Craft Beer 101: stouts and porters

Stouts and Porters are likely the last thing most of you guys want to be drinking in the summer heat, but in a few months we're all going to welcome the cool weather with a nice glass of one of these beauties. But before we dive into the main attraction, we have to cover an important style that we missed last week...

Barleywine

There are two types of Barleywine, British and American. Like in all things, the American style tends to have more hop character than the British. They tend to be a deep amber in color with rich toffee and caramel malt and a boozy punch. There tend to be a lot of fruity esters, adding to the complexity. Barleywines also age incredibly well, some breweries release them as vintages. 

  • Malt: Caramel, Toffee, Sweet Bread
  • Hops: Hop aroma and flavor are medium to very high. Hop bitterness is high
  • ABV: 8.5-12.5%
  • Pair With: Barbacoa, Blue cheese, Basically anything with strong flavors

English Porter

IPA currently dominate the market, as super-style if you will. Well Porters were the first super-style. Porters were HUGE a couple hundred years ago. They were the first beer to be shipped around the world and were made popular by the advent of advanced malting techniques other than... well burning them. Before the options for roasting malt were basically light, medium, and burnt. They all changed with the advent of the English Porter which gave way to all the dark chocolaty goodness we know today.

  • Malt: Nutty, Chocolate, Caramel, Bready, Toffee
  • Hops: Hop aroma and flavor are not perceived to medium. Hop bitterness is medium
  • ABV: 4.5-6.0%
  • Pair With: Roasted Meats, Gruyere, Peanut Butter Cookies

Robust Porter

These are basically halfway between the English Porter and Stouts. Robust porters have a roast malt flavor, often reminiscent of cocoa, but no roast barley flavor. The line between Porters and Stouts can blur pretty easily but there are some great examples of the style worth trying out there, and you should try them. 

  • Malt: Grainy, Bready, Toffee, Caramel, Chocolate, Coffee, and the bitterness of black malt
  • Hops: Hop aroma and flavor are very low to medium. Hop bitterness is medium to high
  • ABV: 5.0-6.5%
  • Pair With: The same as English. What can I say, they work for both. But seriously... peanut butter cookies.

American Stout

American Stouts are Chocolate and Coffee forward flavored ales. They're often fairly highly hopped but the hop character is drowned out by the roasted malt flavor. American stouts are bold, with a distinctive dry-roasted bitterness in the finish. Oatmeal added to the mash leads to a richer mouth feel and greater head retention.

  • Malt: Low to medium malt sweetness with heavy roasted malt flavor and bitterness.  
  • Hops: Hops are low to high in flavor, often hopped with citrus or resin forward hops
  • ABV: 5.7-8.9%
  • Pair With: Lamb, Sharp Cheddar, Coffee Cake

Imperial Stouts

These are the beers that we wait around all year for. Monsters of Malt and Hops cranked up to 11 and packed with as much flavor and body as we can. They are incredibly rich and stand up to almost any addition which is why we see them barrel aged and with additions from chocolate to coffee to ginger to cayenne and everything in between. I'm not going to focus on the Barrel Aged monsters but classics of the base style. 

  • Malt: Bittersweet Coffee, Chocolate, Cocoa
  • Hops: Medium to High Hopping balanced with huge malt character
  • ABV: 7-12%
  • Pair With: Foie Gras, Aged Cheese, Chocolate Cake

 

 

Craft Beer 101: The Malty Ales

Brownish is a technical term. These beers are what many of us reach for after we discover wheat beers or lagers. I remember when I was getting into craft beer I thought that Fat Tire was the greatest thing ever invented, which is of course insane. It's the 6th best thing ever invented. Here are our 4 beer styles that best represent what I like to call "Middle of the road Ales"

Amber Ales

A malt heavy beer that is, in this country anyways, hopped by American hops. If you put Hops in it then it becomes a British Amber. Complicated I know. This style has a light sweetness and, typically, light hop flavor. They are darker in color and have more caramel flavor and a heavier body than most of the beers we have discussed so far.

  • Malt: Heavy Malt flavoring with a caramel notes
  • Hops: Light to Medium Hop flavor and aroma. Citrus notes aren't uncommon
  • ABV: 4.4-6.1%
  • Pair With: BBQ, Cheddar Cheese, Banana Bread

American Brown Ales

This beer goes back to American homebrewers who created a cross between British Brown Ales and Porters. This style sits between those styles and is more bitter than both.

  • Malt: Roasted malt, caramel-like and chocolate-like characters should be of medium intensity in both flavor and aroma
  • Hops: Hop aroma and flavor are low to medium. Hop bitterness is medium to high
  • ABV: 4.2-6.5%
  • Pair With: Grilled Meats and Veggies, Aged Gouda, Apple Fritters

Old Ales

A distictive quality of these ales is that their yeast undergoes an aging process (often for years) in bulk storage or through bottle conditioning, which contributes to a rich, wine-like and often sweet oxidation character. Old ales are copper-red to very dark in color. Complex estery character may emerge.

  • Malt: Malty, caramely sweetness
  • Hops: Hop aroma and flavor are not perceived to medium. Hop bitterness is minimal but evident.
  • ABV: 6.3-9.4%
  • Pair With: Lamb, Gloucester Cheese, Spiced Fruit Tart

Wee Heavy

The Scotch ale, or Wee Heavy, is overwhelmingly malty, with a rich and dominant sweet malt flavor and aroma. A caramel character is often part of the profile. Some examples feature a light smoked peat flavor. These are the beers that people who don't usually drift off the Amber Beer path drink and it either changes their life or ruins it. 

  • Malt: Dominated by a smooth, balanced sweet maltiness.
  • Hops: Little to no hops in flavor, aroma, or bitterness
  • ABV: 6-8.2%
  • Pair With: Wild Game, Strong Smelling Cheese, Custard with Fruit

 

 

 

Craft Beer 101: Pale Ales & IPA's

Pale Ales came about in England about 300 years ago and back then it was just to denote that the beer was in fact... pale. Stouts and Porters ruled the day due to their ease of production but over the years, this style evolved into something that is totally unrecognizable from it's original form. Let's start at the beginning.

English Bitters

English Bitters are the grandpappy of modern Pale Ales. While the name suggests that they're bitter, they're actually a low alcohol, malt forward beer. When bitters became popular hops weren't used as heavily as they are today so this was among the more bitter styles around. They're still very popular in England and they're best when coming out of a cask. So good.

  • Malt: Low to Medium hop sweetness. Usually copper in color
  • Hops: Hop aroma may or may not be evident. Low to Medium hop bitterness.
  • ABV: 3.0-4.2%
  • Pair With: Fish & Chips, Aged English Cheddar, Oatmeal Cookies

American Pale Ale

The defining moment of the American Style of hoppy ale that we know today happened about 30 years ago when Ken Grossman and Sierra Nevada Brewing made their famous Pale Ale. Perhaps the most important craft beer in history, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale changed the the Craft Beer Game. American Pale Ales are characterized by floral, fruity, citrus-like, piney, resinous, or sulfur-like American-variety hop character, producing medium to medium-high hop bitterness, flavor and aroma.

  • Malt: Biscuity, bready, sometimes caramel
  • Hops: Hop aroma and bitterness are medium to medium-high
  • ABV: 4.4-6.0%
  • Pair With: Grilled Meat (great with fajitas), Medium Cheddar, Apple Crisp

Indian Pale Ale

Indian Pale Ale's get their name because they were created to make the long trek from England to India. You see, beer spoils, and at some point people learned that hops are a natural preservative; so they would load up the beer with hops and send it on it's way. By the time they got the beer in India, it tasted closer to an English Bitters than what we know as an IPA. With time however, and the hop craze started by American Pale Ales, people started searching for hoppier and danker beers. Enter the IPA. Now IPA's represent about 25% of the beer market as a whole. Hop varietals vary wildly in flavor and aroma so one made with entirely cascade hops for instance can end up tasting totally different than one made with Mosaic, for instance. And now with people developing new and exciting hops every year, there's no end in sight for the variety of IPA's in the future.

  • Malt: Biscuit, Bready, Caramel

  • Hops: Aroma is high and hop flavor is strong both with floral qualities and citrus-like, piney, resinous or sulfur-like American-variety hop character. Hop bitterness is medium-high to very high

  • ABV: 5.5-7.5%

  • Pair With: Spicy Foods, Blue Cheese, Persimmons

Double IPA

As people started looking for hoppier and hoppier beers, breweries started ramping up the alcohol and hope levels to, in some cases, huge amounts. Enter the Double IPA. 

  • Malt: Malt character is Medium to High
  • Hops: Hop flavor and aroma are very high, should be fresh and lively and should not be harsh in quality, deriving from any variety of hops. Hop bitterness is very high but not harsh
  • ABV: 7.5-12%
  • Pair With: Steak, Rich Cheese, Carrot Cake

Craft Beer 101: Light Ales

This week we're back to going over some of the more common styles in the beer lexicon and this week we're starting, what I'm sure will be several weeks, on ales. There's a lot of confusion when people use the word Ale. About once a week someone asks me if I have any "ales on draft", which is a little like going to a wine bar and asking if I have any reds. Of course I do, I have dozens. Ales are an enormous family of beers, which like lagers, goes from light to dark, but have significantly more variance in flavor profiles. Ale yeast likes it warm, which means they're going to release more aromatic and flavorful compounds. The ones were going to to talk about today though are on the lighter side.

Blonde Ales

Without a doubt the most popular style at Deacon Baldy's, Blonde ales are light and ultra-approachable. They don't have a large hop or malt profile. Sometimes you see them with fruit or spices added, and sometimes even lager yeast... which is confusing when it's still called an ale. Looking to branch out from the normal American domestic light beers, this is the one you want to try,

  • Malt: Light Malt flavor like bread, toast, or biscuits
  • Hops: Low to medium hop flavors and aroma but it's becoming more common to dry hop this style.
  • ABV: 4.1-5.1%
  • Pair With: Spaghetti, Sugar Cookies, Pepper Jack Cheese

Kolsch

The Kolsch is a beer that hails from Cologne, and in fact, in Europe, in order to legally be called a Kolsch it has to be made within 50km of Cologne. The style was derived from the hefeweisen style but never quite got as popular. These beers can be subtly complex... if that's even a sentence that makes sense. They can have fruity, almost wine like flavors when made well, and drank fresh. They're dry, crisp, and great on a hot day.

  • Malt: Very low with a little sweetness
  • Hops: Low Noble Hops
  • ABV: 4.8-5.3%
  • Pair With: Bratwurst, Nutty Cheese, or double fist with a nice Reisling if you're feeling aggressive. 

Cream Ale

So this beer is kind of a hybrid between Lager and Ale. They spawned from American Light Beer but they're brewed like an Ale and can be finished with lager yeast. Heavily carbonated, very light, and refreshing. 

  • Malt: Low, will often have corn or rice added to lighten the body
  • Hops: Low to non-existent
  • ABV: 4.3-5.7%
  • Pair With: Salads, Oaxaca Cheese, Lemon Cream Pie

Hefeweisen

Hefeweisen came from southern Germany and have at least 50% wheat. Most of the flavor comes from the wheat and hefeweisen yeast which throws a lot of banana and clove flavor. There are several different styles of this beer in fact. If they're filtered, they're known as Krystal Weisse, darker they're known as Dunkels. Also, if you find yourself in a part of the country and can't seem to find one, look for Weissebier. Same style, the name just changes regionally. 

  • Malt: Wheaty with low malt profile and sweetness
  • Hops: Low to non-existent
  • ABV: 4.9-5.6%
  • Pair With: Seafood, Chevre, Key Lime Pie

Coming Next Week... Pale Ales and IPA's, where nobody has any hard opinions right? Right?

Summer Cocktails

We're taking a break from our Craft Beer 101 Series to discuss our Summer Cocktail list that will be dropping next week. Normally here there would be a nice paragraph of exposition leading into the cocktails, but we figure it's easier to just... not do that. Summer is hot. These drinks are refreshing and delicious. End of opening paragraph. TO THE DRINKS!

Negroni Training Wheels

The Negroni is a classic summertime cocktail but the potent bitterness of Campari can be off-putting to many people. The classic mix is Gin, Sweet Vermouth, and Campari in equal parts. We've stripped out some of the more harsh ingredients of the Negroni and substituted them with some things we think you'll love. Instead of the Campari we sub in the brighter and less bitter Aperol. In the place of Sweet Vermouth we use a fortified Rose called Cocchi Rosa. We mix those with Hendricks Gin and serve it over ice with an orange twist. It's bright, refreshing, a little bitter, and absolutely incredible. 

Spicy Paloma

What if I told you that the Margarita wasn't the most popular cocktail in Mexico? While the Margarita is a classic, and I think that we have a great one, the king of the cocktails in Mexico is the Paloma. The Paloma in Mexico is simply Tequila, Lime Juice, and Grapefruit Soda (Squirt). It's awesome. We do it a little differently with fresh grapefruit juice and fresh jalapenos to add a little kick.

Mai Tai

The Mai Tai is a classic. Created at Trader Vic's in the Tiki-crazed 50's. We'll be going for as close to authentic as possible. Two types of Rum, Gran Marnier, Lime Juice, and Orgeat. If you aren't familiar with Orgeat, it's a sweetened almond syrup that is the cornerstone of many tiki drinks. Our Orgeat uses organic almonds and sugar.

The Mint Julep

Born from hot summers and huge blocks of ice shipped down from up north and stored in storerooms, the Mint Julep is a cornerstone of summer cocktails. Bourbon, Mint, Sugar, Ice. When in doubt, keep it simple stupid. Which helps because we aren't always the brightest bulbs in the cookie jar. 

Pineapple Mojito

This one is admittedly not our most inventive work. We don't care; It's delicious. We use Cana Brava Rum, Lime Juice, Mint, Simple Syrup, and Fresh Pineaple Puree to make a drink literally anyone could love. Unless you don't like pineapple... which could create a problem. 

Sangria

We like our Spring Sangria so much we're keeping it on for the Summer. We make it in house from Grenache wine, and a bunch of stuff I'm not telling you. 

Craft Beer 101: The Dark Side of Lagers

We're in week 4 of our Craft Beer 101 series and this week we're covering Dark Lagers. We're just going to give a snapshot of some of the more iconic styles of the category. Again, this list is in no way comprehensive, just a good starting point

American Amber Lager

Amber Lagers are characterized by their balance between hops and malt. These beers tend to be a middle ground in every way. Roasty but not dark, refreshing but a little more body, hops presence but not "hoppy". Thought some are starting to lean that way. 

  • Malt: Low to medium-low caramel-type or toasted malt aromas are often present
  • Hops: Hop flavor and aroma are very low to medium-high. 
  • ABV: 4.8%-5.4%
  • Pair With: Grilled Meats/veggies, fruit desserts
American Amber Lager.jpg

Marzen/Oktoberfest

The Marzen style is a toast, malty heavy style with a light hop bitterness. Made famous for also being called "Okcoberfest" style, it's one of the most famous styles of dark lager in the world. The word Marzen actually means "March" in German as this beer has been traditionally brewed in March due to a very old German beer law outlawing brewing from April to September. The beer would be store over the spring and summer and consumed in late summer/early fall. 

  • Malt: Heavy, toasty malt goodness
  • low to medium hop bitterness and aroma
  • ABV: 5.1%-6%
  • Pair With: Kielbasa, Jalapeno Jack, Pizza (Seriously)

Dunkel

German style Dunkels, AKA Munich Dunkels, are a more balanced beer than the Oktoberfest with some darker, chocolate like malt with a biscuit like aroma. They are less sweet than they are balanced between the malt characteristics with a light hop bitterness. 

  • Malt: Malt aroma is low to medium, with chocolate-like, roasted malt, bread-like or biscuit-like notes
  • Hops: little to no hop aroma and flavor but a light hop bitterness
  • ABV: 4.8%-5.3%
  • Pair With: Sausages, Munster Cheese, Candied Ginger

Bock

Bock's are tricky thing in Texas, most of us have all had a Shiner Bock or a Ziegenbock, but the issue is, that those aren't actually Bock's at all, it's technically a "Dark American Lager" as it doesn't meet the guidelines to be a bock. If you want a real bock however, there are plenty to choose from. Bock's have a toasty, malty sweetness with very little hops and a fairly high ABV. 

  • Malt: High malt character with aromas of toasted or nut-like malt
  • Hops: Hop flavor nd aroma are low but can have some hop bitterness.
  • ABV: 6.3%-7.5%
  • Pair With: Steak, Chocolate, Aged Swiss

Some good Dark Lagers styles that aren't listed are Schwarzbier, Vienna Style Lagers, Dopplebocks, and Dortmunder (if you can find them). Try out some of the ones listed or seek out some new ones. Next week, we'll be taking a break from Beer 101 to talk about Deacon Baldy's Summer Cocktail List. 

Craft Beer 101: Ales Vs Lagers

 

 

Every so often, someone comes to the bar and says something like "Give me an ale" If you have done this, and I made a strange face, I meant no offense, it's just a really, really broad question. It's akin to walking into a nursery and saying, "I'll have one tree please". It's not a particularly helpful sentence. So what exactly is an ale? For that matter, what's a lager? Let's discuss.

Ale's: A History

Ale's came about most likely by accident. When you think about what beer actually is, a grain stew that has been strained and fermented, it's most likely that no one invented beer so much as it was a natural byproduct of leftovers. Boil some grains, it ferments, and beer. Beer caught on because before sanitation beer was simply safer than water. That old adage that "In Wine there's wisdom, in beer there is freedom, in water there is bacteria." holds a lot of weight when you consider that no one knew 500 years ago much less 7000 knew what bacteria was or what caused illness. They did know however that people who drank more beer got sick less, so beer became a mainstay of the diet. Add in some time, new ingredients, and in a few millennia you have the craft beer industry.

What is an Ale?

The difference between Ale's and Lager's is actually pretty simple. The difference is yeast. Ale's are a top fermenting yeast which are uncreatively named so because they ferment on the top of the liquid. Let me know if you need me to slow down. 

Ale yeast likes it warm, around 75 degrees in fact, which is why they came about first. You can make a decent ale in a closet in your house. The yeast rises to the top and create more dense, pillow-y bubbles, or head. (giggle). 

 

Ale yeast coupled with the warmer brewing temperature creates more robust and diverse flavors. Ales tend to be more flavorful, fuller bodied (like myself), and more adaptable. 

 

Lagers: A History

The way I hear it, back in the Middle Ages, some German brewers discovered that after storing their ales in the cold, they noticed that it continued to ferment, but changed the flavor to being more crisp and refreshing. Lager in German roughly translates to "Warehouse". They're called this because lagers take considerably more time to brew than Ales. They would be brewed in the fall, covered in ice, and then drank in the spring. 

What is a Lager?

Lagers utilize bottom fermenting yeast for their goodness. The cold brewing process slows the rates with which the yeast do their thing which means that Lagers take considerably longer to make than ales. This process is shockingly called "lagering". The head on lagers tends to have larger bubbles and don't last as long.

See! Light and Refreshing. 

See! Light and Refreshing. 

Lagers, much like the German people, are crisp, bright, and refreshing (see image). They're light in body and best enjoyed when it's warm outside, which luckily for us in Houston is always. Lagers are the best selling style, broadly speaking, in the world, largely because Bud Light and it's ilk are lagers, but don't hold that against them. 

 

Next week we'll dive a little deeper into Lagers and talk about all the types. Please hold your excitement.