So what sets a home brewer on a separate level from the everyday beer drinker? By brewing themselves, home brewers understand beer better than college frat boys, who drink out of red plastic SOLO brand cups filled with warm keg-tapped Keystone. The brewer’s palate beings to transcend above the watered-down, rice-infused, ballpark-style beer that it has been forced to classify as “beer.” It slowly begins to discern the flavors that make up a well-crafted brew and the elements that set each style apart. The brewer begins to understand which ingredients require manipulation in order to produce the flavors that will give each style of beer its traditional and distinct flavor pattern. Most importantly, the brewer quits paying taxes and can deposits for crappy beer that has no flavor!
Perhaps it is unknown on many college campuses (where alcohol is often consumed for its intoxicating effect rather than its flavor) that beer has more flavor elements than wine. The reason for this is that there are many more types of grains than there are types of grapes. Whereas wine can be red or white, beer is placed on a spectrum from light to dark depending on which grains are used. Generally wheat beers are a light orange color, whereas beers brewed with barley have an amber hue. Bocks, stouts, and porters are about as opaque as a cup of black coffee.
Any beer that can be bought in a store can be brewed at home. But although drinking beer maybe an easy and enjoyable activity, brewing takes some skill and practice. The brewer must manipulate many different elements such as temperature, pressure, time, and the ingredients used to produce a brew that’s unique yet still palatable. Light is another matter; fermentation requires a very dark environment. After the beer has completed its primary fermentation stage, the brewer must decide whether or not to filter the brew. Filtering can bring about a smoother texture, but once the yeast has been removed, an in-bottle fermentation process cannot take place. Secondary fermentation will produce a thinner texture without removing all of the settlement, and it's a lot less labor intensive. During secondary fermentation, a pinch of extra yeast will help along fermentation, and brewing sugar can be added before bottling to amp up in-bottle fermentation. No matter how minor each decision may seem, every slight variable can change the taste of the final product.
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