The Art of Beer Pt 4 – Knowing When to Stop

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I am currently sitting down at one of my favorite tap rooms. There are eight people in the whole joint including myself and the bartender cause it’s still kind of early. In the background while I am typing there is some music playing with a Jamaican flare and a large cacophony of boisterous female cackling and drunk dudes trying to over talk them. One party of four is making most of the noise

Ok. To be fair this place is not the greatest acoustically. And it’s Friday Happy Hour and these folks are happy. Good for them. They seem to be enjoying themselves and having a great time. More power to them.

On the other hand when it’s time for them to leave I hope they use the phone a friend lifeline. Because I doubt any of them is good to drive. Which brings me to the point of this particular section of the Art of Beer…. overdoing it. Or more importantly… Knowing When to Stop!

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I remember when I was a teenager drinking was considered the cool thing to do. And that thought process is still probably true for the younger generation today. “Adults do it so it must be cool!” Or whatever word they use for cool now. Of course they also have a lot more peer pressure to use a lot of different chemical combinations than when I was that age. But this post is about beer so back to the topic at hand.

At that age the only signs that said you had to stop was when you couldn’t walk upright anymore. For any teens then, especially for boys but also for a few girls, this was considered a rite of passage culturally, and not just in American culture. I served overseas In the Air Force from the age of 18-20 in Germany and the same cultural rite of passage seemed true there as well. The difference between Europe and the U.S. is that alcohol consumption there is much more ingrained in the culture and the knowledge of proper consumption is taught to their young adults earlier. Americans have a tendency to throw their kids into the deep end of the pool when it comes to cultural dos and don’ts.

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Americans culturally are usually all about testing their limitations. If you’re not pushing boundaries then how do you know how much you can do? The old adage “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger!” has been adopted by American youth throughout the many years for many different cultural activities, but this is especially true for consuming alcohol.

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There is always one person in the crowd who thinks it’s funny to see how much it takes to make someone puke. This can be a man or a woman. And the victim is usually someone of the same sex who is new to that current social gathering and it makes the instigator feel better about themselves to make someone else look foolish. If you have ever drunk any alcohol then the chance is very likely that you have been the victim in the scenario I just mentioned. If you have been the instigator then shame on you!

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If you are one of the lucky ones who have so far escaped unscathed from those who want to see what your limits are, or if you have not yet pushed your own limits, the following are definite signs that you have had too much:

  1. When you get up to walk to the restroom the earth suddenly shifts 45 degrees and you lose your balance. Just FYI – unless you are in an earthquake prone region the chances are pretty good that alcohol is interfering with your equilibrium, which means puking is not far away.
  2. You feel that closing one eye helps you see something you’re looking at better. Unless you have a glass eye, or are sighting down a barrel rifle scope, looking out of one eye is never better for you.
  3. You find yourself flirting with someone who, for some reason unknown to you, your friends keep trying to pull you away from. If these are girlfriends then they won’t stop pulling until they get you away from this person. Guys on the other hand only try to warn you once. After you growl a “Leave me alone!” at them then they adopt the “I warned you and now you’re on your own!” attitude. Part of that is because we’re a bit lazy and part of it is the guy code thing where you don’t try to interfere with another guy trying to get some.
  4. You’re willing to drink anything someone puts in front of you. Most people have their preferences as to what they are drinking for the evening. And while that may vary from night to night, you usually don’t mix different types of alcohol because they don’t always play well together. For instance, a beer and a shot are ok as long as you don’t do too much. Beer followed by wine if fine. But wine followed by beer doesn’t work as well. And you don’t do shots with wine… at least not with good wine. Mixed drinks don’t mix well with either beer or wine, but are okay with shots. If you start mixing these combinations and don’t pay attention to the common rules just stated it usually doesn’t end well,
  5. If you lay your head down on the bar, table or other hard surface and close your eyes, you’re done for the evening. It won’t be long after that you start praying to the porcelain god.
  6. You and a perfect stranger are suddenly the best of friends and you start telling each other things you wouldn’t tell to people who have known you for years,
  7. You come back from the restroom and see that someone has taken your drink or your seat and you start yelling at the top of your lungs and challenging them to a fight. Then you realize you’re at the wrong table/seat and these other people aren’t the group you came in with… or even worse you’ve wandered into a different bar altogether.
  8. You start airing your dirty laundry because your girlfriend/boyfriend/spouse said something to piss you off!!! Granted, some folks don’t need alcohol to get to this point but it certainly drops the barriers that would normally keep that from happening.

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The following, unfortunately, are definite signs that you have had too much but they don’t make themselves apparent until it is far, far too late:

  1. You wake up curled up on the bathroom floor or hugging that nice cool commode.
  2. You wake up and don’t remember how you got there.
  3. You wake up and don’t know where you are.
  4. You wake up with someone whom you do not recognize.
  5. You wake up in jail.
  6. You wake up in jail and the new friend you made that night at the bar is next to you smiling a really creepy smile that makes you wish this is all a bad dream.

If have been sampling alcohol for any length of time then you have probably experienced at least one, if not two, of these signs. If you have experienced all of these signs then you probably have a drinking problem. If you have experienced all of these signs more than once then you probably have a death wish.

The point I am trying to drive home here is that pushing the boundaries has its place, but alcoholic beverages is not really the area to adopt that philosophy in. Knowing when you have had enough is a very important part of being a responsible adult. It’s also a very important part of making it home safely to your loved ones.

Oh by the way, the boisterous quad of drunks I mentioned at the beginning of the post have departed. Three of them left when one of the females started getting real loud and yelling. Then she broke down and started crying into her beer and telling a few strangers at the bar what a great and giving person she is. This is a perfect example of someone who is pushing their boundaries and should have stopped a few beers back.

My point is this, enjoy yourselves as much as you want. But when the alcohol starts letting down inhibitions and your start exposing parts of your personality that are better left hidden then expect to hear something like “Hey… I know you!!!… You were that drunk idiot in the bar the other night!!”

Showing your ass, figuratively and literally, always has consequences.

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Papabear

The Art of Beer Part 3 – Beer Styles

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Lager, Ale, Belgian, Gose, Porter, Stout, ESB, Common…. All of these different names floating around out there to describe beer. If you’re a newcomer to the craft beer scene it could be overwhelming. Especially when your exposure to beer has been limited to what your Dad has been drinking from the local grocery/convenience store/beer distributor.

Let’s start with the basics and move on from there. Beers at their core are primarily categorized into two basic types: Lagers and Ales. And the main significant difference between these two types is the yeast used to convert the sugars in the wort to alcohol and the temperatures at which this is done.

Lager yeasts work at the bottom half of the wort and are much more efficient at cooler temperatures. Ale yeasts work on the top of the wort and while they still need moderate temperatures to work are much more room temperature friendly than Lager yeasts. Both impart different flavors onto the beer. And while this is usually the defining factor in determining an ale from a lager there are some variants out there where someone has tried brewing an ale recipe with a lager yeast and vice versa, and where lager yeasts are used but at higher temps, or ale yeasts at lower temps. But we will cross that bridge when we come to it.

The brewing of Lager is actually more difficult that Ale because of the need for lower temperatures, both for fermentation and storage. But that also means that because of the easier temps to work with there are many more variations of beer varieties available with Ales.

Lager Styles

Lagers are generally classified by the modern Bavarian (Southern Germany) Styles available today. They generally break down into either a pale lager (or Helles) or a dark lager (Dunkel). Pilsners, while being a pale lager are generally classified differently because of the additional amount of hops used to create a different flavor. Bocks are stronger and darker versions of lagers. Marzens are lagers brewed in March (Marz in German) when the last brewing of beer was allowed, and can vary in color and taste. Schwarzbier (or Black Beer) is a dark lager made from roasted malts, similar to a Stout in ales.

And each of these styles of lagers will have some variations on them as well. Most of the popular mass market beers available worldwide today are lagers.

Ale Styles

Ales are brewed at a higher, more temperate, temperature range than lagers which results in a sweeter, more full-bodied taste. Historically the term ale referred to a drink brewed without hops. Originally, the bittering and preserving agent used was gruit, a mixture of herbs and spices added to the wort before fermentation. Later on hops replaced gruit as the bittering agent. Ale styles generally get their names from the English culture from which many of them were developed in. Brown Ales get their name from their dark amber or brown color. Mild Ale is a maltier, lower gravity beer. Old Ale is also malty, but dark colored and a higher ABV than Mild Ales. Pale Ales get their name from the predominantly pale malt used to brew them. Porters and Stouts are made using roasted malt and roasted barley, the Stout usually being a stronger version of a Porter. And Wheat Beer get their name from the high percentage of wheat used along with malted barley to make it.

There are other varieties within these styles that you will encounter, and that will be covered in a later article. Some even cross the lines a little bit by combining different methods. The rules are not so hard and fast as some might like to make you think and brewers are constantly experimenting for new taste variations.

Whatever may arise, give them a try and you may find yourself surprised.

Papabear

Painting with a Twist…. And Craft Beer!

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The Doctor texted me after work on Friday and told me that he and Rowdy were going to Painting With A Twist that night. They had a special class that was featuring Swamp Head Brewery and would include some free samples of the local brewery’s wares. I asked him what time and he told me the class started at 7 but you want to get there at 6:45 to get prepared.

Now, if you have never heard of Painting with a Twist it’s an art based business where you and some of your friends go and learn to paint a specific drawing or painting and while you are doing that you can consume wine which you bring yourself, which is the Twist part.

http://www.paintingwithatwist.com/gainesville/

If you are older guy, like me, there is probably a misogynistic archaic portion of your brain that is thinking “Sounds like a chick thing.”, or something similar. And I confess when Rowdy had told me about the business a while back that was my natural, albeit Cro-Magnon, reaction.

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But this evening they were not only featuring beer, but Craft Beer from Swamp Head, which is one of our local breweries in Gainesville. And after thinking about it some more, why would I not want to hang out around a bunch of women imbibing in beer and wine.

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The Doctor also sent me a pic of his current location, the BrassTap, so I made sure the dog was walked, changed out of my work duds and headed out to join him.

When I got to BrassTap, I saw both father and son, Allan and Brad, were working behind the bar. I wasn’t sure what I wanted so Allan recommended the Terrapin Hopsecutioner (w/ Tangerine and Lemon Peel). I gotta admit it was pretty damn good, and this is from someone who is not as big a fan of IPAs as other people, like Allan, are. It definitely had a hoppy flavor which should satisfy anyone looking for that taste, but it didn’t have the harsh aftertaste that some IPAs have. I would definitely drink it again. It was also nice to score two more badges on the Untappd app.

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The Doctor and I sat around Philosophying and catching up with each other, then I was ready for another so I ordered the Erie Brewing Ol’ Red Cease and Desist. This was a Scotch style ale with a mild rye flavor and very little aftertaste. It was a good Scotch ale but not the best I have had.

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When I was finished with that one it was time to go and both the Doctor and I wanted to grab a bite before we got there. Luckily for us the studio is located right next door to McAlister’s Deli off of Newberry Road in Gainesville. So we stopped there and got a sandwich before we went to the class.

Rowdy met us there and went ahead to the class to make sure we were all seated together, while the Doctor and I wolfed down our food. And I have to point out that is really a shame because McAlister’s makes some pretty tasty sandwiches.

When we finished we walked around the corner to the studio and walked in and waited in line to pay for the evening class. After we paid we were handed our canvas and went into the studio and found Rowdy already decked out in her painting apron and saving two more for us along with our seats.

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When you arrive they have each seat equipped with the easel for your canvas, the brushes you will need, a large plastic cup with water for washing out the brushes (obviously we were using acrylic paints), and a palette with premeasured samples of the paints we would be needing for the evening. Ok, to be honest the “palettes” were actually paper plates, but when you are working with large numbers of people like this it makes more sense to use paper plates or you would end up having to clean off all of the palettes after every class.

And this particular class was pretty full already. And while it may have sounded misogynistic earlier, the class was made up of a majority of women. But there were a few other men there as well so the Doctor and I were not the only ones attending.

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Around the studio were the various paintings that had been done before for earlier classes and I saw some that I liked a lot. They represented a wide variety of styles. Not being an expert in Art I will not try to pass myself off as one on here.

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And before class began we were encouraged to help ourselves with a sample from the cooler that Swamp Head had provided for the event that evening. Their canned fare was available to us, which meant we could choose from Stump Knocker Pale Ale, Big Nose IPA, Wild Night Cream Ale and Cottonmouth Belgian Witbier. Unfortunately, my favorite of their year-round offerings was not there, Midnight Oil Oatmeal Coffee Stout. So I selected the Cottonmouth for my first sample. If you haven’t had it before, then you should as it is a nice clean witbier with just the right flavor.

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When the time arrived, our teacher, Katie (who I found out later is also the studio manager for Gainesville), began talking about the studio and explaining how things were set up and whether you had been there before or not that you would still end up enjoying yourself. She introduced her assistant for the evening, Holly, who would be going around and helping where she was needed.

Katie and Holy being Photo=bombed by the Doctor.
Holly and Katie being Photo-bombed by the Doctor.

Then she talked a little bit about the painting we would be doing that evening, the Swamp Head logo. And she introduced Nick Dunn, who is the Director of Operations at Swamp Head. He stood up and spoke a little bit about Swamp Head’s history and about what the logo represented and what the company believed in. I won’t try and quote him here. You can go the Swamp Head website and read that for yourself here:

http://swamphead.com/

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After he was done he sat back done with the other patrons who were painting. And Katie then mentioned some of the nice swag he brought along would be given away during various little contests throughout the night. This perked Rowdy’s ears up as she is all about the swag.

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So we began class by discussing the brushes and the paints and how to use them during the course of the evening. Then we started working on the background for the painting first. Now while I said I am no art expert, I have done some artwork over the years, mostly for my own enjoyment. But I usually just work in sketching, either with pencils or charcoal. And in that I usually work on the object of the drawing first and then fill in the background later. So this is a different way of thinking for me.

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Now, I am not going to go into the details of each step we took in the process as reading about it would not be the same as experiencing it. I will say that Katie was a good teacher in that she took her time explaining how to do what we needed to do and pacing the class so that everyone could catch up. She even worked in a couple of 5 minute breaks so we could stand and stretch. I will say that I was very glad to see that they had a camera on the easel that she worked off of and displayed it on a big screen TV in the back of the room, where we were. It made it much easier to see what she was doing and describing.

And Holly was very helpful throughout the evening as well, making sure folks had enough of the various colors we were using, pointing out ways to help out the students, and giving encouragement as she went along.

Both of these young ladies were very good at their job and you could tell they enjoyed doing it. I would recommend asking for them when you go. I know Rowdy wants to do her birthday party there and them to teach the class.

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A little more than halfway through the class I decided to get another sample and selected the Stump Knocker Pale Ale this time. It’s also a refreshing beer and probably my favorite of the year-rounds just after the Midnight Oil and Wild Night.

The contests throughout the night included posting a pic to social media and checking in at Painting with a Twist, the one receiving the most likes wins, another included painting temporary tattoos on each other and having a pairs contest to see which pair of tats had the best symmetry. And there was another but I don’t remember what it was. We didn’t win any of them but we still had fun.

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A young couple who sat across the table from us had brought their own wine and was sampling it and really didn’t know anything about Swamp Head. The young man came up to me and asked what beers were good. I told him that they were all good but it depended on what kind of beer style he liked. I asked him what he normally drank and he responded that he wasn’t a big beer drinker but he liked the usual stuff. I guessed that he meant a normal American Lager and steered him toward the Wild Night Cream Ale. I didn’t want to throw him into the deep end of the pool with an IPA or a Stout. He said that it tasted pretty good, so we may have discovered another convert to craft beer.

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In your face Macro!!

During the whole class music played in the background of a variety of artists, but I especially enjoyed listening to Darius Rucker’s Wagon Wheel, the Spinner’s Rubber Band Man, and a lot of older hits and quite a few of us were actually singing along.

A lot of picture taking took place at the end both by the patrons and the staff and the staff also took pictures throughout the night and later posted them Facebook. The two hours spent at the class went by fast and when we were done we all hand a painting to take home with us. I’m thinking I will hang mine in the brew house I plan on building later on.

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So all I can say is if you get an invite to go to Painting With A Twist then you should take the opportunity to go. Or make an opportunity yourself. You learn something new, get to meet new people, have a little alcohol and just enjoy yourself a lot.

Papabearimage

Art of Beer Pt 2 – Drinking Beer

With a nod to the structure of the ancient text “The Art of War” and its author, the strategist Sun Tzu, we continue with the drinking aspect of the Art of Beer.

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Me in my youth while serving in what was then West Germany
  1. Beer has been consumed for thousands of years and has been generally considered a drink of the common folk.
  2. Because drinking water quality has always been questionable from one place to another until the rise of public water systems in the last two centuries, drinking local beers has always been preferable for weary travelers. Since water is boiled to make beer, the water quality is usually much better in the beer than in the water itself. And the adding of ingredients, like hops, can help mask any unpleasant tastes the water may bring.

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  1. It was not uncommon for beers to be served with most foods at inns and taverns along travel ways. These could have been served in tankards, mugs, goblets or even flagons.
  2. During the industrial revolution it was not uncommon for companies to serve beer in their lunchrooms instead of water for their workers to wash their lunches down with. The cooler temperatures of a beer would have been preferred over a wine for folks working hot factories not to mention that beer being more inexpensive to produce would be able to be stretched over a larger work force much easier.

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  1. Beer can be enjoyed in private but is usually enjoyed more in the company of others. The others can be family and friends, or even perfect strangers.
    1. In Germany, it is common in Bavaria for perfect strangers to sit at large tables in Gasthauses and enjoy food and beer with each other.
    2. Public Drinking Houses (or Pubs) are common in Britain, Ireland, New Zealand, Australia, Canada and Denmark. These businesses are often community focal points and often feature their own brewings of beer.
    3. Bars, Taverns, Cafes, Saloons are all variations of different types of drinking establishments. Some will be strictly beverages, some will serve snacks and some will have full menus for food available.
    4. Craft Beer Tap Rooms in America are a recent phenomenon which consists of a large and ever changing variety of draft and bottled beers from Craft Breweries. Tap Rooms are also being featured at Craft Breweries featuring the brewer’s own creations as well as guest taps for other craft breweries.

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  1. Since it is considered a common (or even a lowly beverage by some) there has been no formal declaration of beer drinking etiquette. Yet, an informal etiquette has arisen all of its own volition.
  2. Toasting is one of the most common denominators among the various cultures today. Though the minor details will vary the general practice is still carried on from ancient times. There are different theories and folk-tales about where toasting originated from. The most likely source is that it was derived from ancient times when a goblet of a prepared drink was held up ceremoniously as an offering to the Gods. It then morphed into a salute or honor for a visitor or guest. The raising of the glass is usually accompanied by a word or phrase meaning “to life” or “to your good health”.
    1. Toasting is also used to honor those who are no longer with us and honor their memory.
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Young people at bistro having beer
  1. If a friend or stranger offers to buy you a beverage it is considered gracious to accept, then later return the favor.

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  1. Sipping, supping, gulping, guzzling and throwing-it-back are all terms that can be associated with drinking beer. They are various forms of consuming the beverage.
    1. Gulping, guzzling and throwing-it-back are all related to drinking large quantities in a short time frame. This is done mostly by younger adults who are of college age or serving in the military. This is normally the result of playing beer drinking games, losing bets, accepting dares or simply just trying to prove “you’re a real man”. It is best done with cheaper mass produced beers where the taste matches the price. There is no sense is paying for good craft beer to play these games as some of it will be wasted by spilling, some by people getting too drunk to finish, and by others getting so drunk they can no longer contain the beer in their bodies. This is the most infantile form of beer drinking.
    2. Sipping and supping are basically a spelling variation of the same method. This is meant for slow drinking, enjoying the flavors and aromas of the beer. More mature beer drinkers know that good beer doesn’t need to be rushed and like many things in life is better savored slowly.

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  1. Drinking Craft Beer is very similar to drinking wine in more than a few aspects. In fact, many craft Beer aficionados also are wine drinkers.
    1. Begin by looking at the glass and studying the color of the brew. Is it the style you ordered? Does the color look right? If you ordered a Pale Ale and the beer in front of you is Amber in color then check with bartender to make sure you got the correct glass. Unless it is a special variant or style then the color should be pretty much the same from one brewer to the next within the same style.
    2. Next, look at the head. There should always be a head of foam at the top of the glass. It will settle as the beer sits but if there isn’t one when you first get your glass then either the beer is flat or the glass has been sitting way too long.
    3. Also look at the effervescent bubbles of the beer. If the beer is a nitrogen-infused beer then you will see a lot of activity for quite a while and the head of foam will be larger. But if it is not nitrogen infused and you are seeing a lot of activity then chances are that the brewer added too much sugar in the bottling process. This will probably mean the beer will taste sweeter than it should. But it may still taste good enough to drink.
    4. Now you should bring the glass up to your nose to smell the aromas being released by the effervescence of the beer. Depending on the style and ingredients you should be able to pick notes of citrus or other fruits, pine, chocolate, coffee, nuts, wheat or other flavors. Smelling the aromas of the beer helps your palate to prepare for the flavor. The same is true of drinking wine or eating some foods. Odors can be very important in the tasty process. This is why when you have a stuffy nose that some foods just don’t taste right.
    5. Next, just after you have taken a good smell of the odors, move the glass to your lips, open them and slowly pour the beer into your mouth or sip it, both are acceptable. Pouring a little into your mouth for a taste lets the beer slowly cover all the taste buds of your tongue so that all of your flavor centers are equally activated. Sipping the beer also bring in a little bit of air with the liquid usually odors of the beer that are sitting on the surface. This is also  activating your taste buds. In the end you will still want to try to distribute all of the liquid throughout your mouth so that all of the tastes buds are activated. Once you have done so then slowly swallow the beer.
    6. After you have swallowed then you will want to take in some air through your mouth. This will allow the air too react with the liquid still on your taste buds to give you the aftertaste. This can result in a smooth or creamy texture to a bitter sharp sting or anywhere in between.
    7. If you are planning on sampling different beers throughout the evening then you may want to start with lighter tasting beers and work your way toward the heavier ones.
    8. Don’t mistake the color of the beer for the heaviness of it. Some Stouts (which are usually the darkest of beers) can be very light and have a creamy texture to them while all pale ales are definitely lighter in color than a stout but a few may have so much hop flavor to them that the bitterness can change the flavors of any beers sampled after them.
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Flight of beers arranged from lighter to darker
  1. Everyone has different types of taste buds and while they can be trained over time, even people of equal tasting skills can taste different notes and flavors in the same beer. In the end, only you can decide if you like the flavor or not. If someone tells you that this is one of the most excellent examples of this style of beer and you find that you don’t like it, there is nothing wrong with that. Not everyone will like the same style of beer.
  2. A noted wine sommelier and wine tasting teacher, George Sternfels, often told the classes he would teach, “If you like the wine, drink the wine.” Meaning that it doesn’t matter what others think of the liquid you’re imbibing. If you enjoy it then what others may think about it doesn’t matter. Enjoy it. The same is true of beer.
  3. However, enjoying too much is a burden that all of have had to bear at one time or another. When we are young the goal when enjoying an evening almost seems to be to drink until we are too sick to drink anymore. And in truth, that is probably the learning process we all go through to find out our own limitations. Not the best way to go about it, perhaps, but a definite tried and true method.
  4. The importance is in knowing when enough is enough. And what is expected of you in the near future. Are you expected to get up early or go to work the next day? Do you have lower alcohol tolerances than others? Are you a designated driver? Are you bar hopping or staying in one spot? Is it a party where you have others you can help you get home or where you can stay as long as you need? Are you ill? All of these can factor into your evening.
  5. Whatever your decision, take care to make sure you make good decisions for the evening or that you are with people who can help you do that. Enjoy drinking the beer but don’t set yourself up for a bad experience.

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Papabear

The Art of Beer – Pt. 1 (Know your Beer)

With a nod to the structure of the ancient text “The Art of War” and its author, the strategist Sun Tzu, I now present…

The Art of Beer – Pt. 1 (Know your Beer)

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  1. The Art of Beer can be traced back thousands of years to the ancient Egyptians (or the Sumerians, or the Babylonians, or all of them). It makes it first appearance not long after mankind began to learn to farm and grow grains.
  2. Beer has been used to provide sustenance to laborers and provide a means of hydration when clean water supplies were low or non-existent.
  3. It is the oldest and most popular fermented drink in the world. It is the third highest consumed beverage (behind water and tea) in the world

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4. All beers are constructed of four main ingredients:

  1. Grains – Barley, Wheat, Rice and various breads and other starchy foods have been used for making beer over time. The starches are converted to sugars, which will later be converted to alcohol.
  2. Flavors – Various herbs, spices and sugars have been added to beers over time. These, like all of the ingredients affect the flavor of the beer as well as help to preserve that flavor.
  3. Yeast – The yeast is what converts the sugars in the wort to alcohol. The yeast also determines what type of beer it will become.
  4. Water – On average 95% of beer is water. It is the main source of the beer’s flavor and a large quantity is used during the brewing process. Good quality water is needed to make good quality beer.

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  1. The ancients believed the universe to be made up of four elements: Earth, Wind, Fire and Water. While we know the universe is constructed of many more elements than those, those same four elements are all necessary to make beer.
  2. Earth is represented by the roasted grains, the flavors and the yeast. All of these are cultivated in the Earth itself and impart the characteristics of the regions they come from.
  3. Water is obviously represented by water. It is used in the boiling of the grains to release the sugars, in the sparging to gather even more sugars into the wort, and in the brewing when the hops are added.
  4. Fire is represented by the fermentation process. Fire has been used throughout history by metal workers in forging steel, by chemists in creating new compounds and by cooks in creating delicious foods. If there is a chemical reaction present it is usually accompanied by fire. In the case of fermentation that fire is represented by the roiling action that the yeast creates when it is mixed into the wort.
  5. Wind, the last of the ancient four elements is represented by two important aspects in brewing; the cooling process where the brewed beer is cooled down prior to the yeast being added for fermentation; and patience which is needed to allow time for both the fermentation process to complete and to wait for the bottling process to mature.
  6. All of these elements are needed to create beer. The combinations can create various styles but in reality these styles can be broken down into two basic types of beers. Beer is either a lager or an ale. The difference is mainly in the type of yeast used for fermentation.
  7. From those two basic types of beers, the various grains and flavors added as well as the brewing style will determine what style of beer is created.

We will discuss the various types and styles of beers later. In Pt 2 we will discuss drinking beer. Until then… enjoy.

Papabear