Girl Scout Cookies & Beer Pairings

It’s the most wonderful time of the year – stocking your Girl Scout Cookie stash!! We’re pairing some of our favorite Girl Scout cookies with some of our favorite OMNI beers.

Here’s the line up:
Caramel DeLites with Muddy Runner – Coconut Porter
Smores with Daily Dose – Coffee Cream Ale
Lemonades with Loonacy – Belgian Strong Ale
Peanut Butter Sandwiches with Hefeweizen – German Wheat

From 12pm – 5pm on March 10th and 17th we will be serving paired cookie and beer flights for $12–that’s only $2.00 more than our normal flights!

If you would like to take a full box and full growler home with you, you will be able to do that too because cookies will be for sale these days too. The cookie sales will go to support local Brooklyn Park and Champlin troops go to summer camp.

Stay connected with the Facebook event page.

Girl Scout Cookies & Beer Pairings

It’s the most wonderful time of the year – stocking your Girl Scout Cookie stash!! We’re pairing some of our favorite Girl Scout cookies with some of our favorite OMNI beers.

Here’s the line up:
Caramel DeLites with Muddy Runner – Coconut Porter
Smores with Daily Dose – Coffee Cream Ale
Lemonades with Loonacy – Belgian Strong Ale
Peanut Butter Sandwiches with Hefeweizen – German Wheat

From 12pm – 5pm on March 10th and 17th we will be serving paired cookie and beer flights for $12–that’s only $2.00 more than our normal flights!

If you would like to take a full box and full growler home with you, you will be able to do that too because cookies will be for sale these days too. The cookie sales will go to support local Brooklyn Park and Champlin troops go to summer camp.

Stay connected with the Facebook event page.

The artful science of beer and food pairings

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Food and beer at Surly’s fine dining restaurant, The Brewer’s Table // Photo by Aaron Davidson

Taste begins with chemistry. Esters, phenols, aldehydes, linear-terpenes, ketones, lactones, thiols, and a host of other compounds lock into olfactory receptors, sending electric pulses through the olfactory bulb and into the inner sanctums of the brain. On the tongue, a different set of chemicals stimulate sensations of bitter, sweet, sour, salty, and umami. These stimuli—smell and taste—are combined in the hippocampus with tactile impressions to form the experience that we call flavor. 


Food and beer at Surly’s fine dining restaurant, The Brewer’s Table // Photo by Aaron Davidson

Whether beer or food, the chemistry is the same. Alkaloids taste bitter and glutamates taste savory in each. Limonene smells of citrus and geraniol of flowers in both beverage and bite. At the molecular level, the sensory inputs are the same.

But when it comes to pairing beer and food, does knowing the science make the task any easier? How much does chemistry really play into a chef’s consideration of culinary combinations? Is it a matter of molecules? Or is it more an exercise in inspired intuition? When it comes down to it, is pairing beer and food an art or a science?

For Adam Dulye, executive chef at the Brewers Association and culinary mind behind the beer-centric San Francisco eateries The Abbot’s Cellar and The Monk’s Kettle, it is both art and science. It is his view that the experience a chef gives to the diner should be art. “It should be an experience that affects all of your senses and makes you think about other things, perhaps conjures up memories,” Dulye says. “[And] putting that together in the kitchen, in terms of how you get to the things you want to showcase, involves a little bit of science.”

Dulye points to the Maillard reaction as an example. The Maillard reaction is what happens when amino acids react with sugars at elevated temperatures. For food, think toasted bread, fried onions, or the char on a steak. With beer, the reaction occurs when grains are kilned by the maltster. The resulting compounds in each circumstance bring a variety of flavors, from toast and nuts to caramel, roast, and even dark fruit.


Food and beer at Surly’s fine dining restaurant, The Brewer’s Table // Photo by Aaron Davidson

For a chef, the trick is tying those compounds together. On the beer side, one has to consider the type and amount of kilned malts that make up the grist. Is the character dry and biscuity or sweet and fruity? On the food side, the consideration is preparation; how those Maillard products are being produced, and what kind of flavor they will deliver.

Mastering Maillard is, according to Dulye, one way chefs can utilize science to give guests an artfully transcendent experience. “Are you using a dry heat method? Are you cooking it in a pan where you’re basting it with butter and actually getting some caramelization of the milk solids in the butter?” Dulye asks. “That’s where the science part kind of comes into that.”

Jared Rouben is a former chef-turned-brewer of culinarily inspired beers at Chicago’s Moody Tongue Brewing Company. He compares making beer to cooking: both brewer and chef are manipulating ingredients with time and temperature. The same rules apply in the kitchen and the brewery.


Food and beer at Surly’s fine dining restaurant, The Brewer’s Table // Photo by Aaron Davidson

For Rouben, the science lies in balancing the five basic tastes: sour, sweet, salty, bitter, and umami. He approaches a beer in the same way he would a dish, calling upon known taste interactions—such as sweet cutting sour or sour boosting umami—to create balance and harmony in beers like Truffle Pilsner and Lemon Saison.

Rouben brings the same sensibility to pairing beer with food. Rather than squeezing a lemon over seafood, he suggests serving it with his lemon saison. The tart acid in the beer serves to enhance the meaty umami of the fish and, together with the smell of lemon and the tender texture of the fish, the combination creates a complete flavor image. And it’s in the creation of those flavor images that one finds the art of pairing.

Next page: Surly’s approach & pairing at the molecular level

Girl Scout Cookie beer pairings at Sisyphus Brewing

Sisyphus Brewing knows how to speak our language—our love language, that is.

The brewery announced today on their Facebook page that they will be hosting Girl Scout cookie flight pairings Wednesday, February 24, and Thursday, February 25.

It’s true. All of your dreams are coming reality. This Wednesday and Thursday.

Posted by Sisyphus Brewing on Monday, February 22, 2016

The pairings include:

  • Belgian Blonde & Lemonade
  • Richard Kind of a Big Deal & Thin Mints
  • Isaac the Fax Man & Shortbread
  • Winter Warmer with Cinnamon & Samoas
  • Peanut Butter Porter & Tagalongs

Five beers, five cookies, $12.

If that’s not enough, additional boxes will be for sale at the brewery, with proceeds going to Troop #16867. Girl Scouts, for the win.

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A Brewmaster’s Guide to Thanksgiving Beer Pairings

Thanksgiving Beer Pairings 2 (2)

Thanksgiving Table // Photo by Dave Nakayama, via Flickr (graphic added)

The turkey is in the fridge, the guest bedroom is clean, and the grocery list has been checked and double-checked. With the dinner menu set, it’s time to turn your attention to more important things: beer pairings to complement the bounty that is Thanksgiving dinner.

Lift Bridge brewmaster Matt Hall // Photo courtesy of Lift Bridge Brewery

Lift Bridge brewmaster Matt Hall // Photo courtesy of Lift Bridge Brewery

While the spreads may vary from household to household, Thanksgiving is a meal of traditions. Some will toast marshmallows on their sweet potatoes, others will serve baked yams, and the temperature and consistency of cranberry sauce is an argument likely to cause a minor stir between in-laws.

The beauty of a traditional Thanksgiving plate is how each of the individual elements have their own distinct flavors, but they all blend together to create the rich, buttery, savory, sweet eating experience we all know and love.

The balance—or lack thereof—on your plate can help determine the ideal beer pairing for your meal. Is turkey your centerpiece or does stuffing get top billing? Identifying the one or two Thanksgiving-day dishes that you love most can help to narrow down which beers to drink with your meal.

As a graduate of the Siebel Institute and a veteran of the brewing industry, we asked Lift Bridge brewmaster Matt Hall to offer pairing suggestions from both his Stillwater brewery’s lineup and his other favorite breweries from around the region.

Here’s what Brewmaster Matt had to say:


farmgirl-6packLOWLift Bridge Farm Girl Saison

“Hints of orange along with spicy notes from the yeast complement turkey and add to the overall flavor or the meat.”

Steel Toe Size 7 IPA

“At the same time, I like an IPA with turkey […] I think Steel Toe’s Size 7 has nice citrus notes that go well with the caramelized skin and juiciness of turkey.”

Pork sausage sage bread stuffing with celery

Hop DishLift Bridge Hop Dish IPA

“You have citrus, herbal notes, bitterness, carbonation, and then the higher alcohol level that’s going to help cut through the fatty richness of the pork. There’s a pine character to play well with the sage and the beer provides the perfect wash-down to level out the heaviness of the stuffing.”

Schell’s Firebrick Vienna-style Amber Lager

“A great all-around beer. There’s a nice maltiness to it and it’s a little drier. That malty note would go well with stuffing […] The nuttiness and malt notes would complement it, and [Firebrick’s] not overly sweet so it would cut through the fat.”

Cranberry sauce

rush-river-uber-alt-6Lift Bridge Farm Girl Saison

“I eat mine on top of the turkey. I like the drier, higher carbonation of Farm Girl to cut through that sweetness and to get the orange notes to balance out and complement the tart cranberry of the sauce.”

Rush River Über Alt

“This beer is pretty malty but with plum, raisins, dark fruit, and some spice notes to it. That dark fruit would also go really well with cranberry sauce and would hold up to the sweetness.”

Sweet potatoes with toasted marshmallows

chestnut-hill-6packlowLift Bridge Chestnut Hill Brown Ale

“I would put Chestnut Hill with sweet potatoes and marshmallows. There’s vanilla, cinnamon, and brown sugar in our sweet potatoes, and with cinnamon and allspice in the beer, it’s a counterpoint and complement. The nuttiness gives some of the same qualities you’d find in the yam.”

Indeed Yamma Jamma Harvest Ale

“Yamma Jamma kind of screams out at you when you’re talking sweet potatoes. Unlike pumpkin beers, Indeed does well with a light hand on the spices. It’s a pairing of like ingredients.”

Pumpkin pie

Lift Bridge The Warden Milk Stout

“Warden milk stout has a chocolate malt and some roasted notes. The lactose sweetness and subtle chocolate and coffee complement the pumpkin—especially with whipped cream. The creamy texture also matches that of the pumpkin.”

Summit Great Northern Porter

“Its dark coffee-like flavors would go well with the spice, sugar, and earthiness of the pumpkin.”

After dinner

commander-500 copyLift Bridge Commander Barleywine

“The Lift Bridge family tradition is a stand-alone after-dinner bottle of Commander. We open it, gather around a fire, and play games while we fill our goblets. Let it warm and sip on it as the perfect ending to dinner as everybody is digesting and undoing the top button on their pants.

“At 12.5% ABV, it has a lot of vanilla, coffee, caramel notes, citrusy with dark fruit and tobacco. As homebrewers, it was always a Thanksgiving beer that brought everyone together and we continue that tradition today.”

Just in time for Halloween: candy and beer pairings

Candy Beer Pairing Jelly Belly

Photo via

Beer is kind of like candy for adults, but who says you have to lose your sweet tooth when you turn 21?

If you weren’t one of the lucky few to snag tickets to Badger Hill Brewing Company’s now-sold out “Halloween Candy and Beer Pairing” event, fear not, the people at Craft Beer & Brewing have put together their recommendations for the right beers to sip as you enjoy the candy you either pilfered from your kid’s haul or “forgot to give out” to trick-or-treaters.

Some of the most intriguing pairings include Pop Rocks with sour beers, Hot Tamales with IPAs, and the holy grail of trick-or-treating, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, with cream ales.

See their complete list of pairings here.

[H/T Craft Beer & Brewing]

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Slay to Gourmet: Venison

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Story and Slay photos by Jon Wipfli
Gourmet Photos by Matt Lien

Driving through the silo-dotted Wisconsin landscape in the fall and early winter months is incredible. Fresh falling snow coats the roofs of the barns and blankets the harvested fields with a layer of pristine white, untouched by human activity.

My destination is central Wisconsin to meet my friend Ben Michlig, who has been scouting spots for us to hunker down with our bows. His reports seem optimistic and his trail cams prove that a handful of bucks are still cruising through the area in search of does during the final stages of the rut. For me, this is the pinnacle of what the North has to offer. Escaping the city to sit in a tree and watch each and every sunrise and sunset for a few days is unbeatable. Being present while the forest awakens, surrounded by flocks of chickadees, the chatter of obnoxious red squirrels, and deer moving to feed is only bested by watching the forest close down for the day at sunset.

As I’m pulling into town around dusk, I get a text from Ben with two simple but expected words: “Buck down.” A short time later I get the call from Ben with the details of the hunt and we make plans with our friend Nick Schiefelbein to spend the following day butchering the deer near where Ben had downed the buck.

There were a couple of challenges butchering this particular deer including temperatures below 10°F and no proper stand to skin a deer. Trying to be as resourceful as possible, Nick rigged up a tree with a pool cue and some rope to hang the deer. We took alternating turns skinning the deer and thawing our hands next to a modest propane heater. Once the animal was skinned, we butchered it into six manageable pieces—hindquarters, ribs/belly, and fore quarters—before moving the meat inside to start the finer work of breaking it down into edible steaks and other cuts of meat.

Related Post: A Very Local Wild Duck Recipe

As we worked, my thought process automatically went to what I was going to cook with it. Venison is such a lean protein it can benefit from being served with something fatty. Which led me to the idea of adding something acidic like pickles to cut through the fat. I also wanted to tie in some traditional venison pairings I’ve enjoyed in the past. These criteria inspired me to create a porcini encrusted grilled venison loin dish with mushroom duxelle and winter pickles.

Food With Beer—From the Brewer’s Perspective

This edition of Deep Thoughts explores the delicious, delicious interplay between food and beer

By Dave Hoops


This issue, we are going to touch on beer and food, two topics I sure love. My name is Dave Hoops, Master Brewer at Fitger’s Brewhouse in Duluth, Minnesota. In this issue we address two of my favorite topics: Food and beer. People that love great food have been pairing wine with meals for centuries. In the last 50 years or so, many have realized that beer—not wine—may be the best match for a great meal.

Beer has many components that complement food. Beer is made with barley (which adds sweetness), hops (which provide bitterness), yeast (which lend those characteristic “bready” flavors), as well as spices, nuts, chocolate, fruits, and vegetable notes. When thinking about how to pair beers with your meals, there are a few guidelines to consider.

Flavors—Complementary or Contrasting

•          Pairing a spicy meal with an IPA that boasts lots of hop flavors is an example of flavors complementing each other.

•          Pairing a Belgian White (with orange and spice flavors) with a chicken dinner is an example of using very different flavors that can make the meal interesting.

Most folks know the usual rule of thumb from the wine world: red wine goes with meat and white with fish and poultry. I will put some beer styles into this example.

•          Light Body Beers (Lager, Pilsner, Wheat): These pair well with cheese, fish, grilled pork or chicken, light pasta dishes, and Asian cuisine.

•          Medium Body
 Beers (Ale, IPA, Bitters): These pair well with burgers, wings, Mexican food, pizza, steak, and spicy food.

•          Heavy Body 
Beers (Stout, Porter, Barleywine): These pair well with smoked foods, BBQ, stew, chili, salty foods, oysters, chocolate desserts.

Now that you have read a very general beginners guide, you can start having fun. I’m remembering one of my most unique food and beer experiences and shall recount it to you here.

Food and Beer Around the World

A few years ago I traveled to Germany to attend the Brau, considered the largest brewery trade show in the world. During this trip I sampled many amazing German beers and of course the local fare. We visited a town called Kemmern located about 20 miles outside Bamberg in Bavaria. The American friend I was travelling with had previously worked at the brewery in Kemmern called Wagner-Bräu, which like many small breweries in Germany, served the local region and of course had the pre-requisite keller. We were welcomed with great fanfare and I was treated to one of the best food and beer experiences of my life. From my notes:

•          First course: Chanterelle soup, a mushroom soup with a fruity earthy aroma. Paired with Wagner Ungespundetes Lager. A young unfiltered slightly sweet lager beer.

•          Second course: Schmaltz, rendered fat used for frying or as a spread on bread. This spread had small pieces of pork in it and we had Franconian wood oven bread to slather it on. Unbelievable stuff, my mouth waters thinking of it. Paired with Wagner Pils, a traditional slightly hoppy dry lager.

•          Third course: Fränkische Bratwurst. A thick, coarse sausage, common to the whole Franconian region. This was served with a potato and cucumber salad. Paired with Wagner Cuckoo, a smoked beer.

Related Post: Why I Love Hops

We didn’t have dessert, but I know I also tried Wagner Wheat, Wagner Country Beer, and Wagner Marzen that night. Clearly I was there for the beer and truly loved it, but I will never forget that meal. The environment, the simple, amazing fare, the perfect blending of flavors. This is what beer and food is about. I could go on and on describing similar meals and flavor pairings I have discovered over the years. But I will spare you.

My advice is: Drink and eat what you like. You cannot go wrong on this path. Try Apricot Wheat with bacon and eggs, try Edmund Imperial Stout with brownies, try Surly Furious with spicy Thai food, and try Indeed/Northbound Hotbox Porter with brats and pickles. My point is, experiment as often as possible. When you get very comfortable with trying new beer and food pairings then you can start cooking with your favorite beers.

My Current Favorite Food-and-Beer Recipe

64oz     (growler) Wildfire Lager

(Wildfire is a hot pepper lager brewed with six types of chilies. Four hatch varieties, Serrano, and habanero.)

8                      Chicken breasts de-boned

1lb                   cherries, Montmorency variety

Fill a big bowl with the beer, chicken, and cherries. Cover and keep cool for 24–36 hours. Remove chicken and strain liquid into a saucepot. Bring to a boil, then hold at a simmer to create a reduction. This can take a few hours. Start your grill, salt and pepper the chicken, and grill at low heat. When finished cooking, cover the breasts in the wildfire reduction. You will thank me for this.

I hope you all enjoyed these thoughts on the world of food and beer pairing. Remember, the sky is the limit. What tastes good is good. I will leave you with my current five favorite everyday food beers.

•          Sierra Nevada Pale Ale

•          Fitger’s Brewhouse Park Point Pils

•          Bent Paddle Black Ale

•          Summit Saga IPA

•          Schells Brewery Grain Belt

Thanks for reading. Please feel free to email me at [email protected] or read my Fitger’s Brewhouse news and beer-centric thoughts on Facebook at Hoops Brewing.



Campfire Cooking: Streamside with The Wild Chef

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A “Stream to Table” recipe, presented by Dinner on the Farm

By Jonathan Miles, The Wild Chef


The adventurous eaters who dine with us in the farm fields all summer long may be getting a case of cabin fever right about now. Not only are we pining for warmer weather, but also the local food options which are abundant in the summer, yet scarce during the dormant winter months. For locavores and sportsmen alike, Minnesota’s ice fishing season helps make winter bearable. Bundle up in your coziest gear, find a frozen lake and spend the day quietly contemplating the beauty of a crisp and clear winter’s day with your favorite local brew.

Hungarian Fisherman’s Soup

For centuries, fishermen along the Danube and Tisza Rivers in Hungary have added an iron kettle to their fishing gear. The reason? To make halászlé, or fisherman’s soup, a spicy red stew that’s often cooked streamside over a campfire. Variations are infinite, but the essential components are whole freshwater fish and high-quality Hungarian paprika.

About 3 lb (1.5 kg) whole freshwater fish
1          large onion, roughly chopped
2          green bell peppers, roughly chopped
1          tomato, roughly chopped
2          bay leaves
2          tablespoons or more Hungarian paprika (hot, sweet, or a combination)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼         cup (1⁄3 oz,10 g) chopped fresh Italian parsley
½         cup (4 oz, 125 g) sour cream (optional)
2          banana peppers, sliced (optional)

Gut and clean the fish, separating the fillets but reserving the heads and other scraps. Slice the fillets into 2-inch (5-cm) pieces, rinse, and refrigerate until ready to use. Add the scraps—heads, tails, bones, trimmings—to a Dutch oven or large pot. Add the onion, peppers, tomato, bay leaves, and paprika along, with 2 quarts (2 l) cold water, and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 35 minutes.

Strain the liquid into another pot through a fine-mesh sieve. Press on the solids to extract all the flavor, then discard. Add salt and pepper to taste. The broth should have a good kick from the paprika—feel free to add more if necessary.

Return the broth to a simmer, and add the reserved fillet pieces. Simmer gently, without stirring, for a few minutes—just enough to almost cook the fish through, since it will continue cooking off the heat. Add the parsley, stirring very gently so as not to break up the fish.

SERVING TIP: Transfer the fish pieces with a slotted spoon and divide among 4 bowls. Ladle the liquid into the bowls and top with a dollop of sour cream and a few slices of banana peppers, if using.

Salt-Crusted Fish

Nearly any fish can benefit from this impressive treatment. Double the recipe as needed, depending on the size of the fish and the appetites at the table, and feel free to adjust the herbs as desired. For an easy side, toss some cut potatoes in olive oil with salt and pepper, spread them in a roasting pan, and put the pan in with the fish.

1          whole fish, gutted and scaled
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2          sprigs tarragon
6          egg whites
3          cups (1½ lb, 750 g) kosher salt
2          bay leaves, crumbled
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
1          lemon, cut into wedges

Preheat the oven to 450°F (230°C). Rinse the fish inside and out, and pat to dry. Sprinkle salt and pepper into the fish’s cavity, then tuck the tarragon sprigs inside.

Whip the egg whites until stiff peaks form, then fold the 3 cups kosher salt and the bay leaves into the egg whites to form a thick paste.

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Spread about a third of the salt paste in the center of the parchment paper and lay the fish on the paste. With a rubber spatula, smear the remaining paste all over the fish so that it’s completely encased. Place the pan in the oven.

Cook for about 25 minutes. By this time, the salt paste will have hardened into a thick crust. Allow the fish to rest 5–10 minutes, then crack the crust by knocking it with the flat side of a butter knife, and remove the crust in chunks.

SERVING TIP: Scoop out the meat, drizzling it with olive oil and giving it a squeeze or two of lemon.

Beer Pairing

What goes better with ice fishing than a quality craft beer in a can? We encourage you to try this dish with a pour of Bent Paddle Brewing Company’s Venture Pils. This craft lager features noble hops and Pilsener, 2-Row, and Carafoam malts—and is brewed with fresh Lake Superior water. This pilsener pays homage to the classic Northern Germany style with “a touch of American inventiveness.” This bright, refreshing pils is versatile enough to pair with fresh-caught fish—and the accompanying adventure.

Food Meets Beer: The Sample Room

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By John Garland
Photos by Daniel Murphy


Eleven years ago, The Sample Room began serving a “small plates” menu before it was trendy. Now, a former sous chef returns to make his mark on the ever-evolving Northeast barroom.

A century ago, the Gluek Brewery occupied three acres of riverfront land in Northeast Minneapolis. The north side of the complex, with its towering smokestack and stately masonry, loomed over the two-story building next door at 2124 Marshall Street NE. It was there that a former Gluek’s bartender operated a small hotel. Kegs would roll from the brewery to the ground floor saloon called The Sample Room where thirsty millers and loggers could try out the new beers.

The Glueks would likely appreciate The Sample Room’s modern incarnation, housed in the same building and still a gathering spot for tapping the neighborhood’s newest kegs. The restaurant was among the first to serve beer from Boom Island Brewing and 612Brew, and that’s why new head chef Matt Knudsen was excited to return to the Northeast tippling temple.

“Beer has been one of the driving forces for me wanting to work here,” he says. “I’m a beer guy. That’s how my palate works and this has always been a place that’s encouraged beer pairing. We were one of the first to have Fulton on tap.” He gestures across the room and we notice Fulton’s co-founder Brian Hoffman sitting down to lunch. “Brian was selling to us here back when they were still kegging out in their garage,” he recalls. “It’s a point of pride to have such a strong selection from the area.”

Beer vs. Wine

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By Michael Agnew

I teach people about beer. Most of the people that I teach are not beer-savvy, brew nerds. They are ordinary people (admit it, we beer nerds are a bit unordinary) who have a curiosity to learn something about which they actually know very little.


I teach many of these classes with a certified wine sommelier. Together we lay down the beer and wine knowledge in one fell swoop. Although these ordinary people don’t know much about beer, they often do have some rudimentary understanding of wine. I find that comparisons to wine are useful in helping new people comprehend beer.

This sets me to thinking a lot about the wine versus beer dynamic. While beer spent the majority of the mid-twentieth century mired in homogeneous blandness, the variety and appreciation of good wine seems never to have gone away. Full flavored beer returned to this country just 30 years ago and it’s only in the last five years that it has infiltrated the popular imagination with real fervor. Because of this, the wine people are a little bit ahead of us in a few areas. We’re working hard to catch up, but we’ve got a ways to go.

Related Post: Wings and Beer: A Classic Pairing

Wine Versus Beer, Agricultural Versus Industrial

Wine is an agricultural product. What happens in the vineyard is more important to the final flavor of the wine than what happens after the grapes are picked. It matters what kind of soil is underfoot. Chalky, loamy, granite or volcanic, the character of the soil shows up in the wine. Sunlight and temperature matter as well. Warmer climates produce grapes with higher sugar content, leading to boozier, juicier wines.

Because it is so important, the majority of the vintner’s time and energy is spent tending the grapes. The period of actually making wine, though intense, is really quite short—just a month or so out of the year. Squeeze out the juice, put it in tanks or barrels, and forget it. Once it’s in fermenters, it pretty much just does its thing. This isn’t to say that the winemaker does nothing to influence the character of the wine. They decide whether to use oak or stainless for example. It’s just that once the grapes are picked, the majority of the wine’s final flavor is set.

Related Post: Craft Beer at the Minnesota State Fair

Beer, on the other hand, is an industrial product. It starts with agricultural ingredients, but it is the processing that the maltster and brewer put the ingredients through that makes beer. There is a reason that a brewery looks like a factory. It is one. A brewery is a beer manufacturing facility.

Sure, the agricultural nature of the ingredients has to be considered. The variety of barley used—be it Klages, Harrington, or some other—has been shown to affect beer flavor. Different varieties have different levels of starch, protein, and enzymes. It matters where hops are grown. A variety grown in one region will taste and smell very different from the same variety grown in another. And bittering alpha acid content of hops varies from crop to crop.

Brewers have access to ingredients from all over the world, while vintners have only the grapes that they grow. Brewers can pick and choose from a dizzying assortment of malt, hops, yeast, and assemble them in an endless number of combinations. The impact of malting far outweighs the subtle flavor differences of barley varietals. And with a little simple math, brewers can adjust recipes and brewing processes to account for yearly crop and bittering alpha acid variations. It’s really the myriad choices the brewer makes after the ingredients have been harvested that determine the profile of a given beer.