Beer, beer, and more beer. With the explosion of breweries opening in America right now it’s a surprise we aren’t floating down the streets in boats buoyed by the beverage. Beer’s wonderful. It’s flavorful, social, herstorical, elegant, and simple. And…we need to zoom out.
Beer is one of the beverages many people around the globe choose after work, for a meal, in a recipe and to share. Wine’s another. Spirits offer another choice. Then there’s a veritably infinite variety of juices, ciders, meads, milks, waters (a confusing category to me at a minimum) and energy drinks (which scare the crap out of me). One look at an industry magazine will boggle the mind and fill the gut.
So how do you choose your beverages? When do you select which drink and why? There are so many facets to our selections, so many considerations that if you think about it a lot – and I do professionally – it can fairly overwhelm you. So let’s zoom back out and take a sip.
Four main ingredients are in beer: water, grain, hops and yeast. Within that list and then well beyond, beer can be whatever one wants it to be. Beer’s been made almost as long as humanity has. Fermenting and boiling, using readily available ingredients of an endless variety, consumed by children, women and men. The boiling stage of beer renders previously unsafe water safe to drink, so reserve judgment of kids drinking unless you can identify with that context.
Most likely a bit younger than beer and a single ingredient product. Some may argue that different grapes equal a multi ingredient product. Go for it if you prefer that. Basically though wine is a single plant proposition. And deliciously so with wines of grape and other fruit origins the world over.
Spirits. In some ways a wholly different beverage category. Spirits (vs. the terms booze or liquor) encompasses an enormous array of flavors in a distillation-focused process. From scotch neat to a 10 ingredient cocktail, spirits are fun, playful and potent. Again, as beer and wine, people have been distilling for eons. We’re the lucky ones in modern times to enjoy an unparalleled variety to sample.
Mead. Thank the bees for mead. Mead is another single product beverage reliant on our fine buzzing friends who’ve been experienced catastrophic changes in recent years. Do what you can to support and not kill bees. Call a bee specialist (like Sarah) with questions before extermination. They’re trying to simply go about their work and we must respect the enormity of positive impact bees afford planet life.
Cider. Cider is apple. Perry is pear. Neither is classified as “Juice” – that’s the unfermented stuff. Similar though different, these two beverages offer an assortment of flavors that previously were either in decline or unknown. The cider revolution and Perry makers of the world are putting forth a massive effort to resurrect these drinks and educate about the wonders of orchards and the deliciousness they can give us. Here’s a radio interview with Jennie of WA based Tieton Ciders.
Everything else. To list all the beverages of the world would be a fool’s errand. I’d rather invest my time learning, tasting, sharing, and researching.
To you I say taste, sample, try, ask, inquire, investigate, visit and sip. Moderation is our friend, and our brains should be more engaged. Support your local brewer, vintner, cider maker, and meadery. Find out who’s in your neighborhood and see what you can do to support them.
Till the next glass ~
Go Here: Search online for “Cider Festivals 2014” to locate a new experience just awaiting your arrival. Pack a lunch pack some friends, and have at it!
Try This: Enjoy samples and small tastes of various beverages side by side. I conduct Beer & Wine tastings with regularity and the comparisons are fun, enlightening and delicious.