Jon Binkley, firstname.lastname@example.org
Michael Stewart, email@example.com
(c) 1995, by Jonathan Binkley and Michael Stewart. You can distribute this document freely, as long as this copywrite notice is intact, and credit is given where credit is due. You may not use any of this document in any commercial publication whatsoever without the express, written permission of both Jonathan Binkley and Michael Stewart.
Part I: INTRODUCTION to the rec.food.drink.beer Styles FAQ ACKNOWLEDGMENTS Most Righteous Editors and Keepers of the FAQs: Keith Gumbinger John Lock Alan Marshall Joel Plutchak Craig Verver The following people from the many beer related newsgroups and digests on the 'Net, past and present, made invaluable contributions to this document: Thomas Aylesworth David Brockington Dan Brown Jim Busch Dick Dunn George Fix Kirk Flemming Rich Fortnum Jeff Frane Rob Gardner Jay Hersh Al Korzonas Pat Laverty Martin Lodahl Ken Papai Darryl Richman Alison Scott Mark Sexton Russ Shipman Paul Sovcik Spencer Thomas And many others whose names will be added as rapidly as aging and damaged neurons can recall them. ************************************************************************* CONTENTS IN FULL: PARDON OUR DUST!!! FAQ UNDER CONSTRUCTION!! Parts III through V will be posted one section at a time (in no particular order) until the entire document is completed. This table reflects how the FAQ will look then, not the way it looks now. Part I: Introduction to the rec.food.drink.beer Styles FAQ I.A. EXPLANATIONS and DISCLAIMERS I.B. BASIC DEFINITIONS I.C. DIFFERENCES FROM COMMERCIAL STYLES I.D. WHO CARES WHAT STYLE IT IS, AS LONG AS IT TASTES GOOD? "The Beer Discovery Experience," by Paul Sovcik REFERENCES Part II: BREWING: Ingredients, Process, and Style II.A. WATER II.B. GRAIN II.B.1 MALT II.B.2. MASHING II.B.3. NON-MALT ADJUNCTS II.C. HOPS and other FLAVORINGS II.C.1. HOPS II.C.2. FRUITS, HERBS, AND SPICES II.D. YEAST and FERMENTATION II.E. CONDITIONING, AGING, and SERVING APPENDIX 1: MEASUREMENTS of GRAVITY, COLOR, BITTERNESS, and ALCOHOL CONTENT Part III: Styles of LAGER III.A. BLONDE LAGER III.A.1. BOHEMIAN PILSNER III.A.2. GERMAN PILS III.A.3. HELLES LAGER III.A.4. EXPORT III.A.5. INTERNATIONAL LAGER III.A.6. NORTH AMERICAN LIGHT LAGER III.A.7. CREAM ALE III.B. AMBER LAGER III.B.1. VIENNA LAGER III.B.2. MAERZEN (Oktoberfest) III.C. DARK LAGER III.C.1. DUNKELES LAGER III.C.2. BLACK LAGER III.D. STRONG LAGER III.D.1. BOCK III.D.2. DOPPELBOCK III.E. BOTTOM-FERMENTED SPECIALTIES III.E.1 SMOKED LAGER III.E.2 CALIFORNIA COMMON BEER ("Steam Beer") Part IV: Styles of ALE IV.A. PALE (AMBER) ALE IV.A.1. BITTER and "REAL ALE" IV.A.2. ENGLISH PALE ALE IV.A.3. AMERICAN PALE ALE IV.A.4. INDIA PALE ALE IV.B. BROWN ALE IV.B.1. MILD IV.B.2. ENGLISH BROWN ALE IV.B.3. AMERICAN BROWN ALE IV.C. BLACK ALE IV.C.1. PORTER IV.C.2. SWEET STOUT IV.C.3. DRY STOUT IV.C.4. IMPERIAL STOUT IV.D. STRONG ALE IV.D.1. SCOTTISH ALES IV.D.2. OLD ALE IV.D.3. BARLEY WINE Part V: Top-fermented Specialties V.A. TOP-FERMENTED GERMAN BEERS V.A.1. KOELSCH V.B.2. ALTBIER V.B. BELGIAN PALE ALES V.C. SAISON V.D. SOUR FLANDERS SPECIALTIES V.D.1. RED BEERS V.D.2. BROWN BEERS V.E. STRONG BELGIAN ALES V.F. TRAPPIST and ABBEY BEERS V.F.1. TRIPLE V.F.2. DOUBLE V.F.3. OTHER TRAPPIST-STYLE BEERS V.G. WHEAT BEERS V.G.1. BAVARIAN WEIZEN/WEISSBIER V.G.2. BERLINER WEISSE V.G.3. BELGIAN WIT BIER V.G.4. AMERICAN WHEAT ALE V.G.5. RYE BEERS V.H. LAMBIC V.H.1. GUEUZE V.H.2. KRIEK AND OTHER FRUIT LAMBICS V.H.3. FARO ************************************************************************* Lifted from the electronic pages of rec.food.drink.beer: (names deleted in case another ugly flame war ensues) >>>>> i think *** is the best beer in america. >>>> I could not agree with you more. *** is the greatest >>>> beer out there >>> I could not disagree with you kids more, *** is one of the worst >>> beers "out there." >> Don't you think you both are right? If not, why don't you discuss >> which color is the greatest? >Well, I don't know which color is the greatest. But I would generally >prefer one of hundreds of brilliant, full, vibrant colors over a drab, >washed-out grey. Of course, it would depend on what I was painting. >Just as it depends on why you drink beer. ************************************************************************* I.A. EXPLANATIONS and DISCLAIMERS Beer style definitions are not written in stone, and sometimes the exceptions are more interesting than the rules. However, there are situations where they are very useful, or even essential. This is especially true for the beginning beer enthusiast, for whom style classification can be a valuable tool with which to make sense of a very confusing world of obviously different beers. The need for classification is acute in America. Serious beer culture in the United States was destroyed on 16 January, 1920, when the prohibition of alcohol became the law of the land. Although the law was repealed on Alt.Beer Day (5 December) in 1933, appreciation and production of diverse styles of beer is only now being rekindled in this country, and this is on a limited scale. Most Americans still have never seen or heard of, let alone tasted, anything other than the standard American light lager. Even most of us who have tried to educate ourselves were well into our twenties before we began to experiment with different styles. Then, we were confronted by an incomprehensible array of labels and flavors. Well defined style classifications provide a comfortable base from which to explore the many complexities in the world of Real Beer. For more experienced beer drinkers, they continue to be the most convenient way to intelligently discuss and compare different beers. We offer this FAQ as a useful introduction to beer styles for the new readers of rec.food.drink.beer, as well as a starting point for discussion and good-natured argument for the regulars. The Beer Styles FAQ is posted monthly to rec.food.drink.beer in five separate sections. The section you're reading now covers basic definitions and explanations. Part II describes the ingredients used for brewing, some of the technical details of the brewing process, and their contributions to style; the Appendix of Part II defines measurable criteria for comparing styles, such as original gravity, color, and bitterness. Part III gives detailed descriptions of the styles of lager, and Part IV does the same for the most common types of ale. Part V covers some special types of top-fermented beers, found mainly in Belgium and Germany. Following each style description there is a short chart in the following format: STYLE NAME ORIGINAL GRAVITY (given as a range of specific gravities) COLOR (qualitative description and range in SRM units) BITTERNESS (range in International Bittering Units) ALCOHOL CONTENT (range in % by volume) COMMERCIAL EXAMPLE (as widely available as possible) PARDON OUR DUST!!! FAQ UNDER CONSTRUCTION!! Until the FAQ is completed, the posting schedule will be a bit different from that described above. We will post the first two parts every two months or so, and will post WEEKLY "mini-FAQs" featuring a single style. These will be posted, serial fashion, until we've finished the whole document. Bear with us!! We're poor, oppressed grad students! This FAQ is not intended to be the world's most definitive source of beer knowledge (see the references for some of those), and the authors don't pretend to be the smartest beer geeks on the 'Net (see the acknowledgements list for some of them). So, corrections and additions submitted in good spirit will be cheerfully accepted, rapidly incorporated, duly acknowledged, and will earn you a pint of your favorite should we ever meet in a real pub. Flames and impoliteness will be shamelessly retaliated upon or blissfully ignored, depending upon our coffee:beer ratios at the time of reading. I.B. BASIC DEFINITIONS As the broad definition of wine is fermented fruit, the broad definition of beer is fermented grain. This broad definition includes some things we're not going to talk about, like saki (fermented from rice), kvass (a Russian drink made from fermented bread), or Zima (fermented from malt and other grains, then filtered exhaustively). Two other beverages we're not going to talk about sometimes find their way into discussions of beer styles-- mead and hard cider. Mead is fermented honey; it tends to be high in alcohol and has many wine-like features. Hard cider is fermented apples, and may therefore more properly be defined as a type of wine (although it is usually lower in alcohol than typical wines). Earlier in the millennium, there was a dichotomy between Beer and Ale. Beer was the fermented grain beverage flavored with hops popular in north and central Europe. Ale was the unhopped fermented grain beverage popular in England. By the 1700s, Beer had taken hold in England as well, and very few true Ales existed any more. The word "ale" came to be applied to the expensive, pale English beers to distinguish them from the darker Porters and Stouts popular among the working classes. Meanwhile, back in central Europe, beers were being developed which could ferment at lower and lower temperatures; a new species of yeast evolved from this process. These beers were typically stored in cold caves for many months, and were called "lager" beers (lager means "to store" or "put away" in German). Today, the most widely accepted dichotomy between beer styles is Ale vs. Lager: both are hopped, and are brewed primarily from malted barley. The distinguishing characteristic between the two is the type of yeast employed to ferment them. Ale is any beer fermented by the traditional warm-fermenting yeast (and now includes the porter and stout it used to be distinguished from); lager is any beer fermented by that newly evolved, cold-fermenting yeast mentioned above. More will be said about these differences in the brewing ingredients section (Part II), and about the different types of Lager and Ale in Parts III and IV, respectively. Some special types of "Ale" are described in Part V. The definitions and specifications of the different styles of beer presented in Parts III through V are more or less in line with those of the American Homebrewers Association (AHA); thus, they reflect styles available in the United States, and opinions of beer drinkers and brewers in the United States. We will incorporate corrections and additions from our international readers when possible-- i.e., when they don't conflict directly with the AHA definitions, or other widely agreed upon conventions (such as those put forward by Michael Jackson in his many writings). I.C. DIFFERENCES FROM COMMERCIAL STYLES While no one should pretend that beer styles fall into an absolutely self-consistent system of comparison, the great majority of the commercial beers you will stumble across will fall into one of our style categories. There are three reasons for the exceptions to this: government regulations, marketing ploys, and necessarily narrow style definitions. There are a multitude of laws around the world dictating what beers can be called, usually based upon alcohol content. These laws are frequently inconsistent from country to country, as well as from state to state within the US. The most common labeling law in the US is that in many (but not all) states, anything called "beer" must be less than some fixed percentage alcohol by volume-- different states require 4%, 5%, or 6%. In these states, anything higher either cannot be sold at all or must be called something different-- most commonly "malt liquor," but sometimes "ale" (regardless of whether or not it was really fermented by ale yeast). You will notice that many imported beers have been labeled "malt liquor" by default for the US market, regardless of their true style or strength, in order to be sure to comply with these varying state laws. In the US there are no controlled appellations for beer styles, and no truth in labeling laws governing beer styles. Within the types of laws mentioned above, the brewers can call their beer anything they feel like (i.e., anything that they think will sell more beer). One form this takes is when they invent some meaningless new term, like "Draft Beer" (when the beer is actually in a can or bottle) or "Ice Beer." There's nothing new or unique about these types of beer apart from their labels. Another form this takes is the misapplication of a trendy style name. You most often see this among microbrews or craft brews. Examples are Sam Adams Cranberry Lambic, Widmer Hefeweizen, and Celis Pale Bock. These may well be fine beers, but it would be nice if they were called what they really are: a fruited Wheat Beer, an unfiltered American Wheat Ale, and a Belgian Pale Ale, respectively. (To be fair, Mr. Celis couldn't call his beer "Ale" because of an especially stupid Texas state law; however, he didn't need to misname it "bock.") Finally, our style definitions are, by the necessity of classification, too narrow to encompass the potentially infinite variation of actual beer. You see this all the time in homebrewing, where the brewers have to please nobody but themselves. A common critique from the judges at homebrew competitions is "great beer, but it doesn't match the style." The entire country of Belgium gives those who try to catalogue beer styles headaches; almost every small brewery has their own unique, classic style. I.D. WHO CARES WHAT STYLE IT IS, AS LONG AS IT TASTES GOOD? Luckily, most beers *do* fall into definable styles, and we argue that distinguishing these styles is a worthwhile endeavor. A distinction can be made between appreciating something and liking it: you don't need to like a thing in order to appreciate its value. While liking a thing is a subjective matter of taste and can't be argued or evaluated, appreciating it is based upon objective criteria which can be measured and compared. By learning about and trying different styles of beer you will come to appreciate them. Tastes change; many times, you will find that appreciation of a style that you initially don't like will grow into genuine enjoyment. There may be a style you will never grow to like, but you will be able to distinguish a beer which is actually a good representation of that style, from a genuinely bad beer. That may sound really stupid, but it's essential for the growing number of people who judge beer in commercial and amateur competitions, where different beers compete only with others of like style. You will be able to communicate with other people about a particular beer, and discuss meaningful information about it apart from your tastes. The best movie reviewers are those who give consistent reasons for liking or disliking movies. Once you become familiar with these reviewers, they provide enough information that you can decide whether or not you'll be likely to enjoy the movie, regardless of whether or not they liked it. The best beer reviewers (some of whom post to this newsgroup) do the same thing. They know that taste is subjective, but that style guidelines are a valuable base for objective comparison. They provide enough information to give you a fairly good idea of whether or not you'll like the beer. The practical side of all this is that style guidelines help you to know something about what you're buying before you taste it. You wouldn't buy a package that was just labeled "FOOD," would you? If you find a style you really love, you'll know what to get when you're shopping or at the pub. Conversely, if you learn you don't like a particular style, you don't need to buy every other example of it in the future. ************************************************************************* The Beer Discovery Experience This was originally posted to alt.beer by Paul Sovcik. It is reprinted here for your edification. From U18183@uicvm.uic.edu Mon Feb 28 22:12:09 PST 1994 Organization: University of Illinois at Chicago, ADN Computer Center Date: Mon, 28 Feb 1994 16:13:28 CST Message-ID: <94059.161329U18183@uicvm.uic.edu> Newsgroups: alt.beer Subject: Re: What happened to Sam Adams? I remember first discovering Sam Adams about 5 years ago in Fort Collins, Colorado (not that is was that special of an experience... I was just kind of pissed 'cause I wanted a Boulder Pale Ale). It tasted exactly the same as it does today. A very good lager with excellent hop character and absolutely wonderful aroma. Why do some people claim to taste a difference? I'll bet it is an outgrowth of the "beer discovery experience." The process goes something like this: (starting with adolescence) 1) You drink Budmilloors because it's cheap, you want to get drunk, and you really don't like beer anyway. You cannot distinguish marketing ploys from taste. (ex. Genuine Draft, Ice beer, Dry beer etc.) 2) As you get older, you still like to get drunk, but you have a bit of cash to spend. You also tend to drink beer 'cause you like it. You drink Budmilloors taste-alikes like oh... Leinenkugel. Killian's Red, or for that matter, anything "Red." 3) You graduate from Budmilloors to Pete's Wicked Ale, or some kind of non-mainstream beer, such as Sam Adams. You begin to distinguish taste. You try and actually start to enjoy darker beers like stouts and such. You start to ridicule Budmilloors. Mass marketing of "craft brews" still plays a role in your taste. 4) Now you differentiate between "good" and "bad" well-brewed beers. You discover the Sierra Nevadas of the world, and other truly exceptional beers. You use these handful of select brews as your gold standard. All other beers are crap. The beer that originally tasted exceptional at stage 1,2 or 3, is now poor. 5) You gradually begin to realize that other beers have their place in the world too. In fact, the simple fact that SNPA, PU or Guinness exists as a benchmark begins to allow you to evaluate beer on a comparative scale, and you appreciate the differences and variations in styles. You become more tolerant of Budmilloors. 6) You reach the Zen of beer tasting. All beer has a purpose in life, and who are you to foist your taste on anyone else anyway? Taste is relative. You realize that maybe you should have a Bud when mowing the lawn instead of a barley wine. All beer serves its own purpose. Even Schlitz exists for a reason (Tonya Harding's drinking buddies?). No beer "kicks ass" (to use Usenet terminology) or is swill. It simply is. I don't know about you guys, but I'm still at #5. Rambling on, Paul U18183@uicvm.uic.edu ************************************************************************* FAQ REFERENCE LIST: American Homebrewers Association, 1993. "1995 Style Guidelines" Association of Brewers "Yeast and Beer (Special Issue)" _Zymurgy_, 12:4 (1989). Association of Brewers "Hops and Beer (Special Issue)" _Zymurgy_, 13:4 (1990). Fred Eckhardt, 1989. _The Essentials of Beer Style_ All Brewers Information Service, Portland, OR, USA ISBN 0-9606302-7-9 _Evaluating Beer_, 1993. Brewers Publications, Boulder, CO, USA ISBN 0-937381-37-3 Terry Foster, 1990. _Pale Ale_ Classic Beer Style Series Brewers Publications, Boulder, CO USA ISBN 0-937381-18-7 Terry Foster, 1992. _Porter_ Classic Beer Style Series Brewers Publications, Boulder, CO, USA ISBN 0-937381-28-4 Michael Jackson, 1993. _Michael Jackson's Beer Companion_ Running Press, Philadelphia, PA, USA ISBN 1-56138-288-4 Michael Jackson, 1994. _Pocket Guide to Beer_ Simon and Schuster, New York, NY, USA ISBN 0-671-89814-0 Solomon H. Katz and Fritz Maytag "Brewing an Ancient Beer" _Archaeology_, 44:4 (July/August 1991), 24 - 33 David Miller, 1988. _The Complete Handbook of Home Brewing_ Garden Way Publishing, Pownal, VT, USA ISBN 0-88266-517-0 David Miller, 1990. _Continental Pilsner_ Classic Beer Style Series Brewers Publications, Boulder, CO, USA ISBN 0-937381-20-9 Charlie Papazian, 1991. _The New Complete Joy of Home Brewing_ Avon Books, New York, NY, USA ISBN 0-380-76366-4 Pierre Rajotte, 1992. _Belgian Ale_ Classic Beer Style Series Brewers Publications, Boulder, CO, USA ISBN 0-937381-31-4 Jon Rodin and Glenn Colon-Bonet "Beer From Water" _Zymurgy_, 14:5 (1991). 28 - 32 Eric Warner, 1992. _German Wheat Beer_ Classic Beer Styles Series Boulder, CO, USA ISBN 0-937381-34-9 ************************************************************************* Part II: BREWING: Ingredients, Process, and Style This part of the rec.food.drink.beer Styles FAQ describes the processes and ingredients used in brewing. It includes an Appendix at the end which defines the measurable criteria used to compare the different styles listed in Parts III through V. Appreciating what is involved in making beer can result in a better understanding of style similarities and differences; however, if knowing the details doesn't appeal to you, you can safely skip the body of Part II. You should at least skim the Appendix, however, to make sure we're all on the same page during the style descriptions. Sewn throughout Part II are salient stanzas from "The Hymn to Ninkasi," an ancient Sumerian prayer to the goddess of brewing that details the brewing techniques used by the Sumerians. The Hymn was translated by Miguel Civil, of the University of Chicago. The full translated text can be found in an article by Solomon Katz and Fritz Maytag (referenced at the end of Part I) which describes an interesting attempt to re-create the Sumerian beer by Maytag at the Anchor Brewing Co. Katz theorizes that the cultivation of grain to produce beer-- not bread-- was responsible for the advent of civilization. He'll get no argument here. ************************************************************************* Contents of Part II: II.A. WATER II.B. GRAIN II.B.1 MALT II.B.2. MASHING II.B.3. NON-MALT ADJUNCTS II.C. HOPS and other FLAVORINGS II.C.1. HOPS II.C.2. FRUITS, HERBS, AND SPICES II.D. YEAST and FERMENTATION II.E. CONDITIONING, AGING, and SERVING APPENDIX 1: MEASUREMENTS of GRAVITY, COLOR, BITTERNESS, and ALCOHOL CONTENT ************************************************************************* II.A. WATER Borne of the flowing water (...), Tenderly cared for by the Ninhursag, Borne of the flowing water (...), Tenderly cared for by the Ninhursag, [...] Your father is Enki, Lord Nidimmud, Your mother is Ninti, the queen of the sacred lake. Ninkasi, your father is Enki, Lord Nidimmud, Your mother is Ninti, the queen of the sacred lake. (From the Hymn to Ninkasi, ca. 1800 BC) Water is the primary ingredient in beer. Perhaps surprisingly, virtually any non-polluted water may be used to produce some sort of beer. The catch is, not all water can produce every style of beer: in the absence of water treatment, the range of beer styles that can be made from a water supply depends strongly on the mineral content of the water. These effects are felt mainly at the mashing step of the brewing process (the conversion of starch in the grain to sugar, and the extraction of the sugar from the grain; see below). To a lesser extent, water quality also effects brewing and fermentation. With the wide use of water treatment the effects on beer style of water are now largely historical. Still, many of the classic beer styles depend on the properties of their local water supply for much of their character. This is illustrated by the following examples. The water of Pilsen, Czech Republic, is very soft; i.e., it has a very low mineral content. The famous beer from Pilsen couldn't be produced in its classic form from any harder water. Classic Pilsner is made with very large amounts of bittering hops-- much more than any other lager beer. Coupled with its light body and mild maltiness, one might expect it to be sharply bitter. The reason this is not the case is that the water contains very little Sulfate ion; Sulfate accentuates the perception of hop bitterness. To brew similar tasting beer almost anywhere else is impossible without either lowering the hopping rate considerably, or extensively treating the water to remove minerals and ions. While soft water is ideal for muting hop bitterness, it is terrible for extracting sugars from pale malts, such as the malts used for Pilsner and Pale Ales. The solution in Pilsen is to add laborious extra steps at the mashing step to acidify and buffer the brewing water. This is called "decoction mashing," and is briefly described in the section on Malt and Mashing, below. At the other end of the spectrum is the water of Burton-upon- Trent, in central England. This water is very hard, and is particularly high in Sulfate ion levels. The most famous beers from Burton are Pale Ales, and their dry, bitter character is greatly amplified by the hardness of the water. Large amounts of Calcium Sulfate (Gypsum) are frequently added to the water by brewers in other locations when a Burton-style pale ale is the desired product. The hard water also makes the mashing of pale malts possible with a simple, single step, in contrast to the mashing contortions needed at Pilsen. The water of Dublin, Ireland is very high in temporary hardness; that is, it has very high levels of carbonate and bicarbonate ions. As a result, the water is quite alkaline (high pH). All stages of the brewing process favor slightly acidic conditions (low pH). In the absence of water treatment, this poses an insurmountable problem for brewing pale beers. Luckily, roasted grains acidify and buffer the mash water, making roasty Porters and Stouts ideal styles for regions with alkaline water. The popularity of Dry Stout in Dublin is a direct result it being the beer style most successfully brewed there. II.B. GRAIN [...] You are the one who waters the malt set on the ground, The noble dogs keep away even the potentates, Ninkasi, you are the one who waters the malt set on the ground, The noble dogs keep away even the potentates, You are the one who soaks the malt in a jar, The waves rise, the waves fall. Ninkasi, you are the one who soaks the malt in a jar, The waves rise, the waves fall. You are the one who spreads the cooked mash on large reed mats, Coolness overcomes, Ninkasi, you are the one who spreads the cooked mash on large reed mats, Coolness overcomes... (From the Hymn to Ninkasi, ca. 1800 BC) II.B.1 MALT Malt is grain (most commonly barley, but other grains may be used) which has been allowed to germinate, and is then kiln-dried. Germination produces enzymes which are needed by the newly sprouting seedling to break down the proteins and complex starches in the grain into amino acids and simple sugars. Drying stops the seedling growth, but leaves the enzymes intact. Brewers make use of these enzymes during the "mash" step of the brewing process, to do the same thing as the seedlings were going to-- break down proteins and starches-- but much more quickly. Malt comes in many different varieties, divided into base malts and specialty malts. Base malts are mashed without any further processing after malting, and provide mainly fermentable sugars. Specialty malts undergo varying degrees of roasting after malting, before they are mashed. They mainly provide color, flavor, aroma, and body. Base malts differ from each other in the type of grain they come from, in the amount of time they are allowed to germinate, and in the time and temperatures at which they are dried. The differences in grain have to do with their starch and protein content, and with their ability to enzymatically convert starch to sugar-- called the diastatic power. The types of malt with the highest starch content tend to have lower diastatic power, so there is a trade-off determined by the specific needs of the brewer. The diastatic power of most base malts is sufficient to convert an equivalent mass of additional starch into sugar-- this is how the starch provided by un-malted adjunct grains is dealt with. Base malt is discussed in degrees of "modification;" this refers to the amount of time it has been allowed to germinate. The longer this time, the more modified the malt. The less modified a malt, the more extensive the "mashing" procedure needed to extract all the fermentable sugars from it. Some special varieties of malt undergo additional processing. These specialty malts usually contribute a great deal of flavor, aroma, body, and color to the beer, but usually have no diastatic power and yield little or no fermentable sugar. They usually make up less than 20% of the total grain bill. Specialty malts are added to the mash along with the base malts. Caramel malt, or crystal malt, is slowly baked right after germination, before it has been dried. The starch in the grain is rapidly converted to sugar, which then caramelizes. Caramel malt provides amber color, and a malty sweetness and aroma to the beer. It is used in many styles of ale, and for a few dark lagers as well. Malt (and also unmalted barley) may also be roasted. Roasted grain gives the beer a lot of dark color, and flavor and aroma ranging from mellow and toasty to sharp and burnt, depending on how darkly the grain was roasted and the amount used. Roasted malts provide most of the character of Porters, some Stouts, and German Black Beers. Unmalted, roasted barley provides the character for Irish Dry Stouts. Some special malts fall between specialty and base malts. They are kiln-dried at higher temperatures than standard base malts, and end up with more color and stronger flavor. Their diastatic power is weakened; they may convert their own starch, but cannot convert additional adjunct starch. They are called aromatic, mild, Vienna, or Munich malts. They impart an amber to deep copper color, and a lightly sweet, sometimes spicy maltiness to the beer. These malts are responsible for much of the character of Vienna Lager, of Maerzen or Oktoberfest beers, for some British Mild and Brown Ales, and for many malty Belgian beers. II.B.2 MASHING Between the malting kiln and the brewing kettle, the fermentable sugars must be extracted from the malt in a process called "mashing." Mashing involves soaking crushed malt in water at increasing temperature steps, or "rests." At different rest temperatures, different enzymes from the malt are most active. By carefully controlling the temperature, brewers achieve different results based on their particular stylistic need- for example, slightly raising the temperature during the starch converting rest results in more complex, unfermentable sugars being produced, and ultimately in a beer with more body and residual sweetness. Less modified malts need to be stepped through several different rests. The under-modified malt used to make authentic Pilsner must be taken through sequential temperature steps to acidify the mash water, to break down proteins, and to activate two different groups of starch converting enzymes. Traditionally this is achieved with a "triple decoction" mash, wherein portions of the soaking malt are removed from the bulk, boiled separately, then added back to raise the temperature of the whole to the next rest step. At the other extreme, the highly modified malt used for many English style ales only needs to go through one rest step to convert the starch to sugar- a "single infusion" mash. It may seem ridiculous that anyone wouldn't use highly modified malts. However, there are several benefits in using undermodified malts. First, the shorter time in the kiln means that the malt is paler in color. For Pilsner and other very pale beers, it is thus necessary to go through the extra mashing steps-- a process which contributes to the distinctive character of such beers. Another benefit is an increase in body and head retention, a result of the mash step at which proteins are broken down, the "protein rest." And, finally, malt which is undermodified has a higher starch content: a brewer with an eye on costs has an incentive to try to work with malt which isn't too thoroughly modified. Nevertheless, despite these advantages and the long history of using under-modified malt in Pilsner, very few breweries are so traditional as to still use a "triple decoction" mash. In modern practice most breweries use malt which is not too under-modified, and hence are able to simplify the mash schedule by eliminating some of the rest steps. When the starch converting steps are completed, the mash is ended by draining off the sweet liquid from the spent grains- a process called "lautering." The sweet liquid is combined with hops in the brewing kettle, and the complex mixture is now called the "wort." II.B. NON-MALT ADJUNCTS [...] You are the one who handles the dough [and] with a big shovel, Mixing in a pit, the bappir with sweet aromatics, Ninkasi, You are the one who handles the dough [and] with a big shovel, Mixing in a pit, the bappir with [date]-honey, You are the one who bakes the bappir in the big oven, Puts in order the piles of hulled grains, Ninkasi, you are the one who bakes the bappir in the big oven, Puts in order the piles of hulled grains... (From the Hymn to Ninkasi, ca. 1800 BC) Bappir was bread used by the Sumerians exclusively for brewing, made primarily from unmalted barley and wheat, mixed with honey and fruits. It was mixed in with the malt at the mashing step, where its starch was converted to sugar. So as we see, the descendants of August Busch and Adolph Coors were hardly the first ones to use non-malt adjuncts in the brewing process! In an attempt to put an end to this sort of thing, the sixteenth century Bavarian court decreed Reinheitsgebot: the "Beer Purity" law that forbade the use of anything other than water, malt, and hops as ingredients for beer. German brewers are still adamant about following the tenets this law, although with the advent of the European Union they are no longer required to do so. German beers benefit from this by being generally full-bodied and full-flavored. The greatest foe of "purity" is the non-malted adjunct grain, and the starch and sugar derived from it. It's true that these are frequently over-used as cheap substitutes for malt, and often result in dull, flavorless products. But even when used in large amounts the result isn't necessarily poor quality beer. Excellent Belgian and British (and Sumerian!) beers use adjunct grains and sugars, sometimes accounting for up to 50% of the fermentables in the bill. The reason the beers are still excellent is that high quality ingredients are also used to provide flavor and aroma-- specialty malts, noble hops, and sometimes different kinds of fruits or spices. Adjuncts mainly provide fermentable sugars: they yield alcohol and little else. When little else is added in conjunction with them, the result is boring beer. However, it is the absence of good ingredients that makes them boring, not the presence of adjuncts. Just about any starch and sugar source can and is used as a brewing ingredient somewhere. Honey, molasses, and some special syrups and sugars provide some interesting flavors as well as fermentables when they are used as adjuncts. Sugars and syrups bypass the mashing step, going directly into the brewing kettle. Starches must be included in the mash along with a base malt of high diastatic power in order that they may be coverted to fermentable sugar. Rice or corn is the starch choice when cheap fermentables are all that is wanted; they are commonly used in ultra-light lagers around the world, but find their way into an occasional beer of character as well. Wheat, oats, and barley are also used as unmalted adjuncts; their high protein content gives beers containing them some additional body and head-retention. Belgian White beers use unmalted wheat and oats, several famous Stouts use oats or unmalted barley, and a few German lagers get away with using "malt" so under-modified that it may be practically considered unmalted barley. II.C. HOPS and other FLAVORINGS II.C.1. HOPS Hops are the green, cone-shaped flowers of a prolific weed closely related to cannabis. After harvesting, hops are dried; ideally they are used for brewing in this condition, but they may undergo further compression and extraction. Hops produce two types of compounds relevant to brewing: bitter resins and aromatic oils. To extract the bitter resins, the hops must be boiled extensively. This is done in the brew kettle along with the sweet liquid from the mash. The oils, on the other hand, are volatile; their desired flavors and aromas are lost if boiled for more than a few minutes. As a result, hops are added to the brewing kettle in many stages: bittering hops early, flavoring (or "finishing") hops late. Obviously, this will vary with the style of beer; Pilsners and Pale Ales get lots of hops at all stages, while Bocks and Brown Ales don't get much at any stage. When overwhelming hop aroma and flavor are desired, a method called "dry hopping" is sometimes employed; whole hops are added to the conditioning tanks after fermentation. This method accounts for the awe-inspiring hop character of Anchor Liberty Ale. Different strains of hops are used for differing purposes. Some hops are prized for their extreme bitterness, but tend to be somewhat lacking in the flavor/aroma department; others are only mildly bitter, but have wonderful, distinctive flavors and aromas. A few modern hybrid strains can do both tricks- like Centennials, featured in Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale. The most famous hop varieties are the "Nobel Hops." These strains have been around for hundreds of years, and provide the character of many famous European style beers. Nobel hops are all low in bitterness, and high in flavor and aroma. Some examples are Hallertauer Mittlefreuh, grown in Bavaria and featured in Samuel Adams Lager and many German Lagers; Saaz, grown in Bohemia and featured in Pilsner Urquell; and East Kent Goldings, grown in southeastern England and featured in Young's Special London Ale. An American variety which ranks with the European Nobility is Cascade, grown in the Pacific Northwest of the United States and VERY prominently featured in the aforementioned Anchor Liberty Ale. II.C.2. FRUITS, HERBS, AND SPICES Hops took over as the major beer flavoring and bittering ingredient in the early to middle part of the millennium. Before this, a wide variety of herbs and spices were used for similar purposes. Today these are used in only a few styles, and almost always in conjunction with hops. Traditional beer styles using fruit, herbs, and spices include: Belgian White Beer, which uses orange peel and corriander; Lambics, some of which undergo secondary fermentation with added fruit; Spiced or Mulled Ales, traditional Christmas or New Year's drinks; Ale from northern Scotland flavored with heather. Many American microbreweries and brewpubs are experimenting with all sorts of interesting combinations of fruits and spices; these include spicy seasonal ales, fruited wheat beers, several hot pepper beers, and spruce beers. These types of ingredients are usually added to the brewing kettle at the same time as the finishing hops, but are sometimes added during fermentation, or even in the bottle. II.D. YEAST and FERMENTATION Yeast is a single-celled fungus. It has only one thing to do in life, which is to make more copies of itself. It does this very quickly and efficiently, doubling every two hours or so under the right conditions. Yeast consume the sugars in the wort and produce alcohol and carbon dioxide, in a process called fermentation. As soon as the wort has been cooled down from the boil, a large amount of usually pure-culture yeast is added to it. The initial phase of fermentation lasts several days for ales, or several weeks for lagers. It is very vigorous-- the liquid roils about from all of the gas being produced. The bulk of the sugar in the wort is converted to alcohol and carbon dioxide at this stage. Fermentation is an anaerobic process. It may therefore be surprising that primary fermentation can be carried out in vessels that are either closed or open to the atmosphere. Open fermentation is possible because the concentration of sugars is so high in the wort. Yeast repress their respiration machinery in high sugar, regardless of the presence of oxygen: they obtain sufficient energy from the simpler, anaerobic pathway. In addition, the volume of carbon dioxide dissolved in and above the fermenting wort is so great that the environment is practically anaerobic at the height of the process. Open fermentation is essential for some types of yeast that require occasional or constant agitation to remain suspended in the wort. The presence of oxygen may also affect the levels of the highly flavored, minor byproducts of fermentation, described below. On the other hand, closed fermentation allows a greater degree of control and reproducibility over the quality of the product. The choice is yet another variable that makes brewing as much art as science. Primarily, two species of yeast are relevant to brewing: _Saccharomyces cerevisiae_, or ale yeast, and _Saccharomyces carlsbergensis_, or lager yeast (the latter was named for the Carlsberg Brewery in Copenhagen, where it was first isolated in pure culture; it also goes by the less romantic species name _uvarum_). The two are frequently called top-fermenting and bottom-fermenting yeast, respectively, referring to how the yeast are suspended in the wort during primary fermentation. However, some strains of _cerevisiae_ disperse themselves throughout the fermenting beer in the manner of _carlsbergensis_, somewhat muddying the distinction. Perhaps a better distinction is between warm and cold fermentation. Both species are happy at warm temperatures, but only _carlsbergensis_ can continue to ferment when the temperature falls much below 50 deg. F (10 deg. C). Herein lies the greatest difference between lager and ale. Apart from the familiar products of fermentation, alcohol and carbon dioxide, many other products are made in relatively low amounts. A list of them looks like the index of an Organic Chemistry textbook; suffice it to say that these things have very big names and are all associated with their own interesting tastes and smells-- buttery, appley, banana-like, clovey, citrussy, winey, and many more. The amount of these byproducts in the final beer is directly proportional to the temperature of fermentation: warm fermented beers (usually ales) have loads of them, cold fermented beers (lagers) not very much. Fermentation byproducts are thus an integral feature of most Ales. Most Lagers, on the other hand, are virtually free of the complexities from byproducts (ideally this allows the flavors and aromas of the malt and hops to shine through on their own, but it also allows for the production of some very bland, flavorless lagers). There is also variation in the amounts of byproducts secreted within each species-- i.e., not all ale yeast strains make the same amounts or types of compounds, and not all lager yeast strains are devoid of them. The ale yeasts used to produce Bavarian Wheat Beers and many Belgian beers are especially noted for their flavorful and aromatic fermentation byproducts; in contrast, the ale yeasts used for many American Pale Ales and German Koelsch produce much more "clean" tasting beer. Another difference between strains of yeast is in their ability to metabolize different sugars: their attenuativeness. A less attenuative strain will leave unfermented sugar in the final product, giving it more body and residual sweetness. A more attenuative strain will produce a lighter bodied, dryer beer. There are attenuative and non-attenuative strains of both ale yeast and lager yeast. Since Louis Pasteur discovered yeast and the secrets of fermentation in the mid-1800s, most beer styles have been fermented using pure yeast cultures, or well defined mixed yeast cultures. Two notable exceptions hearken back to the days of "anything goes" fermentation. The Lambic family of beers from the valleys around Brussels, Belgium, are literally fermented by whatever happens to fall into the open fermentation vessels. Surprisingly they are of consistently fine quality, although the uninitiated are sometimes taken aback by their sour, wine-like character. This character is entirely location-dependent: risking this trick anywhere else is generally disastrous, and attempts to culture the huge variety of wild yeast and bacteria from Lambics have met with, at best, limited success. A less daring example is Berliner Weisse, a low-alcohol, light-bodied style of Wheat beer native to Berlin. This beer undergoes a secondary fermentation using lactic acid bacteria, imparting a stunning sourness that is usually muted by the addition of sweet fruit or herbal syrups. II.E. CONDITIONING, AGING, AND SERVING When you pour out the filtered beer of the collector vat, It is like the onrush of the Tigris and Euphrates. Ninkasi, you are the one who pours out the filtered beer of the collector vat, It is like the onrush of the Tigris and Euphrates. (From the Hymn to Ninkasi, ca. 1800 BC) While a few ales are ready for consumption after primary fermentation, most styles of beer undergo some sort of conditioning, secondary fermentation, and/or aging prior to being consumed. Secondary fermentation is performed mainly to settle out the beer prior to bottling or kegging. The remaining residual sugars are fermented at this stage. It is always done in tightly sealed containers to avoid contamination and to ensure an anaerobic state in the now low-sugar environment. Cask conditioned, or "Real" ales are usually consumed soon after the primary fermentation, but undergo a brief secondary stint in the cask from which they will be dispensed. After they are transferred to the cask, "finings" are added. Finings are materials which bind up yeast and coagulated proteins and carbohydrates, and then settle out, leaving the beer clear. They can be made from seaweed, the swim-bladders of fish, gelatin, or plastics. Finings do not come out in the final product, and so do not affect its flavor. Real Ale is not kept under pressurized carbon dioxide in the fashion of European and American kegged beer, and so must be consumed very quickly after the cask is opened, lest it oxidize. Beers may also be "bottle conditioned." At the time of bottling, a small portion of unfermented beer is added to the whole. This allows for a short burst of fermentation in the bottle, which naturally carbonates the beer. These beers can be identified by the yeast sediment at the bottom. Some beers, notably Hefe-Weizen, are filtered prior to bottling, and are then charged with fresh yeast at the time of bottling; these yeast will be more active than the dormant yeast from the fermented beer, and also may have different properties more desirable for the bottle. All lagers and a few ales undergo a cold conditioning, or lagering stage. The beer is stored at near-freezing temperature for several weeks to several months. During this time, undissolved solids precipitate out of the beer, and many residual fermentation byproducts from the primary fermentation are broken down. The result is a "cleaner" tasting and appearing beer. Most beer styles should be consumed as quickly as possible; as a general rule, age is deleterious to beer. Six months to one year is the maximum age for average beers. The exceptions that prove the rule are the strong beer styles: the Barleywines, Dopplebocks, Imperial Stouts, and a handful of others. These beers tend to start out with a rather syrupy quality, and the huge amounts of malt and hops used to make them start out as being separate and overbearing. With age, the beer will dry out and the hops and malt will blend into a nice balance. Usually a year or two is enough, but some continue to improve for five years or more. The above paragraphs apply to traditionally brewed beers. Of course, in this age of advertising hype, fast foods, and preservatives, most large scale brewers employ short cuts, and the quality of the beer usually suffers as a result. Most mass-produced beer is filtered and/or pasteurized. This kills or removes any living yeast. The result is a more consistent product, but one with a shorter shelf-life: live yeast in beer scavenge excess oxygen and prevent oxidation, the primary life-shortening factor for beer. Another short cut is force-carbonation. A sure sign of this is a fast soda-pop rush of fizz, followed by a completely flat beer. Most brewers of popular ultra-light lagers will take extreme short cuts at the lagering stage, sometimes shortening the conditioning time to only a week or two. These money saving steps do not necessarily ruin the taste of the product, and examples of fine beers exist which employ them. However, they are certainly unnecessary from a quality standpoint, and often come hand-in-hand with poor ingredients, poor craftsmanship, and bland to poor taste. Perhaps falling back to the traditions of the nineteenth century BC is a bit extreme, but there is a lot to be said for sticking to the traditions perfected in the nineteenth century AD! ************************************************************************* APPENDIX: MEASUREMENTS of GRAVITY, COLOR, BITTERNESS, and ALCOHOL CONTENT In Parts III - V of the rec.food.drink.beer Styles FAQ, objective criteria for each style are provided in a table of the following format: STYLE NAME ORIGINAL GRAVITY (given as a range of specific gravities) COLOR (qualitative description and range in SRM units) BITTERNESS (range in International Bittering Units) ALCOHOL CONTENT (range in % by volume) COMMERCIAL EXAMPLE (as widely available as possible) This appendix will describe these criteria. ORIGINAL GRAVITY Specific gravity is the density of a solution relative to water. For example, if a gravity is given as 1.050 it means its density is 1.05 times as high as distilled water. For beer, this measures the amount of sugar, larger carbohydrates, proteins, etc., dissolved or otherwise permanently suspended in the liquid. Prior to fermentation it is called ORIGINAL GRAVITY, and sugar is the largest component. After fermentation it is called Terminal Gravity and is mostly composed of everything else. Original gravity is determined solely by the amount of malt, grain adjuncts, or sugar used in brewing. A high original gravity usually means that the beer will end up with more alcohol in it when it's done fermenting, and may also mean it will end up having a more full body or some residual sweetness. See the sections above on MALT and YEAST for more information. Gravity may also be expressed in degrees Plato, particularly in Europe. This measures exactly the same thing in exactly the same way, it's just expressed with a different number. To get degrees Plato from Specific Gravity, take the numbers AFTER the decimal point and divide by four. So our beer of Original Gravity 1.050 would start at 12.5 degrees Plato. The "28" in the strong dopplebock EKU 28 is its starting gravity in degrees Plato; so, you could also express it as OG 1.112. Also note that OG's are often given without the decimal point-- e.g., 1050 instead of 1.050. Below are listed increasing original gravities, and some of the styles represented by each range: GRAVITY RANGE APPROPRIATE STYLES < 1.030 Some low calorie and low alcohol beers, Berliner Weisse 1.030 - 1.040 British Mild Ale, standard Bitter, some Light Lagers 1.040 - 1.050 Most every-day BEERS: Standard Ales, Porters, Stouts, Pilsners and other Lagers, and Wheat Beers 1.050 - 1.065 Generally sweeter, richer, or darker versions of standard beers-- eg, Special Bitters, India Pale Ale, some Stouts, German Dark Lagers, Vienna and Maerzen Lagers 1065 - 1.075 Bock, British Old Ale or Strong Ale, Dubbel and other strong Belgian Ales > 1.075 Doppelbock, Barleywine, Trippel and other very strong Belgian Ales, Imperial Stout COLOR Color in beer is almost exclusively determined by malts and other grains. For a handful of styles, syrups and fruits may also contribute. See the section above on MALT for more information. Color is measured in several different ways, yielding non-convertible units. In the United States, color is expressed in Standard Research Method (SRM) units, roughly equivalent to the Degrees Lovibond familiar to homebrewers. In Europe, color is measured in European Brewery Congress (EBC) units. The conversion between the two is only linear for very pale beers (SRM = [0.38 x EBC] + 0.45]). For anything darker than, say, Pilsner Urquell, this formula is no longer accurate, and it is not used by professional brewers and maltsters. Unfortunately, consistent numbers are only readily available in SRM units, so these are presented in this FAQ. There is also a subjective component in determining color; therefore, in the descriptions of color, two different names may be given for the same absolute SRM value- like "Deep Copper" for one beer style, but "Dark Brown" for another. Below are the rough guidelines use for the descriptions in Parts III - V: SRM DESCRIPTION STYLE EXAMPLE 2 Pale Yellow Belgian White 3 Yellow Munich Helles 4 - 5 Gold Bavarian Weizen 6 - 10 Amber Pale Ale 10 - 15 Copper Maerzen 15 - 25 Deep Copper/ Dark Brown Brown Ale 25 - 40 Very Dark, but not Opaque German Black Beer > 40 Opaque Black Stout BITTERNESS Bitterness is measured directly as the amount of isohumolones contained in the beer. Isohumolones are the bittering component from the resins in hops (see the HOPS section above). One part per million isohumolone is defined as 1 International Bittering Unit (IBU). Below are listed ranges of IBU, and some styles for which these levels would be appropriate: IBU RANGE APPROPRIATE STYLES 5 - 20 Wheat Beers, English Mild Ale, North American Light Lager 20 - 30 German Lagers, Bock, Brown Ales, Sweet Stout, English Bitter 30 - 40 German Pils, Pale Ales, Dry Stout 40 - 50 Bohemian Pilsner, India Pale Ale 50 - 100 Barleywine, Imperial Stout ALCOHOL CONTENT There are two common ways of expressing alcohol content: as percent by weight and as percent by volume. Since alcohol has a density 0.8 times that of water, % by weight is a smaller value than % by volume. To approximately convert the two, multiply or divide by 0.8. So, a beer that is 3.2% alcohol by weight is 4.0% alcohol by volume. This causes no end of confusion, since American beers can be discussed in both ways, and the rest of the world uses % by volume exclusively. This is responsible for the myth that American beer is weaker than the beer from your- favorite-country. All percentages listed in this FAQ are % by volume. A table of alcohol contents would look identical to the table above for Original Gravities. For a VERY ROUGH guess at alcohol content, divide the three digits after the decimal point the the Original Gravity by 10; so, a beer of OG 1.050 will be around 5% alcohol, 1.070 about 7%, etc. *************************************************************************FAQ written and maintained by:
(c) 1995, Jonathan Binkley and Michael Stewart