A Newbie’s Guide to Craft Beer

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Topics: Dining

Debbie Miller Last Updated: December 19, 2016

Craft beer is all the rage these days. Unless you live on the moon, you’ve probably at least heard the term.

But if you’re a true newbie, you may need a definition of what craft beer is.

In the simplest terms it is a beer made in a small brewery in a traditional or non-mechanized way.

According to the Brewer’s Association, a small brewery is one that doesn’t distribute more than six million barrels of beer a year.

A “traditional or non-mechanized way” means that the majority of the beer that is put out by the brewery has flavors that come from the fermentation of traditional or novel brewing ingredients.

“Regular” Beer generally has four main ingredients:

  • Grain, mainly malted barley
  • Hops, different kinds
  • Yeast, for fermentation
  • Water, about 95% of beer’s content

What’s the difference between beer and craft beer?

There are actually quite a few differences in how it’s made, how it’s consumed, and how it tastes.

Let’s take a look at some of the main contrasts:

  • Beer is made by large corporations. Craft beer is made by actual brewers.
  • Beer has a distinctive flavor that doesn’t really vary that much. Craft beer can have many, many different flavors.
  • Beer is usually served ice cold and consumed in large amounts. Craft beer is treated more like a gourmet meal. It’s poured into a glass and left to warm to just the right temperature. The color and clarity are carefully scrutinized and only then is the drink savored.
  • Beer is usually all the same straw color with minimal variances. Craft beer can run the gamut of colors from golden to very dark and varying shades in between.

The flavor factor

Flavor is subjective. The taste that you love may make others turn up their nose.

With all the “craft” that goes into craft beer, it’s no wonder that taste and flavor are paramount when assessing a brew.

To craft beer enthusiasts “tasting” goes well beyond taking a drink. It’s an experience.

Here are four characteristics that play into the flavor of a craft beer:

  • Smell is an integral component of detecting flavor.
  • Taste cells make up taste buds. Taste buds can detect five distinct tastes: sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and umami.
  • Touch in terms of taste refers to the texture and temperature.
  • Experience is a little more abstract, but still plays into the overall perception. It refers to your surroundings, memories, and even the input of others.

The explosion in popularity of craft beer in recent years has given rise to tasting clubs and beer-of-the-month clubs.

There has also been a significant increase the sale of homebrew kits and the internet is full of videos instructing amateurs how to brew their own beer.

The benefits

Craft beer enthusiasts swear by the advantages they claim come from their holy grail of beverages.

Here are some of the pluses they espouse:

  • This one will come as no surprise: It tastes better.
  • Health benefits in the form of soluble fiber and antioxidants.
  • Wide range of choices. There are literally thousands of flavors.
  • Consume fewer calories. The idea is that you will drink fewer craft beers than you would “regular” beers, therefore taking in less calories.
  • Save money. Much like the calorie situation, fewer beers means fewer bucks spent.
  • Actually meet the people making your brew. Because of the nature of brewers who make craft beer, you can often visit and see the process as it happens.

If you’re interested in learning more about craft beer or sampling some, consider booking your spot at one of HideAway Country Inn’s craft beer dinners. Or stop in sometime to our 1938 Restaurant & Pub and try a few of our craft beers in our unique pub space.

Call us today to find out all we have to offer for our craft beer lovers!

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