It's good to have beers around. In the fridge. At the office. In the cooler. Not so much in the car. But almost everywhere else. It's like a comfort blanket for adults. And there are so many different beer types, you'll never get bored. Fancy beers, cheap beers, flavorful beers, light beers—they've all got their time and place. That place mostly being in our hearts.
If you dig hops, India Pale Ale is your beer. Legend says British brewers packed extra hops into beer before the long voyage to India. Is it true? Who cares? Drink it. IPAs vary from a gentle hop handshake to a sock in the eye. Dry-hopped versions are made from preserved hops and are sharper. Fresh/wet hopped brews are made right after harvest, featuring a more floral nose and hints of apricot.
The classic golden brew from bottom-fermenting yeast is typically clean and light in flavor. Clarity is its trademark, but some include dark caramelized malt that produces a black lager mellower than porter or stout. Rare India Pale Lagers feature big hop aromas but finish softer than their ale cousins. However, most lagers are easy-drinking fishing brews that defy beer snobbery, pair nicely with each other and are served best in a cooler full of ice.
While cider is jumping out of nowhere in the U.S., it's always been big in the UK, which is the world's biggest cider consumer. They can be made from any kind of apple, and even pears, but high-sugar cider apples are best. They range from crystal clear to murky and brown. Most sparkle, but some are still. Cider is a good choice for those concerned about wheat. Be sure to choose a pure one not blended with ale.
"Pale" refers to the color of malt, as opposed to "amber" or "dark." Malt dried slowly without caramelization is pale. The drying process was tough to control centuries ago, so heavily roasted malts were the rule. Now pale malts are easier to make. They produce beers that balance full body and crisp refreshment. Pale ales sparked the American microbrewery revolution of the past couple of decades. Although not born here, pale ales are now as American as hot dogs.
The baby born of deeply caramelized malt, stout is dark as a black hole with a full mouthfeel and a head you can chew. They range from creamy/chocolatey/malty to cocoa/espresso/tobacco. While some are as strong as they look with ABV of over 8 percent, others are deceptively light. The most famous stout, Guinness, has less alcohol and fewer calories than most golden brews, making it the perfect lunch beverage. Nitrogenization gives it a velvety texture.
Beer Myths 101:
Cold to warm and back again will skunk beer: Nope. Temperature won't corrupt your beer, but light will. If you're running out of room in the fridge, feel free to remove some beers without worrying. Just don't store them in your trunk during the summer.
Bottles > Cans: Again, nope. We just talked about this. Light is bad for your beer and cans are better at keeping it out. They're also better at keeping oxygen out, which is also no friend of beer.
Stouts are heavy and boozy: Appearances can be deceiving. Stouts might look like a lot to handle, but they're surprisingly light. Guinness actually has fewer calories and alcohol than the average lager.
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