Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Gross Beer Misconceptions

As a person who actively serves and consumes beer on a nearly daily basis, I hear a lot of questions and beer requests that make me scratch my head. Of course, that’s part of why I do this blog and podcast in the first place. So, here are a few of the misconceptions that need to be addressed.

“I’ll have the cider beer.”  This one is new to me. I hadn’t worked much with cider on tap before, and suddenly, now that I am, this pops up. Cider is not a beer style. Cider is not a kind of wine. Cider is, simply, cider. Cider is more often referred to as having been made, not brewed (although that is the only word I can ascribe to the process). I’ve even heard people call the place cider is made a “cidery” although it seems to be used less commonly than brewery. But, most importantly, cider lacks both hops and malt and therefore is not beer. So, just order the cider. It’ll save you a word and a little humiliation.

People think all ales are super-hoppy and bitter. This is just silly, and a by-product of the overconsumption of the American IPA. There are a great many types of ale that exhibit more sweetness and/or balance than any lager I’ve ever had. And, this leads us to our next issue:

People think lager means light in body and easy to drink without the necessity of having the word “light” on the label. Thanks go to all large-production post-prohibition American lagers (i.e., Budweiser, Yuengling) for this misconception. While lagers are generally crisper on the finish due to the cold fermenting process, the flavor profiles and heft can vary greatly. A big German Dopplebock is not what these people are looking for when they say lager, but some decent beer bars may only have that one lager option (a great one will have more, but I digress). Oh, and if you’re in Pennsylvania and say you’ll have a lager they will (almost always) automatically pour you a Yuengling. This is not okay. If Yuengling is the only lager they have, fine, otherwise, they should give you options.

Dark doesn’t mean heavy. Neither the body nor the flavor of a darker colored beer needs to be heavy. The color comes from the type of malt used and is not an indication of large flavor or heft.

I hope this helps you on your next journey to your nearest beer bar. If you already knew all these things, that’s good for you. But, why weren’t you teaching your friends?

Where’s my beer?

Brian William Waddell is a foodie, beer geek, and author. His numerous blog posts range from food to politics. He also has a book of poetry, Fractured Prose, available here, and is ready to publish his second poetic endeavor.

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