‘More than just a beverage’: All about beer
Potent potablesGuest Columnist

‘More than just a beverage’: All about beer

"Beyond just a beverage, beer is a cultural cornerstone, a symbol of celebration and a canvas upon which artisans craft their liquid masterpieces."

(Photo by elevate via Pexels)
(Photo by elevate via Pexels)

In a world where the pace of life often feels frenetic and the demands of daily existence can be overwhelming, there exists a simple pleasure that has stood the test of time, offering solace, conviviality and sheer delight: beer.

Beyond just a beverage, beer is a cultural cornerstone, a symbol of celebration and a canvas upon which artisans craft their liquid masterpieces. Let’s dive into the captivating world of beer, where every sip tells a story and every pint holds a promise of camaraderie and joy.

Beer is more than just a thirst-quencher; it’s a sensory experience. From the moment the cap is popped or the tap is pulled, a symphony of aromas dances forth, teasing the senses and inviting anticipation. Whether it’s the citrusy hop notes of an IPA, the roasted malts of a stout, or the crisp, refreshing profile of a pilsner, there’s a beer to suit every palate and occasion.

And there is nothing like a Miller High Life (the Champagne of beers) after mowing the lawn on a hot summer day.

Let’s break down beer.

The terms “top fermenting” and “bottom fermenting” refer to the two main types of yeast fermentation used in brewing beer: ale fermentation (top fermenting) and lager fermentation (bottom fermenting).

Top fermenting (ale fermentation): Ale fermentation is conducted by top fermenting yeast strains, which means that during fermentation the yeast cells rise to the surface of the beer. These yeast strains tend to produce more esters and other flavor compounds, contributing to the diverse and often fruity flavors and aromas found in ales.

Bottom fermenting (lager fermentation): Lager fermentation is conducted by bottom-fermenting yeast strains, which settle at the bottom of the fermentation vessel during the process. Lager fermentation is characterized by a slower and more gradual fermentation process compared to ale fermentation.

Lager yeasts typically produce fewer esters and other flavor compounds, resulting in a cleaner and crisper taste profile compared to ales. Lagering, or cold storage, is a key step in the production of lagers, during which the beer is stored at near-freezing temperatures for an extended period, allowing for further maturation and flavor development.

Ultimately, the main differences between top fermenting and bottom fermenting lie in the type of yeast used, the fermentation temperatures, the flavor profiles produced and the fermentation times. These differences contribute to the wide variety of beer styles available, each with its own unique characteristics.

So let’s talk beer and kashrut.

Kosher laws regarding beer mainly focus on the ingredients used in its production and any additional processing. Here are some key points.

Ingredients: The primary ingredients in beer are water, malted barley, hops and yeast. In terms of kosher laws, all these ingredients are generally considered kosher. However, there can be exceptions. For example, if non-kosher additives or flavorings are used, the beer may not be considered kosher.

Equipment and processing: The equipment used in the brewing process must also be kosher. This means that the equipment should not have been used for non-kosher products, and any non-kosher ingredients or flavors must not have been processed on the same equipment.

Kosher certification:
Many breweries obtain kosher certification to ensure that their products comply with kosher laws. This certification involves inspection of ingredients, equipment and processes by a kosher certifying agency.

Here are some beers to try:

Goldstar Dark Lager (Israel, kosher certified), Munich Dunkel lager.

Coney Island Merman IPA (USA, kosher certified), India pale ale.

Duvel (Belgium, kosher certified), Belgian strong ale.

Deschutes Da Shoots! Pilsner (USA, kosher certified), American lager style.

Beer offers a comforting reminder of the simple joys that make life worth living. From its diverse array of flavors and styles to its ability to foster community and connection, beer is more than just a beverage; it’s a celebration of the human experience. PJC

Uriel Marcovitz is a former restaurateur in Pittsburgh. He studies wine with the Court of Master Sommelier and holds advanced-level sommelier status.

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