Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Craft Beer

I know nothing (very little) about craft beer. But I always want to learn more. And I especially want to learn more when it comes to how to pair beer with food. I came across this excellent chart that I think really helps. I'm sharing some basics that I've discovered in hopes of learning about how to pair some local craft beers, like Brew Pub's or Mountain State's, with the food in the best way possible.


I'm going to lay out some basics that I've learned with the help of some very helpful sites so that we can work together to figure out which beers pair well with which foods. So there are four main ingredients in beer:
  • Malted Barley - medium roasted malt has caramel flavors; dark roasted malts have chocolate or coffee flavors. Other grains like wheat and rye can be used.
  • Hops - provides bitterness as a counter to the sweet malted barley, and bring flavor such as citrus, pineapple, green grass, pepper and pine.
  • Yeast - can lend a fruit, butterscotch and buttery flavor. Also clove and banana. Also earth, cheese, and hay.
  • Water - makes up 90-95 percent of beer by mass.
  • Other - like spices, fruit, chili, etc.
Types:
  • Ales - use top fermenting yeast, usually a darker & fruitier.
    • Pale Ale
    • India Pale Ale (IPA)
    • Extra Special Bitter (ESB)
    • Porters
    • Stouts
    • Barley Wine
    • Abbey Ales (Dubbels, Trippels, Quads)
  • Lagers - use bottom fermenting yeast, usually clearer, lighter & crisper. Bud, Miller, Coors.
    • Pilsner
    • Lager 
 Terms:

  • Body - the sense of fullness or viscosity of the beer on your palate. Beer is usually described as being thin-, light-, medium-, or full-bodied.
  • Complex - beer that involves multiple flavors and sensations on your palate.
  • Crisp - effervescent and bubbly.
  • Hoppy - having a bitter flavor of hops and a spicy aroma.
  • Malty - sweet caramel-like flavors.
  • Mouthfeel - sensations of warmth, carbonation, dryness, etc on your palate.
  • Roasty/toasty - roasted grain (not burnt) flavors.
There's also some information out there about how to best serve the beer - what kind of glass, etc. So, I want to know your best beer/meal pairing in town. Which dish goes best with Brew Pub's Alpha Blonde? Their menu says chicken alfredo, chicken penne, BLT wrap, fried calamari, beer bread, the club and spinach artichoke dip are the best. 

Better yet, what's the best locally produced craft beer in town? So far, I'm fond of the Alpha Blonde and the Eighty Shilling Scotch Ale at Brew Pub. Any tips or info you have would be fantastic!