[Ed.: So, we’re going to be doing something a little bit different today. Mike from The Brew Professor was kind enough to submit a guest post on my request. If you like what he has to say, keep an eye out on his site. I read it and think it’s good stuff. He gave us a very informative long form piece, which I am going to split up over the next couple days. Without further ado… -J]
Guest Blogger: The Brew Professor
The Brew Professor (http://brewprof.com) is a new Cincinnati beer blog covering everything from craft beer reviews to homebrewing to better beer stores to beer tasting events. It’s another take on the world of beer for all you beer nerds out there, whether you like making it or just like drinking it.
Women: Don’t Fear the Beer
Before I begin, let me start out by saying this mild diatribe will contain generous helpings of broad assumptions and stereotyping. Most of this is observational “fact” that I have experienced personally. So sit back, drink a beer, and soak it all in before you fire off the hate mail. Now then…
The idea to talk about women and beer was originally suggested by my wife. As my love for beer has evolved she has been along for the ride with me, albeit, begrudgingly at times. A scant ten years ago, I couldn’t get her to even sip a Miller Lite (and for good reason, I suppose). However, as a matter of convenience and cost it became easier and easier to convince her to just drink a beer instead of ordering some sort of frou-frou mixed drink. Standing shoulder-to-shoulder at a bar on Reds Opening Day just doesn’t lend itself to trying to shout a mixed drink order to an overwhelmed and underpaid bartender. Pretty much the same thing goes with wine. But when she had her druthers, she would opt for the “not beer” drink. But, things have changed as the craft beer boom continues to surge. Now she actually gets excited about discovering and trying new beers. I’m going to provide some guidance on how an open mind and semi-adventurous spirit can bring you into the water, barley, hops, and yeast – beer – family.
Let’s have a quick look at wine. The most famous of grape drinks is generally seen as more socially acceptable for women to imbibe. Some irrational calorie counters may try to argue health benefits that it has fewer carbs, cals, etc. Quit fooling yourself. Wine is viewed as more sophisticated because of the myriad of wineries and growing regions and vintages and soil conditions and fermentation conditions. Guess what. Beer does all that and then some. No, seriously.
I’m mostly preaching to the choir here, but real beer is not Bud Light. It is not Heineken. It is not King Cobra. Real beer is ale and lager brewed with passion. It is a blank canvas for craftsmen brewers to unleash their culinary creativity. It is a libation uniting human kind (sorry, I’ll reign it back in).
Beer is 28 major categories of styles consisting of 66 unique styles. And these are just the varieties that fall under the official BJCP, beer judging authority, style guidelines. Beer flavors range from refreshingly light to cut your tongue bitterness. Don’t be fooled by color. There are dark varieties that drink like they’re light and light varieties that drink like they’re dark The amount of alcohol ranges from hardly measurable to knock you on the floor.
Another fact: beer is older than wine. Yes it has been on this earth, accidentally, longer than those rotting grapes. Archeologists have discovered Stone Age beer jugs for purposeful fermentation dating to 10,000 B.C. Wine didn’t show up to the party in the Fertile Crescent until 7,000 B.C.
Okay, ladies. Why is the craft beer movement mostly driven by men? What is holding you back from trying more beer? In my experience, it is inexperience.
The problem with experimenting with real beer is that the selection process can be extremely intimidating (much like the paralyzing effect a wine store has on me). First you need to find a decent craft beer store or be lucky enough to find a local grocery/convenience store that carries something not made by AB-InBev (the foreign-owned parent conglomerate of Budweiser). Think wine shops, specialty markets, corner stores – generally, smaller local businesses. You want to look for stores that feature beers brewed by small breweries around the region, country, and world. I provide some local suggestions later.
Next, you have you have the daunting task of sorting through a wall of colorful and attractive labels to determine if what’s inside the bottle is worth forking out $10 or more. Beware: there may be some sticker shock when moving from an $8.99 12-pack to a $8.99 6-pack. Fear not, it’s worth the few extra bucks. The additional investment buys you good flavor and usually a little more alcohol. You won’t need to funnel six beers to get your Friday night started like you did in college. When in doubt, look for a creative label. I’ve been deceived by great artwork but discovery is half the fun. Stay with me though, I have some brand names to look for when you are out and about.
Tomorrow’s post will describe my recommendations of the top three styles that lend themselves to the untrained palate and will let you stick your toe in the water. These broad style categories include: wheat beers, saisons and farmhouse ales, and even some mild sour beers. They are all delicious, light, and pretty easy to find locally.