The Difference Between Ales and Lagers

The first step in learning about beer is to understand the difference between ales and lagers. Ales and lagers are the two main classifications of the beer family. Ales are considered traditional brews, that are generally more robust as they are rarely filtered while Lagers are usually heavily filtered with much cleaner presentations due to the cold lagering period. The difference has nothing to do with the alcohol content or the color. It all begins with the brewing process.

Yeast

Ales are made with top-fermented yeast. The yeast doesn’t ferment at the top of the tank. It typically rises to the top near the end of fermentation. Ale yeast often produces esters that can impact the flavor of the beer.

Lagering is the process of cold storage, which is widely believed to be how lager yeast came to be and become so prevalent. Lagers slowly came around in the 15th century and became famous in the German and Northern continental regions, before spreading across the world. Lagers are made with bottom-fermented yeast, which is due to the yeast collecting at the bottom of the tank to ferment, they can be reused.

There are some exceptions to the rules as some brewers do use bottom-fermented yeast to make Ales.

Fermentation Temperature

Ales are fermented warm while lagers are fermented cold. Most ales ferment at the 60-75° range with some strains of yeast requiring temperatures as high as 95-100°.  Due to these temperatures, ale yeast tends to ferment faster than lagers. Lagers ferment at temperatures between 46-59°.

Due to the variety of yeast used in beers, these temperatures may vary slightly. Even more so if hybrid strains of yeast are used.

Flavor

Ales are generally more robust, fruity, aromatic, complex in taste and aroma. This is due to ales having a higher amount of hops and malt. Lagers are light-tasting, generally higher in carbonation, smooth, mellow and balanced.

Ultimately, there are great ales and lagers. One style is not better than the other. It’s a matter of personal preference. If you’re interested in trying a pale ale and lager, we recommend Grey Sail Captain’s Daughter, Revival Night Swim’ah and Wormtown’s Be Hoppy!

Common Myths About Beer

There are several common misconceptions about beer, but you shouldn’t believe everything you hear. There’s no doubt you’ve heard about these myths, so let us shine some light on the truth.

Myth: Beer is Best Served Ice Cold

We’ve all seen the commercials advertising drinking beer ice cold or serving the beverage in a frosted mug, but this causes beer to lose its aromatics. Beer served at near frozen temperatures blinds the taste experience because your tastebuds will be more shocked by the frigid temperature of the liquid. Beer is typically dispensed between 38°- 42°. Some more flavorful beers may be served at warmer temperatures to ensure maximum flavor.  

Myth: Drinking Too Much Beer Results in a Beer Belly

We aren’t sure where this saying came from, but it is false. You’re more likely to get a large belly due to consuming unhealthy food and a lack of exercise. Yes, beer has calories, but not as much as a triple cheeseburger, fries, and a milkshake. Enjoying a beer now and again won’t give you a beer belly. Moderation is key.

Myth: Beer Kills Brain Cells

When a person consumes too many beers, they experience slurred speech, lack of physical balance, forgetfulness, and other symptoms. So, what’s going on? High levels of alcohol can interrupt the signals being sent to your brain, but it doesn’t kill your brain cells. According to the American Journal of Epidemiology, participants did not experience a decrease in brain cells or cognitive behavior. Nonetheless, it is not proposed that these findings be used to encourage increased alcohol consumption.

Myth: Canned Beer Tastes Cheap

Don’t judge a beer by its can. Canned beer doesn’t indicate the quality of a beer. This idea may stem from a personal preference similar to people assuming a wine bottle with a screwed top is automatically a lower quality than one with a cork.

The best way to preserve beer is to prevent oxygen and light from penetrating the beer. The most effective way to do that is to store it in a can. Oxygen can seep into the tops of beer bottles and dark glass bottles may not always block light. If you don’t want to drink beer from a can, pour it into a glass.

Myth: Dark Beers Have More Alcohol Than Light Beers

Many people think the darker the beer, the more bitter or stronger it will be. Guinness is automatically assumed to have a higher alcohol content due to its color, but it only has 4.2 percent compared to Bud Light Platinum’s six percent.

Regardless of your preference for bottled, canned, light, or dark, enjoy your beverage at the correct temperature and drink in moderation this holiday season.

5 Fun Facts About Beer

With the holidays coming up, we’re quite sure you’ll have a drink or two. If you need something to talk about, drink up these fun facts about beer and sound smarter while you’re waiting for dinner to be served!

7.5 million liters of beer were served at Oktoberfest 2017

Oktoberfest is one of the most popular celebrations for beer consumers. This years event was another success with approximately 6.2 million visitors and 7.5 million liters of beer consumed. That number is up from 7.3 million liters at Oktoberfest 2015.

Doctors prescribed “medical beer”

During prohibition, brewers, physicians, and imbibers attempted to persuade U.S. Congress that beer was vital medicine. In March 1921, Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer declared “doctors to prescribe beer at any time, under any circumstances and in any amount they saw fit.” Doctors prescribed “medical beer” from March 1921 to November 1921 until Congress banned it.

New Hampshire consumes the most beer

You would think Nevada would have been number one, but New Hampshire takes the top spot in beer consumption with 41.7 gallons annually per capita. Montana was second with 39.1 gallons of beer and South Dakota rounded out the top three with 38.6 gallons of beer.

Fried beer won Most Creative Food at the 2010 Texas State Fair

State fairs have become synonymous with unique fried treats. At the 2010 Texas State Fair, deep-fried beer-filled pretzel pockets were entered into the Big Tex Choice Awards and won for Most Creative Food.

Mars has a crater named Beer

Beer is a crater located in the Margaritifer Sinus region of the planet Mars named after the German astronomer Wilhelm Beer. The next time you’re drinking beer under the stars, raise your glass and say, “Cheers to Beer.”

How Americans Celebrate Oktoberfest

Oktoberfest dates back to what was essentially a massive wedding reception. In 1810, Prince Ludwig of the German state of Bavaria invited the entire population of Munich to rejoice in his marriage to Princess Therese. The focus of the day was a horse race, and, by all accounts, the 40,000 individuals in attendance also drank large amounts of beer. The revelers committed to do it again the next year, and a tradition was made. It was more than a century later that communities in the US caught on, but now the festivities grow more inventive every year. Here are five US Oktoberfest events worth checking out.

Oktoberfest-Zinzinnati, Cincinnati:
This undisputed king of American Oktoberfests was originally held in 1976. Now, it draws half a million individuals annually and has the odd distinction of threatening two of its own world records every year: the largest chicken dance ever and the largest kazoo band. The dance is often led by real-life rock stars. One drawback is that while the German version runs for more than 2 weeks, Cincinnati packs it into 2 days. The party is in the historic Fountain Square district in downtown Cincinnati. Aside from ample beer tents, the fest includes live German music on 7 stages and more than 30 food vendors.

Oktoberfest, La Crosse, Wisconsin
Wisconsinites are no strangers to German influence. The state is among those with the highest proportion of German Americans in the US. The Oktoberfest lineage in La Crosse, WI, dates back to 1961, and while it’s grown, the fest has preserved a laid-back vibe. The fest kicks off with the Festmaster Ball, in which the final member of the Oktoberfest Royal Family is announced. Other events include multiple parades, a craft beer night, heritage night (celebrating La Crosse’s Teutonic roots), a photo contest (no theme) and the Miss La Crosse/Oktoberfest beauty pageant.

Oktoberfest by the Bay, San Francisco
You may not have guessed it, but the Bay Area of California is home to 17 German clubs, all of which are represented at Oktoberfest by the Bay. Headlining the packed oompah music bill, is the 21-piece Chico Bavarian Band, a Blaskapelle (traditional Bavarian brass band). Another draw: fall weather in San Francisco is typically sublime, with sunny days in the 70s and pleasantly cool nights.

Hofbräuhaus, Las Vegas
Hofbräuhaus in Las Vegas kicked off Oktoberfest Sept. 17, and drives the party clear through to Halloween. The Vegas Hofbräuhaus is a reproduction of the world-famous Munich beer hall and to live up to that standard, starts every Oktoberfest weekend with a celebrity keg tapping. Siegfried & Roy are among the many stars who have done the honors in the past. Vintage Bavarian dress, music and high spirits are dominant throughout. Other properties hosting “fest events” include the Golden Nugget, Gordon Biersch Brewery and O’Sheas Casino because, you know, Ireland and Germany are both in Europe.

Oktoberfest, Mt. Angel, OR
This little community located 40 miles south of Portland, OR, with architecture, farmland and countryside starkly reminiscent of Bavaria, was settled by German pioneers in the 1800s. The town’s Oktoberfest, which started in 1966 as a harvest festival, is now the biggest festival in the Northwest, attracting more than 350,000 people for 4 days of live music, free “Kindergarten” rides and shows, street dancing, arts and crafts, traditional biergarten (and weingarten) and more than 50 food chalets.

Be sure to check in your local area as more Oktoberfest celebrations come about every year! Go forth and wear lederhosen, dance oompah, eat bratwurst and, yes, down a few beers. But keep it reasonable: There’s no Novemberfest, so if you forget all the fun you had you’ll have to wait an entire year to relive it.

The History of Oktoberfest

Oktoberfest has been around for over two hundred years! Over time, it has changed in many ways from the first event in 1810 and the complete focus of the festival has shifted during these last few centuries. Read below if you are curious to know how it all started!

The First Oktoberfest

The first Oktoberfest began in Munich on October 12, 1810 in celebration of the royal wedding between Crown Prince Ludwig (later King Ludwig I) and Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen. The celebrations were held on the fields outside of the city’s gates and lasted for five days. On the last day, horse battles were held to conclude the occasion. While there was food, beer and wine, this first Oktoberfest was only vaguely similar to the Oktoberfest we now celebrate. Today, this festival is synonymous with “beer fest,” but back in 1811 it was the horse battles that compelled the government to make it an annual event.

How Oktoberfest Progressed

Every festival needs activities. The horse races covered only one day of the event, so other attractions were included over time. In 1811, Oktoberfest got its own agricultural show that still runs today. Other attractions included bowling, swings, parades, tree climbing and carnival rides that gained popularity around the 1820s. Small beer stands gradually grew and by the late 1800s turned into beer tents selling beer from well-known breweries. Fascinatingly, horse races got the whole Oktoberfest phenomenon burned out and were no longer apart of the festival.  

While the first Oktoberfest took place in October, the dates were eventually moved back to appreciate longer and hotter September days. A modern Oktoberfest (or Die Wies’n as locals call it) is typically a sixteen-day event that runs from late September through the first weekend in October.

Oktoberfest Now

From what was originally a party for the citizens of Munich, Oktoberfest expanded to host all of Bavaria, and has now become an international event. It is still held in the same location as its origin in 1810, only now it is much closer to the center of Munich.

Germany and Bavaria are well-known for their world-renowned breweries and by the late 1800s beer became a huge part of the Oktoberfest celebration. Over one million gallons of beer are consumed each year at Oktoberfest. Many Oktoberfest traditions still include, or revolve around, beer. Each festival still begins with the tapping of the first keg by the Mayor of Munich.

Beers served in the tents at Oktoberfest always come from the six Munich breweries: Löwenbräu, Paulaner, Hacker-Pschorr, Hofbräu, Augustiner and Spaten. These breweries prepare a special Oktoberfest brew that is slightly sweeter and higher in alcohol content than their normal beer. This causes some inexperienced attendees to miscalculate their drinking capacity and turn into what Germans kindly call “beer corpses” (Bierleichen).

Oktoberfest Beer

The Oktoberfest Beer has also changed over time. Dunkel was the first beer served, then Marzan, and now Festbier. It may surprise many people, especially here in United States, that what we overwhelmingly consider the style of Oktoberfest, Marzan, is not what is served at Oktoberfest. This is actually a common misconception because Marzan was known as the original beer served at Oktoberfest.

Festbier, sometimes called Wiesn, Festbiere or Oktoberfestbier, a name that can only be used by Breweries in Munich, have taken the place of Marzan in the beer tents dotting the Theresienwiese (Therese’s meadow) in Munich during the Oktoberfest celebration. It is a relatively young, and mostly unknown, style here in the United States.

Oktoberfest Around the Universe

Even though it was originally a German festival, Oktoberfest has exploded in popularity and become part of many different countries annual traditions. It’s not only chosen by the Germans who live abroad or people with German roots but folks of all nationalities and ages are embracing the Oktoberfest tradition and the opportunity to immerse themselves in German culture. In the U.S., Oktoberfest events are held on many levels from private family parties to county and statewide festivals.

What Are Hops?

There are four simple ingredients that are vital to beer: malted barley, yeast, water, and hops. The first three ingredients listed are vital to creating alcohol. Hops are required for beer but not for malt alcohol/liquors. Throughout brewing history, brewers have looked for ways to bitter/flavor their sweet beers. Usually, using plants, roots, herbs, or a combination known as later known as Gruit.

Hop plants are rising vines (more accurately, bines: vines without tendrils). The plant part used in brewing beer is the hop flower; a gentle, pale green, papery cone, full of unpreserved resins. They give a beer tartness when used early in the brewing process, and its aroma when added at the end. As a bonus, hops preserve and prolong the life of beer.

In the hands of American microbrewers, hops have shifted from their position as the supportive actor in the beer ensemble, to the featuring role.

West Coast microbrewers paved the way for creating beers where the character of hops (tart, piney, grassy, floral, or fruity) took center stage. Beer admirers took satisfaction in looking for the brews with higher and higher international bittering units (IBUs); the measure of the concentration of hop compounds in beer.

High-hopped beers are not for everyone. For the hop seekers out there, there is a spectacular array of hop varieties with new ones being developed all the time!

Today, American brewers have increased the hopping levels of their IPAs to such an extent that a new beer style has emerged: so-called double or “imperial” IPA. These popular beers present even more hop power with alcohol volume to match.

There is a new style of beer that fits the descriptors even more than Imperial or Double IPA. That would be the New England/North East Style IPA. It is the definition of a hop showcase, with malts there to help balance the extreme juicy, citrus, tropical fruit notes.

 

What is a Pilsner?

When you go to a bar you’re always going to find plenty of different drafts to try. One beer that isn’t immediately gravitated to, but has inspired some of the world’s most well-known beers is the Pilsner. The Pilsner is the inspiration for all Pale Lagers made around the world, which includes Budweiser and Bud Light.

Pilsner is a type of pale lager that takes its name from Pilsen which is now located in the Czech Republic. The first pilsner came from a brewery called Citizen’s Brewery which is now known as Pilsner Urquell, which is still in production today.

Pilsner beers are medium to medium-full bodied and are characterized by high carbonation. Alcohol strength in these beers typically ranges from 4-5.5% ABV. Pilsners come in different styles based on what part of the world they are made in. Czech-style Pilsners use only Saazer hops vs “Noble” hops, which are the predominate flavor in other styles of Pilsner. These hops bring around an earthy and grassy flavor. All Pilsners, though, have a thick white head at the top of the glass, right above the golden liquid of a Pilsner.

Pilsner is a lager style of beer but has added hops. Josef Groll, who was from Bavaria brought Bavarian techniques to his brewing style, but the original beer was created in Pilsen. The first pale lager really focused on the creation of Pale Malts, having hop flavor become an afterthought while trying to balance the beer’s sweetness with the tastes of consumers.

For a Pilsner you should use a Pilsner glass (also known as a Pokal) this is a tall, slender and tapered 12-ounce glass. It allows for the beer to show off its light color but promotes the foam retention of the beer.

So if you’re looking for a light lager without a strong or bitter finish, try a Pilsner.

How to Pour the Perfect Pint

How to Pour the Perfect Pint

When pouring a draught beer there are several steps to follow to ensure a proper pint. Luckily, we’ve come up with this handy guide to help with your pouring needs.

First and foremost, make sure you have the correct glass for your pour. You can check out our handy guide if you need help.

Second, hold the glass at a 45-degree angle about one inch below the tap faucet. Now you’re going to want to open the tap fully and let the beer flow. Opening the tap partially will lead to excessive foam.

Third, let the beer flow down the side of the glass (still in the 45-degree angle) but don’t let the faucet touch the glass. Now’s the tricky part – tip the glass upright and pour down the center of the glass to create the perfect collar.

Once full, shut the tap off completely. If for some reason there is too much foam for your taste, allow the head to dissipate then pour again.

You’re only moments away from enjoying that cold beer, so take your time, follow our guide, and you’ll be sipping on a perfect pint.

How to Use Our Beer Finder

Looking to find a particular beer that you tried while out one night? Want to know what bars stock your favorite brew on draft? Looking to find out who is an M&M bar? Well never fear, Mclaughlin & Moran’s Beer Finder is here!

Our web site beer finder is your guide to where to get your favorite brews. Let’s say that you’re out one night and you try a beer that you absolutely love and want to find it again. Search the brewery and the beer’s name and voila – you’re sipping in no time.

What if you’re looking for your favorite beer and want to know what bars in the area carry it? No problem. Choose the brewery and beer again and type in your zip code. Within seconds there will be a list of all the local places that you can drink your favorite.

What if you’re a huge fan of McLaughlin & Moran and want to see what bars we distribute to? You can do that, too! All you have to do is search a zip code and what type of establishment you want to drink it at. Then there’s your list.

The options for our Beer Finder are endless. We’ve provided a searchable and unique database so that no matter what you’re looking for, you can always find it.

 

Beer and Food Pairings For Your Next Summer Party

As the days get longer and the sun shines brighter, you might be thinking about having a party. If beer and fantastic food are a priority for your party, we can tell you how you can throw a shindig you won’t forget! When drinking beer, food pairings are key. With many multifaceted flavors and extreme differences in flavors of beer (such as bready, caramel, molasses, hoppy, and citrusy) some pair much better with food than wine.

The two secrets to pairing a beer with what you’re eating are either accenting the food flavor or balancing it. Keep in mind that every taster has a unique palate. The strength of an IPA might pair perfectly with a spicy dish for those looking for some added intensity, but others might prefer an ale with a balancing malt character to keep the inferno at bay. It’s all about finding the harmonies that complement each other and staying away from any overpowering flavors. It can be difficult to find the perfect match, but perfection should not be the goal. Creativity and enabling others to open their minds by tantalizing their taste buds is your benchmark. If you take that approach, then your friends will undoubtedly enjoy themselves and discover something new.

If uncertain about pairings, go with a Belgian beer. These gregarious delicacies come in a variety of styles, but most share a yeasty, sweet, and spicy character that pairs with just about anything. They are far from overbearing, which makes them an excellent choice for even the most delicate of foods.

Remember, it’s the perfect time of year to be outdoors. This is your excuse to have a BBQ that your friends and neighbors won’t forget! Crank up the tunes, let the summer days go on, and have no fear of eating enormous amounts chased with a few frosty brews.