Beer. For many, it’s the nectar of the gods. As the oldest prepared beverage in the world, beer has been developed and re-imagined over the ages. Now, there are likely hundreds of different kinds of beer, from your favourite porters, pilsners, stouts, and so on.
With limitless drink options, the world of beer can be dizzying and quite tricky to navigate. It’s a good idea to increase your beer knowledge so you can act like a pro the next time you find yourself at the local watering hole. Read on for our quick guide on how you can improve your beer drinking experience.
Draft, Bottle, or Can?
You may think otherwise, but the way you drink your beer matters. Your favourite beer can taste completely different when enjoyed from a bottle, can, or as a draft. This is because these containers have different processes and attributes that affect the drink’s flavour.
Draft beers are known to have the freshest taste. After all, when you have a beer that’s on draft, it’s getting filled and refilled quickly. Bottled beers are a classic, but you need to be careful about storing them. When the clear glass container is exposed to light and oxygen, the drink can lose some of its freshness. That’s why some people prefer their beers in cans. Canned beers are packaged with carbon dioxide to preserve that fresh taste.
Ales or Lagers?
All kinds of beer—all hundreds of them—boil down to these two types: ales and lagers. It all depends on the fermenting process used to create the drink. Ales use top fermentation, in which the yeast ferments at higher temperatures and settles at the top. Lagers are the complete opposite; the yeast settles at the bottom, and the fermentation is longer and at much cooler temperatures.
Ales have a darker and murkier appearance. This full-bodied beer creates a vibrant and thick beer head—that foam on top of the glass when poured. Ales are known to be flavorful, robust, and fruity with a hint of a bitter taste. Some of the most popular brews are the IPA, wheat beer, Belgian style, and stout.
Lagers have a lighter and much brighter appearance. They also have lower alcohol content. People who aren’t used to drinking beer prefer lagers because of its smoother, lighter flavour. Common brands of this type of beer include Heineken and Stella Artois.
By knowing the different types and styles of beer, you can narrow down which ones are your favourite. Understanding their flavours also allows you to experiment with food pairings the next time you’re at the bar.
How to Store, Serve, and Sip
To round off your beer experience, you have to master these three S’s. First, you must know how to store your cases of beer. As previously mentioned, sunlight affects the freshness and flavour of the beer. Similarly, keeping it inside the chiller for a prolonged period can also change its taste. Ideally, store your cases in a dark room or cabinet, away from the windows. Make sure they’re standing up and not on their sides. Place the bottle or can in the refrigerator 10 minutes before you plan to drink it.
When pouring your drink, let it flow into the centre of the glass. Stop when the foam is about an inch above the container. Make sure you use a glass that’s at room temperature, rather than cold. Contrary to popular belief, frosted glasses kill the natural carbonation in the drink. After you’ve poured your drink, wait for the foam to settle. And then, take small sips—not gulps. This will allow you to savour both the smell and the flavour of the beer.
Now that you know these beer basics, it’s time to test your knowledge. Go to your nearest bar, bring some friends, and enjoy a round or two of your favourite drinks!