Beerhead 101 – The Essential Basics Every Beer Lover SHOULD know!

Love beer? (Actually what’s not to love?)

Call yourself a beerhead? But, how deep is your love?

What do you know about beer, beyond the fact that it has bubbles and brings about a lot of happiness?

If the answer is “not much” or “a bit”, we suggest you read on, and then dazzle your beerhead buddies on the next barbecue or sundowner.

Beerhead 101 – Beer hows, whats, wheres, whens & a lot more!

Being referred to as a “beerhead” is a source of pride for a lot of men out there.

However in the snooty world of wines and whiskys, why would being a connoisseur of the humblest of all beverage elicit pride?

Here’s why.

  • Beer is one of the earliest form of alcoholic beverages invented by mankind. Our forefathers consisted of many a beerhead!
  • Beer was consumed in Europe across sections of society and actually was preferred over water as the supply of clean drinking water was not a given. Beer actually saved lives!
  • Beer is THE most popular alcoholic beverage in the world. It’s also the third most popular beverage after water and tea. The world’s a beerhead!
  • Oktoberfest!


We could go on listing stuff that’d make a beerhead swell with pride & joy, but then this’d make for a VERY long post.

What IS beer?

Simply put, it is a fermented alcoholic beverage. That’s the boring answer.

The interesting version?

“Beer is an effervescent drink that contains alcohol, and is produced when malted barley is fermented with the help of yeast.”

That answer just got you a lot of respect amongst your peers, and your intended target audience you intelligent savvy man!

 

How is beer made?

It is made primarily from barley (although other grains might be used, but barley is used most widely).

This stuff:

Barley - Beerhead 101

 

So once barley is harvested, it is germinated by soaking it in water. Once germination takes place, it is pulled out of the water and dried with hot air to stop the seeds from sprouting.

Now that we’re all science-d up. Let’s throw in some more of that stuff in.

We’ve now reached the point where barley was germinated and then the germination was stopped by applying heat. This process is called “malting”.

The processed barley, now called “malt” is crushed and placed in containers holding hot water. This mixture is called the “mash”.

What this does is convert the starch inside the seeds to simple carbohydrates (simple sugars).

And as we all know, sugar is what gets fermented!

Soon the sugars are released into the water (called “wort”).

The sweet wort is separated from the grains (which are then used for other purposes)

It looks like this:

Wort - Beerhead 101

Pic: Wikipedia.org

Now every beerhead worth his or her salt would have heard of hops.

These are bitter aromatic flowers that add flavour to the beer. Hops were used as preservatives to keep beer from spoiling in older times when storage and preserving wasn’t as good as modern times .

The necessity no longer exists, but hops have become an integral part of beer over time, and so they remain.

Hops look like this:

 

Hops - Beerhead 101

Pic: Wikipedia.org

 

Now, the wort (sweet barley extract) is boiled with hops that give it bitter, citrusy & crisp flavours. The liquid is cooled quickly to the right temperature and yeast is added in.

Yeast then works its magic and fermentation takes place. Know what’s produced when sugar is fermented?

Alcohol and CO2!

All that needs to be done now is to drink the sunshine liquid! (However some amout of ageing takes place inevitably before bottling and packaging.)

There you go. You know how beer is made. If you weren’t one earlier, you are now a certified beerhead!

 

What are the different kinds of beer?

The absolute primary differentiation in beer types splits them into two kinds.

  1. Lagers – Clear, crisp, smooth, mellow and easy to drink (a good example is the iconic Corona)
  2. Ales – Full bodied, sweet, bitter, heavy and dark coloured (example – Guinness)

Getting firmly into beerhead category, here are further types that’d be good to know.

Lagers:

  • Pilsner – Low alcohol, high carbonation, light coloured (4.5 – 5.5% ABV)
    • Popular Brands: Corona, Beck’s, Samuel Adams
    • Looks like:

Pilsner beerhead 101

 

  • Bock – Sweeter & darker. Higher alcohol content (5.5 – 7.5% ABV)
    • Popular Brands: Super Bock, Shiner Bock, Super Bock
    • Looks like:

Bock Beerhead 101

  • Dunkel – Amber coloured, with overtones of coffee, smooth (4.0 – 6.0% ABV)
    • Popular Brands: Paulaner, Warsteiner, Flensburger
    • Looks like:

Dunkel Beerhead 101

Ales:

  • Porter – Dark, heavy, burnt flavour (4.0 – 7.5% ABV)
    • Popular Brands: Brand Porter, Fuller’s London Porter, Ballast Point
    • Looks like:

Porter Beerhead 101

  • Stout – Sweet, caramel-y, roasted flavour (4.0 – 7.0% ABV)
    • Popular Brands: Guinness, Murphy’s, Castle Milk Stout
    • Looks like:

Stout Beerhead 101

  • IPA (India Pale Ale) – Very bitter, amber coloured (5.5 – 7.5% ABV)
    • Popular Brands: Anchor Liberty Ale, Hoppyright Infringement, Potosi Tangerine IPA
    • Looks like:

IPA beerhead

  • Wheat – Fruity, pale coloured and high carbonation (4.0 – 7.0%)
    • Popular Brands: Hoegaarden, Blue Moon, Weihenstephaner
    • Looks like:

Wheat Beer Beerhead 101

How to drink it like a true beerhead?

So there is bro-science that’s floating around beerhead circles basis unfounded knowledge. We went through a lot of it and figured the best way to drink beer.

Drink it how you want to. Simple.

However, if you want to really get into enjoying the notes, flavours and associated, there are a few things to keep in mind.

  • Don’t frost the glass. It causes more foam buildup. A cool, clean glass is a great way to go.
  • Don’t superchill the beer. The colder the beverage, the lesser the flavour.
  • Drinking it beyond the “best before” date. Beer spoils and tastes miserable when stale.
  • Make sure it is stored away from sunlight. Sunlight will spoil beer without a doubt.

Anecdote: You’d notice that nearly all beer bottles are dark coloured. That is to save it from spoiling through sunlight exposure during transportation. Corona has clear glass bottles and would go bad, so people would drop in a piece of lime to mask the “spoilt” flavour. THAT is why Corona is still had with a lime wedge in the bottle!

  • Don’t worry about the foam. A three quarter inch of head (foam layer on top) is perfect.
  • Drink with friends. Beer has always tasted better with fellow beerheads!

Enjoy responsibly!

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