What does lacing on a glass signify?
- Jon C., Philadelphia, PA
First and foremost, your beer has to have head. No bubbles means no cling, so many light lagers simply won’t produce much lacing. Even with a decent head, there is chemistry involved. The basic element in lacing is protein. When you take a sip and foam is left on the side of the glass, the bitter tasting alpha acids in hops can interact with proteins in the beer, linking them together. They trap air when the head dries out, which is why lacing, if left to sit, will harden.
Do you know the difference between cask and barrel conditioning?
- Mat F., Philadelphia, PA
Gee Mat, do you know how to edit a magazine?
How do you know how long you can age a beer for?
- Mike W., Wilmington, DE
Short answer? You really don’t. There are many factors in play here, and more often than not it makes sense to defer to the brewery for answers. If you’re talking about light lagers with “born-on”dating, you’re probably going to want to drink this beer pretty quickly. Some beers however – especially those with higher ABV percentages can be aged for up to 25 years.
That said, here are a few rules to follow: First, the ABV – 8% is a generally considered minimum for aging ability. Higher alcohol helps stave off deterioration often known as “skunking.” Secondly, beers with higher hop contents tend to die off quicker. Maltier, sweeter beers tend to age better as hops can break down in a quick fashion, leaving behind a nasty taste. If you do age your beers, make sure you keep them in a cool, dark place – light can skunk a beer faster than anything else.
Why do different hops vary in flavor so much?
-Chris T., Philadelphia, PA
Alpha acids. There are two main types of hops – bittering hops and aroma hops. European noble hops, such as Hallertau, Tettnanger, and Saaz fall somewhere in the 5-9% alpha acids by weight, while newer American varieties can range from 9-18%. Alpha acids come from the soft resin in hops, and cause the bittering flavor that is synonymous with hops. However, hops used for aroma have much lower alpha acids – sometimes below 5%. Aroma from hops comes from the “essential oils” in the hop flower. Hops with higher alpha acids tend to have less of these essential oils, and boiling hops with higher alpha acids can evaporate off the essential oils altogether. In terms of the taste in your beer, it’s not just the varieties – it’s the recipe. Most beers use more than one type of hop, and while bittering hops may be boiled for long periods of time – over an hour in some cases – aroma hops are usually added right towards the end, anywhere from around 10 down to 3 minutes before the boil is done. This ensures that the essential oils are extracted, but not evaporated. So the variety in flavor is three-fold – the degree of alpha acids, the degree of essential oils, and how and when they are added to your beer.