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==== ==== Beer reviews, ale blogs, stout info , and lite beer issues. ==== ====

Beer, hearing the term mind directly strikes the scene of a beer pub where people are holding mugs filled with beer and the foam is coming out of the glasses. Beer is not a new term since time immemorial, world's most widely consumed and probably the oldest of all alcoholic beverages. Beer is the third most popular drink after tea and coffee. Beer is prepared by brewing and fermentation of starches which are derived from the cereal grains particularly malted barley but wheat, corn and rice are also used. Generally beer is flavoured by the addition of hops which adds a bitter taste to beer and also acts as a preservative. Apart from hops some herbs and fruits are also used for flavouring the beer. Literature from the olden times suggests that there was a Code of Hammurabi which was concerned with the laws of regulating beer and beer parlours and the Hymn to Ninkasi was a prayer to Mesopotamian goddess of beer serving both the functions of prayer as well as remembering the recipe of beer preparation. Presently, brewing industry is a multinational business providing employment to thousands of individuals in the form of small pubs to large regional breweries. There are two categories of beer. First is the pale lager and the other regionally distinct ales which share further different varieties like pale ale, stout and brown ale. The alcohol content of beer is around 4% to 6% alcohol by volume (abv) which may be sometimes less than 1% abv to 20% in rare cases. Beer forms a part of culture of beer drinking nations and is also found to be associated with the festivals as well as with games. Beer is one of the oldest known beverages prepared since 9000 BC and has its record in the history of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. The chemical evidence of beer belongs to circa 3500-3100 BC from the site of Godin Tepe in the Zagros Mountains of western Iran. In China around 7000 BC beer was prepared from rice by malting. Any substance containing carbohydrate like the sugars and the starch usually undergoes fermentation and this laid down the foundation of beer production throughout the world. The production of beer and bread had generally resulted in the development of human civilization as well as technology but this fact is argued strongly by various scientists. Beer was spread through Europe by the Germanic and Celtic tribes around 3000 BC back and at that time people don't call it beer. Beer produced before the Industrial revolution was on domestic scale but today beer production is a global business and according to a report of 2006 around 133 billion liters of beer is sold every year which costs billions of dollars. The process of making beer is termed as brewing. A edifice dedicated strictly for making beer is called as brewery although beer can be prepared in homes also as known from the ancient literature. A company producing beer is called as a beer company. Beer produced on domestic scale is termed as home brewing regardless of the fact how it is prepared. Beer production is strongly under the rules and regulations of the government of the country and the producers have to deposit the taxes and fulfill the necessary documents in order to run a brewery successfully. The main purpose of brewing is to convert starch into sugary liquid called wort and later on this

wort is converted into alcoholic beverage called beer which is fermented by the action of yeast. The first step in making beer is mashing where the starch source (malted barley) is mixed with hot water in a mash tun. Mashing process is complete is 1-2 hours and during this time period the starch gets converted into sugars and becomes sweet in taste. This sweet liquid now called wort is drained off form the grains. Now the grains are washed and this step is called sparging. Sparging helps the brewer to obtain as much as fermentable liquid from the grains as possible. The process of filtering spent grain from the wort and sparged water is designated as wort separation. The traditional process of wort separation is called as lautering where the grain itself acts as filter medium. Modern breweries use filter frames for this step. The sparge obtained from second and third run contains weaker wort and thus weaker beer. Brewing with several runnings is called as patrigyle brewing. The sweet wort obtained from the sparged water is now kept in the kettle and boiled for 1 hour. Boiling evaporates the water of the wort but the sugars and other components remain as such and this allows efficient use of starch sources in beer. Boiling also inactivates the enzymes left after the mashing process. Hops are now added as source of flavor, bitterness and aroma. Hops may be added more than one time during boiling. If the hops are boiled for a longer time then the bitterness of beer increases and the flavor and the aroma content of beer declines. After boiling the hopped wort is allowed to cool and is now ready for yeast action. During fermentation the hopped wort becomes beer and this step may take a week to months depending upon the type of yeast and the strength of beer. When fermentation is over the yeast settles leaving the clear beer. In some cases fermentation is carried out in two steps, primary and secondary. Once beer is produced through primary fermentation it is transferred to a new vessel and is allowed to undergo secondary fermentation for certain period. Secondary fermentation is generally used when beer requires long term storage before packaging or greater clarity. When beer has fermented it is transferred into casks for cask ale or in aluminium cans or kegs or bottles depending upon the varieties. The key ingredients of beer are water, a starch source like the malted barley and brewer's yeast which is responsible for fermentation and flavouring agents like the hops. Apart from malted barley other sources of starch may be used like the corn or rice and then the term adjunct is used as they serve as a lower cost substitute for barely. Other inferior sources of starch include sorghum, millet, cassava root in Africa, potato in Brazil and agave in Mexico and other nations. Grain bill is the total amount of starch source in the beer making process. The major composition of beer comes from water. Water of different regions has different mineral components so the beer prepared from different regions shares unusual taste and variety. Water in Dublin is hard so it is best suited for the production of stout, Pilzen has soft water so famous for the production of pale lager. Water from Burton is rich in gypsum so is suitable for the production of pale ale. Sometimes the brewers add gypsum to the local water for the production of pale ale and this process is termed as Burtonisation. The starch source in beer is the key source which provides the material to be fermented and is responsible for the strength and flavor of beer. Most common starch source used for beer preparation is the malted grain. Gran is generally malted by soaking it in water and is then allowed to start germination and finally the half germinated grain is allowed to dry in a kiln. Malting process produces enzymes which are responsible for the conversion of starch into fermentable sugars. Different colours of malts are prepared from the same grain by allowing the grain to roast at different times and temperatures. Dark malts produce dark beers. Majority of beers have malted

barley as starch source as its fibrous husk is not only important in the sparging process but also contains amylase, a digestive enzyme which converts starch into fermentable sugars. In the recent years brewers have produced gluten-free beer from the malted sorghum especially for those individuals who are unable to digest gluten-rich beer derived from malted barley, corn and rice. The foremost components of flavouring of beer are the hops which are derived from the hop vine. Hops are actually the flowers of hop vine which act as flavouring agents as well as preservative. Apart from hops certain herbs and berries are also used as flavouring agents. Hops add a bitter taste as well as balance the sweetness of the malt. Bitterness of beer is measured on International Bitterness Units Scale. Hops add floral, citrus and herbal aromas and flavours to beer. Hops have an antibiotic effect and allow the use of lesser number of micro-organisms and have a preservative action. The micro-organism responsible for the fermentation of beer is the yeast. Yeast converts the sugars obtained from malted grains into alcohols and carbon dioxide and therefore turns wort into beer. It also imparts character and flavor to beer. The dominant strains of yeast used in fermentation are the ale yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisae) and the lager yeast (Saccharomyces uvarum) which produce ale and lager beers respectively. Some brewers also add clarifying agents to beer as they precipitate out of the beer along with the protein solids and are found in traces only in the finished product. These agents make beer fine and clean instead of the cloudy touch as that obtained from wheat in the olden times. Commonly used clarifying agents are isinglass obtained the swim bladders of fishes, Irish moss from seaweed. There are many varieties of beer found all over the world but the basic concepts of their preparation are always shared among different nations. The traditional European brewing regions like Germany, Belgium, and United Kingdom have local varieties of beer. Brewers from Canada, USA and Australia are so much inspired by the European style of beer preparation that they have developed their own different indigenous varieties of beer. Apart from the different varieties beer can be classified into two major types depending upon the temperature of brewing which affects yeast activity during fermentation. Beers may be lagers brewed at high temperature and regionally available ales brewed at low temperatures. Ales may be further divided into pale ale, brown or dark ale and stout. Beers are basically classified on the basis of yeast action used in fermentation. Beers which require fast acting warm fermentation leaving behind residual sugars are classified as ales while beers utilizing slow acting cold fermentation where the yeast removes most of the sugars are lagers. Steam beer, Alt and some modern British Golden Summer Beers use elements of both ale and lager beers for their preparation. Limbic is a variety of beer that is prepared in Belgium by using wild yeast rather than the cultivated one. Many of the varieties of yeast used for making lambic are not the strains of S.cerevisae so they impart different flavours and aroma to beer. Strains of yeast like Brettanomyces bruxellensis and Brettanomyces lambicus are used for making lambics. Lactobacillus is basically responsible for the sour taste of lambics where it produces acids. Stout and porter are dark beers prepared by using roasted malt or roasted barley and brewed by slow fermenting yeast. There are other varieties also like the Baltic porter, imperial stout and dry stout. The term Porter was used for the first time in 1721 to describe a dark coloured beer popular in the streets and river porters of London. This beer was later on got famous by the tag stout. The history of stout and porter got intertwined later on. Another variety is wheat which is significantly obtained by the use of wheat but it also contains certain proportion of malted barley also. They are usually top fermented and the flavour of wheat

beers vary considerably according to the style in which they are brewed. Ales are prepared by warm fermentation by using brewer's yeast that clumps and rises to the surface so they are called as top fermenting beers and also require higher temperatures and get fermented more quickly in comparison to lagers. The suitable temperature for carrying out fermentation of ales is 15-24°C. in this temperature range yeast produces suitable esters and flavours along with aroma products resulting in a beer with fruity touch like that of apple, pineapple, banana, plum and others. Hops were introduced into England in the 15th century and after the addition of hops in brewing the term beer was used. The term Real Ale was coined by Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) in 1973 for the beer brewed by using traditional ingredients and secondary fermentation without use of carbon dioxide. The cool fermenting beers of European origin are termed as lagers. The pale lagers are the most popularly consumed beers all over the globe. The word lager has got its origin from a German word lagern which means to store because the brewers used to store the beers in cool cellars and caves during the hot summer months and they observed that fermentation process continued in the stored beers and this resulted in better quality of beers. The yeast used for fermentation of lagers is very much active at lower temperatures and it carries out primary fermentation at the temperature range of 7-12°C and then a long secondary fermentation at 0-4°C. After the secondary fermentation is over lagers become clear. Cooler temperature also inhibits unusual production of esters and other byproducts resulting in production of a tasty lager beer. The modern method of lager production was put forward by Gabriel Sedlmayr the Younger, who clarified the dark brown lager at Spaten Brewery in Bavaria, and Anton Dreher brewed an amber-red coloured lager in Vienna in 1840-1841. With the improvement of yeast strains modern lagers get ready within a very short time period say from 1-3 weeks. Malt is responsible for the particular colouration of beer. The common colour of beers is pale amber which is basically produced by the use of pale malts. Pale lagers and pale ales are prepared from the malt dried with coke. Coke was used for the first time in 1642 for roasting the malt but this step was prohibited in 1703 but the term pale ale came into existence. In terms of sale and volume the majority of the beers are based on the pale lagers brewed in 1842 in the town of Pilsen in the present-day Czech Republic. The pale lager consumed in the present scenario is very light in colour passed through carbonation with alcoholic strength of around 5% only. Pilsner Urquell, Bitburger, and Heineken are the common brands of pale lager beers and Budweiser, Coors, and Miller are common American brands of pale lager beer. Dark beers are generally brewed from pale malt or lager base malt along with certain proportion of dark malt to achieve a desired colour. Caramel, roasted unmalted barley are also used for achieving a dsired shade of beer. The alcoholic strength of beer ranges from less than 3% by volume (abv) to around 14% (abv) although this strength can be further increased up to 20 % (abv) by use of champagne yeast and 60% (abv) by freeze distillation process. The alcohol content of beer varies with style and practice. Alcohol in beers comes from the sugars that metabolized during the fermentation process. The quantity of fermentable sugars in wort and the strain of yeast used for the fermentation of wort are responsible for the alcoholic content in the finally obtained beer. Sometimes fermentable sugars and enzymes are also added for increasing alcoholic strength of beer. Alcohol is produced as a byproduct of yeast fermentation and is toxic to the yeast. Low temperature and too little fermentation decrease the activity of yeast and so as the alcoholic content of final beer. The alcoholic content of beers has increase in the last few years of 20th century and a Dutch brewery

has produced the strongest beer with alcoholic content of 60% (abv). The brewing industry is a multinational business in the modern world and it works in collaboration with regional as well as national breweries. Microbrewery is a modern brewery that produces a limited amount of beer every year around 15,000 barrels. A brewpub is a microbrewery serving beer along with some edible materials also. Draught beer from a pressurized keg is the most frequent method of dispensing beers in the bars. A metal keg is generally used which is first filled with beer and then pressurized by using carbon dioxide. Nitrogen is also used sometimes for sealing beer kegs. Cask ales are unconditioned and unpasteurized beers. When a cask arrives in a pub it is kept horizontally in a frame called stillage which is designed to hold it at 90° and then allowed to cool at the cellar temperature before being tapped and vented. Beers are basically cleared off from the yeasts before they undergo packaging in bottles and cans. Bottle conditioned beers however retain some yeast that is left unfiltered so beers should be poured slowly. Many beers are typically sold in cans all over the world. People drink directly either from cans or by pouring into the glass. Cans protect beer from coming in contact with light and there is little of no risk of leakage. Plastic bottles are also used for packaging beers. Temperature of beer strongly influences the drinker's experience. Warmer temperature reveals flavour of beer and cool beers are more refreshing. Most drinkers prefer to consume pale lagers chilled while imperial stouts are generally preferred at room temperature. The beer writer Michael Jackson has proposed a five level scale for serving beer. He has suggested following types like chilled for light beers, chilled for wheat beers, lightly chilled for dark lagers, cellar temperature for British ale, stout and room temperature for strong dark ales. The consumption of chilled beer began in 1870s and spread to all parts of the globe where pale lager was preferred on high scale. Chilling the beer adds a refreshing taste to it but chilling below 15.5°C reduces the taste and at 10°C awareness and taste both decline. Beers served at room temperature have a wonderful flavour. Cask Marque is a non-profit beer producing organization which has set a temperature range of 12°-14°C for serving the cask ales. Beers are served either in cans, mugs, glasses etc. The glassware used for drinking beer may influence the character and style of an individual. Many breweries offer branded glasswares for serving beer. Beer is poured in a style in the drinking glasses and opening of beer container releases carbon dioxide as it is opened. Many social activities have been found to be associated with drinking like playing cards, pub games etc. Beer is most popularly consumed all over the world in a high proportion in comparison to the wine which the second most popularly consumed beverage. The main active key component of beer is alcohol so also affects human health. Moderate consumption of beer reduces the risk of cardiac arrest and cognitive decline. Long term effects of alcohol increase the risk of liver damage. The brewer's yeast used for the fermentation of beer is a rich source of nutrients like magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, biotin and vitamin B and therefore, beer is sometimes called as liquid bread. According to a study conducted by Japanese scientists in 2005 low alcohol beers have strong anti-cancer properties. Non-alcoholic beers reduce the risk of cardiovascular disorders. But over consumption of anything is injurious so beers must be consumed in a limit. From the process of preparation till packaging and up to marketing the brewers put so much effort and this effort is the key of the success of breweries all over the world. One must enjoy beer at

least once in his or her lifetime.

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