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Beer Season is Brewing
Posted November 1st, 2009 | 0 Comments
Beer Season Brewing Although beer seems like such a simple beverage, it's really surprisingly complex, and requires some attention to detail during the storage, making, and serving processes.
Beer shouldn't be stored under either fluorescent lights, or in direct sunlight, since these lights will chemically alter it, giving it a rather offensive and "skunky" odour. The Home Vintner uses only full spectrum lighting throughout the store, to protect all of our stock. And we've installed UV protective blinds on our windows, to keep out the harmful effects of the sun.
Keep in mind that the life span of a beer is directly related to its alcohol content, darkness, sweetness, and hop content. Darker beers with higher alcohol content, for example, will generally last longer than a very light, low alcohol beer. Also, be sure you check for freshness on the shelf before you buy. Read the product codes on the box -- if those codes are missing, you can bet they've been deliberately removed and you can be sure the product has expired. Think about your own needs when you choose between plastic or glass bottles. For longer term storage, glass is probably you better choice. But remember that plastic storage works very well for shorter storage periods -- it's also permeable, and the carbonation escapes more readily.
Choose coloured bottles over clear ones -- brown or green will do a better job of helping to screen out the damaging light. As far as caps are concerned, a twist off cap will save the day if you forget your church key, but will leak more readily than traditional caps.
Don't economize when you're buying beer. The cost difference between a very good beer and the worlds worst brew is only pennies a bottle. You're better off to spend a little bit more for a very satisfying beverage and economize somewhere else.
Once you've made your beer, treat it gently and with respect. It's surprisingly sensitive and doesn't like to be agitated. Don't store it on the door shelf of your refrigerator, for example -- all that opening and closing can affect the flavour and aroma. Do keep it cool -- and try to keep it in a place where the temperature remains fairly constant. Don't quick chill it in the freezer -- that sudden temperature change can destroy some of those valuable sensory qualities. Give it an hour or so in the refrigerator, and store the bottles upright -- not on their sides, so the beer doesn't come in contact with the metal lid.
And now to serving: enjoy that beer when it's refreshingly cool, not ice cold. You'll want to savour all the subtleties and aromatics of a fine brew -- something you just can't do when it's cold enough to numb your palate. If you can set the temperature controls on your refrigerator, aim for something in the 45 to 50 degree Fahrenheit range. Don't drink it directly from your of the bottle -- you'll end up with a stomach full of gas.
Do choose a good quality beverage container -- clear glass, or stoneware. If you serve your beer in clear glass, you'll have the opportunity to enjoy it's hue, bead and head. Stoneware, on the other hand, will keep the beer closer to optimum temperature on a warm day, and will also help filter out the sun's harmful rays if you're outdoors. Whatever your choice, make sure your drinking vessels are absolutely clean -- washed in hot water and detergent (not soap). Just the slightest bit of grease, or dust and dirt, or the finest oily film will prevent the head of your beer from reaching its full potential.
And speaking of the head on a glass of beer -- there are a couple of things you can do to help your beer reach its maximum head. Pour it into a dry glass -- not a wet one. and pour it properly. Now, if you live in Calgary, this gets a bit tricky. You see, generally speaking, the best way to develop a good head is to pour the beer straight down the middle of the glass, not down the side. But Calgary's altitude is quite high which sometimes makes us the exception to the rule. At higher altitudes, it's best to begin your pour down the centre, and if the head is over-developing, switch to a "down the side" pour.
And finally, to the drinking: savour a fine beer slowly -- it's only the ordinary ones that you'll drink down quickly, paying no attention at all.
The Home Vintner
Post filed under: Ask The Vintner
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