Wednesday, June 26, 2013

beer column

my notes from yesterday's beer column on cbc radio one's on the coast with stephen quinn
summer beers:

The weather may not bear witness to the fact, but it is summer.
That means a whole new season of beers is upon us. 
 
In general terms, summer is the season of the lager. There are many fabulous summer ales available, but summer is the season in which lagers shine. Much maligned in recent history as flavour-less yellow fizzy beer, there are some wonderful craft brewed lagers available to quench your summer thirst. Cold is not a flavour so I would suggest avoiding a beer that advertises that it is. Instead I'd head for a beer that says it is crisp and refreshing and full of flavour. Also synonymous with summer are wheat ales and fruit beers. Lower alcohol percentages are also often found in a summer beer. When its hot out it is less enjoyable to quaff a 9% ale. A nice light low-alcohol lager just hits the spot so much more.

A reminder about the difference between an ale and a lager:  In one word, the difference is the yeast. Ales use a yeast that ferments at higher temperatures in less time than lager yeast which ferments more slowly at lower temperatures. Ale yeast remains at the top of the wort to do its work, lager yeasts do their work at the bottom. That's pretty much the difference! Some creative brewers have used lager yeasts in their ales just to confuse the otherwise hard and fast rule, but all beers are either ales or lagers and it is the yeast that differentiates them. 
 
Beers should be enjoyed at temperatures relating to the temperatures they were brewed at.  Ales tend to release their flavours and aromas best at temperatures between 10 and 15 C, while lagers are best served a little cooler at between 5 and 10 C.  Which is another reason to enjoy a lager on a hot day!
 
Wheat beers come under several names. Anything that has the word "wit" or "weisse" or "weizen" in it is a wheat beer. Hefeweizens are one of the more well-known wheat beers. And less well known is a Berliner Weisse, a sour wheat beer. Wit means white in dutch and in german weisse is white, weizen is wheat and hefe is yeast. Keeping with those brewing traditions, North Americans often name their wheat beers in a similar manner. So a hefeweizen is a German-style yeasty wheat ale, as you can see from its cloudy constitution. Often a hefeweizen tastes banana-y.  Witbier is a wheat beer brewed mainly in Belgium and the Netherlands. It gets its name due to suspended yeast and wheat proteins which cause the beer to look hazy, or white, when cold. It often tastes of coriander and orange.

There are some really great craft beer patios in Vancouver. Tap and Barrel at Olympic Village has the most idyllic patio, and its a big one too. Yaletown Brewpub has their Cassiopeia Wit beer on tap right now, and they have quite a nice little patio on the pub side and a bigger one on the restaurant side. Steamworks has a Saison on tap right now, and a patio right in the action of Gastown to drink it on. Dockside Brewing on Granville Island has a beautiful patio, divided into three sections including one very fancy schmancy waterfront one, and a line up of lagers to quench your thirst. Local in Kitsilano has a large patio and a rotating beer list.

Sample Beer:
Stiegl Radler - this is half grapefruit juice, half lager and it is 100% delicious and refreshing. And weighs in at a mere 2.5% abv and only 25 calories per 100 mls if you're keeping track of that sort of thing (or 125 for the whole can).

Their press release states:
“Stiegl Grapefruit Radler is the perfect summer beer, it’s light-bodied, clean, crisp and refreshing.”
Radler, which means “cyclist” in German, is a beer style invented by Bavarian cyclists.
Seeking a great tasting, low alcoholic beverage they could take on bike rides and picnics, Bavarian cyclists blended a 50/50 mixture of Bavarian lager and fruit juice. The refreshing result is now known as the Radler.
Stiegl Grapefruit Radler has a distinct tart flavour, citrusy aroma, lively effervescence and natural cloudiness, making it a perfect summer thirst-quencher.
The refreshing flavours of Stiegl Grapefruit Radler are best accentuated by serving in its signature curved, glass.
Brewed in Salzburg Austria at the privately owned and operated Stiegl Brewery
50 per cent Stiegl Goldbräu, a Bavarian Purity Law lager, made only with barley malt, hops and water
Pure spring water from the Alps
Whole flower hops from Hallertau and Saaz
Pure grapefruit juice
All natural ingredients - no additives, preservatives or adjuncts
Currently available at Biercraft and at private liquor stores around the city.
 
Beer picks -
Besides the Cassiopeia Wit at Yaletown and the Stiegl Radler that we talked about, I also recommend:
 
Red Racer Raspberry Wheat Ale
Driftwood White Bark Witbier
Vancouver Island Brewing Beachcomber Summer Ale

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