How to Become a Brewmaster 101

This weekend I took a trip down to Baltimore to check out Heavy Seas Brewery in hopes of becoming my own self-proclaimed brew-master.  Known for their unique flavors and “pirate” attitude, Heavy Seas has quickly become Marylands beer { of course second to the infamous Natty-Boh }  There is something to be said about creating a local product, there is a totally different level of craftsmanship, love, and pride that the Heavy Seas brewers put into every beer they craft.

I love visiting Breweries – its a great way to spend a day doing something different while having the chance to drink delicious beer.  Usually brew tours can range anywhere from $5 to $10, and that price typically  includes your very own brewing glass.  But, while on these tours don’t drink too much, you may want to learn a thing or two.  Having a great knowledge of the “adult” beverage world is not only impressive, but can get you farther in life than you would expect { plus it could even score you a free drink or two }  But hey, on the off chance you do drink too much on one of your brew tours, here are some of the basics to becoming a Grade A “brew-master”.

First thing any great beer connoisseur must decide – what their signature beer type is. Specialty Beers, Artisan Beers, Gourmet Beers, Boutique Beers, Microbrews, and Dark Beers.  Then you need to go even deeper into the specifics like are you into a pilsner or ale, do you like lagers, etc? Once you figure out your go-to beer, it becomes so much easier to understand the rest.

The next thing you need to know when it comes to beer is the proper way to pour one.  If you pour the beer slowly down the side of a tilted glass, the less the foam builds up – ideally you want about a half an inch of foam.  If you hold a glass upright and pour your beer straight into the glass, more gas + air is released from the beer and the more foam builds up.  If you really want to get into it,  there are beer aficionados out there that will insist that different beers have different ideal pours, but you hey we arent experts here – we just enjoy great beer.

To really become a self-proclaimed beer expert you have to be able to understand the 5 properties of beer that all “Beer Judges” in the Beer Judge Certification Program learn.  These are the backbone of How to Become a Brewmaster 101.

1. The Aroma : before you take that first sip of your frothy brew, take a whiff before its gone.  A beers scent only lasts for a brief period of time, but can really tell a lot about what you are about to drink.   An ale smells fruity, beers with higher malt will smell sweeter, while a bad beer will smell sour.

2. The Look : whats your beer look like, really, check it out.  Is your Pumpkin Oktoberfest brew an orangy-red color? Is your stout dark and stormy and your ale soft and yellow ?  The color of your beer all relates to how it is brewed and how the taste can vary.

3. The Flavor : what does your beer taste like.  If you chose a hoppy beer its probably going to taste more citrus-y, stouts can have a coffee like flavor where malts can have a toffee, toasty taste.

4. The Body : The weight of the beer also ties into the overall taste factor.  You have probably noticed that light beer taste…well…light.  Lagers are typically fairly thin and stouts can have a heavier body paired along a strong taste.

5. The Overall Drinkability : basically combine all the above numbers + how quickly you drink your current beer and are on to the next to determine the final mark of a good beer.

Take it one brewery at a time, one beer at a time and learn all you can – before you know it you will be conquering the world with each beer and each of the 2,269 breweries across the United States you visit… let me know what you discover!

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