It’s no secret that craft beer is on the rise. Given the wide array of beers on the market, diving into the world of beer can be a bit intimidating. Luckily, Andy Maletta, Matt Johnson and Dave Gage at Indiana Beverage - 219Beer.com - gave us an insight into the fascinating realm of hops and barley with an eye-opening tour and an informative tasting.
Upon entering Indiana Beverage’s vast facilities with its array of classic cans, authentic test brew kettle, and restored beer wagon, it becomes clear that the chronology of beer is as rich as the thickest Milk Stout out there. Dating back further than wine, beer has been a driving force in mankind’s pursuit of knowledge and the unknown. It shaped kingdoms, advanced science, even played a role in the founding of our nation. Most people don’t realize that the Pilgrims stopped at Plymouth Rock because they ran out of beer. Now that we know the history, it’s time to meet the ingredients.
All types of beer consist of four main ingredients. The first ingredient is a no brainer, water. All beer needs water; it’s the base of every lager, ale, stout, porter, etc. Without water as a foundation, there would be nothing for the remaining ingredients to build upon.
Next, let’s talk about the ingredient that provides the beer its color among other key properties. Barley is the main malting agent in beer. Aspects of the flavor are also largely dependent on this ingredient. Not only does barley provide the color and beginnings of flavor for the beer, it also has an extremely important job. That job is adding the sugar, a major factor that will be talked about later.
Who could forget the hops? This flower brings the bitterness to beer. Anyone that has ever tasted an IPA has been up close and personal with hops in all their glory. With over 80 varieties out there, hops are a greatly versatile ingredient. Some are used for their aroma, others their bitter nature. In fact, a special measurement referred to as IBUs, or International Bittering Units, is used to determine the intensity of a particular brand of hops.
Last, but nowhere near least, we have yeast. Yeast has a tremendous impact on the final product that is produced. A beer’s flavor can completely change depending on what yeast is used, but this widely adaptable ingredient does more than that. Simply put, no yeast equals no alcohol. Fermentation happens when yeast and sugar interact.
Now that we’ve gone over the history and key ingredients of beer, it’s time to discuss some different varieties of beer out there. What better way to do that other than beer and cheese pairings? Thanks to Old World Market supplying their delectable cheese, that was made a reality.
Miller Lite & Toma
This American staple hides an extremely versatile flavor behind its welcomingly crisp nature. Miller Lite’s subtle taste has always been able to adapt to any food it’s paired with. It’s easy to see how it blends so well with classic foods such as burgers and pizza, but its options don’t stop there. Miller Lite meshes with Toma, a semi-hard Italian cheese. Creamy, buttery, and with a grassy tang, Toma’s light flavor is the perfect partner for Miller Lite’s subtle nature.
Angry Orchard Crisp Apple & Bucherolle
Hard cider has been on the upswing lately, and Angry Orchard is, without a doubt, one of the most popular. Dry and tart, this crisp cider is incredibly refreshing. Crisp Apple’s flavor is best friends with this French cheese. Blending with the creamy texture provided by the cheese, Angry Orchard’s Crisp Apple cider cuts right through to the tart undertones of the Bucherolle.
Bell’s Two Hearted IPA & 10-Year Aged Cheddar
India Pale Ales, or IPAs, are known for their intense, hoppy aroma and flavor. Two Hearted Ale from Bell’s Brewery is no exception, but it’s a great place to start for those not accustomed to IPAs. Frankly, this is an amazing beer and Cheddar’s new best friend. The bold, fruity, hoppy flavor cuts right through the intense, sharp nature of the cheddar to melt into the perfect aftertaste that lingers on the pallet and reminds you why beer and cheese are an amazing pair.
North Coast Brewing Co. Old Rasputin & Stilton
Dark and mysterious, Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout is the perfect beer for anyone interested in a strong, bitter, complex taste. With its high IBU rating, it may be hard to pin down the perfect pairing for this stout. Luckily, Old Rasputin and Stilton are a perfect fit. The high malt and bitter flavor is cut down by the English Blue cheese. These complex flavors complement each other in a truly unique way.
Rodenbach Grand Cru & Oma
This sour ale lives up to the title. The initial aroma has strong sour notes as well as some sweetness. Grand Cru’s interesting flavor, with its notes of hay, balsamic vinegar and various fruity flavors, blends well with the soft, buttery nature of the Oma. The pungent and sweet cheese takes on the properties of the Grand Cru making for a complex, flavorful experience.
Flavorful, complex, sweet, light, beer can be described in so many different ways, and this is just a sample of the wide array of what Indiana Beverage has to offer. IPAs, Stouts, Lagers, Porters, Ciders, the list goes on and on. For all those out there intimidated by the prospect of exploring the realm of beer, I hope this provided some insight into that fascinating world filled with flavor and hops.