The first in our new series of guest posts…This month, T36 friend Sean invites us to pull up a stool and learn that those glasses on the back of the bar aren’t just for dusting…

Breaking out of the Bottle: Discovering Beer

By  Sean, a beer enthusiast

Beer, like many of its counterparts, has been with man since he had the ability to cultivate grain.  Each culture had its own style of beers using a variety of different grains and ingredients.  Beer has come very far since the days of ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Rome.  The beer revolution has begun with new styles, and like cigars the brew masters who have created these beers have crafted something to be enjoyed.  Still without fail the beer remains in its bottle.  To obtain the full complexity of the brew master’s hard work we must break out of the bottle.

To achieve this simple task we must simply pour the beer in the proper glass.  Like wine, scotches, and bourbons, beer needs a proper glass to fully enjoy we typically enjoy three types of beer; those being Lagers, Ales, and stouts.  Each one of these beers needs its own glass because each has its own characteristics.

First, the most popular beer: the lager.  What makes a lager different from most beers is that it is fermented at lower temperature typically around 62 degrees Fahrenheit.  This is what helped make Anheuser-Busch so successful.  Missouri is riddled with caves, and those caves keep a constant temperature.  You guessed it, around 62 degrees year round, thus making brewing possible throughout the year.  The lager has a unique crispness and is refreshing to the palate.  Those flavors can be enhanced with the proper stemware.  The glass that should be used is the pilsner glass.  This glass has a very unique shape, very wide and then tapers to a cone near the bottom.  The wider top of the pilsner glass is to keep the foam or “head” around longer.  A stronger head is the sign of a better beer.  In addition it allows for that crisp flavor to remain throughout drinking.

The second most popular style of beers is the ale.  Saying ale though incorporates many different varieties, from the very bitter Indian pale ale or “IPA” to the almost fruit like wheat ale.  These different styles require their own unique glass.  Starting with the IPA, Indian pale ale was brewed in England, this beer was intentionally made bitter to survive the trip from England to India during the British Empire, hence the name Indian pale ale.  IPA is very bitter almost overwhelming to the palate but there are hints of floral from the hops used.  Hops are a plant used to give beer flavor; they can also make beers bitter.  Most cannot get around the bitterness of the IPA but if they were to use the proper stemware they would notice a very aromatic floral beer, and in my opinion one of the most complex beers.  Many have seen the glass that an IPA would be used for a simple brandy snifter.  The brandy snifter allows for all the floral notes to enter the olfactory system and open up the beer.

The next type of ale I would like to discuss is the hefeweizen or more commonly known as wheat ale.  Grain is a necessity for brewing beer, during the first stages of brewing we steep grain in hot water to extract the sugars for the yeast which they consume and produce alcohol. The most popular grains are barley, rice, and corn, but wheat can also be used.  Wheat creates a pale almost opaque golden beer.  The head is usually like a pillow.  Wheat ales have become quite popular recently with the addition of fruit like oranges lemons, and sometimes lime, which compliment the beer quite well.  The glass should amplify the characteristics of wheat ales.  The glass is called a weizen glass.  Typically a larger opening, bulges near the top and tapering off at the bottom.  This is to keep the pillow like head throughout drinking and to allow the consumer to smell all of the fruit essence of the beer.

Stouts like their namesake are strong beers.  Very dark coming from roasted barley; it has also been compared to motor oil over the years, and is popular mainly with the serious beer drinkers.  Stouts have been known to be very thick beers, hence the motor oil reference.  Stouts can also have an essence of chocolate and or coffee, advantageous for many maduro cigar smokers. To achieve the maximum flavor from your stout, a simple pint glass.  The pint glass is fairly large, with a bulge at the top and without tapering at the bottom.  Stouts can be a wonderful beer if enjoyed correctly to give off those chocolate and coffee flavors.

Microbreweries are developing around the country and the world, delivering more complex and wonderful beer.  The next time you sit down with your favorite cigar try pairing it with a good beer in the proper glass.  Personally I enjoy the Table 36 Fellowship with an IPA.  The spice of the Fellowship pairs excellent with the spice and floral of an IPA.  We must break out of the bottle; beer has its place in cigar society and can be better paired than wines and whiskeys because we can mix flavors.  The beer drinker’s revolution has begun will you jump on board, cheers!

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