credible.
I do have better insight and empathy for anyone who brews. This regardless if it’s a two-gallon Mr. Beer homebrew fermenter or a 30-barrell system at a local craft brewery. Once you instinctively understand wort, high krausen, and temperature aging, you’ll have a new appreciation for craft beer. Your homebrew will become much more than just something to drink. It will, in part, define you.
The National Homebrewers Conference (aka “Homebrew Con”) is a 3-day annual gathering of 3000+ homebrewing and craft beer enthusiasts hosted by the American Homebrewers Association. It takes place in a different city each year and consists of seminars, a homebrew industry expo, and LOTS and LOTS of beer. This year, which celebrates the Homebrew Con’s 39th anniversary, took place in Minneapolis, Minnesota at the Minneapolis Convention Center.
National Homebrew Competition
Another event that takes place at the Homebrew Con every year is the final round of the National Homebrew Competition. This year’s competition witnessed 8,618 entries from 3,530 homebrewers from all 50 states and 13 countries. 1,134 entries were judged in the final round this year by some of the best beer judges in the nation. These judges are certified by the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP), which requires passing a 200-question entrance exam and a tasting exam to become a certified judge. Becoming a BJCP judge takes work and commitment, not to mention a sharp palate and a sharp mind with the ability to be descriptive and accurate when describing what you are seeing/smelling/tasting/feeling.
I had the honor of judging in the competition this year among many of these amazing National and Master ranked judges. Being a new BJCP judge myself (“Recognized” rank), I was pleased to find out I would be paired with a Master Judge. Master Judges are incredibly experienced and have participated in many competitions to gain their rank. They are typically the only judges that can judge “Best of Show” categories (National judges can, too, sometimes). I was excited to be paired with such an experienced judge.
Judges are typically put in pairs during larger competitions to allow for greater accuracy in scoring. Each judge in a pair should be within 5 points of their final scores. If they are outside of this range, then they will discuss the attributes of the beer until they can agree on a final score.
Each table consisted of 3 pairs of judges and represented a specific style of beer. The style we were tasting for this round of judging was the American Pale Ale (BJCP Category 18 – Pale American Ales, Subcategory 18B. – American Pale Ales). This is a basic enough style for a beginning judge such as myself, though I would have preferred tasting some of my more favorite styles such as saisons or wild ales.
Scoring and Feedback
Since this was the final round in the nationwide competition, I didn’t expect there to be a lot of technical faults or off-flavors in these beers. And as I expected, most of the 8 beers we sampled were decent examples of the APA style, but only 2 would receive 30 points or more, which is the minimum amount required to win a medal. Interestingly, my favorite beer of the 8 samples scored the lowest points. This was because while it tasted great, it wasn’t representative of the style we were judging. It was very dry and had a peppery – almost saison-like aroma and flavor. While it scored very low on our scoresheets, both myself and the judge I was paired with offered positive feedback on the beer, but suggested that they enter it in a different BJCP category next time.
The Master Judge and I were consistently within 2-3 points in our scoring and we pretty much agreed on every point, while other the 2 pairs of judges at our table were bit more varied and required more discussion. This allowed us to finish our beer flights first so we could get back to the other festivities. The Master Judge was very helpful in walking me through the process and making me feel comfortable so I could focus on the beer. It was an educational and enjoyable experience and I can’t wait to judge many more competitions in the future so I can one day earn the rank of “Master Judge”.
In the beer world, there are a couple of myths that are circulated so frequently that you may have begun believing them. They have become a part of beer marketing even. But they are not founded in fact, just appearances, so it’ll be easy to disprove them here. Once you understand the “beer science” behind them, you will be able to educate others. Then I won’t have to groan when I hear slanderous things about the dark-colored beers I love so dearly.
To start from the beginning, don’t forget, beer is made up of 4 components:
What you taste, smell, and see in a beer is created by those four elements (unless of course someone has used adjuncts, fruit, spices, etc. in their recipe).
Now, let’s get to the myths:
Light-colored beers are lower in alcohol
Point A: Color is directly related to malt content.
Point B: Yeast metabolizes sugars that it extracts from your malt content, which produces alcohol (and Co2).
So, whether your beer calls for a dark malt or a very pale one, the yeast will metabolize sugar and produce alcohol. The color has no bearing on that process.
Most large commercial “light” or “session” (as in low ABV) beers do tend to be light in color as well, but this is not the rule of all lower ABV beers. Think about it – there are MANY nearly black porters and stouts that are only 4-5% ABV.
Light-colored beers are lower in calories
Point A: The calories in beer come from 1) the alcohol content (the higher the alcohol by volume, the higher the calories) and 2) the residual carbohydrates.
Point B: The color of your malt does not affect your alcohol content (as explained with myth 1) and the color alone does not account for residual carbohydrates in the finished beer.
Black lagers (schwarzbiers), porters, and drier stouts do not actually have remarkably high calories in comparison to pale beers.
Light-colored beers are lighter in body
Body is a bit more complex. The body of a beer can be attributed to the yeast strain, the use of unfermentable sugars or proteins, adjuncts etc.
While some dark and roasted malts can have a high proportion of unfermentable sugars, body and color are not directly related. In fact, this myth shocks me most of all because I personally have had many a paler beer with serious body to it.
Ales are darker than lagers
Point A: The distinctions “ale” and “lager” have to do with one thing alone – the yeast. When the yeast stays at the top and ferments at higher temperatures, it creates an ale. When the yeast doesn’t float at the top and ferments at a lower temperature, it creates a lager.
Point B: Yeast is not malt, and therefore has nothing to do with the beer’s color.
Once again, commercial examples dominate, and so when folks see the word “lager” they immediately picture that pale, glowing, golden brew in their mind and assume lagers are the fairest of the beers.
Think of those amber-colored Oktoberfest lagers we all enjoy in the fall, or dunkels, or schwarzbier, or bocks! Those are all lagers and they aren’t pale at all. On the other side of the spectrum, ales can certainly be dark (stouts & porters) or light (pale ale, anyone?).
Memorial Day weekend is here, and with it comes warmer temperatures, cold beer, and backyard grilling with friends and family. You might be thinking, “it’s a backyard BBQ, as long as the ice chest is full it doesn’t matter which beers are in there,” but I’m telling you some are going to wash that smoky, grilled meat down much better than others.
Before the meat and fixins have even hit the grill, you’re going to want something refreshing to cool you down while you stand over all that heat. For grillmasters I’d suggest something with a light body, light ABV (since you don’t want to get ahead of yourself too early), refreshing balance, and maybe a light citrusy quality. Personally, I like it when the beer I’m enjoying in warm weather has a tart kick that reminds me of lemonade or Arnold Palmers when I was younger.
Pilsners are light bodied, dry, boast a delicious hop aroma, and promise a clean balance that makes them very drinkable. Saisons are highly carbonated, dry, and boast a unique Belgian yeast gives them a kick that is very refreshing, and tasty when combined with some citrus.
A Porter or Black IPA will have roasty malt flavors that pair well with your grilled patties. The Porter will be more malt forward – biscuity & bready, while the Black IPA will be more hop-forward, though not bitter.
For hot dogs, I’d suggest: Belgian Dubbel or well-balanced IPA
Hot dogs bring a whole lot of flavor with them. The sausage link, bun, and many condiments mean that the beer being paired must be a multitasker of sorts. Dubbels have rich, malty flavor with spice, fruit, and ester notes, meaning they too have complex flavor to compliment the hot dog. They aren’t terribly boozy and warming, and finish with a dryness that makes them drinkable, and suitable for outdoor beer sipping in the heat. A balanced IPA will have crisp, clean hop bitterness (though not too much, thus the “well-balanced” bit) that cuts through particularly rich hot dogs, if you are more interested in a beer that will bring contrast.
Juicy, savory chicken pairs excellently with amber lagers like Märzen (Oktoberfest beer) or Vienna Lager, which are malty, bready, dry, easy to drink and complement the chicken’s flavor. For something smooth and grainy sweet with spicy, floral, herbal hops, Helles Lager would also be an excellent choice.
Rich, salty, smoky pork deserves a bold complement, which is precisely what a Dunkel or roasty, smoky Porter will provide. If you’d rather enjoy a light and crisp beer to contrast the pork, a Kölsch will bring enough character and hops to stand out.
Portobellos, zucchini, green onions, and all the rest may bring a variety of tastes, but a light-bodied Pilsner or smooth Helles will pair well without overpowering. For more hop bitterness and character, a Schwarzbier would be an excellent choice.