Hey friends! I thought I would kick off a new weekly post called “Beer Fun Friday”! Each Friday I will share a little post about my favorite beverage: Beer! This weekly post will be about anything and everything beer related so it may include a few key notes about a specific style of beer or I’ll just share some general beer news.
A few years ago I started taking notes about beer in a little black book I called “Dear Beer Diary”. It turned into a funny little assignment that I unintentionally created for myself. Whenever my husband and I were out enjoying a craft beer together, I could never remember later what beers I had sampled. I decided the only way to keep track of this stuff was to write it down! Of course my little beer diary was created before the popular app Untappd hit the streets. I use the Untappd app now but there are some things that are kind of clunky about it. I guess I just prefer my little diary. But I digress!
“What exactly makes you an expert?” you might ask. I admit I’m not an expert, but I have sampled a bazillion beers and recently I became a Recognized BJCP Beer Judge! The Beer Judge Certification Program was founded in 1985 with the purpose of encouraging the knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of the world’s diverse beer, mead, and cider styles! Sounds pretty awesome right? BJCP Judges are called upon to judge homebrew competitions and competitions take place all over the US. My city has a homebrew club just like many other cities so when my husband and I wanted to learn more about beer, we joined our local club. We started volunteering at homebrew competitions as Stewards and from there we learned the art of judging. If you’re interested in becoming a judge, just visit the BJCP website to learn more.
As I mentioned, my husband is a homebrewer and I’ve brewed a batch or two myself. He started brewing about 4 years ago and he’s picked up a little hardware along the way. His beers are pretty tasty (I have an extra 10 lbs around my mid-section to prove it).
So to kick off the first Beer Fun Friday!, lets start with the basics. I’m sure you’re all familiar with the difference between lagers and ales, yes? No?
Okay, so “lager” is a German word and it means to store or storage. Lagers are fermented and conditioned at lower temperatures. This basically means that the yeast used to make lagers like it on the chilly side and work best when “stored” in a cool place. Along those same lines, lager beers take a bit longer to ferment and condition than ales do. Think “storage” again. Have you ever been to a beer cellar or beer cave? Caves are the best place to lager beer because it stays at a constant temperature – usually in the 60’s which is perfect for lager yeast to do its tricks. Lager yeast is sometimes called “bottom-fermenting yeast”. Lagers are typically very light in color or pale and pretty darn clear. They have a very light flavor with a clean taste and can be pretty refreshing. There are several different types of lagers out there so stayed tuned!
Now, ales are quite different than lagers. Ale yeast ferments at warmer temperatures. Fermentation time for ales is rocket fast compared to lagers. Ales can ferment completely as quickly as two weeks compared to lagers which can sometimes take months. Ale yeast is known as “top fermenting yeast”. You might notice that the flavor of an ale is rich and full bodied compared to lagers. Ales can be pretty fun because of the variety of flavors and characteristics that jump out. One thing we all love to throw into ales is hops! Ales need a little kick of hops because on its own it would be pretty sweet. Adding a little bitterness keeps flavors balanced. Hops are also used as a means of preserving beer. There are far more categories of ales out there than lagers so get ready!
I’m looking forward to Beer Fun Fridays!