NGF’s Quick Guide to Beer
Let Norman Goodfellows tell you all you need to know about beer …. A Beerginners Guide!
There’s no such thing as only liking a beer. If you’re a beer drinker, then you love it. Evidence shows it’s been around for at least 6000 years, right back to Ancient Egyptian times…. So that’s a whole long time of beer loving! If you’re into your beer, or you want to know more, let us give you the basic background so you look like a pro when you’re in charge of ordering the next round.
Fundamentally, beer is an alcoholic beverage which is made by brewing a fermented barley, mixed with water, and adding hops for flavor.
Beer is very simply made up of 4 ingredients:
• Barley, a grain, high in starch which turns into a sugar to become malt.
• Hops, added during the brewing process.
• Yeast, which is key to producing the actual alcohol during the fermentation process. Different types of yeast are used to make different types of beers. For instance, yeast that settles at the bottom of the tank produces lager. Whereas yeast that settles at the top of the tank produces ale.
• And Water! 90% of the beer you’re drinking is actually water (and no, it doesn’t count toward your 2L daily water intake requirements)! The interesting thing is that depending on the region, some water is better to use in beer than others! For example, Dublin’s mineral-rich hard water has allowed for Guinness. And back in the Middle Ages, people chose to drink Beer instead of water because the alcohol content made it safer to drink. Fancy that!
There are 2 distinct types of beer and then sub-varieties within them:
The main difference between them is the temperature at which the fermentation process has been carried out. A lager needs to be served extra chilled to taste even more delicious. Whereas an ale can be served at a slightly warmer temperature.
What’s an Ale?
Ale is a type of beer that has been brewed using a warm fermentation method. It has a sweet, full-bodied and fruity taste. It is also served at a slightly warmer temperature than lager. You get lots of different types of Ale, for example:
• Brown Ale
• Pale Ale
• India Pale Ale (IPA)
• Golden Ale
• Scotch Ale
What’s a lager?
A lager originated in Germany and comes from the German word ‘Lagern’ which means ‘to store’. Simply speaking, lager is any beer that has been stored for a considerably long period of time. As mentioned earlier, it’s also the term for all bottom fermented beers. Their lagering time is about 1-3 months and the hop content is less than that of Ale. You can get light lagers and dark lagers.
The history of beer in South Africa
South Africa accounts for 34% of Africa’s formal beer market and is continually growing it’s market share. South African beer has had two main influences during it’s history. Firstly, European settlers who colonized the country brought expertise and know-how as the country was populated. Dutch immigrants from the 1650s onwards, and British, immigrants during the 19th and 20th centuries both contributed in different ways to the knowledge of alcohol production.
Another very important influence is the local knowledge. Local breweries, operated by the black population, especially groups such as the Sotho, Zulu and Xhosa, have been brewing forms of sorghum beers long before any Europeans arrived.
Some funny facts about beers
• Natural Light is what makes beers go bad! That’s why they’re often stored in cans because the aluminum protects them from the light.
• The oldest, known recipe for beer is over 4000 years old.
• There is genuinely a recognized phobia of having an empty glass… Its called Cenosillicaphobia.
• The strongest beer in the world has an alcohol content of 67.5%
• There’s a beer brewed in Africa from bananas.
• More Guinness beer is drunk in Nigeria than in Ireland.
Here’s a very simple overview of how beer is produced:
• Malted barley is soaked in hot water to release the malt sugars.
• The malt sugar solution is boiled with Hops for seasoning.
• The solution is cooled and yeast is added to begin fermentation.
• The yeast ferments the sugars, releasing CO2 and ethyl alcohol.
• When the main fermentation is complete, the beer is bottled with a little bit of added sugar to provide the carbonation.
The latest craze at the moment is that of Craft Beer. It’s taken off big time in South Africa! Visit any pub and you’ll most likely find it there.
Pop into a Norman Goodfellows store and you’ll find local beers, international beers and craft beers! Enjoy!