Bottles vs. Cans

bottles vs cans
If you’re the typical macro beer drinker, we’re going to guess that most of the time, you don’t really care what your beer is served in. A wider mouth-opening, a sleeker design, or a new label might be all the excitement you’re hoping for.  But what about craft beer? Does it really make a difference?

The can vs. bottle debate has been going on for decades. So what’s better? When is it better to can, and when is it better to bottle? There are many contributing factors that come into play, so we’d like to shed some light on some of them:

1. UV light – Ultraviolet light, also known as UV lighting, is really bad for a beer’s compound structure. If beer is exposed to UV light for an extended amount of time, it can spoil. Cans prevent UV light from entering, helping the beer stay fresher, longer.

2. Storage – Cans are obviously easier to store and they take up less space. Stacking is made easier with cans, and beer-filled cans are actually lighter than bottles, making it more affordable for breweries to ship canned beers.

3. Outdoor use – For those that enjoy taking their brews to the beach, park, campground, etc. (that permits alcohol use), glass is, for the most part, prohibited while cans are not. Cans are also much better for the environment than bottles…not that we condone littering.

4. Temperature – If memory serves well from Chemistry class back in high school, remember that metals heat and cool faster than glass. With this in mind, there is a downside to aluminum cans. Although they chill faster, they also get warmer faster. Glass can hold in the coolness of a beer longer than a can. So if you’re the type who likes their beer colder for a longer time, we suggest pouring the canned beer into a glass, unless you’re outdoors–then you’re outta luck. Better drink quick!

beer bottle

5. Sealing capabilities – When beers are canned, they’re sealed with nitrogen, (bringing back more Chemistry) making it impossible for air to escape. Bottled beers, although sealed with a cap, may tend to leak depending on how strong the seal is between the cap and the bottle.  This is where the wax-sealed bottle comes from–it’s just about the only way to truly seal a bottle in order to prevent leakage.

6. Taste – We’ve all had those beers that give off a metallic taste or a bottled taste before. Normally, that has nothing to do with the beer itself. It’s been said that the taste you get is where your nose is at the time of drinking. Think about it. When you drink beer from a can, where is your nose? Cans tend to give beers a bit more punch than a bottled beer, most likely due to the nitrogen in the canning process. Again, to get the best taste from a beer, pour it into the proper glassware (see our previous Beer 101 post). That will give you the best experience.

So what’s our personal preference? Well, by nature, we’ll always sway toward the best experience possible in beer. To us, it depends on what style of beer we drink. As far as IPA’s, our best experiences have been in both bottle and cans, but cans tend to give IPA’s that extra oomph or crispness that we love. Not everything we drink should come in cans, though. Personally, we think it would be really strange to be drinking a rare, bourbon barrel aged stout in a can. KBS in a can? It sounds cheap. There’s something awesome about purchasing a bomber or a 750mL bottle of a BA stout. Would you rather buy a $300 bottle of wine in a box or a bottle? Appearance does count sometimes.

The debate will continue to go on as long as beer is being made. If you’re like us and want the best experience possible when drinking a beer, remember to think about style and glassware. Considering those two factors will make a world of difference.

BEEResponsible,
the Hopostles

Fruit beers: innovation or abomination?

fruit beer

The 4 main ingredients required to make beer are grain, yeast, hops and water. On that, we can all agree. But what is acceptable to add to this simple recipe depends entirely on who you ask.

To the purists, less is more. To everyone else, well…variety is the spice of life.

Brewers have responded to their consumers emphatically, and continue to push the boundaries of their craft. Take a stroll down the beer aisle and you’ll find everything from peanut butter porters to ghost chile ales and just about anything in between.

Fruit beers make up a significant portion of these flavor variations, and in a recent article from the Denver Post, brewers were asked about fruit’s place in the craft beer market.

So what about you? How do you feel about fruit beers? Innovation or abomination?

You’re among friends here, and we’d love to hear your thoughts…

Beer glassware defined

When dining at your standard chain restaurant, you’ll notice beer typically comes in one of 2 glasses: a 16 oz. pint glass or a 22 oz. Weissbier vase, neither of which have any real shape or form. But then again, the types of beer being served at these establishments rarely warrant special glassware to enhance the experience. Sure, you might run into the occasional Leinenkugel’s or Goose Island mass-produced variation, but you won’t get as full of a flavor out of those as you might wish. Don’t mistake us, though, we’re not beer snobs. We both enjoy the occasional macro, especially when it comes with a monster burger and a ton a fries. We just know that there’s so much more to a beer than what your eyes see. It’s not a drink; it’s an experience.

That being said, let’s talk about proper glassware. Glassware is almost as important as the beer that’s being poured into it. For the craft beer lovers out there, including us, there’s nothing more important than getting the most out of the flavors the brew-master carefully chose to include in the beer.  It’s kind of like golfing without proper golf shoes on…yes, you’re getting the experience of the sport, but once you put those spikes on, the experience is taken up a notch. This month, we want to look at some of the beer glassware options out there that will help take your next beer experience up a notch.  Give a few a try and tell us what you think…

Shaker Pint
Shaker pint
 –
The most basic style of glassware. No real additions to enhance flavor or aroma. This is the typical 16 oz. glass you get at restaurants.


bavarian seidel
Bavarian seidel
– Also known as the Beer stein. These are very popular in Germany, especially in the fall during Oktoberfest. Great glassware for beers such as Pilsners, Oktoberfests, or Marzens.

english tulip pint
English tulip pint
– Also known as the Guinness glass. Great glass to use for Irish Stouts.


nonic pint
Nonic(k) pint
– These are used typically for English beers. The bump in the glass is used to prevent chipping on the rim. There is also a popular opinion that the bump was  created as a good “standing” beer since the English enjoy meandering around the local pubs.

Snifter
Snifter
– Although this glass style is typically used for a whiskey or cognac, it is also the perfect choice for complex beers, such as Barleywines and Imperial Stouts. The wider base keeps the complex flavors in, while the narrow rim holds the head nicely. Be sure to fill these up about ¾ of the way to allow those complex flavors to escape nicely.

tulip
Tulip – This is one of the fancier styles of glassware on the market. The side profile of this glass has a distinct tulip or hourglass shape, which help hold the aromas in. Strong Ales and Imperial beers, such as porters, reds, and IPA’s, are typically poured in these.

tapered pilsner
Tapered pilsner
– The tapered profile is used to show off the colors and carbonation of the beer. These are great for lighter beers such as wheats, lagers, and pilsners. We also think saisons/farmhouse beers are great in these as well, since many of them are very light and bubbly.

weissbier vase
Weissbier vase
– The name of this glass implies what beer should go in these; wheat beers. Although this is the other common glass type served at restaurants, the narrow bottom and larger top help release some of the beautiful, simplistic aromas that a good wheat can produce. The larger opening at the top also helps with head retention.


bolleke goblet
Bolleke goblet
– This style is very popular in the Trappist communities. Typically, Belgian strong ales, Belgian dubbels, and Belgian tripels are served in this glass. The wide opening, as well as occasional scoring at the top of the glass, helps with head retention and allows the drinker to take deep sips at a time.

teku
Teku – This is one of our favorite glassware styles. This is considered the mother of all glassware since it incorporates many of the various styles all at once. The wider bottom helps hold in those flavors while the narrow opening brings those aromas right to the nostrils and also helps hold the head in. Although many styles can go in here, IPA’s, sours, or beers that carry a punch in the nose, are typically served in this unique glass. Be warned, though: these beers can get a bit top-heavy when filled completely. Its function is to have the beer filled just about halfway or less to allow those aromas to breathe and escape right up through the opening.


coconut shell
Coconut shell
– Nature’s goblet, and an ideal option should you find yourself stranded on a deserted island, talking to a volleyball. We found it to be particularly satisfying when we used one to sample a delicious coconut rum barrel stout. (In case you missed the video review, click here to check it out.)

Hops defined

hops(image/hopsdirect)

If you’re like us, no matter what convenience store or local grocery chain you find yourself in, you’re always in search of the beer fridge. And thanks to a booming industry, there’s no shortage of options. IPA’s and Pale Ales continue to inundate the craft beer scene, due in part to the bounty of hop varieties available to make these beers with. Change the hop in the beer, and you alter the taste completely. But what exactly is a hop?

The hop is a flower of the Humulus lupulus hop plant. It is a key ingredient in the beer making process, especially in IPA’s and Pale Ales. There are literally hundreds of variations of hops, each giving off different character notes in the beer, such as citrus, zest, peat, earth, herbal, pine, etc., and most have a distinct bittering agent to them that many people love. Sure, some folks take a little longer to warm up to the taste of hoppy beers, but if you’re on the road long enough, you’ll eventually find that hops, more than any other beer ingredient, are truly what drive the locomotive.

hops-whiteThis “hoppy” factor we speak of is actually measured by the brewer in the form of IBU’s. The IBU scale measures the amount of a particular acid found in hops that gives beer its bitterness. The higher the IBU, the hoppier the beer.

Believe it or not, hops have also been used for medicinal purposes. Maybe that’s why we love them so much. I mean come on…to drink IPA’s knowing you’re doing something good for your body? Maybe the old adage needs to be changed to, “A hop a day keeps the doctor away.”


Here are our top 5 favorite hop varieties (in no particular order):


M
osaic – The king of hops in our opinion. Heavy notes of citrus, such as grapefruit and tangerine, with great bitterness. Our go-to hop, especially on those hot days.

G
alaxy – A hop similar to Mosaic, with strong citrus notes, although it doesn’t pack  as much of a punch.

Citra – The name implies the character of this hop: citrus. Notes of lemon, orange, and grapefruit are most prominent. An interesting fact – the Citra hop is a variety funded by Sierra Nevada, Deschutes, and Widmer Brothers, which are all very successful domestic craft breweries.

Centennial – This popular hop has a nice, strong citrus aroma, but is much softer on the palate compared to some other citrus hop varieties. Beers with these hops are very drinkable.

Simcoe – Unlike the rest of our favorite hops, this one has a very earthy, herbal character to it. Many wet-hopped beers are brewed with Simcoe. When done fresh, this hop can completely change the way you think about IPA’s. Heavy notes of earthy pine flood your palate and also pack a strong bitter punch.

Beer style defined: Shandy

shandy(image/asianfoodnetwork)

Shandy – What can we say about a shandy? Everything. Yes, they might be low in ABV and super fruity, but man are they delicious in the summer! With their ABV’s ranging from 3-7%, there are numerous reasons to love these. These summer wonders are crisp, nicely carbonated, and packed with grapefruit or lemon. You can call it anything you want, but we call it delicious. So if you love the taste of grapefruit, these will rapidly become your new summer addiction.

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Beer style defined: Cider

cider(image/bostinno)

Cider – Another craze on the market, ciders are typically a lower ABV drink using fermented apple juice as the main ingredient. Although ciders can be really sweet at times, most ciders are more on the semi-sweet side. The sugar addition to the fermentation process is where the alcohol comes from. Most ciders range from 2%-7% ABV, making these very drinkable. Think of them as a glorified, carbonated, semi-sweet apple juice.

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Beer style defined: Mead

mead(image/sweetjames)

Mead – Although not a beer, this has been the latest craze on the market, despite being one of the oldest traditions in brewing. Meads, also known as honey wine, are alcoholic beverages that are brewed using honey and water as the main ingredients. Meads can also include various fruits, spices, or grains to incorporate distinct flavor combinations. They are very sweet and sometimes slightly carbonated.

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