Updated January 14, 2012
Luke W. Asks Tim-
During the holidays, I tried some fantastic beers at some Christmas parties. I've always been more of a bourbon guy, but now I'm intrigued. How many kinds of beer are out there? What are they like? Any beginner's info you could give, I'd appreciate. Thanks!
Welcome to the wonderful world of beer! It's a fantastic option for hot summer days, tailgating and, well, any day that ends in "y"! Here's a crash course to familiarize yourself with beers--there are two categories: Ales and Lagers. The yeast in both these beers are what sets them apart, as well as a few more tid bits of differences. The yeast in ales "flocculate," or clump together, at the top of fermentation tanks while lager yeasts flocculate at the bottom. Lager yeasts ferment more aggressively, leaving behind less residual sweetness and less flavor than ales.
After the fermentation process, ales are aged no more than a few weeks between 40°F- 65°F while lagers are aged for months but at even lower temperatures (typically 32°F-45°F) to help construct a cleaner and clearer beer.
Ales consist of India Pale Ales (IPA's), Pale Ales, Porters, Stouts, Wheat Beers, etc. Lagers are Bocks, Oktoberfest/Maerzens, and Pilsners. Ales are typically the more "fruity and flowery" beers, picking up notes of apple, pear, pineapple, hay, and plum. Though lagers are not as fruit forward, they have a strong hops flavoring that make them an excellent choice!
One of my favorite beers for a bourbon guy like me to sip on is Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale. It's creamy, rich and smooth. Aged in used bourbon barrel casks, it's a great transitional beer.
I hope this crash course helped you out a bit. Here at Brinkmann's we carry an array of "high-gravity" beers, meaning they contain 6.2% alcohol or more. In the state of Tennessee, this is the only kind of beer a wine and spirits store may carry. You can get that old water beer somewhere else.