Beer 101

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One of the oldest alcoholic beverages, nothing quite satisfies like a good beer. However, when most guys were evenger pretty much the only beer we would drink was an American style lager, like Budweiser or Molson. While you might still enjoy beer (beers is grammatically incorrect) branching out and trying different styles might be pleasantly surprised. Expand your beer knowledge and you'll find that this is a drink for more than just the ball game or NASCAR.

1. The Ingredients: The process known at brewing, beer is mainly made from water and different kinds of water can be used for different styles. For example, hard water is good for stout beer, and soft water is ideal for pale lagers. Barley is mainly used as the source of starch (wheat, rice and oats can also be used), determines the strength and flavor and yeast ferments the beer and produces the alcohol and carbon dioxide, helps in the character and flavor. Flavoring beer is the sole major commercial use of hops. Hops will add bitterness to offset the sweetness of the malt, adds to the complexity of the flavor, such as floral, citrus and herbal aromas.

2. Pale Lager: There are many styles, but for simplicity's sake I will stick with the most popular ones, going from lightest to darkest. Pale Lager tend to dryer and crisp compared to darker beer. This is the most popular style of beer drunk today, Budweiser being the highest volume selling beer.

3. Pilsner: Pilsner is generally interchangeable with pale lager, described as "premium" beer. Pilsner Urquell is more strongly hopped than most other pilsners and 9 out of 10 beer produced are derived from the original Pilsen beer.

4. Dark Lager: Lagers were mainly dark until advances in brewing made them easier to produce and pale lagers became more common in the later part of the 19th century. Ranging in color to dark reddish brown, dark lagers can be termed dunkel (German for "dark"), schwarzbier or Baltic porter depending on the region.

5. Porter: Porter and Stout are similar in that stout was derived from the descriptions of the different kinds of porter (Extra Porter, Double Porter & Stout Porter). Specialized brews continue the tradition of aging in barrels and the use of bourbon in the barrels is common. Varieties include pumpkin, honey, vanilla, chocolate and bourbon.

6. Stout: Made using roasted malt or barley, stouts are typically 7-8% alcohol. There are many types of stout produced, some of which are Imperial Stout also known at Russian imperial stout. Milk stout contains lactose, adding sweetness, body and calories. Chocolate, Coffee and Oyster stouts are also available. Dry or Irish stout is very dark and often has a "toast" or coffee taste, the most popular being Guinness.

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