Gluten-free beers: Science solves this issue for brewers

Fat, caffeine and carbohydrates — each compared unfavorably to poison in their heyday — have now been eclipsed by the newest dietary bogeyman: gluten. This protein occurs naturally in barley, wheat, rye and related grains. For the approximately 1 percent of individuals with celiac disease, gluten causes dangerous symptoms. For the slightly larger percentage of people suffering gluten sensitivity, gluten may cause milder, but still troublesome symptoms. A still higher percentage of dietary faddists avoid…

IPA: A beer to build empires!

This week, we'll launch a series of articles celebrating IPA and exploring the different permutations of this formidable style. IPA stands for “India Pale Ale,” and, in the world of complex beer names this one is as straightforward as they come. Legend has it, the British found colonizing India hot and thirsty work. They summoned a grand quantity of ale, which arrived spoiled and undrinkable after a scorching multi-month journey in the humid stores of…

Weekday IPA

As the weather warms up, my tastes turn away from sweet malt and toward the quenching bitterness of hops. No other style of beer showcases the flavors and aromas of the hop flower (Humulus lupulus) more than IPA. American IPAs, along with other similarly assertive styles, have been heavily emphasized by craft brewers over the years — probably as an attempt to differentiate from tasteless macrobrews. But, sometimes the flavor pendulum swings too far, and…

Face-meltingly bitter Double IPA's with scorching hops

Last week, we tasted some Session IPA's. Many of these beers offered nice, juicy hop flavor, but less alcohol. Well, sometimes you don't want “some” hops. Sometimes you want a lot of hops, dammit, and enough alcohol to render you mute and drooling. If that's the case, Double IPA is the beer for you! Double IPA is the beverage equivalent of Spinal Tap's amplifier — it goes all the way to 11. Everything about it…

Black IPA body: Darker malts dominate these palate-pleasers

During our month-long celebration of all things IPA, we've tasted “regular” IPA, swilled … er … sampled Session IPA, and been rendered stupefied and stumbling by downing Double IPA. To round out a month of hoppy excesses, it's only appropriate to finish up with the new kid on the block, stylistically speaking, and sample some Black IPA.

All in the family: The beer family feud you've never heard of

A month-long introduction to the Lager Family ensuesOver the past several hundred years, the tremendous diversity of beer styles has grown, changed and mutated in ways that resemble a family tree, rather than a mere collection of beverages. Unbeknownst to many dedicated drinkers, an ongoing feud split the beer family in two, and influences our beer choices to this very day. Beer is more than just a thing you drink that makes you feel all…

All in the Lager family: American-style Pilsners

It pains me to say this, but most of the worst beers in America are Pilsners. Well, that's not quite accurate – most of them started off as Pilsners, and were warped and distorted by a perverse combination of the economics of mega-mass production and the banalities of popular taste. The foulest of the macrobrews have fallen far from their Pilsner roots, and have become corn-laden parodies of this once-noble style. But — there is…

Lager heads: Back to the old school with Czech Pilsner

This month, we're sipping Lagers — smooth, easy drinking beers with flavor profiles that tend to be more moderate than the larger, more diverse family of beers called Ales. In this article, we'll take it back to the old, old school — right back to the origins of the most venerable and popular kid in the Lager family: Pilsner.

The black sheep of the Lager family: Black Lagers!

When we began our grand “Month of Lagers,” I mentioned that the Lager family was largely pale in color. In beer, as in all important things, exceptions are the delicious rule! The most notable exceptions are a small group of beers called Black Lagers, or Schwarzbiers.Black Lagers occupy a unique space in the beer continuum. True to their Lager family roots, they tend to be light-bodied, lower in alcohol, and of more moderate flavor impact.…

What the Helles?

The word hell conjures up many images, but in German it simply connotes something “pale” or “light.” In beer terms, a Helles is the palest of Lagers – a style known for being lighter in color as a whole. Helles is a sort of pseudo-style, a convenient alcoholic umbrella that covers a class of the lightest, palest lagers. Is it a style? A description? A semantic convenience? Who cares.
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