Beer is one of those things in life that you don't normally ask too many questions about because all you really need to know is that it is refreshing and delicious. Let's say for arguments sake it occurs to you that there might be some science and hard work behind this thirst quenching drink that has been around for thousands of years. Well you have come to the right place. We will be talking about the in and outs of beer production and some of the great choices of authentic craft beer in the Wynwood Miami Area.
First off, what is beer? Beer is a brewed or fermented mixture of starches such as barley, rice, wheat corn or other additives that have been flavored with hops in a vat of water with yeast. Sometimes if a brewer is trying to add in other variables to give the beer more flavor you might see fruits and herbs as well in the ingredients list.
Once the ingredients are mixed together and steeped it is now called a mash. After steeping, the product that is a sugary liquid which is then mixed with hops is called the wort. Yeast is then added which converts the sugars into carbonation which is the main fermentation process. After that process the beer sits as a second fermentation to really release all of the flavors of the ingredients. After everything is filtered out, you now have made yourself a beer.
Beer's alcohol by volume or ABV varies by the amount of sugars that the yeast can process as well as if there are any other additives. The darker beers tend to be higher in ABV percentage because when the ingredients are roasted (which gives a darker color and deeper flavor, many sugars are let out which is the quickest way to raise the alcohol content.
There are two significant umbrellas that we will speak about in terms of styles of beer. The Lager & the Ale.
The Lager is the easy going drink in the beer world. It is cold fermented which means that the brewers would store the beer in cool places such as a cellar or basement which actually continued the fermentation process that cleared the beer of any cloudiness and smoothed the beer. It is almost always found in a straw color and has a light and refreshing taste. Most beginning beer drinkers gravitate towards this beer as it is not high on the IBU (International Bitterness Units) scale.
The Ale however is a much more broad style of beer. It is brewed as a warm fermentation method. This gives it a significantly more full bodied flavor that ranges from a a blonde ale all the way to stouts. Different styles of roasting and brewing can make the many different styles that you see on shelves today.
Light Lager - cold fermented beer that is one of the clearest beers. It has a crisp refreshing taste with straw coloring and is most popular is warmer regions.
Blonde Ale - Also known as a Golden Ale, it is closely related in flavor to a lager. A Blonde Ale has light bitterness and maltiness even though it is primarily made out of Malt.
Pilsner - A lager that was founded in Pilsen, Czech Republic. It is considered light bodied and sweet and was the most popular beer style in the United States before the 1980's craft beer movement. It also has very little aftertaste.
Pale Ale - This beer is made with for the most part, pale malt which lends to its light coloring. The malts are dried with coke, a fuel that has little impurities and made from coal. There are various styles of Pale Ales such as Blond Ale, Amber Ale, India Pale Ale and so forth.
Hefeweizen - A German Wheat Beer that is made up a large amount of wheat and malted barley. Normally served with citrus for a nice balance.
Saison - Also known as a farmhouse ale, which is normally brewed in the winter so it can be enjoyed in the summer. This beer has a normally fruity aroma and flavor with little sweetness and medium bitterness.
India Pale Ale (IPA) - This is a very hoppy beer style that gets its name from its original trips across sea that was given from the East India Company. The long trip with spices around them gave it a strong taste in the end.
Bock - A dark beer that is in the lager category that is normally brewed in the fall and drank in the spring time. This is a malty but lightly hopped beer that ranges in color.
Porter - A darker beer originated in London that typically denotes flavors of chocolate and coffee due to the roasted malt and very hoppy nature of the beer. The Stout beer style derives from a porter.
Stout - Considered the strongest of all of the beers, the stout is a higher gravity beer that stems from Porters with the same roasted malt and heavy hop notes.
There are so many more but you will see those most. The main differences in brewing between each is the temperature they are brewed at and how much the hop and other cereal grain is roasted.
J Wakefield Brewing
Favorite Beer: El Jefe - Style: Hefeweizen - Flavour: light bodied with hints of coconut and banana
Concrete Beach Brewery
Favorite Beer: Key Lime Kolsch - Style: Blonde Lager - Flavour: Bright Key Lime with a crisp aftertaste
Favorite Beer: Pop's Porter (1st place: GABF) - Style: Robust Porter - Flavour: Chocolate and coffee notes not for the faint of heart