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13 Things Every Craft Beer Lover Should Know But Doesn’t

So, IPAs are your favorite beer...

1. There are only two types of beer...

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Lagers are brewed using bottom-fermenting yeast. They are new to our world (only a few hundred years old), generally lighter in color, and have a crisp, clean flavor.

Ales are brewed using top-fermenting yeast. The beer type is ancient (5,000 years old), generally darker in color, and has a more complex, robust flavor.

The takeaway: lagers like it on bottom and ales like it on top. 😉

2. ...but there are many styles of beer.


• Tasting different styles is the real fun of craft beer drinking — especially when you compare beers in a tasting flight.

• Notice that color is not always a clear differentiator between ale vs. lager.

• Check out this list for an encyclopedic breakdown of beer styles.

3. Jimmy Carter is the patron saint of beer in America.

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• Carter repealed a prohibition-era law to legalize home brewing in 1978.

• This let everyday people start brewing, which eventually spawned the craft brew movement and all the wonderful brews we have today. Toast to Jimmy!

4. Color does not determine the type or style of beer you're drinking.

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• Some lagers are dark, such as the popular bock style, while some ales are light and crisp, such as a white beer.

• You also can't see the difference between style because brewers sometimes add an uncharacteristic amount of malt or hops to adjust color.

The takeaway: It's all about that yeast.

5. An "imperial" beer is any beer style that's been turned up to 11.

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• Imperials were once beers made in one country for shipment to another. The added hops and alcohol ensured the beer tasted like itself at the end of its journey; the higher alcohol prevented spoilage.

• In the age of craft beer, it means the brewer increased the beer's ABV. Often, extra hops or extra malt (sometimes two or three times as much) are added to balance the flavor.

6. The history of the IPA — America's new favorite style of beer.

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• You probably know India pale ales, or IPAs. You probably also know the British extra-hopped a pale ale in the 1700s to preserve taste for the long journey to India, creating the India pale ale. (In one sense, the IPA was unofficially the first "imperial" style beer.)

• The India pale ale died out, however, until American homebrewers started experimenting in the late 1970s and rediscovered it. But they made it even hoppier, creating a style now known as the American IPA. This style traveled back across the pond to England, where brewers used English hops to create the modern English IPA.

• Today, the BJCP defines an imperial IPA as any IPA that exceeds 7.5% alcohol.

The takeaway: The IPA you're drinking today is not exactly like its historical namesake, the India pale pale.

7. Brewing beer is not magic, but yeast might be.


TL;DR: Water and barley are mixed, heated, cooled; yeast is added, it ferments for awhile; it's filtered; you drink it.

• During fermentation, yeast eats the brewed beer mixture and releases alcohol and CO2 — aka the good stuff.

• Beer = It's a science.

8. Yeast is a fungus that poops alcohol.

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• You read that right. Yeast eats sugars and produces alcohol as a waste byproduct.

The takeaway: Alcohol is literally the shit.

Everyone describes beer as "hoppy" or "malty" but what are hops and malts really?

9. Hops are the flowers of the climbing hop vine, which can grow 25 feet tall.

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• Hops make beer bitter and give it that beer smell.

• Grapevines make wine; hop vines make beer.

The takeaway: The vine is one plant that definitely likes to party.

10. Malt is just another name for the barley used to brew beer.

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• Barley becomes malt after it undergoes malting. Malting is a process where the barley is sprayed with water and then dried to release sugars. So barley = malt.

• Next time someone says "this beer is really malty," you should respond: "Nah, it's barley malty at all," then refuse to explain the joke.

11. Taking tasting notes is the best way to understand what you like (and don't like!) in beer.


• There's a formalized system for describing how beer is to drink. It's not snobby — it's smart.

• Here's a no-nonsense guide to the basics of tasting.

12. You can age certain types of beer in the bottle.

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• The process is called cellaring. Beer flavors change over time. Compare your aged bottle with a fresh one from the store and see how things have evolved.

• In Germany, the process is known as lagering. Both lagers and ales can be "lagered" (aka aged), so don't be thrown by a "lagered ale."

• Be sure to read tips on how best to store aging beer.

13. Lastly, never forget that craft beer is a beverage, a hobby, and a sport.

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• The official world record for the Beer Mile is 4 minutes and 47 seconds. Canadian Lewis Kent set the record in Austin, Texas, in December 2015.

• He says the key to victory is training the legs and the stomach. Eating Watermelon before the race helps the beer go down.

To learn is to love; to love is to drink more beer.

Courtesy of Samuel Adams

Brought to you by Samuel Adams.