Weekend plans seem incomplete without the mention of beer. It’s time we get to know more about our bubbly best friend!
Whether it’s a long day at work, a botched-up week or just a relaxing evening, beer has always been a good listener. No matter what you claim, when it comes down to our very core, we all are beer people. Hand us that frothy mug of bitter-sweet goodness and we’re good for the next 30 minutes.
For centuries, beer has been a part of human civilisation, growing and making its place in our lives. The earliest record of beer being brewed for consumption dates back to 4000 BC. Historians suggest that early hunter-gatherers could have stumbled upon the goodness that is this golden liquid from their first millet farming experiences.
Early beer lovin’
We may always thank the Germans or the Irish, but they aren’t the only ones associated with the history of beer. Ancient Babylonians allotted beer rations to all citizens according to rank, some of them even paying a part of their worker’s wages in beer. Why don’t our employers take a leaf out of their book?
Early alterations to the bitter flavour were done by the Egyptians, who added dates to the fermented barley water. But by 800 BC, wine grew popular in the Roman masses and beer was pronounced as a ‘drink of the barbarians’ due to its blunt and less-than-appealing taste.
There also came a time in history when beer and bread became a staple part of the diet for centuries, as water sources were contaminated and cases of water-borne diseases skyrocketed. Along with its high alcohol content, people believed the ‘cooking’ process would kill the disease-causing bacteria and keep them healthy.
Over the years, scientific advancements have contributed to the process of beer brewing, with the discovery of pasteurisation and the addition of hops to the brew.
Did you know that beer had been pasteurised years before the process was deemed safe and suitable for milk?
The Art of Brewing
Brewing beer is the amalgamation of art and science. A source of starch, usually malted barley or a starchy substance such as corn, sugar, potato, millets, rice or agave, is used as ‘food’ for the yeasts, which convert it to alcohol during fermentation.
The grains are soaked in water for about 2 days, after which they are spread out on a large surface and germinated for 5 days. They are then malted to break open the husk and expose the starches and mashed to break down the starches to smaller sugars, which will be easier for the yeast to digest. The mashed wort is strained and moved to a larger tank, where it is boiled with hops, the main flavouring/seasoning ingredient used in beer. Sometimes herbs, sugars or sugar substitutes are added at this stage to enhance flavour. The sharp, bitter flavour and potent aroma of beer are all attributed to this step of brewing.
The flavoured wort is then cooled rapidly and the yeast is added to start fermentation. The yeasts convert sugars to CO2 and ethanol along with other products.
The fermented liquid is then conditioned in large vats for a few weeks to several months, filtered and bottled after carbonation, or transferred to wooden casks for more ageing and refining.
Pick your Poison
Beer comes in so many different varieties; it can sometimes get difficult to choose one! Sift through our one-stop beer guide to find the perfect beer for you!
1. Ale Beer
Brewed with top-fermenting yeasts, Ales boast a robust flavour and are usually darker than lagers. Extra hops added during brewing gives them a fruity flavour. Usually served at warmer temperatures, pick this one with foods that won’t overwhelm its individual flavour.
2. Lager Beer
Lagers carry a full-bodied flavour and an extra bite from their long fermentation process. The beer has a crisp and clean taste and uses lesser hops than ale while delivering the same alcohol content. Perfect to pair with heavy and greasy food (like burgers, red meats) to bring out the flavours of the spices used.
3. Stout Beer
Sometimes categorised under Ales, stouts have a subtle coffee-chocolate like flavour. Deep brown in colour and slightly bitter, serve stout with shellfish or stew to bring out the best of both worlds.
4. Malt Beer
Unique because of its distinct nutty flavour, malts can be light or dark, depending on the fermentation style, but their flavour is super-rich and sweeter than the rest. They showcase subtle flavours of caramel or toffee and are perfect companions to good ol’ home-cooked comfort food.