When most Americans think about beer, a few distinct images come to mind: cold, glistening glasses and “dad bellies”. That being said, the story of beer cannot and should not be distilled down to a few blurry mental images that comes from television, movies, and general social commentary. Beer has a history and a complexity that is so rich, that you might need a cold mug just to get it all down. That being said, let’s start at the beginning.
Beer is the most widely consumed alcoholic beverage, and more than likely the oldest. Behind water and tea, it is the most consumed beverage on earth. Historically, beer is thought to date back to 9500 BC. The Sumerians regarded beer so highly, that brewing a bad batch would mean death, ironically by drowning in your bad brew. In ancient Egypt, workers on the Giza pyramid received four liters of beer a day. In the middle ages, beer was drank more than water, because the alcohol made it safer from consumption. Even the first President of the United States, George Washington, had his own personal brew house on the grounds of his home, Mount Vernon. But history aside, what is in this beloved beverage?
The Reinheitsgebot, the German Beer Purity Law, outlines what, at least to the Germans, consider to be the acceptable/necessary ingredients for brewing beer. When it was first drafted in 1516 in Bavaria, the only ingredients it permitted to be used in production were barley, hops, and water. The law was later changed to incorporate yeast with the discovery of its role in fermentation by Louis Pasteur. While a fair amount of beer follows this basic outline of ingredients, beer can include fruit, flowers, cinnamon, root vegetables, honey, even hot sauce. For this reason, beer is one of the most diverse drinks in the world. The old saying is, “if you don’t like beer, you haven’t tried enough of it” because there are far too many flavors to base an opinion about the group as a whole. So, what are some of the types of beer that are popular?
Well in brewing terms, there are only two types of beer and no, I don’t mean good beer and bad beer. What I mean is that a beer is either an Ale or a Lager. These two types have a plethora of variations beneath them though they all share some similar characteristics. Ales are by far the oldest types of beers. They yield intense flavor profiles and can range from golden in color with flowery or citrus flavors to almost black and opaque in color with notes of oak, coffee, and chocolate. Some Ale styles you may have heard are Saisons, Hefe-weizen, India Pale Ales (IPA’s), Stouts, Porters and Barley Wines. Lagers have only been around for a few hundred years, which in historical terms make them the infant brother of Ales. Lagers were only viable to produce after the process was more fully understood with the introduction of the microscope. Like white wines, they are fermented and served at much colder temperatures. Lager styles you would be aware of would be Pilsners, Marzens, and Bocks, though you would probably known them not by style name but by their manufacturer names: Budweiser, Coors, Miller, and Sam Adams.
At The Moxie, we not only provide the finest ingredients for our delicious food, but also want to provide only the finest beverages for you to enjoy. Our taps are constantly rotating offering new, select brews . On tap we currently carry four delicious and deeply contrasting styles, as well as a large assortment of bottles.
Currently on tap:
805 by Firestone Walker Brewing (Paso Robles, California)
A local favorite that has almost become a household name in these parts. A Blonde Ale with a sweet malty beginning, with a light hoppy finish, this beer has a crisp, simple taste that means it pairs wonderfully with almost anything.
Hoppy Poppy by Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company (Santa Ynez, California)
This brew is dry, citrusy and floral. Bright scents of grapefruit, orange, lemon zest abound. The flavor is mellow and smooth with a very moderate lingering bitterness. This beer almost makes you feel that you are sitting in a poppy field with its floral aroma. A terrific introduction to IPA’s as it isn’t overbearing but still a great example of the style.
Oatmeal Stout by Barrelhouse Brewing Company (Paso Robles, California)
No fancy names. No colorful labels. You know exactly what to expect from this straight shooting stout. Sweet, chocolaty flavours give way to a fine coffee finish which culminates with a bittersweet hoppy note. While some stouts are more of a meal in and of themselves, this beer is by far one of the most versatile to pair.
Velvet Merlin by Firestone Walker Brewing (Paso Robles, California)
Velvet Merlin evokes an almost magical vision of what it should be, and trust me, it holds up to expectation. This oatmeal stout is a beloved Winter Seasonal so creamy, you’d swear they scooped vanilla ice cream into the glass. Robust cocoa and espresso flavors dance on your palette until you are met with a dry hoppy finish that begs you for another sip. A multiple aware winner that stands the test of time.
Please drink responsibly and remember, health is about balance. So if you start losing yours, please put down the glass.