Beer ( Discussing various aspects of that fine beverage referred to as beer. Including interesting beers and beer styles, opinions on tastes and ingredients, reviews of brewpubs and breweries & suggestions about where to shop.

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Old 28-01-2006, 05:28 AM posted to,rec.answers,news.answers
John Lock
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Default FAQ [1/3] (revised 16-MAY-1997)

Archive-name: beer-faq/part1
Posting-Frequency: bi-weekly
Copyright: (c) 1994-1997 John A. Lock
Maintainer: John A. Lock

This is the general FAQ for

It condenses a vast repository of beer knowledge represented by the
subscribers to r.f.d.b. I depend on the participants of this group to
provide the feedback I need to make this a living document. Please e-mail
comments, additions, corrections, etc. to John Lock .
If your browser supports forms, you can use the feedback form.

The Charter for is posted to the newsgroup twice every
month and available on the Web at
URL: or from the

Cheers, Prost, Salud, Skaal, Slainte, Stineeyammous, Gan Bei, etc!

John A. Lock

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* Via anonymous ftp to in /pub/clubs/homebrew/beer/rfdb
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* Via e-mail by sending the following message lines to

chdir /pub/clubs/homebrew/beer/rfdb
get rfd-beer.faq

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Copyright (C) 1994-97 by John A. Lock. All rights reserved. This document
may be freely distributed in its entirety provided this copyright notice
is not removed. It may not be sold for profit nor incorporated in
commmercial products without the author's written permission.


This FAQ is divided into sections which loosely encompass the variety of
Frequently Asked Questions that appear concerning beer. These are preceded
by a quick index section to aid in finding answers to specific questions.

The Quick Index section
A listing of the most frequently asked questions.

Section 1 - Definitions of common terms regarding beer itself
Some popular items are beer definition, styles, and marketing

Section 2 - Definitions of common terms for the brewing industry
Topics such as alcohol strength, Reinheitsgebot, and CAMRA...

Section 3 - Beer handling and sensory issues
Typical answers cover proper storage, serving temperatures, tasting
methods, off flavors...

Section 4 - Miscellaneous topics
Includes homebrewing and specific brand issues...

Section 5 - Beer resources
Where to find good beer, the r.f.d.b. archives, and pointers to other
Net resources...

Section 6 - Acknowledgements

Section 7 - Maintenance History


You can search for information in a number of different ways:

First, read the whole thing. You may find this entertaining, but it's
certainly not the fastest way to get an answer to a question.

Second, you can use the "Search" or "Find" function of your newsreader,
browser, or editor to locate a specific topic. This can be very useful
since the questions cover fairly broad topics and your specific answer may
be buried inside a broader response. For example, if you wanted to know
about serving temperatures, you wouldn't find that topic specifically
addressed in the questions. However, upon searching for "temp" you would
find several such references.

Third, there is the quick index to the questions which you can use to jump
directly to a specific question/answer, again, using your search function
to find the text. See the Quick Index for an example.

And last, if your viewing the HTML version on The Web, you'll find useful
pointers imbedded throughout the document. Just follow your nose
(figuratively speaking :^)!

************************************************** ********************
************************************************** ********************

This is a list of Frequently Asked Questions appearing in r.f.d.b. Each
question is keyed using a simple code. The answer to question Y in FAQ
Section X is labeled X-Y and so on. To find an answer to any question
quickly, use your "search" or "find" function to find X-Y.

For example:
To find the answer to question 2-7 "What is CAMRA?", search for 2-7
and you
will be positioned at the answer. To return to this index, search
for 0-0.

If you're viewing the HTML version of this document on The Web, just
follow the links from question to answer and back.

0-0. Top of List

FAQ Section 1 - Definitions of common terms regarding beer itself
1-1. What is beer?
1-2. What are ales?
1-3. What are lagers?
1-4. How are they different?
1-5. What are lambics?
1-6. What is "bock" beer?
1-7. What is "porter"?
1-8. What are "dry" beers?
1-9. What are "ice" beers?
1-10. What are "cold-filtered", and "heat pasteurized" beers?
1-11. What is "draught" (draft) beer?
1-12. How is specific gravity related to beer?
1-13. What does "Dubbel" mean on a beer label?

FAQ Section 2 - Definitions of common terms in the brewing industry
2-1. How is alcohol strength measured?
2-2. Why is beer stronger in Canada than the U.S.?
2-3. How are "ale", "malt liquor", and "barleywine" related to
2-4. What is the Reinheitsgebot?
2-5. What about the new "Draught-flow" (tm) system (AKA the "widget"
or "smoothifier")?
2-6. What is "Real Ale"?
2-7. What is CAMRA?
2-8. What are the categories of brewers/breweries?
2-9. What is a brewpub?

FAQ Section 3 - Beer handling and sensory issues
3-1. How do I judge a beer?
3-2. What is good/bad/skunked/spoiled beer?
3-3. How should I store beer?
3-4. How long does beer keep?
3-5. Is beer considered a vegetarian/kosher/organic product?

FAQ Section 4 - Miscellaneous topics
4-1. What is Zima and/or clear beer?
4-2. What do the different Chimay packages/colors mean?
4-3. What does the "33" mean on the bottles of Rolling Rock?
4-4. Does Coors support Nazi organizations?
4-5. Can I make my own it legal?
4-6. How do I make it?
4-7. WIMLIACLDAB? BTABFCTW!.....What was that?
4-8. Is Guinness good for you?
4-9. Where are Sam Adams beers made?
4-10. Why does American beer suck?

FAQ Section 5 - Beer resources
5-1. Where can I get more beer info and tasting tips?
5-2. Where can I get good beer?
5-3. I'm going to "some city", what brewpubs/bars are good?
5-4. Can I get beer in the mail?
5-5. Where can I get details on making my own?
5-6. Where can I get recipes?
5-7. What is r.f.d.b. about?
5-8. Where are the archives?
5-9. What is in the archives?
5-10. I don't have ftp, can you e-mail files to me?

FAQ Section 6 - Acknowledgements

FAQ Section 7 - Maintenance History




Subject: 1-1. What is beer?

Beer is an alcoholic beverage made from malted grains, hops, yeast,
and water. The grain is usually barley or wheat, but sometimes corn
and rice are used as well. Fruit, herbs, and spices may also be used
for special styles. In the distant past, the terms "beer" and "ale"
meant different things. "Ale" was originally made without using hops,
while "beer" did use hops. Since virtually all commercial products
now use hops, the term "beer" now encompasses two broad categories:
ales and lagers.


Subject: 1-2. What are ales?

Ales are brewed with "top-fermenting" yeasts at close to room
temperatures, 50-70F (10-21C). Ales encompass the broadest range of
beer styles including bitters, pale ales, porters, stouts, barley
wines, trappist, lambic, and alt. The British Isles are famous for
their ales and it is a popular style with homebrewers and


Subject: 1-3. What are lagers?

Lagers are brewed with "bottom-fermenting" yeasts at much colder
temperatures, 35-50F (2-10C) over long periods of time (months). This
is called "lagering". Lagers include bocks, doppelbocks, Munich- and
Vienna-style, Maerzen/Oktoberfest, and the famous pilsners. Pilsner
beer originated in the town of Pilsen, now in the Czech Republic and
was the first non-cloudy beer. Most popular beers produced by the
large North American breweries were originally of the pilsner style.
These have diverged a great deal from the original style and succeed
now by the force of the mass-marketing prowess of the brewers rather
than any remarkable qualities of the beers themselves.


Subject: 1-4. How are they different?

The differences tend to be based on tradition more than anything
inherent to either style. The major traditional differences are a
result of the varying lengths of fermentation and temperature used
for the two beer types. They can also vary in style and degree of
hopping and in the types of malt used, but these differences are very
arbitrary and exceptions abound.

Ales generally undergo short, warm fermentations and are intended to
be consumed soon after completion. The result of relatively warm
fermentation is that a lot of by-products of yeast metabolism besides
alcohol and CO2 get left in the beer. These usually manifest
themselves as "fruity" or "buttery" flavors which vary in degree and
flavor with the strain of yeast used and the temperature and duration
of fermentation. Accordingly, ales exhibit their most complex flavors
when served at warm temperatures, around 50-60F (10-15C).

The trick with lager yeast is that they can survive, metabolize, and
reproduce at lower temperatures. Lager yeast can assimilate compounds
which ale yeast cannot, fewer by-products are made, and the stuff
that does get made drops out during lagering. The result is a very
clean, sparkling beer. Lagers are best served at slightly cooler
temperatures than ales, 40-50F (5-10C).

Of course there are notable exceptions:

California Common
The best known example is "Steam Beer" which is a trademark of
the Anchor Brewing Co. It employs lager yeast fermented at ale
temperatures which gives it some fruitiness usually associated
with ales.

Koelsch and Alt
Ales that undergo a cold secondary fermentation and storage
period resulting in only a hint of ale-like fruityness. Koelsch
is usually associated with the city of Cologne, Germany while
Alt is indigenous to Duesseldorf.

Cream Ale
Alternately, an ale fermented at lager temps or vice-versa. It
has also been made by blending a conventional ale with a
conventional lager after fermentation. Most examples are only
slightly more interesting than mega-brews; a touch more body, a
touch more fermentation flavor.


Subject: 1-5. What are lambics?

Lambics are a type of ale brewed in parts of Belgium by exposing hot
wort (unfermented beer) to the outside air. Indigenous, wild yeasts
and other microorganisms settle on the exposed surface of the wort as
it cools and begin spontaneous fermentation. They are often sweetened
with fruit flavorings and generally prized the world over.


Subject: 1-6. What is "bock" beer?

Bock is a style of lager beer which originated in Germany. It was
traditionally brewed in the fall, at the end of the growing season,
when barley and hops were at their peak. It was "lagered" all winter
and enjoyed in the spring at the beginning of the new brewing season.
Bocks can be pale (helles) or dark (dunkles) and there are
double(doppel) bocks which are extra strong.

Bocks are usually strong beers made with lots of malt yielding a very
full-bodied, alcoholic beer. A persistent myth has been that bock
beers are made from the dregs at the bottom of a barrel when they are
cleaned in the spring. This probably seemed logical because of the
heavier body and higher strength of bocks. From a brewing standpoint,
this is clearly impossible for two reasons: 1) The "dregs" left after
fermentation are unfermentable, which is exactly why they are left
over. They cannot be fermented again to make more beer. 2) Any
attempt to re-use the "dregs" would probably result in serious
bacterial contamination and a product which does not resemble beer as
we know it.


Subject: 1-7. What is "porter"?

From: The Guinness Drinking Companion by Leslie Dunkling (1992)
Guinness Publishing; ISBN 0-85112-988-9 "In the London Ale-Houses and
taverns of the early 18th Century it was common to call for a pint of
"Three threads", meaning a third of a pint each of ale, beer, and
twopenny (the strongest beer, costing twopence a quart). A brewer
called Harwood had the idea of brewing a beer that united the
flavours of all three. He called this beer "Entire". This was about

Harwood's Entire was highly hopped, strong, and dark. It was brewed
with soft rather than hard water. Within a few years Entire was also
being referred to as "Porter" (short for porter's ale) because the
porters of the London street markets were especially fond of it.
Porter that was extra strong was known as "Stout Porter", and
eventually "Stout"."


Subject: 1-8. What are "dry" beers?


"Dry" beer was developed in Japan. Using more adjuncts (like corn and
rice) and genetically altered yeasts, these beers ferment more
completely and have less residual sweetness, and hence less


Subject: 1-9. What are "ice" beers?

The making of "ice" beers, in general, involves lowering the
temperature of the finished product until the water in it begins to
freeze and then filtering out the ice crystals that form. Since water
will freeze before alcohol, the result is higher alcohol content. The
ice forms around yeast cells, protein particles, etc. so these get
removed as well; leaving fewer components to provide taste and

This process is not new to brewing, having been developed in Germany
to produce "eisbocks". Apparently they were produced by accident
during the traditional spring celebration with bock beers. Spring,
being the capricious season that it is, probably sent a late cold
snap around one year causing some of the spring bocks to partially
freeze. People drank it anyway and liked the change in flavor.

In its current incarnation, the process is an offshoot of the
concentrated fruit juice industry. It was developed by orange growers
to reduce the costs of storage and shipping by concentrating the
fruit juice through freezing and removal of some water. Labatt
Breweries claims to have pioneered this process for brewing and most
of the large North American brewers quickly followed suit in the
usual marketing frenzy.

The main difference between these "ice" beers and true eisbocks is
taste and character. Any beer brewed using this method will only be
as good as the brew with which you start. In other words, if you
start with a bland, flavor-impaired, adjunct-laden beer and remove
some of the water, you end up with a bland, flavor-impaired,
adjunct-laden beer with more alcohol. OTOH, if you take a rich,
malty, traditionally brewed bock and remove some of the water, you
end up with an eisbock.


Subject: 1-10. What are "cold-filtered", and "heat pasteurized" beers?

Cold-filtering is a way of clarifying beer with a shortened lagering
time. Beer (lager particularly) becomes clearer with extended storage
which allows proteins and other particles to coagulate and settle out
of suspension. The beer can then be drawn off and bottled. One way to
reduce the time required is to chill the beer causing these molecules
to "clump" and be easily filtered out. The up-side is that the time
from brewing to finished product is shortened, thereby boosting
productivity. The down-side is that cold-filtering also removes many
components which contribute flavor and body to beer.

Heat Pasteurized is a redundant phrase since pasteurization means
heating to kill microbes.

Some beers are bottle or cask conditioned, meaning that live yeast
are still in the beer in its container. Most mainstream beers are
either filtered, to remove all yeast and bacteria, or pasteurized to
kill all yeast and bacteria. This makes for a more stable product
with a longer shelf-life.

Pasteurization is more expensive and tends to alter the flavor.
Filtration is cheaper, leaves a clearer beer, and has less effect on

The "ice" beer process (see above) enhances filtration schemes
because more stuff can be filtered out more quickly using less
filtration material which shows up directly on the old bottom line.


Subject: 1-11. What is "draught" (draft) beer?

Technically speaking, draught beer is beer served from the cask in
which it has been conditioned. It has been applied, loosely, to any
beer served from a large container. More recently, it has been used
as a promotional term for canned or bottled beer to try to convince
us that the beer inside tastes like it came from a cask. See also
"Real Ale".


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Old 09-05-2011, 02:14 AM
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Ha noi
Posts: 14

Good article!!! Thank you for your sharing this.

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