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Mike Reis

Mike Reis

Certified Cicerone

Avid beer maker, writer, and researcher. I even occasionally drink the stuff.

Mike Reis is a Certified Cicerone working as Minister of Education for California-based distributor Lime Ventures. Previously, he co-managed the beer program at San Francisco's Abbot's Cellar and The Monk's Kettle. Follow him on Twitter @beerspeaks or find him behind a pint near you.

  • Website
  • Location: Oakland, CA
  • Favorite foods: Buffalo wings, pretty much everything the Ramen Shop, and an Emilia's Pizza. Half margherita, half soppressata, please.
  • Last bite on earth: A big ol' crunchy bite of beer.

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

How to Pair Beer and Dessert

Pairing drinks with any food isn't as simple as just matching flavors—there are other elements at play that can gloriously make (or disastrously break) the match. Here are a few things to consider when you're pairing beer and dessert. More

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.

A Beginner's Guide to German Beer Styles

@Andy_o))) Do you have access to Heater Allen? Love their stuff!

@Skazooz - we tried to keep this article true to it's title--those beers can wait for the Intermediate Guide ;)

A Beginner's Guide to German Beer Styles

I probably could have mentioned this in the article, but alas. The photos that accompany each entry above depict the glassware that is generally accepted as appropriate for the style of beer described.
Minor exceptions: altbier and Kölsch each have a "classic" glass associated with them that I don't keep in my cupboard.
Kölsch is typically served in a 200ml, very narrow cylindrical glass called a stange and alt is served in a shorter, squatter version (called a becher) very similar to the one pictured above.

The 10 Best Budget Bourbons

Nice list! I'd love to see a $20-30 list too.

Beer Issues: What's Up With the Three-Tier System?

@ckevlar: There are definitely a lot of upsides for breweries to use distributors, but the pros and cons were those from the debate over the three-tier system as it exists today, which includes the fact that it is (for the most part) state mandated. Sorry if that wasn't clear!

You can absolutely still be against our three-tier system and in favor of distributors!

Beer Issues: What's Up With the Three-Tier System?

@dgwid Thanks for the link! I toyed with introducing the topic of aligned wholesalers in the article, but its too big an issue to attack in this format. Appreciate it!

Beer Issues: What's Up With the Three-Tier System?

@Lorenzo--Beyond the direct impact tied houses have in terms of consumer choice, you have to consider the indirect impact as well. If the US had a strong tied-house system, the growth of craft brands would be much slower, and we could potentially be decades behind where we are now.
That said, I think we should constantly be re-evaluating the industry's infrastructure. Even if there was value to the system in the past, it's important that the system STAYS the best thing for the industry. As craft explodes, we need to consider not just past, but present and future as well. It's a tough question.

Beer Issues: What's Up With the Three-Tier System?

@Weezel, I did think of that as a positive, but chose to exclude it because small breweries could still choose to work with distributors without a state-mandated 3-tier system.

As for the brewer's weighing in, there's a pretty good conversation going on over on my Twitter account right now with the brewers from HenHouse Brewing and Almanac Beer Co! Twitter

Beer Issues: What's Up With the Three-Tier System?

@AndroidUser: I don't really see your point--how is the three-tier system designed to keep the big boys in charge?
The craft beer boom is happening in spite of any acquisitions or shutdowns by AB InBev (which I believe you're overemphasizing), and the three-tier system isn't preventing your supermarket from having real craft beer on the shelves, whoever is in charge of buying for your supermarket is.

The Serious Eats Guide to Holiday Beer Pairing

@Rabonour - Thanks! Gueuze and mussels is considered a classic combination in Belgium and Garrett Oliver waxes endlessly about gueuze with ceviche in the Brewmaster's Table, so it's not a terribly original idea, but give it a go. The less-rippingly sour gueuzes may be better--crab can be pretty delicate.

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