With so many different types of craft beer being brewed at microbreweries across the city, a quick guide towards clarity on some craft beer jargon will do you a world of good as a beginner. Here are a few things that’ll make your journey a lot easier.
Ale: Ale came down through the ages to be universally accepted as a drink that is brewed without hops (a beer flavouring agent). Hops typically provide the bitter taste, and that’s why ales are usually on the sweeter side. English Pale Ale, American Amber Ale, and India Pale Ale are some examples of popular ales.
Lager: Remember that epic conversation between Mike and Ross in F.R.I.E.N.D.S, where they decide to look up a dictionary to understand what a ‘lager’ means? We’ve finally got the answer for you. Lager is simply a kind of beer that is fermented and brewed in cold storage conditions – a detail that Ross and Mike didn’t bother to tell us. Like ales, lagers can be pale or dark. American Amber Lager and German Pilsner are a couple of lagers worth trying.
Hops: I already slipped it in earlier that ‘hops’ is a beer flavouring agent. But this term is so widely popular in the beer universe, that it deserves a dedicated explanation. Hops are essentially flowers derived from the plant Humulus Lupulus. The seeds of this flowery plant are the main reason for the peculiar bitterness that we all associate with beer.
Malt: Another important element in the brewing process, malt lends the peculiar grainy taste that is so very intrinsic to craft beer. It is a result of barley being soaked and heated to become malted barley, or just simply – malt. The color of your craft beer also depends on how heavily or lightly the malt is roasted. The more it is roasted, the darker the colour of the beer, and vice versa.
Microbrewery: If you break the word down, you will realize that the meaning is not even close to as complicated as it sounds. Microbrewery simply means a brewery where beer is produced in restricted quantities. It’s important to note that microbreweries are interested in quality, rather than quantity.
Craft beer – So what is craft beer then? There is no one definition because it depends on the lens through which you’re trying to understand the term. From the place where it is brewed (microbreweries), to the actual brewing process (non-mechanized), to the nature of ingredients used (natural, organic ingredients without artificial elements), craft beer has many working definitions. Not just the definition, but also the experience of drinking craft beer is very subjective, so I’ll just leave it at that.
While these are just terms at the end of the day, what really matters is that you enjoy your craft beer. But the power of truly knowing your drink can, sometimes, give you a different kind of high.