Challenge your tastebuds!

This blog was created as part of a masters course. My course has now come to an end, and so will my blog. It has been a challenging as well as an educational experience and I hope that I did succeed in communication a bit of that knowledge I have acquired over the years as a dedicated beer geek.

Hopefully I will also have sparked a bit of interest for craft beer!

My blog is full of advice and fun fact, but when it comes down to it, what it is all about it is sitting down in good company and enjoying some beers! So in that spirit I will leave you with a guide to design your own beer tasting event.

5546223594_8a64eda0fc_oStart:

A good place to start is always to begin with a couple of light beer like a lager or a pilsner. Most people will like that, and it is unfortunate to start by serving a beer that some of the party do not like! Also the start is always more about saying hi and catching up  with your friend, than it is really about the beer.

A good follow up could be a wheat beer, still fresh and light.

Middle:

The mood is set, people have tuned in to the concept and now you can start serving more challenging and unknown beers.

I would probably serve a couple of different IPAs here, it is just alway fun to play around with the significant of different hops! Or maybe you could compare a classic english IPA with an American interpretation of an IPA. In that case have the English one first as the American styled IPA is significantly more bitter.

After all that bitterness a bit of a dark and sweet Belgian Trappist might make a nice change

End:

At this point I would move along to the stouts, and maybe serve some snacks like a bit of sausage and cheese. Also make sure that there is water on the table, you will start to need the extra fluid right about now.

Start with a light stout and then move towards the more powerful ones. A good place to finish would be with an imperial barrel aged stout. After that your tastebuds will have a hard time registering anything else.

One important rule though, you are supposed to share the beers and not just drink 7 strong and expensive craft beers yourself. Even following this rule it will be hard enough to walk away from such a party at a straight line. 

Now, it is on purpose that I don’t mention any specific beers here. You need to go online yourself, search through a site like ratebeer and find beers with descriptions that sounds appealing to you, and that are available in your area. Ratebeer does allow you to search beer styles so you should be able to find what you need. Remember this is just one way of doing it, not he on
ly way. Think of it as a initial template to get you started. Soon you will know your own mind and be able to design beer tasting nights that fits your specific preferences.

Thank you for reading my blog, I do hope you have enjoyed it!

Best of luck with your next beer tasting! Cheers!

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Brew your own mead

In this post I’m going to take a bit of a detour, away from beer. Mead is a traditional brew mainly associated with the vikings and is often referred to as the vikings beer. This is a bit incorrect though; first of all mead is not beer, in its simplest form it is honey and bog myrtle with water, made into an alcoholic beverage by a fermentation process. Secondly the viking actually did brew a lot of beer, both of high and low alcohol percentage. The viking age was back in 800-1050 AD, at that time water was a potentially health hazard and so they just drank thin beer instead, which was an excellent at quenching the thirst after a salty meal. The more potent beer was enjoyed together with mead at festive occasions.

Naturally as interested in both history, beer and science as I am, I have (quite successfully) dabbled a bit with making my own mead.

Here is how I went about it, but keep in mind, that there are approximately as many ways of brewing mead as there are brewers attempting it.

First I boiled 7 kg of heather honey in 30 L of water.

This process creates a lot of foam on top of the mixture which needs to be removed to get a completely clear mead. There is nothing to it but to keep removing the foam until there isn’t created any more, as I reach this point, but while my brew was still boiling, I added four chopped-up Tahiti Vanilla beans. Then I left the honey-water to cool to somewhere in between 60-70 degrees celsius. After the brew had cooled off I poured the honey-water on a meticulously clean glass carboy (you want the honey-water to be as warm as possible without it destroying the glass, this provide an important sterilisation effect).  

While my brew was cooling I boiled a strong tea of water and a couple of handfuls of bog myrtle leaves. Once cooled to 70 degrees this tea was sieved and then added to the glass carboy. I then filled the glass carboy with boiled, and cooled to 70 degrees water, sealed it, and left it for the night to cool down. 

The same night my brew cool down I started the activation process of my yeast. In the morning when my brew had cooled down I added the yeast along with the required nutritional fermentation salts. How to do all this will be clarified on the bag of yeast, most home-brewing shops has an easy finished package you can by along with a” how to” guide.

For the fermentation I chose a type of yeast normally used in stronger wines. This type of yeast can create an ABV of 17-18% which is important because the brew then becomes preserved by the alcohol, and any artificial preservatives becomes obsolete. It does however require that you take good care of your brew, and keep it clean at the early stages before the high alcohol level is obtained. If the brew becomes contaminated before the preservation ability kicks in, you will most likely end up with honey vinegar instead ofotof mead.

After all my ingredient was added I sealed the glass carboy with a fermentation lock and left it at room temperature (23-25 degrees celsius) for 3 month, after which I transfered it to another glass carboy, leaving the yeast sediment behind, as this will cause undesireble adverse flavours if let with the mead.

The fermentation lock will allow the carbon dioxide created during the fermentation to evaporate, whilst preventing air entering, and thereby contaminating, the glass carboy.  

After 6 month the yeast had finished the fermentation process. The high alcohol had killed off the yeast and after a good long while, the remaining yeast settled and I was able to tap of a nice and clear brew.

Mead does not taste good at all at this point, it needs at least another 6 month bottled and left in a dark and cool room. The longer you can wait the better really!

My end result was 27 litres of an amazing honey sweet brew, with touches of vanilla and a subtle underlying bitterness from the bog myrtle. The feel of the mead in my mouth more resempled port than beer and it made for a perfect little treat on a hot summer day or as a companion to a rhubarb crumble! I highly recommend that you give it a go. It is a fun process and the end result is just wonderful. It is also quite satisfying to dazzle your friends with a glass of home made mead, they will be so impressed!

 

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Anticipating greatness

Sometimes a good beer is an enlightened idea that suddenly pops into a brewers head after tasting a particular good combination of spices, sometimes it is just a crazy idea that they need to try out and then sometimes it is good friends getting together and comparing signature stouts.

On a cold, windy and rainy day in November 2010 Norwegian Nøgne Ø visited BrewDog together with world famous beer merchant Mikkeller. Their plan was to make a beer, which would be close to an interpolation between their individual brews Tokyo*, Black and Dark Horizon. This beer would in turn be brewed by Nøgne Ø and also for Mikkeller. It was called Black Tokyo Horizon.
A 3-way collaboration with one goal in mind: to bring the forces of each brewery’s powerhouse stouts together.This turned out to be a great success and after some waiting the second celebration of this great collaboration is finally here and better than ever! Please welcome Horizon Tokyo Black!

 

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Sitting at a slightly lower ABV (15.2% compared to 16% originally) this is everything you would expect and then some from such a decadent stout collaboration. Thick, black and viscous, this is a beer which just keeps giving as it warms, with more layers of chocolate, coffee and deep roasted malts coming through in different waves of emphasis, it transforms in your glass and is best indulged in slowly.

At ratebeer this bad boy scores a 3.9 so that is a really good sign as well. Now, I haven’t tasted the beer yet, but it is by far one of the most interesting beers in the market right now, at least I think so! The reason I am all hype about this beer without even having tasted it yet is the collaborators behind it. All three breweries are among my favourites!

The inspiration for this beer stems from three, already successful, stouts:

Mikkeller black Mikkeller Black

Commercial decribtion:
The strongest beer in Scandinavia. This imperial stout is the craziest, wildest, strongest beer from Mikkeller to this date. Not for sissies…….! Sample it fresh or store it for many many years to come!
Ingredients : Water, malt, roasted barley, dark cassonade, ale yeast and champagne yeast.

This beer scores a rating of 3.72 on ratebeer and holds in impressive 17,5% ABV.

 

5860615131_a2114ddb69_oBrewDog Tokyo*

Commercial description:
The irony of existentialism, the parody of being and the inherent contradictions of post-modernism, all so delicately conveyed by the blocky, pixelated arcade action have all been painstakingly recreated in this bottles contents.
This imperial stout is brewed with copious amounts of specialty malts, jasmine and cranberries. After fermentation we then dry-hop this killer stout with a bucketload of our favourite hops before carefully ageing the beer on French toasted oak chips.
It is all about moderation. Everything in moderation, including moderation itself. What logically follows is that you must, from time, have excess. This beer is for those times.

This beer scores a rating of 3.78 on ratebeer and holds a gut punching 18,2% ABV.

And finally Nøgnedark horizon Ø Dark Horizon

Commercial description:
We started off with a beefed up Imperial Stout, extra dark and extra bitter, not much to it really, but maybe a bit over the top. When this brew had fermented, we gathered again on a sunny Saturday morning, ready for next move. Half a ton of demerara sugars and our homemade extract of coffee were waiting for us. Standing there with sticky sugars all over the brewery and us, I just couldn’t resist asking Tore: “Don’t you have better things to do during week ends?” To this point he still hasn’t answered me. After adding a hefty volume of wine yeast, we left this brew to itself for month. A good month, that was.
This is ale; it is also a wine, and a coffee drink. We’ve been playful and brewed a hybrid. Do yourself and your friends a favour and share this bottle with those you deem worthy. Dark Horizon is indeed a global brew. Inspiration from the US Midwest, malt from England, bottles from Germany, name from Japan, sugars from Mauritius, hops from the Pacific rim, Yeast from Canada, coffee from Colombia, brewed in Grimstad, Norway.

Now this one scores an impressive 4.19 on ratebeer and holds a “modest” 16% ABV.

Personally I can not imagine anything but a divine stout will come up from a collaboration between these three!

 

 

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When creativity drinks beer

 

single hop serie

 

The craft beer community around the world is full of immensely creative people and an exciting new trend has started to emerge. It is no longer enough to make an excellent beer, the packaging needs to be a small piece of art or design.  Many brewers will use creative hipster videos to promote their company and their beers. Here’s an example of an advertising from Danish Brewery Ugly Duck. This trend does not just surround promotion videos, but also the beer bottle label. Some breweries go as far as having their own in house designer.
Here is some cool examples of artistic interpretation of the beer and use of clever design to illustrate the type of beer you are about to buy:

hornbeer

 

 

 

 

 

Hornbeer is a Danish brewery own by a married couple. He takes care of the brewing and she creates beautiful artworks to accompany them.
This beer has been seasoned with smoke, which is quite significant for the flavour, this is beautifully illustrated with the smoke people on the label.

 

 

 

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The American brewery Flying Dog has opted for a more typographical representation of their imperial porter. The commercial decription that went along with this beer was this:
“Hunter S. Thompson once said, “When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.” Consider this our professional version of Gonzo Imperial Porter. Aged and seasoned for three months in wood barrels from our neighbors at Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey, this ale has a well-balanced taste and abundance of character. The taste will remind you of sweet chocolate, dry oak, and smooth whiskey with a memorable, velvety mouthfeel.”   

 

 

 

 

single hop

 

 

 

 

Mikkeller is well known for having clean designer labels for their beer. Here is an example from one of their single hop series. The entire thing is showcased at the top of this post. As of August 2013 Mikkeller cemented his belief in the value of creative packeting and hired a full time art director.

 

 

End of history

 

 

 

 

The Scottish brewery took the concept of creative packeting to an unheard extreme when they launched their End of History in stoats. One of these highly exclusive beers even ended up on display at the MONA Museum Of New And Old Art, Australia.
This beer even ended up with its own promotional video.

 

All this is really what makes the world of beer so fascinating! Throughout history beer have been a vital part of human life and is part of our story. It is, at the same time, one of the worlds where science meets creativity on equal terms. The creativity is used to come up with new exciting recipes, and the science is what makes it all happen. Together these two create experiences that will bring joy to your life.

 

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Gluten intolerant? -Have a beer

These past few years people in general have become more and more concerned with the gluten content of their food and drinks. For some it is a vital concern due to allergies, for other it comes down to a choice of lifestyle and that they believe that they will be healthier if they cut gluten from their diet.

First of all, what is gluten?

Gluten is a composite of some glycoproteins (proteins with a sugar chain attached) found in wheat and related grains, such as barley, rye and spelt. If you are among the unfortunate souls suffering from gluten intolerance, ingesting it can bring about bloating, abdominal discomfort or pain, diarrhoea, constipation, muscular disturbances, headaches, migraines, severe acne, fatigue, and bone or joint pain. So you really want to stay clear of products containing gluten!

Luckily the days of no decent beers for these pour souls is now behind us.

The brewing of gluten-free beer has become increasingly easier over these past few years, with heaps of gluten-free products popping up. Recipes for gluten-free beers are freely available online on sites like this and this.
Most home brewing stores sells sweet sorghum syrup, which is widely used as the principal carbohydrate. This is commercially manufactured from sorghum grain to be a malt substitute and contains amino acids and fermentable sugars needed for yeast nutrition and “mouth feel”.

But exglutenfricellent gluten-free beers are not just a privilege among home brewers! Today professional breweries have become quite good at adding a gluten-free beer or two to their range. This means not just a better tasting standard for a gluten-free beer, but also a wider range of types. In the picture you can see a Daas blond, which is a gluten-free Belgian blond. As described by the brewer: “This premium organic beer upholds our Belgian tradition of brewing excellence lasting more than 900 years. Daas Blond is an authentic Belgian strong golden beer. The honey spice aromas and perfect balance of bittersweet flavours are followed by a classic dry hop finish. Second fermentation occurs in the bottle to mature and carbonate the beer naturally.” 

Next to this Belgian treasure is one of Mikkeller’s  gluten-free brews, the I Wish Gluten Free IPA. This is a full on IPA, with some nice fruity aromas and a taste which is fresh and end of bitter from the dry hops. So excellent choices right there, whether you like it on the sweet side or more fresh and bitter. An intolerance to gluten need no longer prevent you from enjoying a good beer!

 

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The best five beers in the world!

Now I am not presumptuous enough to state that my opinion is final, so for this top five I stick completely to the judgement cast by the international beer site ratebeer. This site is an impressive register of pretty much all the beers on the market worldwide, even quite a few retired ones as well, and is probably the most prestigious beer rating website in the world. The ratings are made by users of this site that also provide reviews of beers they have tasted. This all makes up a perfect site for you to visit, if you stubble upon an interesting beer, but want some more information before buying it.

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At 5th place with with 703 ratings Russian River Pliny The Younger lands a score of 3.34 out of 5.
This imperial IPA has been dry hopped, a sum total of, four different times which along with its ABV at 11% will leave quite and impression on your taste pallet. It is brewed ino 4n Santa Rosa, California, USA, by the Russian River brewery.   

 

At 4th place with a some what less impressive 56 ratings this imperial stout lands a weight average score of 4.35.  Toppling Goliath Kentucky Brunch brewed by Toppling Goliath of Decorah, Iowa, USA. This stout is aged in whiskey barrels with coffee, which provide this stout with full on coffee aromas and taste. With its powerful impact on your taste pallet and its ABV of 12% this beer will not leave you wanting. 

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The Bronze medal goes to Cigar City Hunahpu’s Imperial Stout – Double Barrel Aged. With 122 ratings this imperial stout comes in at 4,36. 
This bad boy is from Tampa, Florida, USA and is brewed by Cigar city, where 50% is aged in rum barrels and the other 50% is aged in apple brandy barrels. The aroma has loads of rum influences, spicy coconut, chocolate, vanilla, booze, oak and roasted character and the taste is characterised by smooth apple brandy, chocolate fudge, vanilla wafers, cinnamon, spice, and some pepper heat on the finish. A decadent little thing with an ABV of 11%.no3

 

Coming in at second place is yet another American. Three Floyds Dark Lord Russian Imperial Stout (Bourbon Barrel Aged) is from Munster, Indiana and is brewed by Three Floyds brewing company. This imperial stout takes home the silver with 359 ratings weighing in at the average score of 4,37. This Dark Lord aged in a variety of Bourbon barrels including Woodford Reserve and Heaven Hill which leaves you with a thick and smooth. The taste will bring warmth to your sole, and the 15% ABV will take good care of the rest of you! 

westvleteren-12

TA TA TA TAAAA! Fanfare!

And the ultimate winner, the best beer in the world is Westvleteren 12 (XII)! This wonder child does not just take first position though, it maintains it, and have done so for years. It popularity is obvious with 3035 ratings this beer still scores an astonishing 4,44!
This beauty of a Abt/Quadrupel is brewed by Westvleteren Abdij St. Sixtus in Westvleteren, Belgium. It holds an ABV of 10,2%, as is to by drunk with great appreciation out of a trappist glass. Westvleteren has the smallest output of the Trappist breweries, with only a small part of their production available outside of Belgium, which makes this beer notoriously hard to come by. My own personal advise: “If you get the chance, have one! This beer will make you hear the angles sing!”  

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Want to share a beer with Tutankhamun?

Tut's beer

Throughout this blog I have continuously linked back through history in my description of different beers, but how old is the tradition of brewing beer really?

As a matter of fact, pretty dang old!

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Ale is considered to be one of the absolute oldest beverages humans have produced!

Written evidence dates back as far as Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, which puts us in the 5th millennium BC.

This stone tablet is telling the legend “Epic of Gilgamesh”, written in Old-Babylonian Cuneiform. It tells the story of the barbarian Enkidu who is given beer to drink:
“…he ate until he was full, drank seven pitchers of beer, his heart grew light, his face glowed and he sang out with joy.

Further written proof is found in the Hymn to Ninkasi (Ninkasi is the Sumarian goddess of beer):
“Ninkasi, you are the one who pours out the filtered beer of the collector vat”

So clearly even quite early on man drank a lot of beer and enjoyed it!

Now to put things into perspective; the last ice age covering Europe only ended around 9,600 BC. So at 5,000 BC Europe was still a place mainly populated by hunters and fishermen, and the agriculture had just slowly started to spread out from the Balkans. From 5,000-4,000 BC world the population is estimated to have grown from 5-7 million people, the difference between Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam and Hong Kong in China. So from a modern day view of what the civilised world is, this is really early days!

Now, by the time of the Pharaoh, 3050-330 BC, beer drinking had become an integral part of life for everyone in Egypt. Even the Pharaohs, who often had their own royal brewery, enjoyed beer. It is the remnants of one such brewery that today allows us to speculate and indeed produce beers similar to those enjoyed more than 3,000 years ago.

Archaeological excavation of the ancient worker’s village of Amarna brought about some impressive finds. Amarna was founded by Akhen-aten in 1350 BC and destroyed by Tutankhamun just seventeen years later. Thereby leaving barren ruins and remnants of lost life to be preserved by the dry Egyption air. Barry Kemp of Cambridge University led an archaeological team  to the discovery of traces of bread, grain and beer residues in old breweries at Amarna. The residues were later examined using different optical and scanning electron microscopy, which determined that firstly the grain could either be barley or emmer, but always separated never as a mix. Secondly, that the grain in both the bread and the beer residue had been malted. Thirdly it was determined that dates where not used in Amarna. The previous assumption that dates were widely used in ancient Egypt was because a hieroglyphic seen in recipes was translated as “dates” when all it really meant was “sweetness” derived from malt. Fourthly the wet malt was sieved to remove the grain hulls, and not for filtering crumbled bread as had been previously assumed.  The last two findings was of history altering importance. They quite simply change the way we believe the Egyptians brewed beer.

After these amazing discoveries the archaeological team decided to actually brew a beer, using methods and ingredients determined by their excavation. This led to the creation of the British brew Tutankhamun Ale with 1000 bottles sold Harrods back in 1996. This was, however, not the end of it. The American Wynkoop Brewing Company placed in Denver, picked up the entire idea back in 2010. They created Tut’s Royal Gold, that was created in conjunction with “Tutankhamun and the Great Pharaohs”, an exhibition running at the Denver Art Museum. As far as I have been able to find out this brew is still available, otherwise you can brew it yourself following this recipe. The beer in the glass by Tutankhamun’s side is in fact Tut’s royal gold, and it does look very nice! It does however need to be said that this beer is not completely authentic. The brewers themselves calls it a hybrid; inspired by Egyptian ingredients, but brewed with the benefit of 3,000 additional years of brewing science. The commercial description goes like this:
“Tut’s Royal Gold is an unfiltered “Imperial Egyptian Ale” of about 6% ABV made with pale malts, ancient fermentables (honey, wheat, teff) and a list of spices that includes tamarind, coriander, grains of paradise, orange peel and rose petals. The beer is fermented with a wheat beer yeast.”

But even so, 7,000 thousand years and still going strong, beer really was a good idea!

 

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Bottled poetry

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Can a beer be poetic? I would like to think so! I have seen grown men shed tears of joy over this beauty. Older Viscosity is a barrel-aged imperial stout brewed by Port Brewing in San Marcos, California, USA. This little piece of excellence is a testimony of the value of putting a good beer in a barrel. The brewers made an exceptional good stout called Old Viscosity, which is available for purchase by the way, and thought it was quite good, but there was still room for improvement. And so they took some of their Old Viscosity and let it age in Heaven Hill Bourbon Barrels for 6 months. Older Viscosity was born and poetry is now available in the form of beer! 

What makes this beer so special?

I think this is one of the most complex beers that I have ever tasted that still manages to remain balanced. An achievement not easily accomplished. The bourbon barrel and the 12% ABV give it a nice round and full body. Yes, it is heavy on the alcohol but if you can only have one beer, this one will keep you satisfied throughout the evening!

When poured, a pitch black delight fills your glass. Its scent will lift you up among the olympic gods, drinking their nectar. It smells round and sweet, with hints of burnt malt and bitter chocolate and just the tiniest bit of coffee. When you take a sip your senses are almost overwhelmed with delight. The barrel-ageing process provides a body of rich vanilla and oak. Hints of chocolate and coffee accompany an appropriate bitterness, which help to maintain balance throughout the abundant sweet sensations. The high alcohol content  prompts a warm feeling to spread throughout your body upon the first sip, and the experience is complete! If you enjoy a good stout I cannot recommend this beer highly enough! Its quality and exclusivity puts this product a bit on the expensive side. However, this little beer packs a mighty flavour punch actually, making it an ideal ‘beer-to-share’. One 33cL bottle is able to satisfy three people. Think of it as the difference between a piece of rare, dark Swiss chocolate and a piece of palm-oil milk chocolate that you pick up whilst waiting in line at any supermarket chain. The former provides fulfilment and satisfaction, whilst the latter will leave the bitter taste of disappointment in your mouth.

This beer is a good example of the craftsmanship that has been established in America over the few last decades. Beer was originally a fundamental part of colonial life in United States. However, the prohibition period of the early 1920’s forced almost all brewers  to close. This set back was devastating for US craft beers. Following prohibition the beer industry shifted from fine quality, hand-crafted brewing tasteless, profit-driven mass production. Here I might add that among craft beer brewers it is widely accepted that you cannot go big without compromising quality and flavour. As it were, microbreweries and the craft beer trade didn’t really take off in the US until the 1970s. More recently with breweries like ‘Port Brewing’, and their subsidiary ‘The Lost Abbey’, popping up it seems that the Yanks have finally caught up with the rest of the world- exciting news for craft-beer lovers everywhere.

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Beer but no hangover please!

Since I have already told you all about the strongest beers on the market today, I thought it prudent to clarify that tendencies to push the boundaries of possibilities among craft beer brewers also go in the more traditional direction towards beer with very low alcohol content.

During the Middle Ages in Europe, beer was one of the most common drinks. It was consumed daily and with every meal. So naturally to still be able to work, the alcohol percentage was significantly lower than what we have come to accept as the norm today. Now the reason for this high consumption of beer was due to the limited access to guaranteed pure water. Since beer gets boiled during the brewing process it was simply the safer choice.

Why not just boil the drinking-water you may think?

Well, this was the Middle Ages and the concept of microbes contaminating the water was not really thought up yet. In fact when Louis Pasteur, who lived from 1822-1895, demonstrated that microorganisms in the environment could contaminate and impair the quality of wine, it was a major advance in our perception of the environment and our knowledge that pathogens within it, invisible to the naked eye, cause disease.

So if you like a good craft beer after work but need to drive home, or just want to feel good the day after, this is my top 5:

Mikkeller Drink’in the sun
At the time of writing their batch number 13 is on the market. This brew comes in a low alcohol version with a ABV of 1.4% as well as an almost alcohol free version at 0,3%.

Evil Twin Bikini beer
Mikkeller’s evil twin based in New York sates the demand for low alcohol beer with this one coming in at an ABV of 2,7%.

Emelisse innovation serie 2.5
This brewery is from Holland and has a proud tradition for bringing out watering eyes among beer geeks. They have now added a beer of a mere 2,5% ABV to their selection.

BrewDog Nanny State
Of course I couldn’t make a top five without an example brewed by these crazy Scots! Their Nanny State hits the ground running at a 0,5% ABV.

Struise Black Damnation VII – Single Black
Usually beers from Belgium are associated with a high alcohol content, but with this beer they show abilities in the other direction as well. With an ABV of only 2% this is the only stout on my list, the rest being inspired by the brewers love of IPAs.

You may not get the complete full-body experience as you do with beers of higher ABVs, but really if you feel like a beer but not the alcohol, there is no longer a reason not to enjoy one among friends before going home. This is all excellent examples of good beers. Cheers!

 

 

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Pour that beer!

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I am a firm believer in pouring a beer in the right type of glass, it simply enhances the experience and increases the pleasure of drinking it!

Is this actually the truth though or is it just some sort of craft beer snobbish ritual?

Well yes and no, you do not have to pour your beer in the specific glass created for the particular beer. In the picture above you can see some different Belgium beers, all with their very own glass. Now as cool as it might be to drink the beer as the brewery intended it, you can make due with less. The right type of beer in the right type of glass, however, that is actually a completely valid preference. When a beer is poured its colour, aroma and taste is altered, and to get the best possible experience out of your beer, this alteration needs to work with the beer, not against it.

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Now for this to make sense there are a few things you need to know about how we actually taste our food, or in this instance our beer. Perception of flavour is really a collaboration between what you smell with your nose and what you taste in your mouth. Remember last time you were sick with a really bad cold and how, without the sense of smell, your food lost its taste and its appeal? This is the reason why:
Your tongue is partly made up of somewhere in between 5,000 and 10,000 taste buds. Each taste bud consists of 50 – 100 specialised sensory cells. All these sensory cells is what helps you register if what you’re eating is sweet, salty, sour, bitter or umami (savoury). Using the same principle, sensory cells located in the lining of the roof of your nose detect airborne odour molecules (aromas). Both systems sends the collected information to centres in the brain where, ultimately, messages about taste and smell converge, allowing us to detect the flavours of our beer.

Now every beer contains aromas that are released when the beer is poured. These aromas, or the smell if you like, are hence of vital importance for our experience of the flavour. It is therefore important to choose a glass that ensures the best possible experience of the aromas. Some beers like IPAs tend to depend highly on the flowery aromas of the hops and is therefore best drunk out of a tulip glass that retains, and thereby slightly increases the concentration of, aromas as you lift the glass to drink. Belgian beers tend to be very sweet so they want to release the aromas so the sweetness does not goes from pleasurable to over the top nauseating.

But how does a simple glass achieve all this?

Well the shape of the glass will impact head development and retention. The head is the foam created by pouring your beer, so it basically means that the foam created by the pouring lies on top of your beer and protects all the good aromas from simply evaporating into thin air.

Now for my top 5 of essential beer glasses that every beer loving household should have:

pint_nonic_glassThe basic pint glass.

This classic is perfect for your pilsner and lager, as well as english ales and creme ales. Also if you rinse it and fill it with water as your last drink of the evening, you will feel better the next day!

tulip_glass

 

The tulip shaped glass.

Now this is probably the glass type I use most often. It is suitable for all sorts of IPAs, sweet stouts, strong ales and barleywines.

weizen_glass

The weizen glass.

This glass is really only good for wheat beer, but for this type there is no better! This type of glass is specially produced to take volume and head, while maintaining the aromas.

wine_glass

goblet_glass

 

And for one of my favourite types of beers, the Belgium, you need either a goblet or a oversized wine glass

flute_glass

 

Last but not least, we all need a flute glass! Apart from being excellent for your champagne at midnight on new years eve, it is essential if you want to get the full experience out of a lambic!

 

Now all that is really left to do is beer the beer, sit back, smell the aromas, take a sip and ponder the flavours, and then tell a joke to your friend next to you!

 

Categories: How to drink it | Leave a comment

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