Wine X Magazine
by Steven Van Yoder
|The brew page was brought to fruition because of my personal curiosity of this most popular beverage. Since a much higher percentage of my peers drink beer rather than wine, understanding and reporting on this “trendy” subject seems a logical editorial ingredient. Beer is hot in this country. Especially microbrews. So let’s find out why.Is it an economic issue? Do we drink more beer because it’s less expensive than wine? According to recent surveys, we spend as much on beer (per six pack) as we do on a bottle of wine. We’ll spend five bucks on a glass of beer at the local micro-brew pub, yet we won’t spend the same on a glass on fine wine in a restaurant. Why? It’s not that we have less to spend. So why do we favor beer over wine?
What about advertising? Are we influenced by beer ads? I seriously doubt that we believe drinking beer will get us beautiful women or men. We may be young, but we’re not stupid. However, I do think encountering a stuffy wine ad in a magazine is a turn off. Whether it’s subliminal or not, the fact remains wine has a stuffy, elitist image. Beer does not. Wine is ritual. Beer is fun. You figure it out.
With this short introduction behind us, let’s start with what beer is, how it’s made and the different styles you may come across at your favorite local brew pub or micro-establishment.
Try these beer and food pairings: Stout with spicy chili. Hefe-Weizen (with a lemon twist) with spicy mussels in cream sauce. Raspberry Wheat Beer with a chocolate hazelnut tort. Pale Ale with a caesar salad (with a smoked meat). Walnut Ale with a lamb kabob with onions and peppers.
|B E E R D E F I N I T I O N :Beer is generally defined as a fermented grain beverage, in which starch is broken down into fermentable sugars and then transformed into alcohol and carbon dioxide. It is flavored with a bitter herb, such as hops, or by adding any number of aromatic plants.
The principal ingredient in beer is barley, which is encouraged to sprout by being steeped in water. It’s then heated in a kiln to produce malt (maltose sugar) and, more importantly, enzymes, called amylases, which convert the rest of the starch into fermentable sugars. The malt is placed in a vessel known as a mash tun where hot water, and sometimes cereals, are added to it to produce a mash. The mash is then clarified — liquid separated from the remaining grain. This resultant liquid is referred to as wort (pronounced “wert”). The wort is transferred to a vessel known as a kettle or copper, in which it’s boiled. This is the actual brewing process.
During brewing, hops, the flowering cones of a climbing vine related to cannabis, are added, primarily as a bittering agent, to balance the malt’s sweetness. Without hops, beer would be a mawkishly sweet, sticky and unappealing drink. They can add a spicy, aromatic component to the beer, depending on what variety is used. Hops also help clarify and preserve the brew.
After brewing, the hops are removed and the wort cooled and transferred from the brewhouse to fermentation vessels. Here, yeast is added (known as pitching) to produce primary fermentation. After fermentation has ceased, the fermented wort is moved again to be matured or aged, often with a secondary fermentation, in lagering tanks or casks. The beer is then filtered unless it’s to be conditioned further in the bottle or cask. At this point, the beer, which is ready for bottling, canning or kegging, can be pasteurized.
At every stage of production, brewers have their own additional procedures or variations of ingredients, treatments, time and temperatures. Fundamental variations make for different styles of beer.