With the holidays in full swing, so too should be your beer consumption.
But while you may be at least semi-educated in the wine realm by now, you probably know less about a good, old-fashioned pint.
For that reason, we’re bringing you 19 facts about beer to impress your friends and family this holiday season.
Straight from beer sommelier (yes, that’s a thing) Craig Young of Toronto’s The Shore Club restaurant, here’s everything you need to know when it comes to cracking a cold one.
1. Prud’homme Beer Certification is the Canadian training program for beer sommelier. It was established in 2009, and there will be 42 level-3 trained beer sommeliers by the end of this year in Canada.
2. The most common story of how beer was created dates back as far as 10,000 to 13,000 years ago when a woman who was making bread left the bowl out in the rain and natural yeast got in and ta da…no more work was done…ever.
3. The most popular beer sold in Ontario, Coors Light contains more aromatics then you might think, including both bananas and tropical fruits.
4. The ideal temperature to drink beer is warmer than when you receive it from the fridge. Drink ales in the 7-14 degree range and lagers in the 2-7 degree range.
5. If you pour a beer into a glass to drink, versus drinking it straight from a bottle or can, you can consume more beer due to the excess CO2 that’s released in the pouring process. But of course, as always, drink responsibly.
6. Beer is 92 per cent water…but a crisp refreshing lager always tastes so much better than water on a hot day – or just in a well-heated room for that matter.
7. The style of glassware used to drink a beer is just as important as it is with wine. Choose a glass with a thick base for ales so you can warm the beer with your hands, as well as a large opening, so more aromatics can be released to your nose. Lager glasses, on the other hand, have a thinner base, so your hands don’t change the temperature of the beer, and a small opening to focus on the fewer aromatics that lagers have.
8. The world’s strongest beer is the Brouwerij ‘T Koelschip Start the Future. At 60 per cent ABV, it’s like drinking 12 Molson Canadians at once. While high alcohol beers can be made with a higher amount of fermentable sugars, with beers this high, they use special tricks like freezing the beer and draining the unfrozen beer from the bottom.
9. Beer has many health properties that can be linked to the use of hops. Hops are a galactagogue, which helps in the production of breast milk. Beer can also lower your blood pressure as it helps dilate your blood vessels.
10. Beer is just as fantastic for pairing with cheese as wine is. The carbonation of the beer also cuts through the creaminess of Brie and the high bitterness found in an IPA compliments the sharp flavours of a really old cheddar.
11. IBU stands for “international bitterness units” and is a scale used to determine how bitter a beer is. Lower than 20 is considered mild, while over 40 becomes noticeable. Many IPAs will have an IBU of 10 times the ABV, so a beer at 6.5 per cent with 65 IBUs is a well-balanced IPA.
12. A draught ‘beer gas’ is a mixture of 25 per cent Co2 and 75 per cent nitrogen.
13. Molson owns Granville Island Brewery in Vancouver, both Creemore and Mad & Noisy in Ontario, The Beer Academy in Toronto, and the Worthington Brewery in the UK.
14. Stella was originally brewed as a Christmas beer – so yes, it really ‘tis the season…
15. Hops are a natural preservative. The more hops and the longer you boil them, the longer the beer can last. This has ties to the story of how the India Pale Ale was invented. They needed a beer that could make the journey from England to India so they added more hops to the Pale Ale to create IPA.
16. For fermented beer, live yeast was added during the packaging process, giving the beer a finer carbonation – a similar effervescent quality that you see in Champagne.
17. Anything that isn’t hops, water, yeast, or malt and is added to a beer is called an ‘adjunct’ – think of it like “adding junk” to a beer – according to the Bavarian purity law the Rheinheitsgebot of 1516, which states that a beer could only be made with water, hops, and malt. It was modified to include yeast in 1987.
18. Malt is any cereal grain that has been allowed to germinate under controlled temperature and humidity conditions. It’s the one key ingredient that brings both flavour (sweetness) and colour to the beer and is the base of providing sugar that yeast can convert to alcohol.
19. Every season has a style of beer that pairs with the weather perfectly. Spring; sour beers, Summer; wheat beers, Fall; American pale ales, and Winter; stout.
Follow Beer Sommelier, Craig Young on Twitter for more fun beer facts
Cover image from: ValentynVolkov