Are you interested in beer but don't know squat? A little information goes a long way, so we pulled some stuff together to give you the low down. You may not be a beer expert by the end, but you will remember a few details that will get you started.
Food and drink labelling in Canada looks like this:
Why are there no nutrition labels on beer in Canada?
Labelling beer (alcohol in general) is complex, according to Health Canada. Besides nutrition, there are other issues such as fetal alcohol syndrome, alcohol addiction and impaired driving that cause this complexity. By placing a nutrition label on beer, it could be inferred that alcohol can be included as part of a healthy diet.
Health Canada’s food guide does contain a nutrition value chart here.
Molson Canadian also has a nutrition label here.
BEER BREWING. What does the terminology mean?
1. Mashing - Grain (barley or wheat) is milled (crushed - but with a good mixture of particle sizes to allow a good compromise between lautering and extraction) and malted (immersing barley in water to sprout the grain, then drying the barley to halt the progress when the sprouting begins), then mixed with water. The mixture is heated and the enzymes break the grain starch into sugars.
2. Lautering - Filtration process that collects extracts from mashed grain (the extracts are called wort). Wort contains the sugars required for the yeast to ferment to create alcohol.
3. Boiling - Hops (added at the beginning for bitterness, at the end for aroma) contain acids and oils that impart bitterness, flavour, and stability, and are added to the wort. The mixture is boiled to stabilize flavours and aromas.
4. Whirlpooling - After boiling, the wort is set into a whirlpool which collects trub (hop waste).
5. Cooling - The wort is cooled so yeast can be added.
6. Fermenting - Yeast is added to cooled wort causing malt sugars to metabolize into alcohol and carbon dioxide.
7. Maturing - (aka conditioning, lagering, or aging) The beer settles, allowing the fermented yeast to drift to the bottom of the tank. The beer is cooled below freezing to maintain smoothness and stored under pressure to prevent it going flat. Some different beer types take different time and temperature to mature.
8. Filtering - Not all beer is filtered, but can be to remove remaining yeast and hop particles to create a clear, smooth beer.
9. Packaging - Sealed into bottles, cans, kegs… my belly….
STYLES OF BEER
There are so many Beer styles, it is necessary to put them on a chart. Beer is basically placed into two categories depending on the yeast. Ale is top-fermenting yeast and ferments in warm conditions, and Lager is bottom-fermenting yeast that ferments in - you guessed it - cool conditions.
Only a few Beer Styles:
1. Ales - Results from warm Top fermentation that releases esters (a chemical compound) which result in a sweet, full-bodied and fruity taste. It was an important source of nutrition in the medieval times. The typical IPA (Indian Pale Ale) is known for high hop and alcohol content in order to survive long sea journeys. American pale ales and Irish red ales often contain fewer hops and less alcohol.
2. Lagers - Brewed at lower temps with bottom fermenting yeast for a longer time. Get their flavour from hops and malts.
3. Porter - Originally a bunch of beers dumped together by porters in Victorian England. Porter is now brewed to a dark, full body and balanced bitterness, sometimes flavoured.
4. Stout - Top fermented beer. Variation of porter made from dark roasted barley rather than malted barley, and higher alcohol content.
5. Wheat Ale - Brewed using more wheat malt. Top-fermented with neutral yeast.
6. Barley Wine - made from grain, not fruit, so it is really beer. Alcohol strength 8-12%.Ice Beer - pale lager beers that have undergone some degree of fractional freezing to increase alcohol content.
7. Malt Liquor - any alcohol beverage above or equal to 5% abv made with malted barley.
8. Malternatives - malting and fermenting process like beer, but no hops or bitters.
For a comprehensive list, check out https://www.craftbeer.com/beer-styles
For a comprehensive chart, see https://popchart.co/products/the-magnificent-multitude-of-beer