Nick Larson and Jake Devincenzi
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Kinesiology senior Nick Larson and aerospace engineering senior Jake Devincenzi are Mustang News beer columnists.
As we mentioned in this past week’s debut column, our goal is to entertain and inform. This week, we delve into the world of different types of beer and what makes them unique. On top of that, do you ever wonder what type of person your beer would be? Is that just us? Is that weird? We hope that after reading this column, you’ll know what beer you want to drink and also what beer you want to hang out with during the weekend.
As opposed to ales, lagers are fermented at colder temperatures (45 degrees Fahrenheit rather than 70) and became extremely popular in the 19th century. This process of cold fermentation is creatively called “lagering.” Most lagers, such as the famous Boston Lager from Boston Brewing Company (Samuel Adams), are pale lagers, though other varieties include lighter pilsners, stronger bocks and German Dunkels.
The lager is that person who always seems to be around, but you never really notice. He’s not a bad guy. You may work on a project together in class, but once the class is over, you never talk to him again. When you find his number in your phone two years later, you think, “Who the eff is that?”
The most versatile and all-encompassing type of beer, a pale ale is typically more earthy and floral than a lager. Pales tend to range from moderate to heavy in terms of bitterness, but the possibilities as far as additional ingredients are near limitless. So much possible variation in such a simple-to-brew beer often leads brewers to think their ridiculous recipes are better than they really are (ourselves included).
The pale ale is the person who swears they are God’s gift to Earth. They brag about hooking up with the hot guy or girl, but when you investigate a little further, you realize it was really just a split-second kiss because they were mistaken for somebody else.
India Pale Ale
A twist on the pale ale, India Pale Ales (IPA) are heavily-hopped, usually ranging from “Heavy” to “Oh hot damn!” on the Jake and Nick Bitterness Scale (roughly 60-120 International Bitterness Units). IPAs tend towards more bitterness, with only subtle notes of additional flavors and aromas. It is an acquired taste that took us more than a year to finally enjoy, but once you get hooked, good luck kicking the IPA habit.
The pale ale might be able to talk the talk, but the India Pale Ale can walk the walk. Better yet, the IPA makes walking look more graceful than an 8-time gold-medal ice skating champion riding a unicorn over amber waves of grain with a purple mountain backdrop. It’s the person who brags about hooking up with the hot guy or girl, when in reality, it was a moonlit dinner on a hidden beach in the Bahamas, accompanied by Sean Connery and Audrey Hepburn.
A pale and cloudy beer brewed with a higher ratio of wheat to malted barley than other beers, wheat beers are usually lower in alcohol, with a lot of added fruit flavors. Common wheat beers include Blue Moon, Shock Top and Hoegaarden. Do not be disillusioned by any promises of “Belgian Style.” No mass-produced wheat beer is masterfully crafted in the style of ancient Belgian monks.
The wheat beer is a naturalist, also known as a hippie. It says “screw you” to showers and would rather bathe in a vat of orange peels and other assorted fruits. It is representative of the people who walk around campus with no shoes on. Wheat beer believes this will help third-world children get shoes, yet refuses to buy a pair of TOMS.
Belgian Style Blonde Ale
Brewed in the traditional methods of Belgian Trappist Monks, Belgian style blondes are wheat beers containing a higher alcohol content (8-12 percent alcohol by volume), with a thick creamy head, sweet yeasty flavor and fruity aroma. Belgians are typically categorized as simple, dubbel, tripel and quadrupel, denoting the amount of malt used in the brew (and proportionally, the alcohol content). Unlike IPAs, Belgians get better with age as the yeast are given more time to munch through the subtle ingredients, bringing out fuller flavors.
The Belgian style blonde is a saint. It’s Mother Theresa, Florence Nightingale and Dumbledore all mixed into one sweet, refreshing glass of goodness. If this beer were an article of clothing, it would be yoga pants. If you find a person like this, don’t let them go. They feed the poor, care for you when you’re hurt and are probably a badass wizard.
Red (Amber) Ale
“Red” and “amber” are used to refer to an ale that is usually more red in color than a pale (surprise!) but isn’t dark enough to be a strong, dark ale. The red hue usually comes from an increased amount of malt added to the boil. This results in a fuller, smoother beer than a pale ale. Reds tend to be slightly more on the hoppy (bitter) side, while ambers are generally more malt-intensive, geared toward slow sipping while sitting on the couch watching the Major League Baseball playoffs (also known as the Giants postseason seats).
The Red Ale is the soft-spoken undercover rager sitting on the third floor of the library. You see her working on homework diligently from Monday through Friday. Then, to your surprise, you see her drinking beers and taking Irish Car Bombs at SLO Brew on Friday night. It’s unexpected, yet you are inevitably drawn to it.
Brewed using roasted malts or barley, stouts have a distinct, heavy taste. Although the name originated due to the high alcohol content of stouts, the common Irish stouts we know today are less alcoholic but have a dark, thick consistency. There are many variations of stouts, including the also popular porter, as well as many different types of stout using ingredients such as chocolate, oatmeal and coffee. Guinness is the most popular stout, and is a prime example of how much of an acquired taste the stout is.
The stout is a big, burly individual who appears to be tough as hell, but on the inside is a giant teddy bear. Their looks are intimidating, but fear not, they’re sweet and kind. Think of the stout as a Ron Swanson around a miniature horse, or Hagrid around a Hippogriff.
To be honest, we don’t really know how ciders are made. Apples. Fermentation. Magic? Who knows …
Do not feed this person anything containing gluten. The only reason to drink a cider is if your body physically cannot process the ingredients of beer. Cider is not beer; it is apple juice.
Weekly beer recommendations: Belgian Tripels
A long time ago, in a country far, far away — called Belgium —Trappist monks began brewing beer as a form of meditation. Yes, you heard that correctly, the brewing process was so calming that it was used as meditation.
This was no run-of-the-mill meditation; no, this was some legit beer brewing. When single and double (“simple” and “dubbel”) additions of malt just weren’t cutting it, the monks bumped up the alcohol content, and thus, the Belgian Style Tripel was born. These beers are sweet and high in alcohol content (10-12 percent alcohol by volume), which also means they are a bit pricier, but oh so worth it.
Jake’s Belgian Tripel Recommendations
$: Green Flash Brewing Company, San Diego, Calif. “Trippel.” Nick is going to be mad at me for choosing this one, as it is one of his favorite beers. Oops. It is impossible to go wrong with anything out of Green Flash, but its Trippel is truly something special. It’ll only run you approximately $7 for a 22-ouncer, which isn’t exactly cheap, but its nearly 10 percent alcohol by volume makes up for it. At the very least, it’ll help you forget how much money you spend on beer.
$$: Bieres de Chimay S.A., Belgium. “Tripel (White).” Brewed at one of the only breweries in the world still run exclusively by Trappist monks, the Tripel by Chimay is an 8-percent Belgian Tripel with a huge head and a nice spice-yeast flavor combo.
$$$: Unibroue, Canada. “La Fin du Monde.” It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine — thanks to this phenomenal Belgian Style Tripel from our neighbors to the north. Unibroue was one of my first fan-boy breweries — it was all I drank for a month. If you enjoy this Tripel, and believe me, you will, I would also highly recommend their 17th Anniversary Grand Reserve ($$$$$).
Nick’s Belgian Tripel Recommendations
$: Left Coast Brewery, San Clemente, Calif. “Asylum.” I’ll start by saying yes, I am mad at Jake for stealing the Green Flash “Trippel,” but it is to everyone’s benefit, as I now get the chance to share with you the craziness that is Asylum. At 11.8 percent, this beer will knock your shoes off, which is good for you because it will also make you pass out, and never pass out with your shoes on. It’s not the best-tasting Tripel, but it definitely has the most bang for your buck. You can find it for $7 in San Luis Obispo. Asylum is an experience, a rite-of-passage into the world of Belgians.
$$: Brouwerij de Koningshoeven, Netherlands, “La Trappe Tripel.” Now to get even, I’m stealing one of Jake’s beers. The La Trappe Tripel is one of the highest-rated Belgians in the world. After one sip, you’ll see why I love it. The sweet, smooth taste, with a slight hint of fruit is dangerously refreshing.
$$$: AleSmith Brewing Company, San Diego, Calif. “Decadence 2012.” I’ll admit that once again, my ‘$$$’ review is somewhat misleading. Decadence is not technically a Belgian Tripel, it’s a quadruple ale. Now you might be saying, “Dammit Nick, follow the damn rules.” My response to that is screw you, this is my column, and you’re welcome because this beer is amazing. I’ve had the good fortune to acquire a 22-ounce bottle of this beer, as well as having it straight from the brewery, and my goodness was it great. It’s pricey, and also somewhat hard to find as it’s a one-year release, but bottles are out there — and if you find one, buy it. Oh and the 12 percent alcohol by volume is fun too.