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Topic: Beer Advice from the Unhinged
Message: Posted by: stoneunhinged (Feb 22, 2010 01:23AM)
There was that thread in the clothing forum by that young dandy who offered everyone advice on clothes.

I thought that I could offer a similar service to Café members by offering my own bit of expertise on the thing I know the most about.

First, my credentials.

1. In terms of sheer quantity, I have probably put away more beer--both in volume and variety--than 99.99 percent of the members of this forum.

2. I can't think of anything else. #1 should be enough.

Before you start throwing your multitude of questions at me, I thought I would give some general tips to learning how to enjoy beer in a more expert manner. Here are the most important things:

1. Fresh beer is ALWAYS better than unfresh beer. That means you should always prefer the keg to the bottle. Always. Except:

2. Varieties of beer bottled with a portion of yeast (such as hefeweizen or Trappist beers from Belgium) are ALWAYS better in the bottle than from a keg.

3. The best flavor comes from beer at a proper temperature. "Proper temperature" is relative to your taste, of course; but if you like your beer ice cold you might as well drink fermented horse pee pee--you're drinking for effect and not flavor. You want cool and refreshing and a bit of a buzz, but not taste. Sounds totally defensible, but that's not why we're here in this thread.

4. Use a proper glass. A true connoisseur would never drink beer from the bottle, no matter at what temperature. Only barbarians drink beer straight from the bottle. A proper glass is different for different types of beer. A pilsner glass has a bulb at the bottom but a narrower throat to maintain a nice head. A hefeweizen glass, on the other hand, is narrow at the bottom and wide at the top. This is so that the yeast sediment remains at the bottom.

5. Beer from a keg should be tapped very slowly. The reason for this is that the proper carbonation level is nearly impossible to produce at high speed. Beer in American bars is carbonated way too highly--like Coke. Beer should not fizz like Coke. If it does, and you like it, you are a barbarian.

Likewise, bottled beer is usually way too fizzy--which is why you should pour it into a glass and wait five minutes. In the same way, hefeweizen from a keg is not fizzy enough.

6. Beers with a high alcohol content are a specialty item, and should be avoided except on special occasions. This means anything above 7 or 8%. Actually, my own taste dictates that 7 or 8% is a special occasion, and I seldom do it more than once or twice per year. If you need more alcohol, do shots between beers.

7. Flavorings in beer. Hm. In general, I despise flavorings in beer and think that people who like flavorings in beer are barbarians.

TRUE STORY: once a waitress accidentally brought me a hefeweizen with banana juice in it. My immediate reaction was to accuse her of bringing me rotten beer. The banana juice smelled like spoilage to me. (Then again, I haven't had any vitamins in years.) I sent her back to the bar with a red face and feeling shamed, but I tipped her very well for bringing me a fresh (well, bottled) replacement free of taint.

In Germany, the trend has been to put all sorts of stupid things in beer to attract the younger people--the under 25 folk who've been raised to drink cocktails in discos to wash down their extasy before going home to fornicate with a stranger they just met while dancing. This generation has no morals, and they have no taste. They do not like beer. They want caipirinhas.

So the German beer companies have been putting crap in their beers. They are marketing to barbarians.

From the website of a major national brand:

a. beer with lemon juice
b. beer with energy drink (like Red Bull)
c. beer with cola
d. beer with apple juice
e. beer with caruba (I don't even know what the hell caruba is)
f. beer with cappuccino

Now, there is a traditional drink in Germany in which they water down beer with Sprite or 7-up. This is traditional, and it's meant to refresh you when you are on bicycle tours. You ride your bike for four hours and it's 11:00 AM and you don't want to get plastered because you have another four hours to ride. So you drink one of these mixes. Yes, I've done it. I'm not proud, but I am a barbarian, after all, and I had four more hours to ride.

But beer with caruba? ((I don't even know what the hell caruba is).

Let's leave it at that. I might think of more advice. But for now I'll just sit back and take questions.

Hope this helps.
Thanks in advance.
Insert other Internet forum cliche here.
Jeff
Message: Posted by: gaddy (Feb 22, 2010 02:13AM)
In my professional capacity as a bartender ( and, most likely, a member of the .01% mentioned above ), I agree with everything in this post except for Jeff's apparent distaste for Caipirinhas.

Also, for the fools out there who like their bartenders to put fruit wedges directly into their beers: I suggest you look into a little pathogen called E. Coli and the sort of environment it thrives in...
Message: Posted by: stoneunhinged (Feb 22, 2010 03:01AM)
I've never had a Caipirinha. I gotta try one, real soon.

My point--admittedly obscure--was not that Caipirinhas are a bad thing, but that German youth do not like the taste of beer these days because they have been weened on cocktails. And [i]that[/i] is a bad thing, because it means there is a generation in which beer culture is unimportant.

Germany without a beer culture?

Scary thought, isn't it?
Message: Posted by: cfrye (Feb 22, 2010 03:24AM)
As a proud consumer of Portland, Oregon microbrews, I agree with your arguments. I will occasionally drink a Ruby from McMenamin's (a hef with raspberry), but my favorite beer is from Deschutes and is called Obsidian Stout. It's as dark as Neo's sunglasses in [i]The Matrix[/i].



Curt
Message: Posted by: Mr. Mystoffelees (Feb 22, 2010 07:02AM)
So, how do you feel about Milwaukee's Best in a can??
Message: Posted by: stoneunhinged (Feb 22, 2010 08:05AM)
[quote]
On 2010-02-22 08:02, mandarin wrote:
So, how do you feel about Milwaukee's Best in a can??
[/quote]

I'd drink it.
Message: Posted by: Stanyon (Feb 22, 2010 08:35AM)
[quote]
On 2010-02-22 09:05, stoneunhinged wrote:
[quote]
On 2010-02-22 08:02, mandarin wrote:
So, how do you feel about Milwaukee's Best in a can??
[/quote]

I'd drink it.
[/quote]

You are a barbarian. If that's what is touted as "Milwaukee's Best" I'd rather go the "horse..." route.

P.S. I'm a barbarian and .01%'er also and did my fair share to decrease the stockpile of beers when I was in Germany and Austria.

:cheers:
Message: Posted by: kcg5 (Feb 22, 2010 10:27AM)
Good point all, but what about the hoses getting cleaned from the tap to the keg? I work as a bartender at times, and often wonder about that...
Message: Posted by: LobowolfXXX (Feb 22, 2010 11:07AM)
Do they still have those Lucky Lagers in the bottles with the rebus puzzles inside the cap? Those things were a quarter a bottle when I was in high school (in the mid-80s).
Message: Posted by: Magnus Eisengrim (Feb 22, 2010 11:21AM)
So I gotta ask. What ya'll think of those creative Belgian beers?
Message: Posted by: Jimeh (Feb 22, 2010 11:55AM)
I like Hoegaarden! Yumm.
Who's man enough to spend a night drinking this one? Stoney? ;)

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/scotland/north_east/8380412.stm
Message: Posted by: EsnRedshirt (Feb 22, 2010 04:22PM)
All that E.coli and dirty tap hoses are why I prefer hard liquor: high proof = high antiseptic effect.

Jeff- ever brew your own beer? Of course, that may be a huge topic better suited to a different thread...
Message: Posted by: balducci (Feb 22, 2010 04:43PM)
[quote]
On 2010-02-22 12:55, agent61 wrote:
I like Hoegaarden! Yumm.
Who's man enough to spend a night drinking this one? Stoney? ;)

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/scotland/north_east/8380412.stm
[/quote]
Schorschbrau Schorschbock has it beat with a 40% alcohol content.

[url]http://www.beertutor.com/beers/index.php?t=highest_alcohol[/url]

But to be honest, I think the list above is out of date. Last week, I read about a beer that had an alcohol content approaching 50% but I can't locate the article right now.
Message: Posted by: gaddy (Feb 22, 2010 04:57PM)
[quote]
On 2010-02-22 08:02, mandarin wrote:
So, how do you feel about Milwaukee's Best in a can??
[/quote]

I prefer Old Style
Message: Posted by: gaddy (Feb 22, 2010 05:00PM)
[quote]
On 2010-02-22 12:21, Magnus Eisengrim wrote:
So I gotta ask. What ya'll think of those creative Belgian beers?
[/quote]

The older labels are wonderful. The johnny-come-latelies who produce Trappist style fruit beers that are marketed to children have a special place in hell waiting for them...
Message: Posted by: gaddy (Feb 22, 2010 05:02PM)
[quote]
On 2010-02-22 17:22, EsnRedshirt wrote:
All that E.coli and dirty tap hoses are why I prefer hard liquor: high proof = high antiseptic effect.

Jeff- ever brew your own beer? Of course, that may be a huge topic better suited to a different thread...
[/quote]

Tap hoses are usually cleaned on a regular basis as an in-built service from your local beer distributor. It's in their best interests to do so, and keeping the lines cleaned is not difficult or expensive.

It's the E. Coli on the fruit rinds you gotta worry about...

Seriously.
Message: Posted by: HerbLarry (Feb 22, 2010 06:40PM)
Milwaukee's Best? O.K.
Old Style? O.K.
Black label? No thank you.

Remember the ads that dissed skunky beer? Those ads cracked me up. I want skunky beer, it's real and has flavor. If I was to live anywhere but the States it would be Germany.
Message: Posted by: dmueller (Feb 22, 2010 07:09PM)
Give me a good old Budweiser any day of the week. Not served room temperature but not ice cold either. I'd say probably around 60 to 65 degrees is about right for my taste buds. Back in late August or early September I was in St Louis where the original Budweiser brewery is located and got to take a tour of it. I have been many places in my life but that place felt like home.
Message: Posted by: rawdawg (Feb 22, 2010 07:26PM)
I drink Guinness and it's derivative, Black & Tan.

If I find myself at the River during the summer, I will choke down Coors Light as a nod to the heathens that abound that place.

I only drink Caipirina's in the presence of disgusting amounts of red meat.

I do not fish Olives out of the garnish dishes like many do. I've seen how many guys DO NOT wash their hands after beating up the toilet.
Message: Posted by: stoneunhinged (Feb 23, 2010 02:53AM)
Regarding high alcohol beers, I again say that I don't like them. I have only had a hangover once in the last year, and that was because I was drinking something called "Winterbock". It was about 7.5%, I think. Anyway, I always drink a lot of fluids. Right now, in my abstinence month, I'm drinking about three liters of iced tea per day in addition to the occasional glass of water and morning coffee. The problem with high alcohol beers is that I end up drinking more alcohol than I need or want because the beer is portioned out the same. Two liters of beer is two liters of beer. Unless it isn't.

And 50%? That's just some kind of technological brewer's trick. There is no point in it. Anyone ever heard of pot boilers?

Regarding brewing my own beer: I have always wanted to do that. Always. I used to work in a building that had a mail order company selling home brewery supplies, and I used to gawk at the wares and say, "I MUST try that some day."

The problem is that I'm the sort who wants to do something right or not do it at all, and the way to do it right is very expensive.

Here's the way to do it right:

The Braueule! (The Brew Owl) http://www.brumas.com/index_e.html

In a perfect world, nearly everyone would have one, and you'd exchange brews with your friends on a regular basis, and you'd talk recipes and experiments and have tastings and there would be peace, love, and beer for everyone.

It's my version of solving the world's problems. A man has to dream, hasn't he?
Message: Posted by: Ken Northridge (Feb 23, 2010 06:52AM)
Very enjoyable post Jeff. Everyone here at the Café has there area of expertise and I appreciate you sharing yours. :)

My wife and I have been to about 6 or 7 beer tastings, or festivals as they are sometimes called, and I don't think there is better event for the beer drinker. It’s a great opportunity to try a large assortment of beer in a fun atmoshere with food and live music.

It is very rare we find a beer we don't like. Like music, I enjoy different types based on my mood. I gravitate toward Scottish ales but am not above having a light beer or fruit beer if the mood hits me.

One of the things on our 'bucket list' is to attend an Oktoberfest in Germany. Perhaps I'll look you up Jeff for some advice...and just maybe we can have a beer together. :cheers:
Message: Posted by: magicgeorge (Feb 23, 2010 07:05AM)
[quote]
On 2010-02-22 18:02, gaddy wrote:
Tap hoses are usually cleaned on a regular basis as an in-built service from your local beer distributor. It's in their best interests to do so, and keeping the lines cleaned is not difficult or expensive.
[/quote]

I used to clean the lines. In Ireland it seems to be the same as the US done by the breweries. In England it seems to be the pubs job.

To clean the lines your run caustic soda through them then water.

Here's a tip: if you run water through them before you run caustic soda through them you can drink the 2 pints that come from each tap. Wahey!

My friend is writing the life story of someone who accidently drank caustic soda. He has to pipe everything straight into his gullet. A man who can never enjoy a beer again. How sad is that?

g
Message: Posted by: Ken Northridge (Feb 23, 2010 07:11AM)
One other note of interest.

A few years ago I was hired to do a 20-minute magic show/sales meeting for a local beer distributor of Magic Hat beer. I insisted that in preparation I must try all the beer. About a week later, a case of assorted beer was delivered to my door. It’s was a tough job but it is an example of how I go the extra mile for my clients.
Message: Posted by: stoneunhinged (Feb 23, 2010 11:02AM)
Yes Ken, we're proud of you for going the extra mile.

And George, that's just effing sad, to be sure.

On another note, German culture is only dying with the youth. The elderly Germans still know their priorities.
Message: Posted by: EsnRedshirt (Feb 23, 2010 11:36AM)
Jeff- believe it or not, you [i]can[/i] get decent results with "Beer in a Bucket".

I do feel your pain, though- I, too, am the type of person who would rather do it right or not at all. The nice thing about brewing, though, is that the techniques do tend to build on themselves. You upgrade from beer in a bucket to using a glass carboy, at the same time you go to partial mash.* If you can follow recipes and were pretty decent in science class, your first partial mash batch will easily produce a beer that is head and shoulders above anything you can buy in a store. The only difference between partial mash and all grain is that you're adding extra malt extract, instead of sparging it out of the grain. It's still considered "right", and many home brewers stop right there. I did.

All you need to step up from partial mash to all grain, though, is a really large boiling pot, a wort chiller (which can be used in partial mash as well), and a sparging tun (which can, believe it or not, be made from a large rubbermaid cooler.) Here's a cool example I found with five seconds of google: http://www.donosborn.com/homebrew/all_grain_how_to.htm

You know, maybe I will make the upgrade to all-grain.

* - Though, like I said, things build upon themselves- I still use that original kit's bucket in my brewing process. It's handy as a bottling bucket.
Message: Posted by: kcg5 (Feb 23, 2010 11:38AM)
Were I work, there are two guys who work on the lines, neither of them are competent in anyway. Get there, do the smallest amount possible, and leave. Your local bar might be like this..
Message: Posted by: scaevola (Feb 23, 2010 03:09PM)
Homebrewer here: I have been brewing for some years now. I used to think that you need a lot of fancy equipment to get high quality ale but that is not the case. The quality of the ingredients and your diligence are more important than the gear, trust me on this. My hefeweizen and my imperial stout were mashed and sparged in a rubbermaid cooler as EsnRedshirt describes and they are both quite delicious if I do say so myself. I have also had great luck with IPAs, but my favorite to brew are stouts, yum. One of these days I will get around to making a barley wine. If anyone wants to give it a go there is lots of info online but the best book I found is Papazian's Joy of Homebrewing. The key to the whole thing, as he makes clear, is to relax. Brewing is like cooking anything else, you can make it an exact science if you want to, but people have been doing it long before they knew the science behind it so you can fudge things too and have it turn out great.

Of course I have brewed up some major failures as well. I thought I was out of that phase until I tried to do another stout with even MORE grain and it got stuck and didn't carbonate. Now I have 5 gallons of thick black alcoholic syrup. Any takers?
Message: Posted by: EsnRedshirt (Feb 23, 2010 03:16PM)
Scaevola- one word:
Distill.

:drinkup:
Message: Posted by: scaevola (Feb 23, 2010 04:56PM)
Ya know that has gone through my mind. I'd end up with some black whiskey I suppose! I wonder why I have never seen black whiskey in the store... Maybe there's no market or maybe it tastes terrible. Only one way to find out. Who's got a still?
Message: Posted by: gaddy (Feb 23, 2010 05:37PM)
[quote]
On 2010-02-22 20:26, rawdawg wrote:I do not fish Olives out of the garnish dishes like many do. I've seen how many guys DO NOT wash their hands after beating up the toilet.
[/quote]

So many people order "Dirty Martinis" I cannot help but think just how dirty those martinis might actually be...

[url=http://www.youtube.com/user/0generationawesome0#p/c/DAEB476631D11667/8/KI8WcSjZXeQ]The Bartender Hates You![/url]
Message: Posted by: gaddy (Feb 23, 2010 05:44PM)
[quote]
On 2010-02-23 12:38, kcg5 wrote:
Were I work, there are two guys who work on the lines, neither of them are competent in anyway. Get there, do the smallest amount possible, and leave. Your local bar might be like this..
[/quote]

I think that's true in every job. Better the guy who cleans the beer lines than your cardiologist, I suppose...
Message: Posted by: gaddy (Feb 23, 2010 05:51PM)
[quote]
On 2010-02-23 16:09, scaevola wrote:I thought I was out of that phase until I tried to do another stout with even MORE grain and it got stuck and didn't carbonate. Now I have 5 gallons of thick black alcoholic syrup. Any takers?
[/quote]
Sounds like this stuff (which I had the pleasure of tasting for 2 of the 3 years of production :) ) gone bad.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triple_Bock
Message: Posted by: stoneunhinged (Feb 24, 2010 01:20AM)
Speaking of Sam Adams, once I was stuck between canceled flights in Philadelphia and struck up a conversation with a vice president of Sam Adams. That guy knew his beer! (As well he should, I guess.)

He was making me jealous talking about German beers I haven't even had a chance to try. But then again, I don't work for a company who pays me to sample as many German beers as possible.

Nice job if you can get it.

Speaking of bock beers: for about a year I taught at a vocational school in Einbeck, which is about twenty or thirty miles from Goettingen. The school was across the street from the brewery, and on hot summer days the smell was quite cloying.

Anyway, the term "bock" beer comes from that town. The Bavarians couldn't say "beck". It came out "bock". So Einbeck is the home of bock beer. It's a northern thing.

When I first moved here it wasn't always easy to find hefeweizen. Hefeweizen is a Bavarian thing.

Bavaria is like the German version of Texas, BTW. It's like a separate country. Most stereotypes about Germany--snow peaked mountains, lederhosen, liter-sized mugs of beer--are all Bavarian; meanwhile, Europeans often stereotype Americans as cowboys.

And Ken, while everyone is entitled to their dreams, I'd advise you to stay away from Octoberfest. I have, and I have no desire to go.

RANT ABOUT DRUNKENNESS:

Yes, I often post at the Café with a beer in my hand, and yes, I often like to act like I'm under the influence, and no, it's not always an act. But it's a mild, happy buzz that makes me friendly and talkative, and seldom anything more. When it *is* anything more, I'm ashamed of myself the next day, and I should be.

Fall-down, word-slurring, stinky stupid drunk is something I just don't do.

Now, Octoberfest (by all accounts I've ever heard) is like a State Fair with a million fall-down, word-slurring, stinky stupid drunks stumbling around peepeeing on every church and tree and making nuisances of themselves. (Yes, old medieval churches are a very popular place to pee; no, I'm not kidding). And by reputation, American kids are the worst. I've heard stories of American kids standing on tables with a liter in each hand, generally proving to the world that they are barbarians. Of course, I don't mind them being barbarians. I am a barbarian myself. But standing on the table?

A few people die each year at Octoberfest. Some die from alcohol poisoning, but most just die from alcohol related deaths. A ten second Google search gives me numbers for last year:

2009:

5.7 million people visited Octoberfest.

Three died: an Australian who got hit by a train while stumbling back to his campground; an Englishman who fell from his hotel room while pee-peeing out the window; and a German who choked on his own vomit in a bus parking lot.

565 "beer corpses" were counted. What a colorful term. Basically it means someone who is so drunk that they have passed out on the spot and cannot be awakened, so they must be brought to the hospital.

Now, that still leaves 5.7 millon people who had a good time.

But what constitutes a good time?

During my bicycle tours I have managed to come across three or four village tent parties. They set up a beer tent and everybody in the village goes as soon as they can to start the celebration. Some (many) manage to get there by ten or eleven AM, and they drink until one or two in the morning. One corner of the tent always has a bar where you can do shots of things like vodka, rum or Jaegermeister between liters of beer. The music is seldom the Oom-pa-pa traditional music; rather, it is some cheap cover band with keyboards and a front woman who can't really sing. The whole point is to get fall-down, word-slurring, stinky stupid drunk and then go outside and peepee on a tree or a bush or a church or on the curb, because the toilet cost fifty cents and is too full anyway--sometimes with women, because men can just pee pee in the urinal trough but women have to sit down, and the sit-down toilets in the men's side of the pee-pee trailer are usually free.

(This is common throughout Germany, by the way; whenever the women's sit-down toilets are all occupied, women start going into the men's room to see if those sit-down toilets are free. If you go to a big event like a soccer game or a music concert you should expect to see women in the men's room.)

Sound like fun?

I suppose it is for some. But it's not my cup of tee...uh...beer.

Beer in moderation is one of God's more pleasant gifts to mankind. In excess--especially when hundreds or even thousands are doing it together--it is simply revolting.

But that's just my opinion, of course. Your mileage may vary.

RANT OFF
Message: Posted by: Ken Northridge (Feb 24, 2010 04:27AM)
Wow! Point well taken. I would be very disappointed if I came to Oktoberfest and witnessed what you are describing. Thanks for sharing that.
Message: Posted by: scaevola (Feb 24, 2010 05:17PM)
[quote]
On 2010-02-23 18:51, gaddy wrote:
[quote]
On 2010-02-23 16:09, scaevola wrote:I thought I was out of that phase until I tried to do another stout with even MORE grain and it got stuck and didn't carbonate. Now I have 5 gallons of thick black alcoholic syrup. Any takers?
[/quote]
Sounds like this stuff (which I had the pleasure of tasting for 2 of the 3 years of production :) ) gone bad.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triple_Bock
[/quote]

Wow that sounds like a very experimental ale indeed! I didn't know that no carbonation could be a selling point. Hmmmm. Maybe I should tell my friends "it's a feature, not a bug!" :)
Message: Posted by: stoneunhinged (Feb 25, 2010 12:19AM)
What you should do is heat is up, throw in a couple of spoonfuls of Dave's Insanity sauce, and call it soup.

I'd eat it.