In our previous two blog posts, we covered the basics of beer understanding, including ingredients, styles, tasting, grains, hops, yeast, fermentation, and serving. In this post, we'll dive even deeper and explore some additional concepts that will help you become a true beer connoisseur.
ABV, or alcohol by volume, is the measurement of the alcohol content in beer. It is expressed as a percentage of the volume of alcohol in the total volume of beer. The higher the ABV, the more alcohol is present in the beer. Most beers range from 4-8% ABV, but some specialty beers can have much higher alcohol content. It's important to be aware of the ABV of the beers you're drinking, as higher ABV beers can be stronger and more intoxicating.
IBU, or international bitterness units, is a measurement of the bitterness of a beer. It is determined by the amount of alpha acids in the hops used in the brewing process. Beers with higher IBUs will be more bitter, while beers with lower IBUs will be less bitter. It's important to note that IBUs don't necessarily indicate the overall flavor of a beer, but rather just one aspect of it. Some beers with high IBUs can still have a balanced flavor profile.
The color of beer can range from pale yellow to deep brown or black. The color of the beer is determined by the type and amount of malt used in the brewing process. Pale malts will result in a lighter colored beer, while darker malts will result in a darker colored beer. The color of the beer can also give you an idea of what to expect in terms of flavor and aroma. For example, a dark beer may have a roasted or chocolatey flavor, while a lighter beer may have a more delicate or fruity flavor.
Mouthfeel is the sensation and texture of a beer in your mouth. It can be described as light or heavy, smooth or prickly, and creamy or watery. Mouthfeel can be influenced by factors such as carbonation, yeast, and temperature. Higher carbonation levels can result in a more effervescent or prickly mouthfeel, while lower carbonation levels can result in a smoother mouthfeel. Yeast can also impact the mouthfeel of a beer, as certain strains can produce a fuller or creamier texture.
Some beers can be aged, much like wine. Aging can enhance and develop the flavors and aromas of a beer, and can also reduce the bitterness. However, not all beers are suitable for aging, and it's important to store them properly and monitor them regularly. Generally, high alcohol beers, such as barleywines or imperial stouts, are good candidates for aging. It's also important to note that not all aged beers will improve over time - some may lose their flavor or become oxidized.
Beer is a versatile beverage that can be paired with a wide variety of foods. Certain beers complement certain foods, while others can clash. For example, a light lager can pair well with a salad, while a dark stout can pair well with a chocolate dessert. Experiment with different pairings to find what works best for you. Generally, beer pairs well with foods that are fatty, salty, or spicy, as the carbonation in the beer can help cut through the richness of the food.
Beer is a fascinating and complex beverage, with a rich history and culture. By learning about ABV, IBU, color, mouthfeel, aging, and food pairing, you can take your appreciation of beer to the next level. So the next time .you enjoy a cold one, take some time to think about the many different factors that make beer such a unique and amazing drink. Whether you're savoring a classic German pilsner, a bold American IPA, or a rich Belgian dubbel, there's always something new and exciting to discover in the world of beer. So why not take a trip to your local brewery or beer bar, and sample some of the amazing beers on offer? With a little bit of knowledge and a lot of enthusiasm, you can unlock a whole new world of flavor and excitement in the wonderful world of beer. Cheers!