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Yeast

While there are literally hundreds if not thousands of different classifications for beer, they all come from one of two starting points. You either have an Ale or Lager. As a general rule, most macrobrews are lagers while microbrews are ales. We will get into why that is in just a bit.

So what is yeast?

Yeast is a single cell organism that eats sugar. When it eats (ferments) sugar it gives off three by-products; carbon dioxide (CO2), alcohol, and heat. This is why we use it for brewing, without yeast, we would have a grainy, sugary drink that didn’t make us feel very good (or as good as a drink with alcohol can).

Ale vs. Lager

As I said before, everything boils down to the type of yeast you use; lager or ale. An ale refers to a yeast that ferments on the top of the fermenter and will function from 60-76 degrees or so. If it gets any colder than 55 degrees, the yeast will go dormant and stop fermenting. Ales can ferment in 3-7 days depending on the sugar available. Generally ale yeast give you a higher alcohol concentration. Ales also give off a fruity ester flavor that is desirable for some types of beer.

A lager on the other hand is a bottom fermenting yeast and functions at colder temperatures (40-55 degrees). It tends to give a crisper beer, but also takes longer to complete. It can take as long as month and a half. Lagers are much lighter in body and tend to be harder to make. A lager does not give off the esters of an ale, and therefore, it can be easier to detect when something goes wrong.

My choices for homebrew

Luckily homebrew shops offer a huge variety of yeast. Some cultures are specially made to give special tastes. A hefeweizen yeast will often give a bananna flavor to the beer. The yeast also come in several different forms. The first is dry yeast. Dry yeast is freeze-dried yeast cells that are very cheap. You must rehydrate the yeast in order to give it a proper chance at life. Another problem is that it can become easily infected and cannot be used on multiple batches.

The other option is liquid yeast. These generally come in two forms, The first is a smack pack. There is a bag within the outer bag that hold yeast nutrient. When you smack the bag, you release the nutrient and the yeast start feeding and multiplying. It is an effective means of generating healthy yeast growth.

The other liquid yeast can be found in vials (pictured at the beginning of this article). It is basically a vial of dormant yeast cells that need to be grown a bit to get proper pitching rates. Liquid yeast is the way to go if you want to make several beers using the same type of yeast. It is reusable. The only real downside is the upfront cost. Dry yeast can be found for around a dollar, where liquid yeasts cost at least $6. But you get a better pitching rate and it can be used over and over again.

I’ll explain what I mean by some of these terms more indepth next week.

Shiner Bock Beer Review

I’m going to be moving to Texas this summer and I figured I should try some of the local brew to get an idea of how much homebrewing I will be needing to do. After a bit of research I found that Shiner Bock is the biggest beer down in Texas. With a little help, I was able to get a case of the stuff to give it a proper try.

To be honest, I wasn’t expecting too much. Usually the most mass produced beer in any area tends to be terrible compared to more microbrews. Shiner Bock also comes in twist offs, which didn’t give me a lot of confidence either.

I opened it up and poured it into my glass. It pours a reddish copper with great clarity (as expected in a lager) and a small head. Bocks generally are a bit undercarboninated so I wasn’t super concerned about that. Shiner Bock didn’t have too much of a smell either, it was mainly all malt (as expected with a bock).

The taste was much beer than the smell or look. It was full of malty sweetness that stayed on the tounge for a bit. I didn’t get anything in the hop field when I tried it. My biggest problem was that it was really watered down compared to a typical bock. Shiner Bock came in at 4.4% ABV where a traditional bock generally starts at 6% and goes up from there. If this is the best of Texas, I’m going to be doing a lot of homebrewing. (more…)

Yuengling Lager Beer Review

For this site’s first beer review, I had to pick a beer that I am so familiar with, that I can smell it at the thought of a pint. I’m from Pennsylvania, so Yuengling is by far the most popular adult beverage of choice. Call me a homer, but I do love the stuff.

Let’s start with how it looks. It pours a light amber, almost a dark honey type color. There is a slight head, to goes away quickly, but lingers on the top in a very small layer. The smell is nothing special, slightly malty, but normal.

The best part about this beer is how drinkable it is. You could easily down a sixer or more of this, and that’s not just me being from PA. There is a slightly malty character to the beer, with a little citrous, and hop finish. There isn’t a ton of flavor there, but a lot more than your typical macro brewery. Another nice thing is the variety of bottles Yuengling comes in. In PA you can get it in your standard bottle, a 22 oz bottle, and a quart bottle; of course draft and cans are there.

As a beer drinker from PA, I will always have a special place for this beer. It was the first macro brew that made me think there was more out there. And for this blog, Yuengling will do. There are better beers to come, I assure you.

Beer Prayer

For a first post on this site, I thought that the Beer Prayer would be the most appropriate thing to post.

Our lager
Which art in barrels
Hallowed be thy drink
Thy will be drunk, (I will be drunk)
At home as it is in the tavern
Give us this day our foamy head
And forgive us our spillage
As we forgive those who spill against us
And lead us not into incarceration
But deliver us from hangovers
For thine is the beer, the bitter, and the lager

Barmen