Local craft beer seems to be taking over all the draft spouts these days. It’s fun trying new flavors but so confusing! I’m not a big drinker but I do like a cold brew or two when it’s scorching hot out (or anytime pizza is on the menu). In an attempt to sort through the confusion, I sat down with some experts at Shady’s Brewhaha in Dallas.
Let’s start with a little history. Did you ever receive or give a home brewing beer kit when they came out several years ago? You probably did and it’s sitting somewhere in your garage. BTW, if this is the case, you might want to revisit this post. 🙂 Apparently some people actually opened the home brewing box and well, a craze was born. What started out as a hobby for some, became a very profitable business down the road. For example, I have a FB friend from high school who started his now, very popular brewery Hop Fusion Ale Works this way. He used to post updates describing his newest brew and now, years later, he has a great brewery in Fort Worth, TX filled with local art and music. I often see his Hop Fusion label at local eateries as well. In fact, some local labels are becoming so popular that they are being bought by major breweries like Miller and Budweiser.
Below is my attempt to describe the most popular types of beer. Here is an analogy that helped me wrap my head around this; “Some beers are made from wheat while others are made from hops and other grains; like vodka is made from potatoes, whiskey is made from corn and other grains and tequila from agave. In other words, all are liquors but different; all are beers but different. Get it? Yea, me either but I’m getting closer.
- IPA (Indian Pale Ale) – This is the strongest tasting and not exactly a “beginner beer” . The story goes, when the East India Trading Company began exporting their IPA’s, they shipped it with 70% hops content instead of the usual 20-30% to save on shipping costs. They planned to dilute it when it arrived at it’s destination. However, people liked the super strong taste and it never got diluted.
- Wheat Beer – My personal preference. It’s, well, made from wheat. American wheat ales are usually clear or a little cloudy looking and have a clean, less bitter flavor. A popular wheat craft beer is Blue Moon.
- Malt – These are typically from Germany, Ireland and Belgium and have an earthy scotch flavor to them. They are dark, sweet and bitter.
- Stouts – Those really dark, strong beers like Guinness. They are made with roasted malt that gives them their dark color and espresso, unsweetened chocolate or burnt bread flavor.
- Lager – Beer is either an ale or a lager. Lagers are different because they are fermented at cooler temperatures and are usually made with ingredients other than barley. They are made with corn, rice or oats so they aren’t hoppy but are more carbonated than ales. Popular examples are Budweiser and Miller.
- Cider – Apparently not technically a beer as it doesn’t contain either malt or hops. It’s just fermented fruit, usually apples or apples with a blend of other fruits.
- Gluten Free Beer – Just a tidbit for those beer lovers who have gone gluten free. Here is a post out of Wheat-free.org.
You may still be confused and overwhelmed by all the choices but hopefully you have enough info. to at least be able to ask questions the next time you are confronted with a wall full of draft spouts to choose from. Don’t be afraid to ask questions either and for goodness sake always ask for a sample (or two). If you are looking for a great place to be overwhelmed, I have two favorites: The Yard House which has literally over 100 beers on tap and Mellow Mushroom, which has pizza too, soo…