Are you over 21? Do you enjoy a nice cold one after a long day at work? Ever find yourself feeling parched on a social Saturday night? Is the typical American domestic lager just not doing it for you anymore? Let me tell you a little about one of my favorite hobbies, and introduce you the world of Craft Beer.
What Am I
It can be difficult to fully define the term “Craft Beer”, seeing that it can be very subjective from person to person. In a basic sense the term craft beer is “a beer that is brewed and developed in a traditional way by a small brewery”. Ever thought about dabbling in the craft beer world? Now is the perfect time to get your feet wet!
The Brewers Association
As of the end of 2018, there were more than 7,000 breweries responsible for the different brands of craft beer across the United States. A majority of that number is apart of the Brewers Association. This Association is a non-profit trade group that helps promote and protect small and independent breweries spread across the US.
The Brewers Association launched an official seal in the summer of 2017. This is to help identify independent craft brewers that do not fall under the umbrella of a big beer corporation. The seal will send you a clear message that the beverage you are about to enjoy is a 100% certified independent craft! The Brewers Association currently recognizes over 150 beer styles, which can seem intimidating, but don’t worry! We will be going over and introducing you to a few of the most popular craft beers available. Want an even more expansive list? You can find that here.
Different Styles Of Beer
Similar to all the sub-genres of music available today, there are many for craft beer. My mood, the kind of day I’m having, or the social activity I’m in will normally help me decide to buy the beer to fit the setting. I have many favorites, but right now I’ll give you my personal top 3 styles, with a little bit of info. Before we begin there are a couple key terms to remember when you’re out shopping for beer.
- ABV or Alcohol by Volume
- Alcohol by Volume is a unit of measurement determining the level of alcohol that is contained in any given volume. It is defined by the number of mL of ethanol per 100mL, and is the basic unit of measurement used worldwide. Basically, the higher percentage the stronger the alcohol content. Most beers on average range from 3% to 15% depending on the style
- IBUs or International Bitterness Scale
- What are IBUs? It is the standard unit of measurement that determines the amount of hops in one’s beer. In simpler terms, the higher the number the more bitter the beer. IPA’s tend to have a higher IBU rating while stouts and most light beers will have a lower IBU. Many brewpubs and microbreweries with extensive beer menus will have the IBU rating. Usually, this can be found next to most, if not all of the beers they have available. More often than not it will help you see what kind of beer your about to consume.
Personal Top 3 Beer Styles
My very first choice is an India Pale Ale, or an IPA for short. What is an IPA? It is a hoppy style beer that falls within the pale ale family. Personally for me the more bitter the beer the better, and if our taste is the same an IPA will be the beer for you! Typically, an IPA will have an ABV of 5% – 9% and above. The IBUs on the other hand can vary from 40-120.
My second favorite craft beer is a Stout, which I’m currently enjoying as I type this! A stout is a dark beer with numerous variations under its umbrella. The most common stout out today is Guinness. The ABV in stouts can vary from less than 5% to over 15%, all depending on the style. Some of my favorites are brewed using milk, oats, coffee, and sometimes even chocolate! You don’t have to worry about bitterness with this style. The IBUs tend to stay under 50 or 60.
Last, but certainly not least, my third favorite style is the American Wheat Beer, which is similar to the German Hefeweizen. This style is a good entry level beer, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the craft beer world. This beer gets its name from certain proportions of wheat grain added in the brewing process, hence its name. Taste wise, this is a typically easy drinking beer that’s light in color but not totally clear, depending on the wheat being added. The ABVs are typically low too, ranging from 4 to 7 percent. The IBUs are also typically on the low end, with numbers ranging from 10 – 35.
There is so much more that could be said about the world of craft beer. I could sit here and type for days telling you all about it. If you have ever had the slightest bit of interest, don’t hesitate to drive to your local grocery store or brewpub and see what they have to offer. Who knows, you might even have some breweries in your area you never thought to look up until now! When you find the right beer you that thoroughly enjoy, make sure you have one for me! Please remember to always drink responsibly. Cheers!