I’ve had some fun blogging about wine and travelling to wineries. The reality is that while I truly enjoy wine, I’ve been drinking beer longer. My first were stolen swigs of my father’s Iron City (still a sentimental favorite).The there was cheap beer in college (PBR!) Along the way I’ve continued to enjoy beer. But I’ve never really tried to learn its finer points the way I did with wine. Since moving to Richmond I suddenly have many more local breweries to choose among (no offense to Souther Tier Brewing in Lakewood, NY. I enjoy several of their brews. They and Ellictoville Brewing, an hour away in Ellicottville, NY, were my only close breweries. Buffalo is only just getting rolling), so I thought maybe this would be a good time to get a little more serious about my beer selections.
There’s all kind of terminology for me to learn, so I’ll take that in phases. First, I learn that there are only two primary categories of beer, Ales and Lagers. Within those two categories there are all the “styles” we known (IPAs, Pilseners, Witbiers, etc). The difference between the two is the kind of yeast used, top fermenting (ales) and bottom fermenting (lagers). Those yeast do affect the taste. Lagers are often described as having a “clean” taste that puts the flavors of the hops and barley in the spotlight. Both ales and lagers can be strongly or mildly flavored, high alcohol or low alcohol. I’ve enjoyed many drafts of both varieties.
As with any dedicated fan base, there is virtually no unanimity on terminology. The ale/lager differentiation I’ve made here is not agreed to by all. I use it strictly within the terms I’ve outlined, differentiating between fermentation styles. By this standard a stout is an ale, which really sets some stout fans (fans of the stout style, not making any comments about the girth of beer drinkers) off on a tirade. Agree or disagree, it’s where I am choosing to begin.
Interesting, at least to me, historical note. The lager style is a much more recent development since it requires cooler temperatures for the fermentation process. Our ability to maintin the kind of cold for the process has only been around for a very short time in the timespan of beer brewing.
So what re my “go-to” brews at this point in my life? Here’s the list:
- Labatt’s – live in WNY for 30 years it’s going to become a favorite.
- Yuengling – from North America’s oldest brewery
- Tecate – Mexican beer traditionally drunk with a slice of lime. Was introduced to it in San Antonio.
- Dos Equis – a darker body beer without a lot of hops.
I’ve also had times when I routinely bought Foster’s and Red Stripe.
I also know that the hoppier beers don’t do much for me. As popular as IPAs are these days I do not like them at all. Hops up to a point is fine but only up to that point. So this should be an interesting journey.