There is always something new to learn about beer and how it impacts personal choice and culture. For example, did you know:
What is the difference between a lager and a pilsner?
Actually they are the same sort of beast. Beer is generally classified as a lager (a bottom fermenting brew using cooler temperatures for longer periiods of time) or ale (top fermenting beer usually around room temperature ready in about 10 days). Within the lager family are varieties such a pilsner, a specific type of lager derived from its origins in Plsen, Germany, and also helles, bock, dunkel, marzen, or kolsch, etc. Often these are evaluated against compliance with the Bavarian Purity Laws of 1516.
Ales, by contrast, have the widest range of styles and ingredients and are the leaders in the craft beer revolution. In fact, experimentation is encouraged in this beer family. Stouts are often seen with oatmeal rather than barley, with coffee bean, coconut, or chocolate additives and might be aged in oak barrels rather than stainless steel tanks, or aged in a variety of previously used whiskey barrels. Pale Ales use a variety hops and yeasts, and are often seen infused with flower petals, fruit mash, orange peels and vanilla beans.
Source: Beer and Food Pairings
A Quick Lesson on Malt
“Malt” is made by processing grain. Barley is harvested and the grains are dried for up to a month. The dried grains are then soaked in water for two or three days in conditions that allow them to germinate. The germinating seeds are separated from the water and allowed to sprout and grow for a few days. This process of seed germination turns starches in the original grain into sugar. After a few days, the germination is stopped by placing the sprouts in a kiln where they are baked at high temperature for two days. After baking, the rootlets are removed and the remaining product, which does not look very different from the original grain, is called malt. The granules of malt
have a crunchy, nutty texture and are used in cereals as well as for producing beer.
Malt comes in different styles, depending on how high the kiln temperature and the length of time the barley malt stays in the kiln. Generally, the higher the temperature in the kiln, the darker the color and the stronger the flavor of the beer it is used to produce.
This is the standard malt used to make most beers. The barley is baked in the kiln over a period of two days during which time the temperature is slowly raised. Pale malt is used is light colored ales as well as in golden Pilsners
AMBER AND BROWN MALTS
The barley is heated to a higher temperature than pale malt to give a coppery color to the beer.
Using an exceptionally high temperature in the kiln dries out the barley leaving a hard, crystalline core. This is used to add a fuller, sweeter flavor to the beer.
The barley is steadily heated to 200 degrees centigrade. This deep chocolate malt produces a complex mix of roasted flavors as well as a dark color.
Black malt is chocolate that has been taken almost to the burning point. It has a powerful bitter taste and is used in small amounts in stouts and porters.
– Abraham Lincoln