Monday, March 30, 2009

Local Beer Reviews

On Friday night I bought a six pack of the Santa Fe Nut Brown Ale from the Santa Fe Brewing Company and a six pack of Marble Brewery's IPA to review. I had tried both brews coming into the night but had not really stopped to pay attention to them from a reviewing standpoint. I would also recommend taking a gander at the websites of both brewers for their history and more info about the beers they brew. The sites themselves are pretty cool too.

Santa Fe Nut Brown - Drank out of a bottle just a little colder than room temp. It had a mouthfeel that I consider comfortable - smooth but with a noticable, but not overwhelming, amount of carbonation. Some hints of roasted nuts in the smell. A smoky (I termed it hickory in my notes) initial taste gives way to a toasty/nut, almost buttery, finish. It was kind of hard to get into this one. Five of my friends gave it a try (their beer taste and experience all ranging) and our consensus was that the beer was drinkable but not great. I'll definitely try this one again though, I remember that I liked it a little more the first time, so maybe I had a bad batch.

Overall: C+

Marble IPA - Drank out of a bottle just a little colder than room temp. Smooth with a medium-high carbonation feel. Had a great floral smell which led to a very floral taste which bursts and lasts until the next drink. I enjoyed this one a lot. I'm not a huge IPA guy but I think this is something that I would keep stocked at my house. Their website describes it as their "flagship beer", which is good, because it is a very good IPA.

Overall: A

The End of History!

The History of Beer Part 3

The Industrial Revolution

Like most industries, the Industrial Revolution allowed the brewing industry to become mechanized by first bringing exact science to the growing beer industry. The saccharometer and thermometer could now be used to take precise readings and gave the brewers better control over the process. This was good because up until this point some beers were downright undrinkable (unless you were a local or really in need of some suds). Methods of keeping ice during the summertime allowed lagers to be brewed year round instead of only during the winter (since a much lower temperature is needed to brew a lager than an ale). Pasteurization also made it easier to keep beer from spoiling. Eventually, the mechanization of the entire brewing process made the existence of modern brewing giants a reality. Through the improvement of brewing equipment, it also made home, craft and microbrewing much easier, allowing novice brewers to focus more on brewing a good beer as opposed to worrying about simple brewing processes going wrong. So although the Industrial Revolution may have taken some of the craft-feel and personality out of the beer industry, it's entirely possibly that a lot of the beer we like today may not exist or may not even be as good!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Some More History

The History of Beer Part 2


During the middle ages beer continued to be popular in areas where wine couldn't be easily cultivated. It was still largely brewed by women as beer was considered a daily nutritional staple and women largely held cooking duties. However, some brewing duties were held by Christian monks who ran what were basically old style Inns and brewed beer to please their customers.

During this time hops were also starting to be used, mainly in Germany. Although an exact date is debated most sources put the first use of hops at around the 10th century. The use of hops was not met with arms wide open. Although it helped to preserve the beer for trade it adversely affected the taste as brewers were experimenting with the correct amount of hops. Eventually hops gained popularity and were accepted widely in Europe as recipes were perfected and longer trade routes were established.

Up until the 15th century beer was largely a private practice. However, brewers in England began to brew on a commercial level as export became easier and recipes were perfected. Pubs started to appear in cities in England as the monasteries and hostels that the monks ran were in full brewing swing. During this time the first beer was brought to America by Columbus, specifically on his 1502 trip to America. He also noted that beer was being brewed by the natives, with the key ingredient being corn. With the commercialization and relative ease of export, beer was well on its way to being more popular than ever.

Monday, March 9, 2009

A Little History For Ya

The History of Beer- Part 1

Ancient Beer

Beer has been around a long, long time, going as far back as 6,000 BC when ale style beer was brewed in the region known as the cradle of life, Sumeria, and in China. They liked the stuff so much that they have a beer Goddess, Ninkasi, and many ancient tablets have been found containing references and or recipes for beer. In ancient times, and all the way up to the Renaissance, beer carried religious connotations and was mostly brewed by women. For example, it was brewed by priestesses' in Sumeria and later in Greece where Dionysus was the Goddess of beer. In Egypt it was used as part of the sacrament. Later it would be improved by in Christian monasteries.

It is widely believed that beer was discovered accidentally. The story goes that people ate aged, moist grains and soon after experienced a "euphoric" feeling. Soon after some people started storing baked grains in water and voila, beer was born. Beer remained popular through the middle ages as a favorite drink in areas where wine could not be made or was too expensive. It was also viewed in some areas as a safer alternative to water because drinkers knew that the water used in the brewing process had been purified through boiling (or at least that was a really good excuse to drink a beer with every meal). In the ancient times beer was considered by the Egyptians and Greeks to be part of a healthy lifestyle (in moderation of course) and was enjoyed by people in every social class.

Stay posted for Part 2 - Beer in the middle ages!