Beer, (along with wine, depending on your tastes) is quite possibly the most served alcoholic beverage at gatherings such as Super Bowl get-togethers, tailgating parties, picnics, family reunions, guys and girls hanging out, barbecues, beach parties – See, it’s endless. Pop open a can or bottle and voila, beverage served. But the editors would be remiss if we didn’t provide a quick overview on the subject of beer so you can decide what you want to stock. Of course it’s just good etiquette to ask your guests which brand they prefer, and most will bring a case to your event anyway, but we know you want to not only look smart, but have a well-stocked home bar.
So, what actually is beer and how is it made? Elementary, sure, but you can show your smarts with this knowledge.
The two major types of beer are Ales and Lagers. The difference is in the temperature at which the fermentation takes place. Ales ferment at 65-75 degrees. Lagers ferment at 46-55 degrees Farenheit. Another distinction is the type of yeast used in the fermentation – Ales use top fermenting yeast that floats on the surface for the first few days, then settles at the bottom. Lagers use bottom fermenting yeast which goes right to the bottom. Another type of beer is Lambic, which uses wild yeast for its fermentation.
Now knowing this, you can plan your party, and don’t forget to include some of the micro-brewery varieties that are catching on and giving the big guys a run for their money.
Let’s start with Ales – sweet, tasty, variety of shades – pale gold to shady brown based on the grains applied in brewing.
Amber Ale, Belgian Ale. Sweeter due to excess malt, dark in color
Pale Ale, light colored, full of malt and hops.
Bitter, a pale Ale, pleasant aroma from the hops used
India Pale Ale (IPA), a pale Ale with a bitter scent and taste due to the hops
Irish Ale, deep red color, with sweet, malty taste.
Barley Wine, amber to darker shades of black, fruity, flavorful with high alcoholic content
Stouts, Dark Ale. Guinness is the most famous. They use malt-free, dark-roasted barley, minimal hops and sweet chocolate – types include, chocolate, coffee, dry, oatmeal and others
Porter, extremely Dark Ale, produced with heavy-roasted malt. Medium-bodied with crisp taste.
Wheat Beer, pale, high carbonation
Lagers are characterized and distinguished for their crisp, filtered taste because of the bottom fermentation process. Lagers are smoother in flavor.
Bock, German in origin, dark from malty flavored to even darker, hop flavored
Dunkel, the premier variety of German lager beer. Dark, modest alcoholic content with overtones of chocolate, coffee and licorice
Marzen, from Munich, Germany, also known as Oktoberfest beer, full-bodied, dark color
Pale Lager, very popular throughout the world, straw colored, malty taste, filtered and crisp, highly carbonated, low alcohol content, Pilsner lagers are in this category
Munich Dark Pale, Munich, Germany, a dark blend of malt and coffee taste
DoppleBock, stronger than Bock, dark with increased caramel and chocolate malts