Beer 101

By Aillinn Brennan • Special to The Current

The world’s most popular alcoholic beverage is beer. Beer predates the written word so no one knows for sure when or where brewing started.  To be sure beer has been around for at least 7,000 years and likely started brewing in Mesopotamia. While many places around the globe produce beer, the most famous styles developed in Europe. 

The basic four ingredients to make beer are malted barley, water, hops and yeast. A brewer may add other ingredients called “adjuncts” to enhance the beers flavor, like wheat, to make a Hefeweizen. Or even rock candy, which the Trappist Monks add to their ales, producing a wine like character in the beer.

The basic brewing process is four steps and produces the two main types of beer, ale and lager. The first step is mashing, where the malted barley is cracked to expose the starch within it. This barley is mixed with hot water and that starch converts to the sugar needed for fermentation. Next, the brewer moves this liquid called “wort,” from the mash tun, into a brew kettle where it is boiled and the hops are added. Hops are the flower from the hop vine and impart flavor in the beer. When the wort is cooled it is pumped into a fermentation vessel and at the right temperature yeast is added and fermentation begins. When fermentation is complete the sugar has been converted to ethanol and carbon dioxide. It’s beer! Now it’s ready for conditioning, or the finishing touches before bottling or kegging. 

There are many beer styles, which fall under theses two main types, ale or lager. Ales are the oldest and “original” beer. The ones widely produced in Ireland, England and Belgium. Lagers are a more contemporary beer dating to 1800’s and are the predominant beers of Germany. The term “lager” comes from the German word for “storage,” meaning, lagers go though a longer fermentation process and spend some time in cold storage. 

What to drink? Trending now are IPA’s, or India Pale Ale’s. This style originated during English colonization of India. India did not have the climate needed to produce the barely and hops needed for their beloved brews. As such, they had to figure a way to keep their beer from spoiling on its long journey from England to India. The solution to was increasing the alcohol and the hops which acted as a preservative. Thus, IPA’s are a hoppy, boozie style.  On the lager side, how about a Pils? A Pils is a German style lager, which is pale in color with a light crisp refreshing taste. An easy pairing for most eats. 

Either way you are drinking in history with the world’s most popular drink.

Aillinn Brennan is proprietor of The Marion Hose Bar located at 16 W. Broadway in Jim Thorpe.

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June 16, 2019, 8:45 pm

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