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Beer Tips A - Z: 26 Things to Know about Beer
Photo El Alvi / Flickr

Beer Tips A - Z: 26 Things to Know about Beer

Did you know the White House has its own brew? And that beer has its own patron saint?

By FDL on

Ale & lager. These are the two great families of beer: ales are made using yeast which ferments at high temperatures, giving a more rapid production process, and are then flavored with herbs and spices. Lagers, meanwhile, are made using lower temperature yeasts. The most popular type of beer, they have a wide spectrum of coloration, from pale to dark.

Barack Obama. A special beer is produced at the White House: White House Honey Ale, which is made using the home-brew kit bought by the President. The beer is then flavored with honey collected from beehives in the Presidential gardens.

Cereal. Since the year 1500, beers have been made with cereals: these must be cooked or malted (germinated) in order to be used: this is why we talk about barley, wheat or grain malts. Hops, on the other hand, are bitter-tasting flowers used to balance out the sweeter flavor of the malts.

Danger. History’s most incredible beer-based story occurred in London in 1914: a vat containing 100,000 gallons of ale exploded, destroying two houses and a pub, and killing nine people. Local residents, however, rushed out of their homes to drink the resulting flood of free beer.

Eco-beer. In Europe, some producers have started supplying beer in kegs made out of 100% recyclable PET plastic instead of aluminum, allowing the kegs to be tapped without the use of CO2. The process is more environmentally friendly, and the beer is better, fresher, and longer-lasting.

Foam. Foam is an essential part of the perfect glass, made of bubbles of carbon dioxide forming on the surface of the liquid. Called the beer’s ‘head’, in order to dissolve it, all you have to do is stir it around with your finger.

Glass. Some beers are meant to be drunk from special kinds of mugs: glass is best, when rinsed in cold water before the beer is poured. In some countries beer is served from jugs containing two pints of lager. Australians, however, often like to drink directly out of these.

Homebrewing. Brewing beer at home is a simple hobby, popular the world over: to get up-and-running, all you need is a home-brew kit.

Ireland. This small European State is home to that most famous dark beer, Guinness: full bodied and of moderate strength, pouring it creates a compact, almost solid head, due to the use of nitrogen.

Jackson (Michael). He might share the same name as the singer, but he himself is more famous as the author of the beer Bible, the ‘World Guide to Beer’: this classification of beers is read the world over.

Keeping cold. It tastes better cold, and this is why some rather eccentric inventors have indulged themselves by coming up with conservation methods which don’t require a fridge.

Longest bar. The world’s longest beer-serving bar measures 208 meters: the New Bulldog in Rock Island, Illinois. Lots of actors started out serving beer in bars, including Bruce Willis, Sandra Bullock, Chevy Chase and Bill Cosby.

Munich. The most important date in the beer diary is the Oktoberfest, held each year in Munich, in Bavaria, Germany, at the beginning of Fall. Over the course of this two-week festival, over 7 million liters of beer are served.

Napkin. If you don’t want your napkin or beer mat to stick to the bottom of your pint while you’re drinking, sprinkle a few grains of salt on them before putting your beer down.

Oldest brewery. The world’s oldest brewery still in operation was set up in 1040, almost a thousand years ago: the Weihenstephan Abbey brewery in Bavaria.

Patron saint of beer. There are a few saints who can be credited with being guardians of beer: from France’s St. Arnou, recognized as being the Patron Saint of beer, to Sant’Arnaldo di Soisson, the Patron Saint of hop collectors. Saints Adriano, Floriano and Brigida are just some of the many other protectors of beer.

Quotes. A couple of the most famous witticisms about beer: Frank Zappa said: “You can’t be a real country unless you have a beer and an airline”, while Homer Simpson came up with: “All right brain, I don’t like you and you don’t like me – so let’s just do this and I’ll get back to killing you with beer”.

Roosevelt. One of the successes of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s 1932 election campaign, which got him elected President, was his promise to get everyone a beer by ending the era of prohibition.

Storage. It’s best to keep beer in a cool place, out of direct sunlight, avoiding the humidity of cellars. Unlike wine, it’s best drunk young, so all of its tastes and flavors are retained.

Trappist. The Belgians can boast the greatest number of different beers: over 400. The most famous are the beers produced by Trappist monks. A tour of their abbeys alone is worth the price of a vacation.

USA. Despite only ranking 16th in the world in terms of per capita beer consumption, in terms of total consumption the USA comes second only to China. There’s even a movement calling for the current national alcoholic drink (bourbon) to be replaced by beer.

Vikings. Beer was sacred to the Vikings: in Valhalla, the Nordic version of Olympia, the Valkyries offered it up in golden chalices, while seven days after someone’s death the ‘funeral ale’ was held, a party where beer was drunk in honor of the deceased.

Weiss. White, or Weiss beer is made using wheat, and is still produced in Europe according to Medieval recipes: besides hops, it is also flavored with coriander and both sweet and bitter oranges. It’s clear, with a sweeter flavor.

X beer. The letter X is used in the names of some of the world’s most popular beers: There’s an American beer called Triple X, while Australia has its ubiquitous Four X, whose logo is regarded as being one of the country’s most famous symbols.

Yeast. Yeast is what causes the process of fermentation in beer – when the sugars in the must turn into alcohol. You can buy yeast for beer either fresh or in condensed form, and it also happens to be great as a hair conditioner and for hydrating skin.

Zymurgy. The science of studying the chemical processes involved in the fermentation of beer.

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