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Archive for the ‘History of Beer’ Category

The Lager Yeast

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About 600 years ago, the German lager was born, but it is a mystery how the yeast (responsible for making lager) which originated in Agentina, traveled to Europe. Lager was invented around the same time, when Columbus set sail, could it be him?

Since the 1980’s, geneticists have known that the lager is made of of S.pastorianus which in turn was a hybrid of two yeast species – S. cerevisiae (used in making ales, wines and bread) and another unidentified organism. For many decades, this unidentified organism had baffled scientists. Now in the last five years a scientific team has discoered, identified and named the organism – Saccharomysces eubayanus. The yeast is said to be 99.5% identical to the non-ale portion of the lager genome.

This orange colored yeast was found in galls on southern beech trees in Patagonia, Argentina. The galls are used to make a fermenented beverage by the natives.

The scientists believe that the organism found its way to Europe and hybridized with the domestic yeast used to brew ale, creating an organism that can ferment at the lower temperatures used to make lager.


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August 31, 2011 at 5:15 pm

Lambic beer – beer or wine?

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Most people I know would trade the world for a glass of chilled, cold beer and have a huge smile on their face once they have it. They would smirk at people having the “sophisticated” glass of wine and likewise. But very few people know that a glass of beer can be as expensive and sophisticated as the delicate wine. There are fierce loyalists to this type of beer known as the Lambic beer.

Lambics are living beers that contain living microbes and is brewed in the southwest region of Brussels, Belgium. Traditionally, wheat beer is made with 70% barley malt, 30% unmalted wheat and hops are added only as preservatives, not for the bitterness. Lambic’s  is then fermented by exposing it to wild yeasts and bacteria that are native to the Senne valley, in Brussels. The fermented brew is stored in barrels, just like wine,  for a period of 3-4 months (young) to about 3-6 years (mature). This unusual process gives the beer its distinctive dry, vinous, and cidery flavour with a slight aftertaste.

The aged brew stored in cool, dark places or under mild refrigeration takes on a rich, fruity complexity and much like wine, are not exposed to excessive temperatures because the living microbes will otherwise die. This delicate craft of producing a Lambic, makes it the most sought after fine drink, just like wine.

Lambic beer, is to be savored  like wine and not gulped like beer often is 🙂 The beer is often paired with a wide range of foods. A true Lambic beer goes well with light, white meat entrees like roasted rosemary lemon chicken and goes wonderfully well with desserts from chocolates, to cheesecakes.

The Timmermans Brewery has been around for more than 300 years brewing Lambic beer. History traces them to 1702 when they set up their brewery in Itterbeek. It was then known as ‘Brasserie de la Taupe’. Today they produce a fine variety of Lambic beer namely: Tradition Gueuze Lambic, Tradition Faro Lambic, Tradition Lambicus, Framboise Lambic, Kriek Lambic, Peche Lambic, Strawberry Lambic.

The types of Lambic/ Derived beer and the foods that they are usually paired with are:

Gueuze: A good gueuze can be kept for about 10-20 years, and is made by refermenting (for a year) a mixture of bottled young (1 year old) and old (2/3 year old) lambics.  Gueuze is usually paired with spiced desserts.

Faro: A light, sweet beer made by adding water/lighter beer to lambics along with herbs and brown sugar. It tastes divine when had with a dark Belgian chocolate or a chocolate truffle.

Kriek: Usually cherries are steeped in the beers, thereby producing a stark, penetrating dryness in the beer, accentuated by bitter, earthy and mineral flavors. Cheesecakes  go well along with Kriek.

Fruit: Lambics with addition of raspberries, strawberries, peaches, black currant and grapes. This has to be paired with fruit complimentary foods to feel the real richness of the flavor.

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July 7, 2011 at 2:13 am

The Beer Archaeologist

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The Smithsonian features an absolutely fantastic article about Patrick McGovern, (referred as the Beer Archaelogist), a scholar who has unearthed about 3000 year old Beer recipes by analyzing residues in ancient pottery.

An extract:

“Dr. Pat,” as he’s known at Dogfish Head, is the world’s foremost expert on ancient fermented beverages, and he cracks long-forgotten recipes with chemistry, scouring ancient kegs and bottles for residue samples to scrutinize in the lab. He has identified the world’s oldest known barley beer (from Iran’s Zagros Mountains, dating to 3400 B.C.), the oldest grape wine (also from the Zagros, circa 5400 B.C.) and the earliest known booze of any kind, a Neolithic grog from China’s Yellow River Valley brewed some 9,000 years ago.

The ancients were liable to spike their drinks with all sorts of unpredictable stuff—olive oil, bog myrtle, cheese, meadow­sweet, mugwort, carrot, not to mention hallucinogens like hemp and poppy.

Now Dr. Pat is planning with a brewer, Sam Calagione, on making seven kegs of the experimental beverage in the New York City.

To read the complete article, click here.

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June 27, 2011 at 6:53 pm

History of Beer

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History of BeerIt is said that Sumerians set the ball rolling with brewing Beer in around 3500BC. Some scholars also think that it is quite probable that Beer brewing had begun as early as 10000BC, when agriculture was first developed in Sumeria. There is also a The Hymn to Ninkasi (Sumerian Godess of Beer), inscribed on a nineteenth-century B.C. tablet, which has the for Beer. Though there is this debate about what came first? The bread or the beer. It is more likely that beer was accidentally discovered through the grains which were fermented for bread making.

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April 22, 2011 at 8:28 pm

Beer Making Process

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Brewing in the brewery by a brewer makes the beer 🙂 . However this is not as simple as it is written. The execution is highly precise and in fact sophisticated. It requires a series of steps, to make a good brew. It has to go through the phases of Malting, Milling, Mashing, Lautering, Boiling, Fermenting, Conditioning, Filtering, and Packaging. I have briefly mentioned about each of the steps, followed by a brewing flowchart:

1. Malting:  Here the conversion from carbohydrates to dextrin and maltose takes place. The grain used as the raw material is usually barley. Barley as a cereal can be preserved for a long time after harvesting and it is the malted barley that gives Beer its characteristic color and taste.

2. Milling:  The malt is then mixed with water to complete the conversion of starches in the grain to sugar. After that the grain is milled to create the proper consistency to the malt.

3. Mashing: This process converts the starches released during the malting stage, into sugars that can be fermented.

4. Lautering: The liquid containing the sugar extracted during mashing is now separated from the grains. It is then generally termed as wort.

5. Boiling and Hopping: Boiling the wort, ensures its sterility, and thus prevents a lot of infections. Hops are added during this stage of boiling.As I mentioned in my earlier post, hops are used to add flavor and aroma to balance the sweetness of the malt.

6. Fermenting: The yeast is now added and the Beer is fermented. The yeast breaks down the sugars extracted from the malt to form alcohol and CO2.

7. Conditioning: Fermented Beer contains suspended particles, lacks sufficient carbonation, lacks taste and aroma, and less stable. Conditioning reduces the levels of these undesirable compounds to produce a more finished product.

8. Filtering: Filtration helps to remove excess of the yeast and any solids, like hops or grain particles, remaining in the Beer. Filtering is the process which produces the clear, bright and stable Beer.

9. Packaging: Packaging is putting the beer into the bottles, cans or some other high volume vessels. One of the most important things in packaging is to exclude oxygen away from the Beer.

These are the basic steps and the style of brewing may vary little. These can be customized to improve the taste of your beer. I will follow up this post with the type of machinery, equipments, weather conditions, for the Beer making process.

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April 21, 2011 at 10:02 pm

Beer Ingredients

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beer ingredientsBeer is a fermented hop flavored, malt sugared, liquid drink. Sounds simple? However the process of making beer and ingredients used are not. Because of the length of the content, I have broken down the post in two. In this post I would be talking about the ingredients of Beer and follow it up with a post that would discuss the process of making Beer.

Ingredients of beer

The basic ingredients of Beer are water, malt, hops, and yeast. They are discussed as below:

Water: The main ingredient in Beer is water and one needs to be very careful about the water, water source that is being used in producing Beer. It must be pure, with no trace of bacteria. This is very important because only then will it allow the other ingredients to release all their flavours. Usually the minerals present in the water available varies regionally, that is why the taste of beer also used to vary in olden day as per the regions. However today we can chemically adjust, to produce the desire flavour/variety of beer.

Barley: Beer is a grain based drink. Traditionally Barley has been the main grain ingredient which went in producing Beer. However today there are alternatives like rye, maize, rice and oatmeal. Barley being a cereal and since it can be preserved for a long time after harvesting, brewers preferred its use. It is the malted barley that gives beer its characteristic color and taste. Barley is malted before being used to brew beer. Malting is a process of bringing grain to its highest point of possible soluble starch content by allowing it to sprout roots/germinate.

Hops: Humulus lupuluare is a flowering plant. Flowers of this plant are used to add flavor and aroma to balance the sweetness of the malt. They are generally dried before use. The variety of hops used, will leave its own distinct flavor\aroma.

Yeasts: To convert the sugars that are extracted from grains, into alcohol and carbon dioxide, yeast is used. Different types of Beer yeast help to give Beer its various tastes. Nowadays there are two main varieties of yeasts that are used in brewing, saccharomyces cerevisiae and saccharomyces carlsbergensis.

Certain other products are also used in the making of beer, in particular spices: Coriander, Ginger, Cloves, Sage, Fennel, Mustard seeds, Aniseed, Cinnamon etc.

So, this is all about ingredients used in beer making. In next post I shall discuss about the beer making process.

Stay tuned!

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April 20, 2011 at 8:09 pm

Bring in the Beer

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Beer is one of the world’s oldest beverages, with the history of Beer dating back to the some 6th century BC. If we talk about in number of years then it is said that Beer has been brewing for more than 8,000 years across the world and in olden days it was considered a food supplement (its true, for me too), with newer studies showing Beer is actually healthy (I knew it!).

Actually the word Beer comes from the Middle English ber(e), and from the Latin bibere meaning “to drink.” In olden days it was considered that because of its brewing process, Beer is actually safer to drink than the water or milk. That is why Beer was frequently used to mix medicines.

Beer is basically a fermented beverage principally made from four ingredients; water, malted barley, hops, and yeast. Each one of these ingredients imparts its own characteristic flavor to the finished product.
There are numerous varieties of Beer. Commercial brewing and micro brewing (also known as home brewing or pub brewing) have made these varieties.

I have always preferred Beer from Microbreweries over the commercial Beer. For me the reason is taste. The Beer is brewed fresh and it tastes just awesome!

If you are a die hard fan of Beer (just like me!). Then keep looking at this space for more and do share your stories  about beer.

Hope to have Beer together someday!

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April 19, 2011 at 5:27 pm