A Guide to Beer!

Beer Caps from the WorldIn its most basic form, beer is made up of four ingredients: water, malted barley, hops and yeast! What determines the style and flavour of the beer is the specific combination and type and amount of barley, the method used when adding the hops, and the type of yeast used to ferment the beer. The difference between a lager and an ale is caused by the type of yeast used in the fermentation process.

Ales: Fermentation takes place in warmer temperatures (which cause the yeast to multiply). The yeast used in ale making is top fermenting because it gathers at the surface of the brew during the first few days of brewing, before settling to the bottom. Generally speaking ales are higher in alcohol content and have a fuller more complex flavour. The three main varieties of ales are:

  • Brown ale: Despite being called a brown ale, these ales are usually red or copper in colour, and have a milder flavour than other ales.
  • Porter ale: With a stronger barley flavour and a mild hop flavour, porter ale is darker and more full bodied than brown ale.
  • Stout ale: With a very strong taste of barley and hops, stouts are the darkest of all the ales and have a strong, thick taste.

Lagers: Fermentation takes place in cool temperatures, and the yeast is bottom fermenting (sinks to the bottom during brewing). Lagers are generally lower in alcohol content than ales, tend to be lighter in colour, and generally have a drier taste than ales. There are four main varieties of lager:

  • Pale lager: Generally lighter in colour and body than other types of beer, pale lagers also usually contain more carbonation.
  • Pilsner: Usually more bitter than regular pale lager, with a distinct flavour, pilsners are also pale in colour.
  • Light lager: Often contain less hops and barley than other lager blends, which results in a reduced calorie content. Also has a slightly lower alcohol content than regular beers.
  • Dark lager: Made from roasted barley and hops, which results in a richer flavour, more full bodied taste and a rich, dark colour.

Did you know?

A guide to types of beer
  • Tegestology is the Latin term which is defined as the practice of collecting beer coasters.
  • Approximately 10 million Canadians drink beer, making it the number one alcoholic beverage in Canada.
  • Samuel Adams Triple Bock beer has the highest concentration of alcohol of any beer (17%), because of the use of champagne yeast.
  • Someone who collects beer bottles is known as a labeorphilist.
  • Molson, founded by John Molson in 1786, is the oldest brewery in North America.
  • In Bavaria beer is defined as a staple food!
  • In the Middle Ages, monks who brewed beer were each allowed to consume 5 quarts per day.
  • Beer was first introduced in bottles in 1869 by English brewer Francis Manning- Needham.
  • The Czech Republic has the largest beer consumption in the world!
  • The Egyptians believe that the god of agriculture, Osiris, taught humans how to drink beer.
  • Canadian beer consumption is estimated at 77.22 litres per person annually (2008).