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Lager Is Craft Beer's Most Exciting Frontier

For most folks, the word 'lager' brings to mind pale, crushable beers, perfect for hot and humid days. But lager is more than that. And while craft beer's current identity in the US was formed around amber ales, pale ales, and IPAs, lagers will play an important part in its future. More

7 Great Beers for the Christmas Beer Hater

They sneak into our bottle shops in the dead of night, revealed under fluorescent light to an unwelcome and premature soundtrack of soft-rock renditions of Jingle Bells and Silent Night. They're coming: Christmas beers, spiced to the hilt with nutmeg, cloves, and ginger. More

A Beginner's Guide to Mead

First: You don't have to be a Viking to drink mead. You also shouldn't be afraid of the fact that mead is made from honey, and you don't have to relegate the drink to the dessert hour. More

How to Pair Beer With Mexican Food

I know what you're thinking. "Here's how to pair beer with Mexican food: insert lime into Pacifico. Drink." I won't tell you not to drink your Coronas, Pacificos, and Tecates, but other beers can offer some serious south-of-the-border beer pairing satisfaction. Just like a well-made sauce can improve a dish, a well-paired beer can make any meal just a bit more awesome. More

The Serious Eats Guide to What's in Your Beer

Most beer is made from just four main ingredients: grain, hops, yeast, and water. But when you consider the diversity of products available within each of these categories, it's easy to understand where beer gets its depth. There's a whole slew of grains in many colors and treatments, scores of hop varieties grown in different climates, and countless strains of yeast with different characteristics depending on fermentation conditions. Manipulation of water chemistry even gives the brewer freedom to screw around with his H2O! What's in your beer? Let's get into it a bit... More

How Draft Systems Work: Getting Beer From Keg to Glass

Anyone who has ever been to a college keg party has seen a draft beer system in action. One chilled keg + one party pump = one red Solo cup filled with beer. But your favorite bars and restaurants don't keep perma-drunk frat boys in the keg coolers to give the party tap a few pumps every 20 minutes. The draft systems used to get beer to you from the keg at these places are more complicated than you might think. More

The Serious Eats Guide to Holiday Beer Pairing

Whether the holidays make you think of sugar plums and snowmen or overly opinionated family members and a roast burning in the oven, there's one thing that seems to draw folks together like nothing else this time of year: booze. Here's our guide to the best beer options for several possible holiday feasts. More

An Epic Vertical Tasting of Dogfish Head's World Wide Stout

I begged, borrowed, stole, and traded beer with weird strangers on the internet for 3 years until I had a pretty respectable collection. Dogfish Head sent along the 2010 and 2011 batches, plus a sneak-peek taste of the 2013 vintage. It was on: a vertical tasting of damn-near every Dogfish Head World Wide Stout that was ever made. More

The Serious Eats Guide to Thanksgiving Beer Pairing

There's no one beverage that's going to perfectly match every item on your plate and you won't want a separate glass for your turkey, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, and Brussels sprouts. But the beer you choose to serve is still important—as with any good celebration, you've gotta have good hooch. More

Lager Is Craft Beer's Most Exciting Frontier

@AndroidUser - I do prefer that my beer be inoffensive and carbonated!

I also want it to be delicious, so I'll buy the good stuff.

Your Beer Bucket List: 20 Must-Try Styles

@monopod Keen observation! The flavor you're tasting is an ester known as isoamyl acetate, which is commonly used as a banana flavor additive in candies and other food products. It's a byproduct of the fermentation in certain beer styles, including some of the Belgian beers where you're encountering it. It's an essential component of flavor in hefeweizen, as well.

If you do find it completely intolerable, Belgian beers might not be your favorite category. There are certainly many commercial Belgian beers that don't have this character (it has to do largely with the strain of yeast used and the fermentation conditions, like temperature and the type of vessel used for fermentation), but it's know where it will come up without cracking a bottle--the sour styles mentioned above (gueuze, Flanders red) will generally not have this flavor, but it could pop up in any of the other styles I mentioned.

@Cerrill I'd certainly agree that all of those styles can be interesting and delicious, and are worthy of recognition, but the same could be said about just about every style in the world of beer. In picking a concise list, I don't think it would be necessary for a new drinker to try Rochefort 8 if they've had Westmalle Dubbel--they are very similar stylistically. Same goes for the stouts. There's a huge variation amongst the stout and porter substyles, but tasting one "standard" stout/porter and a barrel-aged imperial stout gives folks a good foundation for understanding that range. There aren't all that many milk stouts, true Baltic porters, or smoked porters packing the shelves around this country.

7 Great Beers for the Christmas Beer Hater

@zorazen It doesn't raise your body temperature, but it makes you feel warmer, that's for sure!

Thanks for all the great recommendations, folks!

5 Great Fall Beers for the Pumpkin Beer Hater

@MayoHater, it is true that most breweries use hop pellets these days, but whole cone-hopped beers are far from uncommon. Sierra Nevada and Anchor, two of the most prominent craft breweries in the country, use exclusively whole cone hops. Each form of the hop has its advantages and disadvantages, and many breweries use hops in different forms for this reason. Lagunitas and Russian River both use hop extracts in conjunction with pelletized hops (and I wouldn't be surprised if there were some whole cone in the mix too).

5 Great Fall Beers for the Pumpkin Beer Hater

Pre-emptive comment: yes, we know hops are technically grown on bines. Sorry, botanists.

The 6 Beers You Should Always Have in Your Fridge for Killer Pairings

To be clear, not ALL the beers mentioned in the article are distributed by my employer, just the three (out of 27) marked with asterisks. Didn't mean to offend anyone with their inclusion, I was just trying to be up front about it. I'm passionate about the beers my company sells, and consciously avoided including more of them in this article (and all of my articles) as to not look like I'm shilling. Thanks to all for reading!

A Beginner's Guide to Mead

@AndroidUser - With proper yeast management, including a good aeration/nutrient schedule, drinkable mead is possible in much less time than a year. I'm almost finished drinking a batch I brewed in March, and it's incredible! Hard to force myself to save some for aging.

A Beer Beginner's Guide to Hops of the World

@fionnbharr: This is true! I used the bine terminology in the caption for the picture up top, but "vine" in the article. While it's not technically accurate, the term "vine" is more commonly used by laypeople discussing hops. Thanks for addressing that!

Ask a Cicerone: The Best Beers for People Who Don't Like Beer

To the above regarding hops--I've found that it's the bitterness of hops that folks that "hate hoppy beers" are turned off by, not the aromatics of the hops themselves. As we're seeing more and more pales, IPAs and others focusing on hop oil aromatics from heavy dry hopping, I've noticed a lot of folks that "hate hoppy beers" are enjoying these extremely hoppy beers that are low in bitterness.

How to Buy Fresh Beer and Why it Matters

@Matt C Occasional fluctuations are a part of a beer's normal existence--beer is packaged cold, allowed to warm up if it is to be bottle-conditioned, (usually) kept at room temp until it's loaded onto a truck, taken to a distribution warehouse, put on another truck, and taken to a retailer. There are dramatic changes in temperature with every step of that process.

Heat is one of beer's greatest enemies. The benefits of storing at fridge temp outweigh the potential downsides of the additional temperature fluctuation of taking the beer from the store's fridge to your own.

Stores don't always refrigerate product because it costs money and many customers prefer unrefrigerated beer based on ill-informed beliefs.

A Beginner's Guide to American Beer Styles

Very cool, @Tongo Rad! Thanks for sharing.

A Beginner's Guide to American Beer Styles

Thanks @intothebrew & @stncttr908!

@dmckean44: Corn does indeed impart more flavor to beer than rice does, but it is a subtle flavor and is often confused with the flavor imparted by DMS (dimethyl sulfide), an aromatic compound that is fairly common in mass-produced lagers. The aroma of DMS is often compared to that of cooked corn--it comes from malt and brewing production methods.

A Beginner's Guide to American Beer Styles

So why is the beer so cheap? Outside of ingredient quality, there are a whole lot of other inputs that result in lower costs for them. Hop and grain contracts, huge buying power dropping costs on everything, robust distributor/sales networks and marketing that help move volume at lower margins...that's just a small part of it.

A Beginner's Guide to American Beer Styles

@AndroidUser @BeavisPeters asked about the use of corn and rice, so I was answering his question. I didn't engage in your conversation about broken grains (I assume you're talking about brewers rice) and hops because I don't feel like they're relevant to this article or the question of why corn and rice appear in beer.

I've made no attempt to write off other cost-saving measures taken by big beer as anything other than just that, lowering their costs. Though I haven't researched it specifically, I'm sure that's precisely what's going on--it just isn't relevant to the question above, which you challenged me on.

A Beginner's Guide to American Beer Styles

@AndroidUser - This conversation has always been why big brewers use rice and corn in their beer. That's what I'm addressing and I don't know how hop usage got into this conversation.

The use of rice and corn by American brewers predates the InBev acquisition by 140+ years--the sources I provided have nothing to do with the acquisition.

Are you suggesting that the motivation for using rice and corn changed with the InBev acquisition? That doesn't make sense to me.

I'm in no way saying that they aren't motivated by lowering costs through cheaper ingredients nowadays. That just isn't responsible for the use of rice and corn in beer, which is the question at hand.

A Beginner's Guide to American Beer Styles

@AndroidUser--If you're interested in continuing this conversation, I encourage you to read the sources I offered up the last time we had this exchange. They paint a very clear picture as to why corn and rice was used in early adjunct lagers.

A Beginner's Guide to American Beer Styles

@BeavisPeters As much as folks seem to love throwing price out as the sole reason that big breweries are using corn and rice, it simply isn't true. I had an exchange with another user on this topic that you may find interesting...
check it out!

A Beginner's Guide to Belgian Beer Styles

@crusty - that's a widely-believed belief without a ton of evidence to support it. That's why I left it out!

@La Maison Sacre - I left out mention of the Trappists for a couple reasons. 1) not all of them are in Belgium. 2) the styles represented across the group of Trappists aren't unified. 3) there are non-Trappist monastic breweries focused on making great beers. The "abbey ales" nomenclature I chose has its shortcomings and complicated history, but I felt it was best to classify the (mainly) dubbels and tripels discussed above.

A Beginner's Guide to Belgian Beer Styles

@Adam the MechE - Good points! I wanted to keep this pretty simple for newcomers, but I did write a bit about these critters a while back: http://drinks.seriouseats.com/2013/03/sour-beer-what-is-brett-lacto-pedio-wild-yeast-flavors.html?ref=title

A Beginner's Guide to Belgian Beer Styles

@Lorenzo - The term sour ales isn't being used here as a style with specific, quantifiable measurements, but rather as a category grouping together styles that share that characteristic sourness brought on by bacterial fermentation.

These ARE still strange for many drinkers outside of Belgium and the term helps those that may not know what to expect from "lambic" or "Flanders red."

The Serious Eats Guide to What's in Your Beer

@Android User: That story reeks a bit of "big beer bashing urban legend."

Busch and Busch Light combined sell about 1/4 the volume of Bud and Bud Light. They would have to screw up 1/5th of the batches of Bud and Bud Light to meet the quantities they are selling. And they'd have to do so in a way where it was screwed up, but not so screwed up they couldn't sell it. And Busch would taste different every single batch unless they screwed it up in exactly the same way. It just doesn't add up.

You don't build beers famous for world wide consistency with the kind of incompetence necessary to screw up 20% of your batches.

The Serious Eats Guide to What's in Your Beer

@AndroidUser So a brewery finds unbelievable success using rice/corn as a solution to their problems and they are supposed to change their recipes? The big guys have found a formula that works for them and their customers. Simply saying that they use rice and corn because they are cheaper ignores the bigger picture.

As for your response to jeffpeck13--"brewing the beer bigger and watering it down" is referred to as high gravity brewing and it isn't reserved for the big guys. I know of at least one well-respected craft brewery that does it. It allows the breweries to get a greater amount of finished product from existing equipment if they are operating at capacity, as many craft breweries are these days.

And I'd love to see a source on big breweries selling screwups as cheaper brands. New product launches from big breweries take months of planning and extensive, expensive marketing. It's not like they screw up a batch and just force it on shelves somewhere.

I'm no fan or supporter of the beer being made by big breweries, but it's important that we criticize them for the right reasons.

The Serious Eats Guide to What's in Your Beer

@AndroidUser: the story of corn and rice in beer is a complicated one that goes beyond cheapness and lightening body.

Maureen Ogle has done a lot of research into the history of rice and corn in beer and traces it back to problems brewers had with the protein content of the 6-row barley they were using. They were creating beers that people didn't like. Corn and rice offered a solution and at the time, the grains used were MORE expensive than barley--especially when you consider any extra effort, energy, or equipment that went into preparing these grains for brewing.

A Beginner's Guide to German Beer Styles

@AndroidUser - Andechs beers are imported by St. Killian in New York. Give them a call--they may be able to help! http://stkillian.com/contact/

A Beginner's Guide to German Beer Styles

@AndroidUser - where are you located? The Andechs doppelbock is available in some places on the East Coast right now--I drank some in Boston a couple months ago.

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