Here an expert in modern beer delivery systems answers some classically asked questions within the domain of beer production, delivery and consumption.
What is ale and how does it differ from beer?
Ale is a form of beer. Beer is a collective term used to describe a range of beverages that contain alcohol and which are produced via brewing.
Ale is one of the oldest or perhaps THE oldest form of beer. Its origins go back many thousands of years.
Today, people tend to use the term a little loosely but in general parlance it normally indicates a beer that has been produced using traditional yeast methodologies and which is often stored in traditional kegs.
Although there is not necessarily any agreement on this, Ales are often served at room temperature and they have a thicker and more fruity taste than might be the case with other forms of modern beer.
Why can I drink more beer than wine without getting drunk?
The ability of alcoholic liquid to induce what might be termed a “drunken state” is linked to the alcohol it contains by volume – though your own body’s metabolism also plays a part.
A typical good quality beer might have an alcohol content of between 5-7%. By contrast, a classic red wine might have an alcohol content of between 12-14%.
As a result, in terms of consumption by volume of liquid, it is typically possible to feel the effects of drinking wine faster than would be the case if you were drinking beer.
Please note though that getting drunk is harmful for your health and you should follow modern health guidance in terms of safe alcohol consumption levels.
Why does my beer sometimes taste “flat” depending upon what pub I visit?
It’s impossible to say without looking at specific circumstances but making an intelligent guess, is likely to be one or more of:
- The beers that you are comparing are not the same. Some may have either a naturally or induced greater tendency to be “bubbly” than others;
- One of the pubs you are mentioning obviously has an inadequate beer delivery system which is not delivering the product to best quality standards;
- The beer you’re being served is past its best – that should hopefully be rare these days.
Does beer go better with some types of food than others?
That is an age-old and sometimes very fiercely debated question!
Very broadly speaking, some gourmands argue that beer is ideal with rustic food of a type that might have been served in pubs at lunchtime to agricultural or industrial workers. This is the sandwich-and-pint or pie-and-pint of the old days.
It’s also generally agreed that beer goes fantastically well with spicy foods of the type you might get in a typical Indian, Chinese, Thai or Vietnamese restaurant etc.
Following on from that, the same folk might tell you that wine is a better accompaniment to finer dining of a type that might be associated with French “haute cuisine” tradition.
However, such views are now considered to be outdated. If you feel like a beer with the food you are eating – go for it! Don’t be constrained by what someone in a book might have said.
What is IPA beer?
IPA actually stands for India Pale Ale.
It was originally a British invention at the time that they were going out en-masse to India in the early to mid-18th century.
In those days before the Suez Canal, ships carrying beer for the British troops, merchants and civil servants in India had to make the long trip around Africa.
As a result of the heat and lack of refrigeration, huge amounts of beer arrived in India ruined and undrinkable. That no doubt led to serious problems with the recipients who were waiting for it eagerly!
One brewer realised that by increasing the amount of hops used and increasing the beer’s strength a little (though not as much as some myth has it) he could also increase the natural anti-microbial content of the product. That was in part because hops are a great source of anti-microbial agents.
This was apparently very successful and IPA was born and very quickly became famous.
It continues to be made today in different countries around the world though many beer connoisseurs regard it as an acquired taste due to its more bitter and “hoppier” tones.