Welcome to “Aaron’s Corner” where I will be posting about BEER, in pretty much anyway I can imagine! Whether it is from enjoying a cold, sudsy pint on a summer day or brewing an eclectic imperial coffee stout or using an Oktoberfest (märzen) as a marinade for bratwurst.
Before I go down the rabbit hole of possibility, let’s take a moment and ask, “What the hell is beer?”
According to Merriam Webster, beer is “an alcoholic beverage usually made from malted cereal grain (such as barley), flavored with hops, and brewed by slow fermentation.”
To me, beer is more of an ever-evolving organism. It is chemistry, biology, neuroscience, physics, philosophy, engineering, art and so much more. Beer is liquefied personification. Beer is diversity. Beer is both counterculture and the norm. Whether we want to forget a bad experience, or we want to celebrate a milestone, beer is involved. Beer can numb the pain or allow us to toast an achievement.
As a home brewer, I can practice the alchemy of making beer. I can design the beer to follow centuries old rules of the Reinheitsgebot (Yes, you can thank beer for the first food safety laws!) to brew an American Wheat ale using only grains, hops, water and yeast. Or I can throw away the established competition standards of the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) and rebrew my Pale Un-Stout – either way: I have made beer. When I settle on a recipe, I can go “Olde School" and brew in a vessel that I slowly heat the mash and turn the sugar water into wort or I can set timers and go with a Heat Exchanged Recirculating Mash System (HERMS) and let technology do the work for me – and either method: I will have made beer.
As a consumer, choosing beer has become more challenging than choosing a toothpaste. It used to be a grab a six-pack (okay, maybe it was a case) of some mass-produced American Lager. Now, we have an overabundance of styles and sub-styles to choose from; whether it be IPAs (we will go a lot more into those in a future blog), Stouts, Pale Ales, Sours, Lambics, Hefeweizens, Porters, Ambers, Goses, Shandys, Bocks, Cream Ales, Bitters, and so many others!
And as if the initial challenge was “what to buy?” the secondary challenge has become “where to buy it from?” Personally, if time, finances and a designated driver allow, I will go right to the source. There is something almost sinfully satisfying about having a beer that has not traveled from manufacturing site to warehouse to market. Luckily, I live in an area where we make a lot of great beer. With less than a gallon of gas expenditure, I can be at several breweries, sitting on a stool, enjoying a fresh pint.
And so, I pose a question to you, my fellow readers: What is beer to you? There is no wrong answer. Don’t stress over trying to wordsmith it. Just pour a cold beer of your choice into your favorite vessel and enjoy.
I would like to give a huge thank you to Chuck of the Humble Gents for allowing me the opportunity to express my thoughts on the website. A very special thank you to Debbi at Daybreak Photography for the amazing photographs provided.
Feel free to leave comments and feedback and join me next time. Until then, this is Aaron saying: “Support local and cheers, bud!”