One of the more common beer styles you see is the pale ale. Understanding this is important because IPAs are called India pale ales and are a stronger version of a pale ale. Most pale ales tend to be on the darker side and have a significant malt taste in the background. Malt flavors seen in pale ales tend to be more towards the bread and toast flavor. Frequently the toasty flavors come from roasting the malts themselves. Some lighter color pale ales use different varieties of malts that can give them a nice sweet finish while not overpowering the hops.
Pale ales can be made with many different types of hops but typically have less hops than other styles so that the flavors are not as intense or bitter. Many pale ales in San Diego focus on the pine and floral hops. To understand these flavors think of familiar smells. The beers taste pretty similar. Pale ales tend to be lighter in alcohol, somewhere around 4.5%, with some stronger extra pale ales closer to 5.5% or even 6%. Many higher alcohol pale ales tend to be lighter in color.
Local Favorites: Saint Archer Pale Ale, Green Flash Pale Ale, Karl Strauss Pale Ale, Stone Pale Ale, Helm’s Pale Ale, Alesmith X Extra Pale.
This is part 2 of a multiple-part series of posts that explain the basics of beer. In Part 1 I answered the question “What is a tasting room?” In this post I will explore what separates craft beer from mass-produced beer. Stay tuned for future posts on the various styles of beer.
At some point in life you hear most people say “Beer is beer. Why should I spend much money on it?” It is apparent that you are spending a lot more money per beer when you buy a six-pack of IPA for about the price of a 12-pack of Budweiser.
If you like the pilsner style of beer (which most mass-produced beers are), you certainly can’t be blamed for buying the cheap stuff. Though it might not be perfect, it usually does taste like a pilsner (unless you get the light variety).
Craft beer is about transforming the experience from drinking to get drunk to drinking for the flavor. Just as people are more satisfied by a really fantastic slice of cheesecake than some grocery store cake, a really good craft beer tends to satisfy you much more than a Budweiser.
Beer is a complex beverage that requires balancing a number of different ingredients to come up with the perfect flavor. Exploring craft beer is a way of learning to recognize the different flavors so that you can better enjoy your experience drinking beer.
There are many different styles of beer
If you’ve ever gone over to a friend’s house only to be asked if you want an IPA, a porter, a pale ale, or an amber you might have replied “Dude just give me a beer!” It really is a lot more complicated than that and there are a lot of different flavors that you can taste in different styles of beers. The descriptions below may not be technically accurate but are written in a way that I hope will be understandable to the average person. Over the next few posts I will go into detail about the various styles of beer with local examples of each style listed at the end of each section.
This is the first of a series of posts that will explain the basics of beer. Part 1 answers the question of “What is a tasting room?” In future posts I will explore what separates craft beer from mass-produced beer. After that I will explain some of the common styles of beer. If you are already a big beer fan, share these with your friends to introduce them to the wonderful world of beer.
Every tasting room has a bar where you can order pints of beer or smaller glasses of stronger brews as well as smaller four-ounce tasters. Traditional tasting rooms allow you to buy only one or two tasters while some brewery restaurants require you to buy a flight of five tasters. Most bars only serve full pints and usually have beer from a number of different breweries. Tasting rooms usually only serve beer brewed by the brewery running it.
If you already know the style of beer you prefer, it is usually best to stick to that style, especially if you plan on hitting more than one brewery. Though tasters are only four ounces, many breweries serve higher alcohol beer than you may expect.
Tasters are also great if you are trying to decide what beer to take home in a growler. Growlers range in size from 32 oz to 1 gallon. These allow you to enjoy some fresh brew at home. The beer will stay fresh in the growler for over a week until it is opened.
Once you pour a glass from the growler, it is best to finish the growler within 48 hours. Unless you are a heavy drinker or have a lot of friends coming over who share your tastes in beer, it is best to stick to a 32 oz growler so that you enjoy the beer fresh.
Tasting rooms are usually more relaxed than bars and sometimes allow you to bring your dog and/or young child with you. Most tasting rooms do not serve food but food trucks are often on site to sell you something to eat with your beer. Check the web-site of the brewery ahead of time if you expect to eat because some have food trucks a few days out of the week.
If they don’t have a food truck, most breweries do not mind if you show up with some food to enjoy with your beer. Stone, Karl Strauss, and now Ballast Point’s Little Italy location are restaurants where you can also enjoy their beer.