Hoppy New Year! Get it? Hoppy? Yes, well anyway, welcome back to another exciting quarter at Cal Poly. Now, I don’t usually have a New Year’s resolution, and of course when I do I rarely follow it, but this year is different. I have resolved to try at least one new beer every week of the quarter and then share my experiences with you, the reader of this article. Sounds awesome, right?
But wait, there’s more! Not only will you be able to taste vicariously through me, but I will also teach you a little about each beer and style I try. I’ll be touring the local breweries and letting you know what is going on in the beer world.
Before all that, though, if you were like I was last year, or if this is your first year at Poly, you’re probably wondering what justification there is for letting a column about beer into a respectable publication such as this. How could it be at all important?
I’ve put together a list of seven fun facts about beer — fun facts that would be perfect to whip out at a party, or to use in order to convince your parents that beer is really OK to consume three or four or seven nights a week. These are just a few of the reasons why beer is worthy of being written about:
1. Beer is the oldest, most popular alcoholic beverage on earth (possibly dating back to the 6th millennium B.C.).
2. In ancient Babylonia, beer was brewed by priestesses, and some types were used in religious ceremonies (Babylonian gods approve).
3. Monasteries were among the first organizations to brew beer as a trade (if it’s good enough for the monks, it’s good enough for me).
4. Saints Augustine, Luke and Nicholas are all patrons of brewing (Christian God approves).
5. I heard once on TV that the American people will elect the presidential candidate that they could “sit down and have a beer with.” (just like Nixon, oh, wait …)
6. You may have been conceived with the help of beer (it doesn’t mean they don’t love you).
7. Beer makers were among the first to feature minorities in their television commercials (blazing trails for equality).
If these don’t convince you that this column is worthy, then how about this: They let that other dude talk about pube-shaving and that conservative fellow hate on everything that isn’t God. It’s only fair.
Also, as this is the first article, I’ll give you a little more knowledge about beer, namely a brief description of how it is made and the different types. First off, all beer contains water, hops, yeast and some sort of starch, usually malted grain. Many beers also have a clarifying agent that clumps together the solids from the brewing process for removal.
The two main types of beer are lagers and ales. Lagers are brewed at lower temperatures using slow-acting yeast, while ales are brewed at high temperatures with fast-acting yeast.
Lagers are crisper and lighter than ales and encompass most of the more popular U.S. beers, such as those produced by Budweiser, Miller, Coors and (I do hate to mention it) Pabst Blue Ribbon. Ales are more often local-styles, which for us include Firestone, almost any local brewery and most beers by Sierra Nevada. Speaking of which, this week’s beer selection is Sierra Nevada’s Celebration Ale.
According to Sierra Nevada’s site, the Celebration Ale is “Wonderfully robust and rich … dry-hopped for a lively, intense aroma.” Intense is a great description of this beer. It is extremely hoppy and if you enjoy a flavorful beer, I highly recommend it.
The “intense” hoppy flavor is from the process of dry-hopping, which is when the hops are added to the wort (the sugary liquid that the yeast ferments into beer) after it is boiled, thus allowing the hoppy flavor to be much more prominent in the final product.
In order to give you a better idea of what the beer is like, I’ve decided to do a side-by-side comparison with their quite popular pale ale. If you couldn’t tell by now, I’m no beer professional, but I’ll try and describe these brews from a layman’s perspective.
Obviously the Celebration is much “hoppier” than the ale. But hey, when beer’s hoppy, I’m hoppy! Get it? Eh, never mind.
In appearance, the Celebration is a slightly darker amber and a bit cloudier. The Celebration is more bitter than the pale ale. Don’t let this discourage you, though. It isn’t the bad bitter that Coors was battling against with its “Bitter Beer Face” advertising campaign; it is a delicious bitter to accompany a full flavor.
This is a great IPA (indian pale ale) seasonal beer to go out and try. And if you like it, look for other IPAs, like Firestone’s Union Jack IPA or the many, many others that can be found at our local liquor stores.
Next week, along with the general beer talk, I’ll be sampling an undetermined pilsner, a pale lager style beer, for those of you who prefer to stay away from the ales and darker beers. From there, I’ll make my way to the darker side of beers, ending with a porter, which happens to be my favorite style of beer.
If you too are a lover of beer, which you must be if you made it this far, I encourage you to try the beers I do and let me know what you think by commenting on the posted article at mustangdaily.net.
Well, as we near the end of the beginning, I want to leave you with a few final thoughts. I would like to thank the Internet, Wikipedia.org specifically, for furthering my knowledge about beer.
Also, as Montell Jordan does on Friday nights when he feels alright, and the party is here on the west side, if you’re going to drink, then be responsible: “So I reach for my 40 and I turn it up, designate a driver take the keys to my truck.”
And finally, if you’re under 21 years of age, please do not read this article, for I do not want to be the cause of temptation to break civil and moral law.