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Thanks,The Beer Hawk Team.
Why, 175 years ago, did the town of Plzen in what is now the Czech Republic birth a style – the pilsner – that would one day conquer the world? Why is Dublin’s world-famous beer so black? Did Arthur Guinness simply have a penchant for dark ales? What’s so special about Burton-on-Trent that “Burtonisation” is an actual brewing practice? The answer to all of the above is: water!
By Mark James, Beer Hawk's homebrew buyer
Beer is a solution of chemical compounds in water and without this indispensable life-giving liquid a lot more than brewing would cease to be.
When we talk about the water of Dublin, Burton or Plze? in a brewing context however, we’re referring to the different profiles of dissolved minerals that make each location’s water unique.
You may be surprised how many scientific advances were born of man’s desire to brew better beer; the pH scale that we use to measure acidity or alkalinity was invented by a Danish chemist at the Carlsberg Laboratory in 1909. The best beer is made when the mash’s pH is in the 5.2 – 5.6 range (slightly acidic), but most water sources are slightly alkaline.How then did brewers hit the pH sweet spot, particularly in days past when bottles of laboratory acids were not an option?
Happily nature provides a solution: malt is acidic, and the darker the roast, the more acidic the grain. In Dublin where the water has a high level of alkalinity, lots of dark malt brings the pH down to the ideal level and a classic dry stout is born.
At the other end of the spectrum, Plze?’s water is so soft and free of minerals that the lightest malts alone provide sufficient acidity to hit the desired mash pH. It was here therefore that on 5th October 1842, the Bavarian brewer Josef Groll presented a bottom-fermented beer with a paleness hitherto unseen, a ‘Pilsner’, and the rest as they say, is history.
Pairing beer and food together isn’t all rules and science. That would make for a terribly boring dinner party! Instead, it’s the art of taking a good beer, some good food and partnering them together to make something even better. It’s the adventure of discovering what works, what doesn’t and what you like. It’s you taking a bite, taking a sip and then declaring your undying love for that imperial stout and chocolate cake.
Barrel-ageing beers is not a new thing, but it is getting more and more popular, and has probably never been as inventive. Adrian Tierney-Jones explores the new wave of ageing beer in wood
While some so-called off-flavours can be appropriate in certain styles others are not and may kill a little bit of your soul. Here's a quick guide to the most common off-flavours.
Father’s Day, 20th June 2021, is the special date in the calendar when we celebrate and give a nod to the Dads in our lives. It’s an excuse to spoil them with a little something to say thank you for being awesome. If you’re looking for inspiration for a craft beer-loving Dad, then check out our top 7 Father’s Day beer gifts.
Another can spins off the line at Stone Brewing’s new brewery in Berlin. The speed of the whole process is astonishing, a matter of seconds from empty can to filled and sealed. Those amazing hop aromas that Stone Brewing’s IPA is known for are locked in, only to escape as you release the swirling lemon, pine, grapefruit aromas in one of the world’s best IPAs. Cans are the perfect container for this beer. And here’s why.
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