Bar exam

Bar exam

It might be time to graduate from budget brew

August 6th, 2010 by Holly Leber in Life Entertainment

BEER 101

ALES VS. LAGERS

* Each uses a different yeast.

* Ale is top-fermenting, while lager is bottom-fermenting.

* Lager ferments at cooler temperatures for longer periods of time.

* Ales are fruitier, while lagers are more crisp.

* Examples of lagers: pilsners, Oktoberfest, Bocks, California commons.

* Examples of ale: stout, porter, heffeweizen, any beer with ale in the title.

GLOSSARY

* Body - The mouth-filling property, or thickness, of a beer.

* Ester - The flavor created during the fermentation process.

* Hops - The spice of a beer, what gives it the aroma and bitterness.

* Hoppy - Has the aroma of hops, spicy smelling.

* IBU - International Bitterness Unit. A measure of how bitter a beer is, the perception of bitterness on the back of the tongue (hops-derived).

* Malt - The body and sweetness of a beer. Can range from a sweetness to a roasted flavor.

Step away from the budget beer.

There comes a time in every self-respecting beer-drinking man's or woman's life when brown-bagging 40s just isn't socially acceptable.

Yes, budget beer is by definition cheap, but so is tap water.

With a wide variety of both commercial and local beers available around Chattanooga, there's nary an excuse to be married to your favorite college brew.

"I think Chattanooga's selection, in general, has exploded," said Jonathan Clark, co-owner of Chattanooga Brewing Co.

Beer has taken on a bit of a mantle that used to be held largely by wine. In the same way that a chardonnay will differ from a chenin blanc and a merlot won't taste like a Malbec, a pale ale is different than a porter and a pilsner won't be identical to a bock.

"There's a lot more to (beer) nowadays. It's gotten to really be kind of complex," said Trey Wheeler, beverage manager at Riverside Brewing Co.

Local beer experts suggest trying different types of beer to determine what variety is most appealing to the individual palate. The key, some say, is to not be afraid to experiment.

After all, beer is an acquired taste.

"There are very few people I know who enjoyed the first beer they ever drank," said David Sharpe, head brewer at Big River Grille. "I didn't like asparagus the first time I tasted it either."


Local brewers on their self-made favorites

Jonathan Clark, co-owner, Chattanooga Brewing Co.

The Imperial Pilsner. "It's got a lot more body than our typical pilsner."


David Sharpe, head brewer, Big River Grille

House Brand India Pale Ale. "It's one of my favorite styles of beer. I appreciate the balance between full body and assertive hops. I think the citrus-hops character and the full maltiness (are) a very good complement."


Steve Purdie, Terminal Brewhouse

Magnum P.A. India Pale Ale. "It's got a nice hops character and malt character. It's got 100 IBU's, which means it's really bitter. It's one for the hop heads."