January Beer Club

January Beer Club

Beer 101

Alright, Santa has finished the milk stout and cookies, and we’re ready to get back to basics.  We’ll look at six beers to examine the different ingredients that go into beer, and how changes to those ingredients create different styles.  So lets quickly list the ingredients and what role they play in the finished pint:


Water - H2O, the wet part of beer

Yeast - Microorganisms that turn sugar into Alcohol, the wobbly part of beer

Malt - Barley or other grains.  The “bready” aroma and body of beer

Hops - Aromatic flowers.  The floral and bitter flavours of beer.


The beer club releases on the third Saturday every month.  There is no sign up for our beer club, just drop by the store any time were open and pick up a pack!  The price will be between $30 and $35.

Now I could go off on a lecture here about how all pilsners are lagers but not all yadda yadda yadda.  We’ve all probably heard it before and I don’t think there’s much value to that discussion.   These beers are much more similar than different, so instead, lets talk yeast.  Yeast as mentioned above creates the alcohol of beer, but it also creates the carbonation.  Now what makes a lager (or pilsner) a lager is a cooler fermentation temperature and the use of bottom-fermenting yeast.  This cooler, slower ferment results in a greater degree of carbonation, which is why lagers often have a fluffy head of foam and a soft taste.  That holds true for both these beers. and I strongly encourage you pour them into a glass to enjoy them best!

Now where in the territory of ales.  In this side by side we’ll take a look at how different malts can create two very different beers.  First let’s explain the malting process.  Barley, or other grain is allowed to soak in water to a point where it begins to germinate.  The grain is then drained and dried.  This process creates enzymes that will allow the carbohydrates in the grain to be converted into sugar, which will then be turned into alcohol.  During the drying stage, better known as kilning, the malt will roast, think of it like roasting coffee beans.  The level of roasting will influence the flavour profile of the beer.  In the example of Ten Peaks, pale malt gives this beer a biscuity, caramelly flavour.  Contrast that to the dark malt of the Larch Valley, where you get flavours of chocolate, and coffee, without any actual addition of chocolate or coffee.

And now for the hop-heads.  Hops are the dense, cone-shaped flower of a plant belonging to a member of the hemp family.  Yep, beer and cannabis are practically cousins!  Their use in beer is twofold. First they provide much of the complexity to beer, with flavours ranging from bitter, to floral, to fruity.  Second, they provide a natural antibacterial protection to the beer.  It was the antibacterial properties which led to the creation of India Pale Ales, beers loaded with lots of hops to keep them stable on the long journey to India.  In the last thirty years a new style of IPA has been developed, the New England, or Hazy, IPA.  These utilize hops with more aromatic quality, and add them later on in the  boiling process to reduce bitterness.  West Coast IPA’s on the other hand embrace bitterness and more herbaceous hop aromas.  Contrast Greg’s big, bitter, palate of earthy pine resin to Sky Rocket’s juicy, citrusy, and tropical notes.

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