The Beer Post

Happy New Year! It’s been longer getting back to PTV than I’d anticipated, what with a few new developments on the personal side. So, let’s not waste anymore time and jump right back into things!

You’ll notice that the tagline of PartTime Vagabond includes the word “beer,” and it’s high time we spent some time on the topic.

Beer is a fantastic little beverage with so many iterations as to appeal to almost anyone. When I first started drinking beer, I disliked the taste and tried to avoid most. I stuck with the lightest, cheapest beers I could. As my palate grew, however, I started going darker and darker in my beer selections, trying new brands and types, and finding that I really enjoyed them. Then I discovered the universe of craft brews, and my tiny little beer-world changed forever.

Photo courtesy Shipyard Brewing

There are hundreds, maybe thousands, of beers out there, and one for nearly every occasion. From the “get drunk on a Saturday night with friends” beers to the “sip this thoughtfully with other beer snobs” brews, beer is as versatile and satisfying as any great wine. In fact, many people are finding that pairing beers with foods is more enjoyable than doing so with wine, and are now switching sides. I enjoy both wine and beer, so I won’t go into which is better or worse.

What I will get into is a bit of a primer on the various types of beers. In fact, the good people at The Oatmeal put together a little history of beer that works nicely. I’m no pro, and I’m still learning about the history and types of beers, but I feel that I’m getting a good handle on the drink. Here are a few things you should know:

  • There are two main categories of beer: Ales and Lagers.
    • Ales are made when the yeast in the beer ferments at a higher temperature, staying at the surface of the liquid. This produces substances called “esters” which result in a more “fruity” tasting beer that tends to have a fuller, more robust body. Some common types of ales are stouts, porters, IPAs (India Pale Ales), Belgians, and Pales. Some of my favorite brand beers are Shipyard Brewing Prelude Special Ale and Lakefront Brewery Cream City Pale Ale.
      • Fun Fact #1: Guinness is a famous stout.
      • Fun Fact #2: IPAs, or India Pale Ales, are incredibly bitter beers historically stemming from British sailors needing to store their beer for a very long time on their trips to India (or for it being shipped to them while stationed in India). Because hops are a natural preservative, brewers used large amounts of them in the brewing process. Add in some extra alcohol and dry-hopping to preserve the beer, and BAM! you have an IPA. I can’t stand IPAs, but I think they have the most interesting historical story.
    • Lagers are made when the yeast ferments at a lower temperature, allowing it to remain at the bottom of the fermenting container. It’s stored at cold temps for at least 3 weeks. In that time, the yeast settles at the bottom and flocculates. Flavors in lagers tend to be less complex and have a lighter body than ales, although some lagers can be quite dark and complex. The types of lagers you’ll see are Pilsners, Bocks, and Dunkels. One of my favorite American lagers, and actually my favorite beer, is the Samuel Adams Boston Lager. It’s a darker, medium bodied beer with a relatively complex flavor.
      • Fun Fact #1: Budweiser is a lager.
      • Fun Fact #2: Steam Beer is the only lager that is produced at higher temperatures.

So that’s the PartTime Vagabond Beer Primer for today. Future posts will have more info on beer and beer related accessories, including a short history on craft brewing, home brewing, food pairing, and interviews with local breweries and beer connoisseurs. Now, go out to your local liquor store and get yourself a good Friday brew.

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