It’s October and that means one thing: beer. In honor of the season of hops – if it’s lager- we are going to turn our looking glass to the oldest beverage in history.
Although that statement is debatable, there is evidence that the most ancient cultures made and drank some form of beer. Anthropologists have analyzed findings at Neolithic sites and determined that the concentrated amounts of uncharred grain seeds indicate the people made a fermented beverage. At this point we need Keegan-Michael Key to jump in and “They’re saying that a really long time ago people made beer.” The history of beer leading to America was a long twisting trail. The first American brewery was established in 1612 by Dutch Settlers Adrian Block and Hans Christiansen (no Anderson, no fairy tales) in New Amsterdam, which today is Manhattan. Their beer, like all early American beer, was made with malt. That original American malty brew is not the most popular beer today.
And today is our focus because we want you to be prepared for all the Oktoberfest festivals popping up in almost as many places as Starbucks. Ok, that isn’t possible, but we do want you to be ready by knowing your beers. There are certainly enough to be confusing: lagers, pilsners, wheat, Belgian, stouts, porters, and other varieties. So, what are they?
Let’s start with the most popular beer, the lager. The country was introduced to this light, ‘bubbly’ beer in the 1800’s when a wave of German immigrants came to the country. Lagers have a lower alcohol content and are lighter tasting. The two words most associated with lagers are ‘light’ and ‘clean.’ Lagers are often categorized by their color from pale, golden, amber, to dark. They are good beginner beer. The most well-known lagers in America are Yuengling, Budweiser, and Coors.
One specific type of lager that is a Pilsner. These beers originated in the Czech Republic. They have a high carbonation level and brewed with a variety of hops. This gives them their signature floral tones and bitter finish. They, like other lagers, are light but have a slightly higher alcohol content. The key to Pilsner is freshness. They lose all their charm if they become stale.
Another entry level beer is wheat. As the name suggests, it is made with a larger proportion of wheat to malt. Like the lager it is light in color and donations lower alcohol, which makes it a popular summer beer. Many wheat beers are paired with citrus flavors. These are classified as Belgian-styled beers, though not actually Belgian beers. Other wheat beers, especially ones brewed in America, have a bread flavor. Wheat beers are often the favorite choice for summer due to the lightness and fruity tones.
The actual Belgian beer has grown in popularity in America over the past few decades. The only thing they share in common with lagers is a pairing with citrus fruits. Belgian beers are ales and as such they relit heavily upon the flavoring malt. These beers are less bitter and far heavier than their lager counterparts. They also have a higher alcohol content – so beware. However, there is a wide range of Belgian beers from pale ales, dark ales, to even sour ale. The two words common to them are ‘fruity’ and ‘spicy.’ For the true beer enthusiast, the various Trappist ales with their complex flavors provide the ultimate beer ale adventure.
Stout and Porter
Two other variants in the beer experience are stouts and porters. Stouts are generally sweet and full-bodied. They have a roasted flavor that often reminds one of coffee. The porter is a British beer that is very dark in color similar to a stout with exception of a flavor most reminiscent of chocolate.
No matter what beer you choose, please drink responsibly. And we encourage to get the most out Oktoberfest by enjoying a handmade cigar from Tabanero!
While you’re enjoying your Tabanero cigar, read this article on Oktoberfest in Germany: click here